Monday, March 31, 2008

Travel Blog of the Week...Go Green Travel Green.

No matter which way you say it - eco traveler, green traveler, sustainable traveler - it all boils down to the idea that we can travel in an environmental friendly way. But it’s not an easy thing to do, so it’s great to come across a blog that gives interesting, informative, and helpful tips on how to travel green.

The Go Green Travel Green blog is for ‘…travelers who want to be greener and for eco-conscious folks who want to travel.’ Posts feature information on Green hotels, transportation, food, and gear.

I love their ‘Shades of Green’ series which helps define where on the green spectrum you are as a traveler. Check it out - are you green (pea green), greener (kelly green), or greenest (forest green)? Recent Shades of Green posts worth reading include Money and Time, Food, and Bottled Water.

This really is a great site for the novice to the die hard green traveler.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Travel Photography...Tips and Advice.

Want to become a successful travel writer? Then you need to learn about how to take decent photograph. Being able to write and shoot will make your work much more marketable.


10 top tips for travel photographers from What Digital Camera




Rick Sammon's Top Ten Digital Photography Tips




Interview with travel photographer Peter Guttman

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Write to Travel is on the road this week...

Off on a short road trip this week to the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island so Write to Travel will be taking a break from it’s usual weekly posts.

With only limited internet access, it’s likely that there won’t be any posts until next week.

.......

Meanwhile...

Write to Travel is on the lookout for guest bloggers for the Guest Post Friday slot.

So far, we have had three Guest Post Fridays which have been interesting and entertaining.

What National Geographic Taught Me by Lola Akinmade

'Bells and Whistles ... Incorporating audio and video into your blog' by Keith Kellet

Travel Media Showcase by Kara Williams

Want to join in? Have something to say about freelance writing, travel writing, conferences, courses, blogging, etc.

Then send through an email to Kiwiwriter (at) xtra (dot) co (dot) nz. We want to hear what you have to say...

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Blog4Reel Wants to Turn Your Life into a Movie…

Jennifer, one of the co-founders of Blog4Reel left a comment on one of my posts suggesting that I enter my blog into the Blog4Reel contest. But somehow the idea that Write To Travel could be made into a movie doesn’t quite compute in my brain.

Why would anyone want to watch a movie of someone holed up in their office, peering at a computer screen, guzzling coffee, and muttering to themselves between bursts of creativity? I had visions (nightmares) of a movie along the lines of a female version of Leif Petterson's One Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer. It seemed to work for Leif - trust me, it wouldn’t work for me.

But I love the concept of Blog4Reel and I think that there are plenty of travel blogs out there that would convert nicely into a movie. Travel Blogs such as The Lost Girls or Lives of Wander (hint! hint!) - travel blogs on the move.

Course it doesn't have to be a travel blog. It could be a blog about anything.

Did I mention that this competition gives bloggers the chance to have their blogs turned into actual movies, plus a chance at winning $2000.

So check it out...

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Travel Writers on Travel Writing...

Abha over at Written Road posted this week about a series of articles written by Robert Haru Fisher. Fisher is a contributing editor and columnist for Frommers.com and also the former editor in chief of the the Fodor Travel Guides.

The series he wrote, Travel Writing 101, is up on the Frommers.com website. Here's the links to all five articles...

Travel Writing 101: Three Ways to Get Started

Travel Writing 101: Traveling on the (Very) Cheap

Travel Writing 101: What Exactly is Travel?

Travel Writing 101: Telling Your Story with Memoirs & Blogs

Travel Writing 101: The Freelance Life


Also...

Check out this interview with Lara Dunstan of Cool Travel Guide fame.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Planet Eye is needs Travel Writers to be Local City Experts...

Are you an expert on your city?

Want to write about your hometown and get paid to do so?

Then Planet Eye might be for you.

PlanetEye is a new online travel guide featuring beautiful photographs, mapping technology and insight from travelers and locals to give people a real sense of destinations around the world.

