Friday, February 29, 2008

Guest Post Friday: What National Geographic Taught Me by Lola Akinmade

Welcome to the very first Guest Post Friday. Today Lola Akinmade is posting about attending a National Geographic Traveler seminar.

Lola Akinmade is a GIS consultant, photojournalist and travel writer who has contributed to Vagabondish, Transitions Abroad, Matador Travel, and Brave New Traveler. She can be reached at

What National Geographic Taught Me
by Lola Akinmade.

On a nippy Sunday morning, we rushed downtown to M street, following the line of Saabs, Jeeps, VW beetles, and the occasional BMW in our little '99 Dodge Neon. We were thirty minutes early yet a couple minutes late judging by the enthusiastic crowd that had filled the registration hall. We were attending one of many seminars put on by National Geographic Traveler in Washington, DC. This seminar was exploring travel photography – how photos tell stories born from a passion for travel.

With over 25 years of experience as a photographer and 45 stories for National Geographic Magazine (NGM) and Traveler (NGT) combined, Jim Richardson opened up with a mouthwatering breakfast of travel photographs and landscapes from around the globe – castles in Wales, panoramic vistas from Southwest America, unbelievable colors and rich cultures from South East Asia, and many more decadent pictures.

Joining Jim was Catherine Karnow, whose core photographic strength was being able to relate across cultures through travel portraits. Catherine boasted 15 years experience with 25 stories for both NGM and NGT. She shared colorful portraits and details from Jaipur, Vietnam, and Miami.

I wanted the meat of it all. I wanted to know what National Geographic really looked for in pictures and how I could stand out from the crowd. There were close to 400 of us in that auditorium. We were discouraged from bringing portfolios and cameras. I brought a few bookmarks which also happened to be my business card.

“What makes a picture good enough for NG is an interesting picture, not a technically perfect picture”, Jim explained to us. “With travel photography, being able to relate to people and giving them a sense of what it's like to really be there is the most important factor.”

We began to notice the common thread shared by those pictures. The vibrancy, the depth of color, and the framing of subjects began to come into light.

By using wide-angle lens, each of the travel photographs pulled us in and right into the middle of the action. Almost all of the National Geographic photographers use some form of a wide-angle lens.

Color and textures were such important elements in all the pictures we saw. “That’s why I usually shoot around dawn or dusk”, Catherine shared. “They provide the best natural lighting that set the mood and colors of your pictures”. For indoor situations, a certain ambience that warm lighting provides is unbeatable.

For the next couple of hours, Jim and Catherine shared tips from simple techniques to the common rules of photography to breaking all those rules for the right shot. “If a subject isn’t contributing to your scene, it’s distracting so take it out. Clean up the clutter!” highlighted Jim.

Questions ranged from the importance of model release forms to the best backup gear, but the one question that resonated was asked by a lady who’d recently been to Mauritius. As travel photographers we assume the role of geckos on the wall, blending into the background and observing. “What if you find yourself in a situation where you’re clearly the foreigner garnering all the attention?” she asked.

I drew on my own personal experience. By introducing myself to someone either verbally or through gestures, they’ve invited me into their world even though mine was drastically different both culturally and physically. Just smiling and emitting a positive energy went a long way. Catherine echoed this fact. “Sometimes I feel like it’s my duty to entertain people and keep the momentum going”, Catherine answered. “I need to adapt to each individual situation and feel the vibe.” In reference to the lady’s situation, she had to just wait till the commotion had died down and then she could move more stealthily through the culture.

By seminar’s end around 4pm, we were treated to more photographic desserts from Dubrovnik, Sardinia, Vietnam, and the Silk Road. In true National Geographic style, they left us wanting more.

When I got home, I weeded through a couple of my favorite shots. Based on what I’d learned, were they NG worthy? I replayed Jim’s words in my head. “A good photo is one which is interesting. A good photo takes you there. Not one which is technically perfect!”

The biggest lesson I learned from National Geographic that day was the power of intuition.

I have to keep on trusting my instincts.

(this was first published at

Don't forget - if you have something to say about writing, submit to Guest Post Friday

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Interview with a Travel Writer...Kent E St. John.

Today we talk with Kent E St. John, Senior Travel Editor and part owner of Kent also writes a travel column in the Lincoln Eagle in New York's Dutchess County and has had travel articles published in the Hartford Courant, Valley Advocate, Preview Magazine , and Transitions Abroad. His travel narratives have been published in Travelers’ Tales Ireland, Pilgrimage and the Best of Travelers’ Tales.

As well as writing about travel, Kent also talks travel for the Around the World Radio (which broadcasts on ten stations in California and on thirty throughout Australia) and is a frequent guest on the Travel Planners Radio show that is on several stations throughout the Midwest.

