2024 July Featured Journalist of the Month: Eugenia Lazaris

Eugenia Lazaris is a freelance travel writer and editor based in Southern California. She is a graduate of the University of La Verne with a degree in psychology, but her passion is in travel and exploring the world’s nooks and crannies. Her lifelong love of travel has taken her to nearly every state and 20+ countries, and the list is constantly growing.

She is the travel editor at the Greek American news site Nea Proini and her work regularly appears in WhereverFamily.com and Global Traveler Magazine. She has also contributed to TravelAge West, Go World Travel Magazine, and TrazeeTravel.com. Some of the areas she specializes in are family travel, cultural travel experiences, cruising, and travel throughout Greece and the Middle East.

1. What got you into travel writing?
I’ve always loved writing, and I grew up in a family that traveled so much it became routine. But rather than going into a career in travel, I studied psychology and found myself stuck in a desk job that left me very unhappy with life. Eventually, I experienced severe burnout and had to rethink my life. I owed it to myself to pursue a career that made me happy, so in 2017 I returned to my roots and embarked on a new career that focused on the things that make me happy — traveling and writing.

2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
If I had my way, I would be on the road 365 days a year researching stories, but once in a while I have to spend some time at home to reboot and deal with real life issues, whether I like it or not! Sometimes I find it hard to step back and take a break from traveling to focus on my life, my craft, and the administrative aspects of working as a freelancer.

3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
Far more pens and notebooks than I need or have room for.

4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
Sneaking into a country I didn’t have a visa to enter. I was with a group on an African safari and our guides told us about a road nearby that would take us on a loop through a neighboring country. The only problem was the country required a separate visa to enter, which none of us had. The local police knew guides liked to take tourists on this illegal jaunt and would sit and wait for anyone taking the risk. If they caught us, we would have our jeeps stripped, our belongings confiscated, and would be left in the jungle to fend for ourselves, miles from the nearest village. Ultimately, we took the gamble and got lucky that there were no police waiting for us. We got away with it and went home with all our belongings and a fun little story.

5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
When I decided to pursue a career in travel writing I started devouring everything I could find on how to make a living at it. Every resource I came across talked about the importance of joining a travel organization like NATJA and taking advantage of the benefits and networking opportunities.

6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
You’ll find the most interesting stories in the least likely places when you least expect them, so don’t be afraid to go out and live the adventure. That, and get involved in NATJA! After attending my first NATJA conference (Fairbanks, Alaska!), things finally started to click, and my career really began to take off.

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