They are looking for "local experts" in 25 major cities to write about three short articles/reviews a week (200 to 300 words each) that will give people insider advice on what to do, see, eat - information not usually found in a travel guide.

These cities include: Seattle, Las Vegas, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid, Paris, Vienna and Moscow. They are also open to discussing other cities so don't worry if your city is not on the list. Ask them - they might be interested.

They are paying US$250/month (via Pay Pal) which works out at about $20 a post - not much you might say, but if you're an expert on your city and love to write about it then each post won't take up too much of your time.

You can apply here.

And don't forget to let us know how you get on...

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Interview with a Travel Writer...Lola Akinmade.

Today we talk with travel writer Lola Akinmade who's work has appeared in Brave New Traveler, Matador Travel, The Traveler's Notebook, Transitions Abroad, and Black Travel. Lola also volunteers as a photojournalist for World Hope International.

Hi Lola and welcome to Write To Travel. Thanks for stopping by for a chat.


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

Actually, I thought I’d end up a geologist. My love for the geosciences ultimately fueled an undying love of travel and global curiosity at a very young age. By fifteen, I’d written about 25 fictional stories shared only with those within my sphere. Those stories explored relationships, marriages and travel experiences well beyond my years. My young mind had been left to fully create and explore. Alas! ending up in very scientific field as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) consultant meant my travel writing became more technical in its delivery.

Somewhere in the fifteen years since then, creative writing slipped beneath technical writing. Some may see technicality as a limitation when it comes to writing. I see it as a sweet double-pot of expertise (creativity and technicality) I can pull from as needed.

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

In 2002, reading the line “Congratulations!” in a letter I’d received from Eco-Challenge – the World’s premier expedition racing event at that time kicked off my foray into travel writing. Chosen as one of a few volunteers to work the event for three weeks in Fiji, my main task involved reporting as a field/web journalist. We tracked the teams through jungle and on high seas, wrote up press releases and team spotlight articles, conducted interviews as well as wrote up travel narratives about beautiful Fiji which were published on a daily basis. Ever since, I’d written sporadically about experiences from Pamplona to Poland.

Until one day, I stumbled across a budding community called Matador Travel….

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

The breadth and depth of superb travel writing out there can both inspire and discourage you. Know your limitations and be confident in what you do know. As a consultant during the day, networking is crucial to my career. This crossover trait into travel writing has proven to be exceedingly beneficial in a short time span. And yes!.many successful travel writers do keep their day jobs.

Be realistic in your expectations. Millions of people who just got back from that great trip and blogged about it want to try travel writing. Millions of people with great DSLR cameras want to be travel photographers. Everyone wants to get paid to do what they love.

How do you stand apart from the crowd? That is your challenge.

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

For aspiring travel writers, online publishing is helping them stand apart from the crowd. I think it’s wonderful that great writers can beat the Catch-22 need-experience-before-we-publish-you vibe that a lot of established print magazines effervesce out there. Travel writing is no longer becoming this exclusive club for the privileged few.

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

My well of inspirational sources is bottomless. From the established like Theroux, Leffel, Potts, Watson, Halliday, etc to the up-and-coming like Tim Patterson, Eva Holland, and Julie Schwietert inspire me. No, I wasn’t paid to plug their names.

Jack Kerouac will always have a place in my heart for keeping my attention span with every single line.

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

I love travelling as a minority. Being able to seamlessly move because people automatically assume I’m a local impoverished immigrant allows me to observe and immerse without sticking out like a sore thumb in some places. I get to experience the true attitudes of locals towards others very different from them – both great and bad.

I have experienced everything from utmost rejection to gawks of fascination that a lot of bright-eyed backpackers could never endure. It is at the low times I question the purpose of travel and then Mark Twain’s quote always comes to mind….“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."…… Mark Twain

By the way, check out The 50 Most Inspiring Travel Quotes of All Time.