And of course, like the rest of us, Kent maintains a blog - Be My Guest - that looks at life as a travel writer. Be My Guest was chosen as one of the 100 best travel blogs by Frommer's Budget Travel magazine.

Hi Kent and thanks for stopping by Write to Travel for a chat.

1. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get started in writing?

I was a voracious reader long before writing ever came into my world; it was traveling that changed things. I owned a tour company in Scottsdale AZ and once the airlines put a cap on my commissions I knew it was time to find a new avenue into places I wanted to see. I sold the agency and bought some books on travel writing. I sent my first query to Transitions Abroad and they took it. I sent a second and third… until finally they offered me a title of contributing editor; I no longer booked others’ tickets, I booked mine.

2. What do you consider your first "break" as a travel writer?

By studying the markets I was aware of who just might take a piece, very important for a beginner. I also think that a vast background of jobs helped liked bartending in New York, and owning a restaurant a wee bit later. I wasn’t into a career being the end all—odd jobs build a base. Hell, I flunked out of college ‘cause I was too busy to attend class. Again, I truly believe that reading is the best teacher.

3. What advice would you give to someone who wants to break into writing?

Be aware of what you love. For me it was always traveling. Owning a restaurant myself I never got away. I did do well though and built up some dollars. The money wasn’t what I really craved, however. I longed for new places to see. It was a paradox; I had money but no time. If at all possible stash some cash before leaping full time into travel writing.

4. What do you see as the future for travel writers in the printed media and online ?

That is a great question because I was one of the first original writers for and actually I am the only one left of the six originals. I was told by some publications that it interfered with print so I needed to make a choice. I did. Many told me I made the wrong one, online. Today I get numerous emails from people I met in print years ago who now want to get some kind of online presence, and they were big in print. I follow the theory that an existence in all kinds of media is key. I am online, in print, and I also do travel radio. In order to make a living you must be flexible, but I enjoy all of them. I think that when I was published in several Travelers Tales books it was the most satisfying experience. I like narrative yet the market is so small. Today I own a wee bit of and work with Max Hartshorne. I met him when he worked for Transitions Abroad. People like Max are changing the online travel writing world.

5. Which travel writers and/or travel books have influenced you?

My god, Bill Bryson and Tim Cahill have made me laugh when I have been in hell and it wasn’t just lost bags. When I first haunted bookstores there wasn’t even a travel section. People like Jon Bowmaster fear nothing and he lives nearby my small town, just a short way down the road. Have a beer with Tim Leffel, Jen Leo, David Farley or Johnny Jet and you can feel that excitement we all share—what’s next? Yet we are all different.

6. As a writer and traveler, what are the biggest challenges you face on the road ?

I am beginning to be known as an older guy, but I can still beat the young ones up a mountain even with a cig break wearing just Tevas. I am not as intense as some new writers; I am just doing what I love, what has been put on my plate. Eventually I may have to beg for a Travco trip. It goes back to love what you do.

7. Finally, what is your favorite place and why ?

Home here in the Hudson Valley, NY is my favorite spot yet I never write about it. I have always wanted a barn and space I now have both. I have cats and wide plank floors and pictures of my adventures. I walk a rail trail and look at the Catskill Mts. I am married to an AP English teacher who always reminds me that there is so much to read. Life is great. Even though every two weeks or so I itch for cramped seats on a plane, I now know where home is.

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Travel Articles that Caught My Eye...

This months Oscars have put Hollywood center stage, so it’s not surprising to find a few movie related travel articles around. Movie location travel is already big business, so articles such as Set jetting 2008 - fabulous film locations and 10 great places to check into movie-hotel history often appear.

Another news item - Fidel Castro stepping down - will also create travel article fodder. Traveling in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba is probably the first of many articles about Cuba in the coming months.

And of course, finding out about new places to visit is always a winner. Saudi Arabia is one such place, with the this article Closed Kingdom Cracks a Door Open.

(photo credit)

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 25, 2008

Travel Blog of the Week...Primitive Culture.

Here’s the sidebar description of Primitive Culture

The global photographic journal of an amateur ethnographer, detailing explorations from rugged Equatorial jungles, to the alleys of Istanbul, to the quiet seaside towns of South Africa. In fully illustrated essays, Primitive Culture chronicles street-food, coffee culture, wildlife viewing, and urban life. Currently centered in Bangkok, covering local markets, coffeeshops, and Thai style and design.

If that doesn’t make you want to head right over there and visit, you are obviously not a ‘travel blog connoisseur’.

Primitive Culture delivers exactly what it promises. In some posts, a photograph takes the place of words. In others, words are added to photographs, providing a multidimensional image of a place and its culture.

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Applying for a Paid Blogging Job...

There’s a great discussion going on over at Freelance Writing Jobs. It focuses on applying for blogging jobs. There are two points of view. The first is that of an employer, the second that of a writer.

