2024 July Featured Journalist of the Month: Rich Warren

Columbus, Ohio-based travel writer Rich Warren travels the country and the world looking for offbeat and off-the-beaten-path stories. He is a graduate of the Elf School of Reykjavik and can tell you what the Amish wear to the beach in Florida! Credits include Saturday Evening Post, National Geographic, Fodor’s.com, AAA World, AAA Explorer, Garden and Gun, Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio Magazine, Country Living, Long Weekends, AARP online, and others.

1. What got you into travel writing?
It was a bit of an accident. I was writing local feature stories for alternative newspapers in Columbus and then landed a job at Ohio Magazine and began writing about travel throughout the Buckeye State. From there I started writing about regional travel and then both national and international travel. I’ve been freelancing full-time since 2016.

2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
That would be the ever-shrinking number of outlets who are still accepting travel writing. That number seems to shrink every year, and it can be challenging to find new outlets and new editors willing to publish a writer’s work.

3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
Believe it or not, it’s an extra pair of eyeglasses. I’ve had experiences more than once of damaging my glasses, and once I even lost them altogether. Having an older pair in my bag as a back-up brings peace of mind.

4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
In addition to attending Elf School in Iceland, I’ve also spent the night in the room where Lizzie Borden’s step-mother was murdered. (The Lizzie Borden House is now a bed and breakfast). But I’ve also seen a blizzard on Mount Everest (from a distance), seen the sun rising over the Andes and also the glowing icecap of Mount Kilimanjaro in the moonlight. Travel brings lots and lots of memorable experiences.

5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
It seems like I’ve known about NATJA for a number of years through travel writer friends who are also members of other organizations I belong to. It was 2023’s meeting in Alaska that finally gave me the nudge to join.

6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
Be patient but persistent with editors. Learn what story ideas might work and also learn how to make the editor’s job easier by giving them what they want. And understand you’re not going to get rich in this line of work. Still, the rewards are worth all the challenges.

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