Meet Our Featured Members

Meet Our Featured Members

Get to know our monthly Featured Members! 

2019 December Featured Journalist of the Month:Michael Hodgson
Friday, December 13, 2019 05:34 PM

 Michael Hodgson:

Born to British parents in Canada but spending most of my formative years in the United States, I schlepped back and forth across the Atlantic frequently with my mum and dad until heading off to college. In college, I had the opportunity to spend a few months in Kenya and I found myself hooked on discovering cultures, new places, and taking on adventures. Since then, my travels have taken me to all seven continents. As a writer, I have authored more than 16 books and penned many hundreds of feature articles over the years. My travel writing, photography, and videography appears primarily on HITravelTales.com, a website/travel blog I operate in partnership with my wife, Therese Iknoian.

 

1. What got you in to travel writing?

I love to travel. I love to write. I love to take photographs. And I have been writing, traveling and taking photographs all of my life. After selling a successful outdoor and fitness business news website (snewsnet.com) that I ran in partnership with my wife, Therese Iknoian, I relished the opportunity to focus my creative energies in a business focused wholly on travel, also operated with Therese – HITravelTales.com. 

 

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

Taking time to simply travel for travel’s sake and putting the camera and notebook away for a bit. 

 

 

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

Equipment would be my computer and camera, naturally. Personal item … any one of our many stuffed animal traveling companions. Seriously! I love taking photos with one of our stuffed animals in it, and they are incredible ambassadors of good will and humor. Therese and I have even had other travelers race back to a hotel room or a parked car to introduce their traveling companions to ours. 

 

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

Several years ago, walking the streets of Buenos Aries with Therese, we took a brief pause to gather our bearings under a tree by the side of a main boulevard. At that moment very large Argentinean bird decided we were ideal targets for a particularly wet and very stinky poop. I got the worst of it, in my hair and all over my shirt and pack.

A couple who were passing by on the sidewalk immediately rushed over to us with eyes very wide. Their English was pretty spotty, and my Spanish was below remedial level, but it became very clear they were there to help. The woman began pulling handfuls of tissues and a water bottle from her purse as she and her male companion began to attempt to clean me off, dousing me with water while dabbing and scrubbing. They kept apologizing, in between increasing giggles, for what the bird had done and making clear we needed to be more careful when standing under trees.

The lesson of the day was not lost on me … travel often brings out the best in people, no matter where you are in the world. That, and without a sense of humor, travel can sometimes turn shitty. 

 

5. How did you learn about NATJA, and why did you join?

Knew about it through my involvement with the Adventure Travel Trade Association. I’ve always been a believer in professional development and joining professional associations that are relevant to my writing focus. I was a board member and past president of the Outdoor Writers Association of America so know the value of professional associations in helping writers network, discover new places, and continue to develop their craft. 

 

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

You are only as good as your last article, your last photo. It is not about awards, likes, followers, subscribers or even fans. You have to be confident yet humble. You have to be insatiably curious. And then you have to travel always with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. Travel writing, good travel writing, is about connecting with a place – its rhythms, its people, its culture, its hidden sides – and then sharing that with your readers in a personal, meaningful way that helps them discover it through your words, your photographs. And finally, at the end of the day, you have to remember always this is a business and your words, your photographs are your products. Meaning, you have to be good at selling your products too or you are just writing for yourself. 

 
2019 November Featured Journalist of the Month: Beth Arnold
Thursday, November 07, 2019 03:53 PM

 Beth Arnold:

I'm a journalist and award-winning writer, who has written for such print venues as Rolling Stone, GQ, InStyle, Self, American Way, Premiere, and Mirabella. In 2002, I became an early blogger, chronicling my husband's and my great adventure of selling our house in Arkansas, putting everything in storage, and uprooting ourselves to France into an online series and book called "Jours Of Our Lives," which is a companion book for his volume"Chasing Matisse." We lived in France for 10 years.

I was a regular blogger for The Huffington Post, and I've written for Salon.com, Vogue.com, and others. My prime journalistic topics are culture, travel, art, politics, and people. My online commentary has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, The Hotline, Der Spiegel, BuzzFlash, The Satirical Political Report, Daily Kos, AlterNet, Democratic Underground, PoynterOnline, and USA Today. "Black Entertainment Television--BET--used my video of election night in Paris during President Barack Obama's inauguration.

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2019 November Featured Journalist of the Month:Randy Sharman
Monday, November 04, 2019 07:33 PM

 Randy Sharman:

I have been the Host and Producer of The Informed Traveler Radio Show for almost 10 years now. It's heard every Sunday morning at 8am MST on 770CHQR Calgary, at 3pm PST on 980CKNW Vancouver, Canada and 6pm MST on 630CHED Edmonton. The Informed Traveler is a weekly travel program dedicated to bringing you the latest travel news and information. Each week we provide insight traveling to interesting destinations and amazing resorts plus useful travel tips to help you along the way.