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

Having explored over thirty (30) countries and counting, the madness, intensity, audacity, traffic jams and the unexpected of Lagos, Nigeria makes it my favorite place in the world – home.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Travel Articles that Caught My Eye...



I’m off on a short road trip next week, so of course, have been thinking about possible angles for some travel articles. As part of my research and thinking process, I have been reading short travel articles published in various newspapers. Everyone knows that the best way to figure out what editors are looking for is to study what they’ve already published. So I’ve been studying short articles - the ones in between features and fillers - to determine the structure, content, and style that works.

Articles such as these…

Take a walk in a swamp to see Florida's rare orchids - a Seattle Times article on a swamp tour through the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park in southwest Florida

Amazing Grace: The Art and Ordeal of the Kimono - New York Times article about the Women's Association in Kyoto that teachs women how to wear a Kimono

Afternoon tea is back at the newly reopened Plaza Hotel - USA Today article on the joys of high tea at the Plaza Hotel in NYC.

Touring San Diego — on the run - another Seattle Times article, this one taking a City Running Tour around San Diego.

(photo credit)

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Travel Blog of the Week...Prêt à Voyager.

Written by a Baltimore-based graphic designer with a background in art history, anthropology and photography, Prêt à Voyager (Ready to Travel)seems to have two objectives. One is to put Baltimore on your radar. The other to create a place where design meets travel.

Worthwhile objectives that are truly met. This design/travel blog has so many wonderful links to people and places around the world. So many, in fact, that you’ll end up spending hours traveling from one blog to another, discovering maps, journals, and voices that you might never have found on your own.

If you are looking for variety in your travel blogs, then this is definitely the place to start.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

Guest Post Friday: Travel Media Showcase by Kara Williams

Welcome to Guest Post Friday. Today travel writer Kara Williams from the Traveling Mamas blog writes about the annual Travel Media Showcase and why travel writers should go.

Travel Media Showcase by Kara Williams

Every year at Travel Media Showcase, dozens of journalists meet with public-relations representatives of tourist boards, convention and visitors’ bureaus, and individual hotels and resorts. The three-day event is held at different locations throughout the United States. This year’s TMS is scheduled for September 2-5, 2008, in Kansas City, Missouri.

I went to my first TMS in Palm Springs, California, in 2007. The basic set-up is this:

Day one: Arrive and have cocktails and dinner with all journalists (about 90 in Palm Springs) and PR exhibitors (about 75 destinations)

Day two: Morning of one-on-one “speed-dating” meetings with exhibitors, in 15-minute increments. Afternoon “FAM tours” with different themes (golf, art, the outdoors, shopping) in the local area.

Day three: Speed-dating from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a break for lunch.

Day four: Departure for home or post-event overnight FAM trips in the area.

I found TMS a great way to meet different media-relations folks from various destinations, see some popular tourist attractions in Palm Springs, and perhaps most importantly for me, network with other travel writers (remember this is where the Traveling Mamas blog was born).

Here’s the lowdown:

What I liked about Travel Media Showcase:

The online application process is straightforward. If you’re new to the event, you will need to send some hard-copy clips to J. Vero Associates, the TMS organizer based in New Jersey, for acceptance.

Also online, you rank your requests to meet with individual public-relations representatives. If you both selected each other, it’s likely you’ll get a meeting with that person. Otherwise, you can later ask for meetings to fill any of your empty time slots.

I thought food and drink was plentiful – from the continental breakfasts, to snack breaks, to sit-down lunches, dinners and cocktail hours (though I did hear some grumbling that sit-down breakfasts would have been appreciated).

The host property, the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, brought some chair massage therapists to the convention area to give short backrubs during the breaks. Nice!

TMS reimburses journalists $150 if they have traveled more than 500 miles to the event.

All accommodations, FAM trips, meals and other conference events for
TMS journalists at TMS are FREE.