The employer, James from, recently posted this ad…

I sell tea at and I need someone to write the blog. Someone with an informal, personal style that makes the blog fun to read and communicates a real love for tea (so you need to love tea – otherwise it shows). The job pays US$400 per month, for which I would like 8 posts each month, each of 250-500 words (the word count is not paramount). Topics would include tea types, tea areas of the world, tea in culture, tea paraphernalia such as biscuits etc. I can give you ideas, and you will also come up with your own. We already have a blog but it is too dry – I don’t enjoy reading it, so why would anyone else. You need to be comfortable using Wordpress and working from home. Email

Not surprisingly, he was inundated with applications (okay, I admit it, I was one of them - I love tea and thought it would be an interesting subject to write about).

Anyway, James wrote an interesting post - Things to Consider Before Applying for a Gig - yesterday offering feedback on the process. He describes what he liked about the applicants, what he didn’t like, and why he rejected applicants. Anyone considering apply for a paid blogging job should have a read. But don’t just read the post, read the almost 50 comments as well. You’ll learn a lot.

Today, blogger Jennifer Chait responded with a post of her own - My Blog Client Wish List - in which she reminds clients that it’s a two way street. Clients have needs but so do writers. It’s just a question of getting the two to balance.

Check it out.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 22, 2008

Guest Post Fridays...

I thought it was time to try something new, so have decided to make Friday the ‘Guest Post’ Day here at Write to Travel.

Are you interested ?

What I’m looking for is guest posts about all aspects of writing, book reviews, conference, workshop, and course reviews, etc, etc, etc. It can be something newly written or re-cycled from your own blog or writing portfolio.

What you get out of it - another location in which to air your views, your expertise, and your writing. All guest posts will get a byline and links back to their sites.

I’ll also work on setting up section on the sidebar where guest bloggers are featured for the month following their post.

What do you think?

You can send in guest post submission to

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Weekly Top 4 Blog Posts for Writers...

1. The Quick And Dirty Guide To Successful Travel Journalism

2. My first stint at guidebook writing

3. 7 Ways To Write With Numbered Lists

4. Staying Motivated When the Work Is Boring

Sphere: Related Content

Interview with a Travel Writer...Caitlin Fitzsimmons.

Today we're talking with Caitlin Fitzsimmons, a London-based travel writer who has written for The Australian, The Guardian, Rough Guides and Anyway magazine. Caitlin also maintains the Roaming Tales travel website and The Gooseberry Fool, a food website.

Hi Caitlin, thanks for stopping by Write to Travel for a chat.

1. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get started in writing?

I wanted to be a writer from an early age, although I also wanted to be an actress, a circus performer, a barrister, a marine biologist, and Australia's first female prime minister. As a child, I was forever writing poems and stories and my family and teachers encouraged this creativity. One year for Christmas, when I was about eight years old, a family friend who worked at a publisher actually typeset my poems and did a short run of a little booklet for me to give to family and friends. It was called Queen Flutterby and Other Poems and had a little author bio on the back and everything.

When I left school I wasn't sure what I wanted to do but it seemed sensible for me to do a journalism degree, on the basis that I liked writing and was interested in current affairs. So I did a BA in Communications at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. I actually majored in broadcast journalism, both radio and television, but my career has been exclusively in print and online. My first job was at a local paper in Sydney called The Village Voice, which has nothing to do with the New York publication by the same name.

2. What do you consider your first "break" as a travel writer?

I worked at The Australian for four years, first covering the technology beat and then on general news. I took the initiative to approach Susan Kurosawa, the travel editor at The Australian, with ideas and she published pieces on ghost tourism in Australia, Shanghai and Cappadocia (in Turkey).

When I went freelance in London two years ago, I was mainly writing about media and business. However, through another freelance writer, I was put in touch with a magazine who needed a writer to travel to Uganda to write about coffee. I was commissioned and that has led to an ongoing relationship with the magazine and the publisher's other titles.

Even so, it can still be a slog to get travel editors to respond to ideas, let alone get commissions. I find once you get that first commission with a publication, it will often lead to more work (assuming you do the job well) but getting that first foothold is the hardest step.

3. What advice would you give to someone who wants to break into writing?

Establish a blog and start writing!

When I first started, the web was only new. These days young or beginning writers have a fantastic opportunity to self publish online. This is great because it gives them an immediate outlet and the opportunity to practise writing and get feedback from readers.

It's also a great marketing tool - when you pitch to editors you might not be able to give them a list of fantastic publishing credits but you can make up for this by saying "you can view samples of my writing at", which shows that you are serious about the enterprise and gives them the opportunity to sample the wares. Also, if it's a staff job you want, demonstrating proficiency with new media makes you more attractive to employers.

