2020 December Featured Journalist of the Month: Jenn Smith Nelson
Tuesday, December 01, 2020 03:37 PM

Jenn Smith Nelson is a multi-award-winning freelance travel writer, photographer, and new author. She's been published in four countries and in four languages, contributing hundreds of articles to 25+ outlets including enRoute, Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic, Toronto Star Explore Magazine, Best Health Magazine, Nuvo, VIA Rail, Just for Canadian Doctors/Dentists, A Birder's Guide to Travel and more. She also appears as a travel expert on CBC Saskatchewan's The Morning Edition and Global News Morning Regina. Jenn often writes about connecting with nature, wildlife, family, and adventure travel. She co-published her first book 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in April 2019. Find her online at travelandhappiness.com.

What got you into travel writing?

I had been working on the other side of the table in a role dedicated to attracting media to my region. As I was already a writer and photographer with creative ideas of what makes a good travel story, one day I simply decided to switch sides. I started off exploring my own backyard and built up my portfolio with local stories.

What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?

Currently, it’s not being able to travel. However, the hardest part is often balancing the ethics of travel coverage and not crossing boundaries that can be blurry. This includes responsible wildlife travel and covering vulnerable spots that do not benefit from people traveling to them and that can sometimes have unintended negative effects.

What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?

A portable hard drive. I’ve had to learn the hard way more than once that while shooting raw, camera cards can fill up rather fast.

What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?

My most memorable travel experience is without a doubt exchanging glances with a curious sea wolf in British Columbia’s Kingcome Inlet. It’s a moment forever etched in my heart and mind.

How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?

I learned about NATJA from a travel colleague and joined to expand my opportunity for networking and ongoing professional development.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?

There’s never been a better time to explore one’s own backyard! Not only does it allow for a new travel journalist to find the beauty and hidden gems that surround them, but it also provides an opportunity to hone their craft and figure out what parts of the travel experience appeal most to them.