What was kind of funny at Travel Media Showcase:

The amount of schwag that was given away. We came home with computer bags, lotion, chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, reporters’ notebooks, mints, pens… the list goes on. Pack an extra duffel bag for all the random stuff, plus press kits and the event binder. The smart reps gave us press materials on USB plug-ins or slim CDs. We liked that!

Sometimes you clicked with the destination reps, and sometimes you didn’t. Occasionally 15 minutes was way to short to discuss the place, your previous trip there, or what you had in common with the rep. Other times, it was waaaaaay to long. You could tell the PR person was tired of giving the spiel, and just wanted the day to be done!

What I thought could be better at Travel Media Showcase:

It would be awesome if there were more international destinations represented. At TMS in Palm Springs, only Malaysia, Scandinavia and a few Quebec, Canada, reps were there. Naturally, the booths for the overseas destinations were always busy with journalists stopping by for a chat in between official time slots and when we broke for snacks and meals – especially after word got around that Scandinavia was hosting a few press trips in the coming months!

I’d prefer to have more time for exploring the local area with the organized FAMs. One afternoon was not enough. It would be great if there we had three full days of TMS: a full day of seeing the sights, one full day of speed dating, a morning of speed dating, and an afternoon to enjoy the amenities at the resort before heading home the next day.

Any questions about TMS? Feel free to post them in the comments area. I’d be happy to try to answer them. I’ll apply to attend TMS this fall (if my kids’ school start-date doesn’t interfere), so I hope to see you there!

.........

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

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Interview with a Travel Writer...Anja Mutić.


Today we talk with New York-based travel writer Anja Mutić. Anja has written guidebooks and articles for Rough Guides, Time Out, Lonely Planet, ShermansTravel, Travel + Leisure, and Caribbean Travel & Life. Read her many articles, check out her photo gallery and follow her travel experiences and life on the road at Everthenomad.com

Hi Anja and welcome to Write To Travel. Thanks for stopping by for a chat.

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

I started writing very early on. My first project, when I was seven, was an illustrated book of stories about adventures of three farm animals who set out together to explore the world. Then came a slew of short stories, several unfinished novels, poetry, spoken word... Travel writing was something that only happened in the last six years, after several moves across continents and frequent trips made it the most obvious – and desired – profession for me.

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

After working as an online editor for RoughGuides.com for a couple of years, my “break” was hitting the road for my first on-the-ground project, a five-week trip to Bolivia to research the Rough Guide to South America. I had never been to the country before, so I was excited and nervous at the same time. Once I got there, I think I was running on adrenaline (and the thin air of the Andes) the whole time. It was an amazing and incredibly challenging experience, tackling a country that’s politically so volatile, difficult to travel around (the rainy season was just starting when I arrived), and culturally so many worlds apart from anything I knew up until that point. It was enlightening, humbling, and inspiring.

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

Travel with an open mind, get off the beaten trail, be prepared to rough it and improvise, take notes (even if it’s just one sentence a day, about the color of the sky or the taste of the dish you’re eating), and always be on the lookout for interesting details. It’s often the least obvious things that make the most compelling travel stories. When I pitch articles these days, I find the editors bite most for offbeat angles. You can whip up a destination guide pretty easily using your own notes plus the wealth of info available online. What’s more of a challenge is coming up with a story that has an unusual angle, a twist, a sense of surprise. Whenever you take a trip, and even when you’re walking around your own neighborhood, seek out what’s beneath the surface. Starting your own blog is a great way to share your travel observations and tips.

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

Printed media, particularly the world of guidebooks, is tricky because information becomes outdated so fast. The process of on-the-ground fact-checking – and so much of guidebook writing is exactly that - is truly laborious yet can become obsolete overnight. A cafe I check out for a guidebook in, say, Lisbon, may shut down in two months as the book has already gone to press. I’d say online is the way to go if you want fresh information. What I see as a much better fit for printed media are travel narratives. Personally, I much prefer holding an actual book and reading an engaging travel story than doing it online.