Also, I would say don't write for other people for free. If you are going to write for free, it may as well be for your own site, which could at least earn you money in the future. By writing for other people for free, youare doing yourself and your profession a disservice. Firstly, you mark yourself out as an amateur both with the publication itself and by the fact that it only helps win you clips in second-rate outlets. Secondly, you won't be able to give your best work, or else you'll go broke. Finally, you're undercutting professionals, which is what you hope to become, so you are essentially fouling your own nest.

Try to hang on to copyright if you can as this is potentially valuable in the future, allowing you to resell your work or self-publish online in addition to the primary pay cheque.

On the writing side, keep polishing your craft and always look for something unexpected. Think of a unique angle and pursue that but don't go with preconceived ideas - allow the magic to happen and then try to bring out something unique in your writing.

4. What do you see as the future for travel writers in the printed media and online ?

Self publishing is a definite trend and there are increasing numbers of writers making money from running their own travel websites. As more people establish websites and are hungry for content, it should also be possible to make money from syndication and reprints online (another reason to hang on to copyright), though I can't see this as a big money spinner.

At the moment print editors are trying to compete with the world of user-generated content by becoming more like them. I think this is a mistake. The blogging world is very crowded and in order for the professional publications to stand out, there needs to be a clear point of difference. I think people turn to glossy magazines and the travel sections of newspapers for professional quality writing and photography, not readers' guides that are readily available online anyway.

The biggest trend for travel writing in general is that we are facing a global environmental crisis and the social pressure needs to be for less travel rather than more. Air travel is an easy target in terms of carbon emissions, but people are also counting up the cost of road travel and cruising and questioning whether some ecologically sensitive places should be visited at all. I think there is still a role for travel writers. We are in a position to influence people's travel habits, encouraging them to visit local attractions, take the train, or otherwise avoid or mitigate the damage. And if we do end up with a world where people travel less frequently, then we may see the need for 'armchair travel'. This is more of an opening for the literary narrative style of travel writing, in books and magazines, than the "how to" guides so prevalent now. It's less attractive to advertisers, be they airlines or hotels, so there would be fewer travel outlets if this were the case.

5. Which travel writers and/or travel books have influenced you?

There are a host of good travel writers, from Jan Morris to Bill Bryson and Colin Thubron. I have a great anthology called The Virago Book of Women Travellers, which has excerpts from women travel writers from two centuries ago until now. I did a course with London-based travel writer Dea Birkett, author of several books and regular contributor to national papers in Britain, and I respect the insights she gave into the craft and the business.

However, on the whole, I don't think I have been particularly influenced by travel writers or travel books. Instead, I have been influenced by travel and books. I have always been passionate about books and literature and I read voraciously. I have also had the travelling bug almost my whole life - right from the time my hippie parents took me backpacking around South-East Asia when I was two. I spent four months as an exchange student in southern Germany when I was fifteen and I went to Costa Rica to do volunteer work when I was twenty - after that I was well and truly hooked! I am a writer and a traveller so it makes sense to be a travel writer.

6. As a writer and traveler, what are the biggest challenges you face on the road ?

I'm not good at packing light and if I'm travelling for work I usually have to take my laptop, which doesn't help matters.

I also find it hard to eat healthy food and maintain a regular exercise programme when I'm on the road. I travel so often that it's important to make the effort so I often find myself pounding the pavements (going for a run is a great way to get to know a place, especially the out-of-the-way parts) or swimming laps in the hotel pool. Or I go on an active holiday, like when I went kayaking in the Arctic.

7. Finally, what is your favorite place and why ?

I've been to so many wonderful places, and there are so many places I haven't been to yet! One of my very favourite places is in my homeland, yet I had never been until last year, and that's Tasmania. I drove around the island in a campervan with five women from my family - my grandmother, two aunts, myself and my cousin - ranging in ages from 79 to 23. Tasmania is a glorious mix of rugged wilderness - though sadly much threatened by the voracious logging industry - and farming country. The landscape ranges from rainforest - Tasmania and Vancouver Island are two of the only places in the world with temperate rainforest - and alpine lakes, to pristine white sand beaches and farms with classic 19th century Australian homesteads. Both Launceston and Hobart are very attractive cities; head down to Salamanca Market in Hobart for great food and convict architecture on the waterfront. The food in Tasmania is also fantastic - fresh seafood including oysters and crayfish (lobster) from some of the cleanest waters in the world - and wonderful produce, including berries.

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Travel Articles that Caught My Eye...

We are constantly bombarded in the media with negative images of Iran, so it was quite refreshing to read the NYT travel article The Other Iran.

Articles about the Grand Canyon always catch my eye. I'm been there a number of times, both to the South and North Rim and each time I've been rendered speechless by it's size and beauty. But I haven't yet made it there in wintertime, which is the focus of this Baltimore Sun article Winter at it's Grandest.

(photo credit)

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 18, 2008

Travel Blog of the Week...Blogshank.

