2023 September Featured Journalist of the Month: J. Daniel Jenkins

J. Daniel Jenkins found his media company by combining several niche websites he created during the final years of his two plus decades of accomplishments as a licensed Architect and subject matter consultant in the design and build industry.

As President, Owner, Editor, and Photographer at Holihoon Media LLC, Jenkins is leveraging his extensive knowledge of and passion for luxury travel, modern and themed design, storytelling, and outdoor adventure. Jenkins is also a former Walt Disney Imagineer; author of The Design Manager: Successful Management of the Design Process, and recently published his latest book, The Chesapeake & Ohio No. 614 Legacy: The Rise and Fall of an American Railroad Legend.

1. What got you into travel writing?
Traveling, and the desire to explore, has always been a part of my story. From my childhood travels with my parents, to traveling abroad in college, and then later in life traveling for my architectural career and personally with my wife. My lifelong passion for photography was my gateway into writing about travel and various other topics fulltime – merging the written story with the visual narrative. I came to travel writing later in life, after spending several decades devoted to my architectural career as a licensed architect and consultant. When I formally stepped away from practicing architecture fulltime several years ago, I have since devoted my time to travelling, writing, photography, videography, and other content creation.

2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
Finding the balance between hunkering down at home to get the work done providing content for and running multiple websites versus traveling and exploring for extended periods of time.

3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
My kit containing cameras, lenses, and a laptop.

4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
It’s a toss-up between the unusual, dodgy clown I shared the platform with late one evening in a desolate Parisian subway station or the multi-day journey with two other couples, the captain, and a private chef floating down the Canal du Midi in the south of France in a converted wine barge. Experiencing the south of France at a slower pace, and the small villages and towns along the way, was incredible.

5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
NATJA was suggested to me by several seasoned travel writers and NATJA Member Terri Marshall. Unlike other similar travel writing organizations, I appreciate NATJA being a professional organization that puts its members first and being an organization that actively promotes and works to advance their members’ talents and skills.

6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
The advice I would share is when travelling let yourself be receptive to unique, unscripted experiences or unforeseen opportunities that can enrich your writing. A good metaphor for this stems from my photography experience. Many of the best images in my portfolio were not planned, stagged, or researched – they were taken fortuitously because I allowed myself to be ‘in the moment’. Likewise, some of the most unique travel-centric stories and experiences I could share stem from the unanticipated places we inadvertently ventured into or unique people we met by happenstance.

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