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

Of the contemporary travel writers, I probably enjoy Pico Iyer’s writing the most. But, I’ll admit, I don’t read travel literature often enough. The literature of exile, however, is something that has always been like a magnet for me, probably because I myself have been living in self-imposed exile from my home country (Croatia) since 1993. I believe the literature of exile is in some aspects like travel literature. It’s about being placed (in the case of exile) or placing yourself (in the case of travel) outside of the regular context of your life and having to deal with whatever life throws at you. A book I’d highly recommend is Letters of Transit: Reflections on Exile, Identity, Language and Loss, which has essays by poet Charles Simic, novelist Bharati Mukherjee etc.

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

My pet peeves: the anxiety I feel the night before any trip; airport security measures; looking for something quite important that is, of course, at the very bottom of my bag; not speaking the language of a country I’m visiting; waking up in the middle of the night not knowing where I am or where the light switch is...
My biggest challenge as a travel writer is keeping certain places and experiences ‘sacred’ by not writing about them. I’ve been to many spots around the world that were so special that I made a conscious decision not to place them on the tourist map. There was a samba bar in Rio, a clandestine restaurant on an island in Croatia, a beach community without electricity or running water in Uruguay... Maybe it’s selfish but I want these places to remain as untouched as possible. There’s always a conflict between wanting to spread the word/share a great story or an authentic experience and wanting to keep it under wraps. I like my secrets, so these days I share certain tips with friends only.

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

That’s a tough question. I like different places for different reasons and moods. For fading urban beauty and melancholy, Havana and Lisbon. For the sound of crickets at midday, the smell of lavender and sea salt, the islands of Croatia - I’ll selfishly keep the names of my favorites. :) For tuning out of the world and encounters with fascinating people, the beach community in Uruguay that I mention above. For the most beautiful night skies, the Altiplano of Bolivia. For tango and best evening breezes, Buenos Aires. I also loved Phnom Penh, Porto, Dominica... And I’m still in awe of New York, my base since 1999, even though it’s a love and hate kind of relationship.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Travel Blog of the Week...Lives of Wander.

When you can’t get up and go, then the next best thing is to live through another person’s travels. That’s what I’m doing at the moment.

How?

By following Theresa and Jeff as they plan their year on the road.

Start reading Lives of Wander from the beginning and you’ll get to know them too. They haven’t quite hit the road yet. They head out in the summer. Right now the blog is all about the planning, ranging from what backpack to take to asking the readers where they should go and how they should travel when they get there (you even get to vote).

So while I’m home bound I’ll be (cyber) traveling with Theresa and Jeff. Can’t wait to see where we go…

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Write to Travel nominated for Blogger's Choice Award...

Thanks to Traveldiva, Write to Travel has been nominated for a Blogger's Choice Award.

My site was nominated for Best Education Blog!

So if you think that Write to Travel is worthy of the award, go ahead and click on the logo. It will take you to the place where you can cast your vote.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Travel Rants is looking for a Travel Blogger...

Travel Rants, one of the UK’s most popular travel blogs, is looking for a...

"...travel blogger who can write about travel consumer issues and news, twice a week to take off some of my (Darren Cronian's) workload on writing so that I can spend more time networking and promoting the blog."

Darren is looking for 1 in-depth blog post (approx 400 - 500 words) and 1 short blog post (approx 200 words)...rate to be discussed this with interested bloggers. Payment will be made weekly via PayPal.

Further info on position and how to apply can be found at Performancing.com or at Travel Rants)

Don't forget to let us know how you get on if you apply...

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Travel Writing Course in Spain…

Award winning Travel Writer Daniel Scott is teaching a four day ‘Introduction to Travel Writing’ course in Alpujarra, Spain from 18-23 May 2008.