 

 

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2019 November Featured Destination of the Month: Fredericksburg Regional Tourism
Friday, November 01, 2019 01:25 PM
Fredericksburg Tourism Regional
Nestled an hour outside of Washington, D.C., the Fredericksburg, Va. region boasts picturesque downtowns, outdoor adventure, and culinary delights. Rich with American history, the region is home to two U.S. Presidents, including George Washington and James Monroe. From battlefields to historic homes, visitors can experience the day-to-day life of Mary Washington or get a lesson in medicine by physician Hugh Mercer. With more than 8,000 acres of preserved land, this region is filled with opportunities to study nature, hike or enjoy the water. Crows Nest Natural Area Preserve is a feat in conservation with 750 acres of marshes and wetlands perfect for paddle boarding or bird watching. Lake Anna, one of the largest freshwater inland lakes in Virginia, is perfect for day trips or vacations with family and friends. Whether youre sipping on grapes at Potomac Point Winery or kayaking down the Potomac river -- There is so much to enjoy in this Virginia region.
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2019 October Featured Destination of the Month: Visit Central NY
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 08:00 AM

Visit Central New York

Welcome to America's craft brew destination! With more than 65 breweries, hard cider, distilleries, craft-focused pubs and wineries, you'll have days worth of tastings and tours to experience. Just over a century ago, this central region of New York state represented the hop capital of the country. Brew Central puts the region back on the map with a growing constellation of producers and pubs that make up more than just a beverage trail.

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2019 September Featured Journalist of the Month: Cory Lee
Monday, September 16, 2019 08:00 AM
Cory Lee

After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee's thirst for adventure never ceased. He went on many trips around the US when he was younger, and then started taking things internationally when he turned fifteen. Since then, Cory has traveled across 6 continents, all while managing to run his travel blog curbfreewithcorylee.com, where he shares his accessible, and sometimes not so accessible, travel adventures with others.

Cory’s blog has received the prestigious 2019 Webby Award for Best Personal Blog and the Lowell Thomas Award for Best Travel Blog in 2017. He was also named New Mobility Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year. Cory has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic Travel, Forbes, USA Today, in a nationwide segment for CBS News, Lonely Planet, and many others. He hopes to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer.

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2019 September Featured Destination of the Month: Steuben County CVB
Friday, September 13, 2019 08:00 AM

Steuben County CVB:

In Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes you'll find quintessential small-town Americana without compromising on world-class experiences. Between the extraordinary landscape and outdoor adventures, the charming small towns, the variety and affordability of activities, the accessibility of the region (nearly 25% of the U.S. population is within a five-hour drive: Corning is about a 4 hour drive from NYC, 4 hours from Philly and Toronto, 5 hours from DC), the first-rate culinary options, world-renowned art, and the laid-back, unpretentious vibe that distinguishes the regions personality, its difficult to find anywhere quite like Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes.

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2019 July Featured Journalist of the Month: Chad Dove
Tuesday, July 09, 2019 08:00 AM
Chad Dove

Chad Dove is vice president and creative director for Dove Media Group Inc., a full-service agency that was founded in 1999 by his wife Laurie. After spending more than 20 years in a variety of roles in the health care industry, Dove went back to college, completed a rigorous degree program and graduated with honors. Dove joined the agency in 2009 as a staff writer and over the last 10 years his role has expanded to include a number of duties within the company. Some of Dove Media Group’s notable clients have included the Los Angeles Business Journal, Delta Airlines, HowStuffWorks, Animal Planet, Headline News, and others. 

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2019 July Featured Journalist of the Month: Parm Johal
Tuesday, July 09, 2019 08:00 AM
Parm Johal

Parm has been a travel writer and blogger for the past six years. She is the founder and editor of www.desiglobetrotter.com, an international travel lifestyle magazine + blog with a focus on arts, culture and independent travel. Based in Vancouver, Canada, she is also an Arts & Culture professional, content writer, and freelance travel writer with articles published in Conde Nast Traveller India, Huffington Post Canada, South Asian Woman Magazine, Mybindi.com, and MasalaMommas.com. 

Parm has previously been hosted by/worked with the following tourism boards: Atout France Canada, Maui Visitors Bureau, Whistler Tourism, Vancouver Tourism, Los Angeles Tourism, New York Tourism. She has traveled to 25 countries on 5 continents. Writing about arts, culture and travel is her passion.

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