Blogshank is a travel blog that just a little different from the norm. Most travel blogs rely on photographs and words. This one relies on illustrations. To be fair, it's not a true travel blog as it's function is to highlight an illustrator's work. But for a few months (September 2007 - December 2007), the illustrator travelled and the blog went with him.

It's fun, it's fresh, and it provides a showcase on how to compact an amazing amount of information into one page. Mike Smith, the illustrator, simply used diary pages to record his impressions and experiences of his travels. These were then emailed home and posted on his blog by his brother.

Check it out.

And if you want to find out more about the how's and why's of the Blogshank blog, have a read of an interview with Mike over at

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Slideshare: Conversation by Design

Here's an interesting and informative slideshow on 'Creating an effective + unique blogging experience'

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Five Essential Ingredients Of A Good Travel Blog...

Having spent a great deal of time wandering around the internet reading travel blogs, I come to the conclusion that there are five essential ingredients to creating a good travel blog.

1. Make it Interesting - nobody, possibly not even your mother, is interesting in reading an itinerary. Create a living, breathing blog. After all, you’re writing about travel here and there is nothing more alive than travel. Share antidotes. Explain why a place is worth visiting. Be descriptive - focus on colors, the smells, the sounds, the music.

2. Be Informative - people read travel blogs to discover new places to visit or learn more about places they’ve been or want to go. So share the knowledge. Tell them how to get there, inform them about festivals, costs, accommodation and transportation. Give them the true scoop on a place, warts and all.

3. Use Dynamic Visuals - photographs talk. Post photographs that will make reader’s mouth water, stimulate their senses, and make feel that they are there with you.

4. Entertain your readers - share your travel antidotes. Got blisters walking the trails of the Grand Canyon, ate grubs at a wild food festival, drove a Cadillac along Route 66. Share the experience. Make the readers laugh out loud. Help them hear the music.

5. Post consistently - let your readers know when and how often you are going to post. The more you blog, the more likely the readers will stick around. If you’re only going to blog once or twice a week, tell the readers. If you’re taking a break from blogging while your on the road, let them know when you’ll be back.

To help you out, here’s some key words to focus on when writing your travel blog …

T - Tantalizing Tempting Thrilling Timely Tremendous Truthful

R - Reliable Regular Radiant Real Refreshing Remarkable Responsible

A - Appealing Absorbing Adventureous Amusing Astmospheric Authentic

V - Visual Vibrant Vocal Valuable Valid

E - Enthralling Entertaining Eloquent Energetic Enjoyable Enticing

L - Lively Leading Liberating Limitless Loaded

Further Reading:

5 Ways To Craft Brilliant Travel Blog Headlines
How to Make Me Read Your Travel Blog. Or Not.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 15, 2008

What is a Travel Blog?

If you do a google search for ‘travel blog’ you’ll find that there are over 40 million of them floating around the internet. Travel is a popular topic that everyone wants to write about.

But when you ask people ‘what is a travel blog?’ you’ll get just about as many different definitions. Travel blogs, it seems, cross over so many different categories - business, food, history, architecture, art, environment, destination, activity, and so on.

Caitlin over at Roaming Tales is doing a great job of trying to categorize the different types of travel blogs. Here’s what she’s come up with so far…

Travel Writers Blogs - blogs about writing and travel

Travel Expats Blogs - featuring someones experiences living in a foreign country

Thematic Travel Blogs - focusing on a specific topic within the broader theme of travel

The Big Trip Travel Blogs - that spring into existence for the purpose of a single big trip or because someone is doing a lot of travelling

Big Media Travel Blogs - mainly staff blogs at established newspapers and magazines.

Brand Extension Travel Blogs - that extend the brand of an existing travel site or print publication.

Can you think of any more categories ?

Where does your blog fit in ?


This post is the first in a series about travel blog to be run over the next few weeks.

Future posts include…

- Five Essential Ingredients Of A Good Travel Blog
- How to Create a Travel Blog
- Why Travel Writers Should Blog

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Weekly Top 5 Blog Posts for Writers...

1. Strategic Ways to Freelance Success

2. Working Toward $100,000: Diversifying Revenue Streams

3. Five Reasons I Won’t Give Up Books.

4. The True Believers Guide to Blogging

5. 5 Inspiration Hacks for Creative People

Plus One:

So you want to be a travel writer.

Sphere: Related Content

Interview with a Travel Writer...

Sorry, but no 'Interview with a Travel Writer' this week.

I've been so busy with life and work that I forgot to round up this week's travel writer. But that's okay, there are 'interviews' coming in for all corners of the world, so should have a new one to post next week....

By the way, if anyone reading this is interesting in being interviewed just send me an email and we'll set it up.

Meanwhile, have a check of the interview archives to see which travel writers have already visited Write to Travel.

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Travel Blog of the Week...Eating Asia.

