2021 January Featured Journalist of the Month: Janice Mucalov
Wednesday, December 30, 2020 03:20 PM

Previously a lawyer, I'm an award-winning freelance travel writer who writes about luxury travel, cruises, culture and soft adventure. Over the past 25 years, I've had hundreds of travel articles published in outlets like NUVO, Globe and Mail, enRoute, Islands, South China Morning Post, AAA Carolinas GO and Interval World. I also publish an award-winning travel blog (with husband and writing partner George), where we write about luxury travel with a twist of adventure. See: https://sandinmysuitcase.com/

 

 

1) What got you into travel writing?

A failed attempt at writing a romance novel prompted me to take a travel writing course -- and the rest is history! I've always traveled and travel is in my blood. Born in England, raised in Australia, husband from Romania via Germany. I can't stay still.

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

Right now, during the pandemic, not being able to travel! 

But in "normal" times, it's frustrating to develop a relationship with an editor, who then leaves, to be replaced by a new editor -- and then you have to start from scratch again, writing brilliant queries to try and get their attention, rather than the one-liners you send out to editors who know your work. Sigh... I usually just give up.

And to have publication after publication go under is disheartening also (from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to Islands magazine -- both of which I wrote for.) That's one of the reasons I started our own travel blog.

 

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

My laptop! At the end of the day, I like to transfer hand-written notes to my laptop, so I'm ready to start writing the article or blog post when I get home.

 

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

I was gobsmacked by Antarctica. I didn't actually want to go -- I thought it would just be a cold frozen place, with a lot of snow and ice. But then we saw icebergs as big as toppled skyscrapers float by in Iceberg Alley. And we Zodiaced (is that a word?) around smaller icebergs that glowed a neon blue. And curious penguins climbed all over us as we sat on the snow. And we lay in hot thermal sand after our polar swim. And...

And in Africa on safari, I couldn't believe we watched lions tear into a freshly killed impala. Our open-sided jeep was so close, we could hear the crunch of the poor prey's bones.

But there have been so many memorable travel experiences. That's the beauty of being a travel writer, right? We're blessed to experience so many trips in ways that are often richer than you'd otherwise experience them.

 

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

Gosh, I've been a member for so long, I don't really recall the reason why I joined. But I do like that NATJA was one of the first professional writing organizations to welcome bloggers and online media writers.

 

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

Take a travel writing course, maybe through your city's local continuing education programs. (It was through this course that I got my first travel article published.) Join associations like NATJA and local writing groups. For travel blogging, there are many helpful Facebook groups and online courses. 

 

And think of travel writing/blogging as a passion, not so much a career -- because few travel writers/bloggers make a decent enough income to pay a mortgage and support kids through university. Or be prepared to live on less :-).