For me food is an integral part of any travel experience. Hence my love of food blogs that focus on a region’s cultural and culinary attributes.

Eating Asia is one such blog. It explores authentic Asian food, provides a glimpse of various Asian cultures, and covers Asian street food. Created and maintained by writer Robyn Eckhardt and photographer David Hagerman, Eating Asia is based in Malaysia but often travels to Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

This is the place to go to explore the back streets of Asia, learning about it’s foods, cultures, and people.

My favorite posts so far include Road Food, Pink Bananas, and Coffee with a Side of History.

But I warn you now, eat before you read. The photographs on this blog are so visual that your taste buds will be crying out for a taste.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Zealand Freelance Conference 2008...

This year's New Zealand Freelance Conference is being held at the Hyatt Hotel in Auckland on the 7th and 8th of May 2008.

I enjoyed and learned so much from last year's conference that I've decided to head up there again this year.

There's plenty of interesting sessions to attend including one called 'Have laptop, will travel' by Jim Eagles (travel editor, NZ Herald), Kath Webster (editor, AA Directions), and Yvonne van Dongen (freelance travel writer).

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, February 10, 2008

National Geographic Traveler Seminars...Spring 2008

Good photographs help sell travel articles so it might be worth your while spending the day at a National Geographic Traveler Seminar. Learn how the professional photographers always get the best shot...

A Passion for Travel: Photos That Tell the Story

Washington, DC — February 24 2008
Kansas City — March 9, 2008
Portland, OR - March 30, 2008

National Geographic Traveler photographers Jim Richardson and Catherine Karnow talk about the "... secrets of how to capture the spirit of a place and bring back images of enduring significance."

Travel Photography in the Digital Age

Minneapolis — June 1, 2008
Vancouver, BC — June 8, 2008

Ralph Lee Hopkins and Bob Krist explain "...the nuts and bolts of this exciting technology — from choosing the right camera to developing your own workflow to strategies for covering your travel destination."

Photos From The Edge: Bringing Home Great Adventures

Los Angeles — March 2, 2008
Boston — April 20, 2008
Denver — April 27, 2008
Seattle — May 18, 2008
Toronto — May 18, 2008

National Geographic Traveler photo editor Dan Westergren and photographer Pete McBride "...uncover the secrets of how to photograph not just as a passive observer, but as a part of the action — whether you hike, bike, ski or climb."

Putting the WOW in Your Nature & Outdoor Photography

Houston — March 15, 2008
San Francisco — March 29, 2008
Chicago — April 6, 2008

National Geographic Traveler photographer Michael Melford and well-known nature photographer and lecturer Eddie Soloway unearth the mysteries of nature and outdoor photography and show you how " sharpen your skills and fine-tune your technique to turn your nature photos from so-so to so spectacular."

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Women's Adventure Magazine holding 4 writing conferences this year...

For the second year running Women's Adventure Magazine is hosting four more magazine conferences in Boulder, Colorado.

They are...

Photography in Magazines, April 11-13, 2008: Speakers include the best outdoor magazine photographers in the world along with the opportunity to pitch your work to top magazine photo editors.

Magazine Writing Workshop, June 6-8, 2008: The nuts and bolts of the writing craft and business of freelancing. Excellent speakers, plus breakout sessions with award-winning magazine editors and writers. Learn, grow, and take the next step toward a lucrative writing career.

Travel Writing & Photography, September 12-14, 2008: For the avid enthusiast. Do what you love and make a living at it. Two tracks available: travel writing or travel photography with the best in the industry as faculty.

The Original Magazine Conference, October 10-12, 2008: Just like the October 2007 conference. A beginner to mid-level 101 course about all aspects of magazine writing. Allows one-on-one sessions with nationally renowned editors.

Want to know more - sign up for their email newsletter.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 08, 2008

Attention all travel bloggers...

Attention all travel bloggers...Budget Travel magazine needs you. Here's what they wrote in their latest newsletter.

Ever Blogged About Your Travels?

We're looking for readers with travel-blogging experience to help write a story for our June 10th anniversary issue. If you have your own travel blog or have ever blogged about your trips on any website, tell us about it! Send an e-mail describing your blog to Be sure to include a link to your website. If we like your blog, we may ask you to contribute tips for people interested in starting a blog. E-mail us

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Interview with a Travel Writer...Olivia Giovetti

Today’s interview is with Olivia Giovetti, travel writer and blogger. A couple of weeks ago I choose Olivia’s blog High Culture on a Low Budget as the Travel Blog of the Week. This week we get to meet the person behind the blog.

Besides blogging, Olivia has written for Brave New Traveler, GoBudget Travel, Vagabondish, Eurocheap, and Papermag.

Hi Olivia, and welcome to Write To Travel. Thanks for stopping by and taking time to talk.

1. Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get started in writing?

Yes and no. I was raised in part by my grandparents and my grandmother is a
retired teacher. To say they (along with my mother, who will harp on me if
I don't say that she drove me from our house in Lowell, MA to their house in
Pawtucket RI on a daily basis while listening to a cassette of The Barber of
Seville and who later took me on weekend trips to the New York City Opera)
jump-started my education would be an understatement. I gave myself
homework assignments, usually writing, and by the time I was 5 I had several
book ideas. I think one was an opera libretto that I cobbled together using
an Italian dictionary and my mother's phrasebook "Wicked Italian for the
Traveler." I wrote a lot in school and in high school won some local
playwriting contests and had a play put on in New York the summer of my
junior year. So I first went to college as a playwriting major, then
switched several times to music to business to marketing to culture and
communications. Which is where I stayed.

2. What do you consider your first "break" as a travel writer?

In terms of publishing, I got two simultaneous jobs after a trip to Prague.
Before going, I pitched Paper Magazine and wrote a story on the local art
scene for their online division. I also wrote a series of guest posts for based on the same trip. Earlier that year, however, I met my boyfriend's parents (both working screenwriters in LA...although I suppose there are no working screenwriters now due to the strike) and they really made the idea of being a working writer tangible. They're great people to have in your corner.

3. What advice would you give to someone who wants to break into writing?

Date a guy (or girl) whose parents are writers. Or awesome cooks, because
then you don't have to worry about eating. Also, read. Compulsively.
Addictively. Novels, historical pieces, non-fiction books, coffee table
books, blogs, websites, news feeds, RSS feeds, the books
Amazon.comrecommends you, the magazine's in your doctor's office, the
daily rags, the links that Gmail throws up in your tool-bar....

Get yourself out there. And by there, I generally mean the Internet.
It's so easy to set up a website or a blog and to use it as a platform for
your writing. High Culture on a Low Budget started as a book idea that was halted and stalled by outside sources. When that happens you can either bitch and moan about it, or you can take matters into your own hands. For me, I started blogging about one find per day, and through some serious networking got it read by people who aren't my mother, my boyfriend, or my dog (although she loves when I write about Prague).

Network. Make friends with other travel writers. Read their blogs. Write
them an e-mail or a letter. Go to readings and events, have some cheap
business cards made up. And don't be afraid, as you make friends, to ask
for people's editors.

Like David Farley, I also signed up for a MediaBistro account and have pored over the How To Pitch, Pitches That Work, and seminar transcripts. When you read a "How to Pitch" article, see if you can tailor a story idea to what the publisher is looking for (rather than the other way around). I'm also a fan of writing guidebooks (such as Zissner's On Writing Well and Ariel Gore's How to Be a Famous Writer Before You're Dead), although I'm wary of spending too much time reading about writing and too little time actually writing. Another good book for writers (or cubicle expats in general) is Michelle Goodman's The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. And pick up a Suze Orman book while you're at it. Knowing how to manage your money always helps.

4. What do you see as the future for travel writers in the printed media and
online ?

I have a nagging fear that many magazines may soon find fates like Chow; where their existence goes from in-print to online. This is only so much a fear as I'm a romantic and love words printed on paper. I think the online travel medium will allow more writers to break into the genre (hopefully without compromising the quality, which is a general concern with online versus print media).

One of the greatest things about online media is that it allows travel writers to connect with their colleagues and editors easily regardless of distance. I think that has helped and will continue to help our community grow tighter (it definitely eases networking a bit).

5. Which travel writers and/or travel books have influenced you?

My first major influence was The Kingdoms of Europe, this massive book my mother had on all of the different ruling powers on the continent. That sparked my first interest in travel. I also read a lot of outdated guidebooks that were on sale for $0.99 at Borders as a kid. Geoff Dyer is my main inspiration when it comes to travel writing, I'm a bit obsessed with his stuff. Ayun Halliday and Anthony Bourdain are two other biggies. I'm a bit of a voyeur and love to see how working writers progress and publish, especially in periodicals/dailies (as opposed to books) and David Farley is great for that (his website lists all of his published articles and pieces, which are also very well-written). I also love reading expat novels (Prague by Arthur Phillips quickly comes to mind, as does Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises). And the letters of Mozart. It's fascinating to see his perceptions of everywhere from Bologna to Munich to London at varying ages while being the rock star of 18th Century Europe. Marisha Pessl (Special Topics in Calamity Physics) is also a huge influence on my style and language. I like to listen to Physics on audio book when I'm struggling with cadence or language.

There are also some books--like Mozart's letters--that inspire me to travel and then write in turn about the experience, sort of like Geoff Dyer's piece on going to Algiers to read Camus. I have a similar hope to do the same thing with War and Peace once I have enough money to go back to Russia.

There are also two great films by Cedric Klapisch (both featuring Audrey Tautou) that are brilliant travel and expat pieces, L'auberge Espagnole and Les Poupees Russes. L'auberge is what inspired me to move to Europe. They also have prominent themes on writing and life in general. Also, the making of Amadeus on the director's cut version got me really hooked on Eastern Europe.

I could go on all day with this question...

6. As a writer and traveler, what are the biggest challenges you face on
the road ?

I'm obsessive about getting as many details as I can. I take business cards, menus, write down addresses, and then I photograph the street signs and exteriors, and sometimes I get too wrapped up in those details to see the bigger picture. I also have American-guilt over not knowing the language of each country I visit. I work with phrasebooks and speak a few other safety languages fluently, but I still feel that ugly-American stigma.

Also as a traveler, I have terrible food allergies to the most common things, so I always have to learn how to say in whatever language I need "I'm allergic to" and then the long list of things I can't eat. Fortunately, I always have an Epi-Pen and Benadryl in my purse. (And with that admission, I wholly and completely sound like the Jew that I am.)

7. Finally, what is your favorite place and why ?

Eastern Europe. My first out-of-country experience (if you don't count Canada) was Russia and I fell in love with the grey-ness of the city, the fact that it gets dark at 3:00 p.m. in the winter there, the whole other-wordliness of it. I've gone back since and lived there for a bit and can't get enough. I've branched out and been to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania. I like the cold (which is why I apparently live in California).

I'm also a huge fan of Austria, which I guess counts in some part as Eastern Europe. I dig the whole fallen empire thing and I've always connected with Viennese culture on a deep level. Though I was recently diagnosed with a potato allergy so I don't know how I'm going to make it through the next time I'm back there. I'm already allergic to mushrooms so the combination of those two allergies alone basically rules out half their cuisine. Thankfully most vodkas are wheat distilled.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 04, 2008

Travel Blog of the Week...intelligent travel.

I’d have to say that National Geographic Traveler magazine is my favorite travel magazine. As soon as it arrives in my mailbox I know that the next couple of hours will be lost as I immerse myself in the words and the pictures. So it’s no surprise that the National Geographic Traveler blog intelligent travel would also attract my attention.

It has all the ingredients of a great travel blog . Easy to read and visually stimulating, the intelligent travel blog is, in a word, addictive.

With posts such as Cinematic Road Trip: Arizona, Library Ghouls, and World Cities Vie for Monopoly's Boardwalk to read, I end up spending way to much time visiting this blog.

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Word Travel TV Series: Episode One…

Earlier in the week I wrote about a new travel series created by Canadian TV.

Here’s a trailer of the first episode which aired this week. The two intrepid travel writers were in Bolivia.

Articles that resulted from this episode:

Car Blessings in Bolivia by Karen

Twice in a Lifetime by Robin

Anyone had the chance to watch this television series yet ?

Would love to know what you think of it?

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 01, 2008

Want to create an e-book?

Jennifer Mattern over at All Freelance Writing has been posting the
14 day E-book Writing Challenge which provides all the information, resources, and structure needed to create an e-book. The challenge is now finished but the information will remain. Another interested in creating an e-book should head over and check out the 14 Day E-book Writing Challenge.

Here's a summary of each day's tasks. Click on each day to find out how to go about to complete each task...

Day One:

Decide on a Free E-book or Income Source
Choose a Niche
Conduct Basic Market Research
Choose a Final Topic
Choose a Working Title
Choose and Setup a Domain Name / Hosting

Day Two:

Today you’re going to create your basic e-book outline. Think of it in relation to top-level items in a table of contents. We’ll include your primary e-book sections / chapters, and some of the basic pages your e-book should have.

Day Three:

Set an estimated length goal for your e-book.
Conduct further keyword research.
Create your expanded e-book outline

Day Four:

Choose your e-book format (for example, .pdf vs .exe e-books).
Choose basic formatting elements like fonts, font sizes, margins, etc.
Set up your basic e-book draft file in your favorite word processing program.
Set up your title page and other basic “common” pages in your e-book.

Day Five, Day Six, Day Seven:

Start writing the e-book.

Day Eight:

Finish writing your first draft of your e-book.
Write your e-book introduction

Day Nine:

Start editing your e-book draft

Day Ten:

Finish editing your e-book.
Convert your file to PDF.
Distribute copies for testimonials.
Choose a price (if you’re not writing a free e-book).

Day Eleven:

Write your sales letter / sales page.

Day Twelve:

Create your e-book cover.
Write articles / excerpts for article marketing.
Prepare for additional release marketing.

Day Thirteen:

Upload e-book / Setup distribution system
Setup affiliate program (optional)

Day Fourteen:

Announce your e-book launch...


Jennifer makes the daunting taks of creating an e-book look simple. Now I know where to look when I finally decide to move my e-book out of my head and onto the computer...

Sphere: Related Content
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...