Run by travel company All Ways Spain, this 'Introduction to Travel Writing’ course

“…looks at the fundamentals of narrative development, story structure, and crisp, compelling writing, so that you can turn your travels into articles and your articles into money and with it the opportunity to travel for free. Although reasonably intensive, the course is above all enjoyable and stimulating, with a small group of no more than eight providing a mutually supportive environment. Daniel will also give personal feedback on students' work for up to six months afterwards, so providing an expert view on your progress from the course. You can see the course outline here."



Find out more about this course by reading Musings of a Wandering Mind, an article written by a course attendee in 2006.

It sounds like a winner to me….travel writing and Spain all at the same time.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Video Blogging Tips from Robert Scoble...

Following on from Keith's post yesterday about 'incorporating video and audio into your blog' here's some video blogging tips from expert blogger Robert Scoble....

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Guest Post Friday: 'Bells and Whistles ... Incorporating audio and video into your blog' by Keith Kellet

Welcome to Guest Post Friday. Today Keith Kellet is writing about the evolution of his travel blog and how he incorporated audio and video into it.

Keith Kellett is a British travel writer who took up writing, photography and blogging to keep him occupied in retirement. He says he is trying hard not to let it become a full-time job.



'Bells and Whistles ... Incorporating audio and video into your blog' by Keith Kellet

There are many things you can do with an electronic publication that you can’t do with a print one. When I say electronic publication, I’m going to concentrate on blogs, although much of what I’m about to say also applies to e-zines. They’re pretty much the same thing, although an e-zine is usually open to contributions from anybody, for which the publishers (hopefully!) pay. A blog is often an unpaid labour of love, either by an individual or a small group of people with like interests.

Strangely enough, even the most mercenary of writers seem to agree that, although they normally abhor the practice of ‘writing for free’, it’s all right in your own blog. As they say in Yorkshire ‘If ever tha does owt for nowt, do it for yourself!’

With a print magazine, you get words and pictures, and that’s it. With electronic publications, there’s the possibility of linking to relevant articles or information on other sites, as well as incorporating sound files or video. Sometimes, there’s even a facility for readers to give almost instant feedback, and ‘have their say’

Now, I’m going to describe the programmes I use. That’s not to endorse them, or say one is better or worse than another. They just work for me.You can find my Travelrat’s Travels blog at http://travelrat.wordpress.com. I use the Wordpress platform for ease and general user-friendliness. Before I set out, I laid down a few rules for myself. Unless I was away, I would post entries three times a week; on Mondays, I’d put up an entry from my ‘Travel Diary’, and on Wednesdays and Fridays, general thoughts and hometown happenings, not always travel-related. George Courtauld used this formula to good effect in his book Travels of a Fat Bulldog, alternating between tales of his trips as a Queen’s Messenger and stories from his farm in Essex.

The original idea was to post pictures on a Wednesday, but then I found out how easy it was to embed a picture into a post. Not too many, though, unless your blog is to be a mainly photographic one. For text-and-pictures, I reckon two is about the maximum on any one post; any more than that, and I’d recommend a ‘slide show’. You can make this for free at www.slide.com and embed it into your blog simply by cutting and pasting the code from slide.com to your blogsite.

If you want to take the option of adding music to your slide show, then I suggest you put it on a separate page, or otherwise, it will play automatically whenever someone visits your blog.

After a short while, I opened a Pic of the Week page … the picture is changed every Saturday when I’m at home. One thing, though. Size your pictures to 320 X 240 before uploading them. They’ll upload faster, and will fit nicely on to your blog page. And, it’ll make it less likely that some rascal will download them, and use them without your permission.

Once a month, I add a ‘Country page’. This consists of photographs, an article (sometimes dating back to 1996), some links and a pictorial ‘slide show’. These, you can access by clicking a tab on the home page, rather than scrolling through the blog to find them.

Uploading video proved to be easier than I expected, too, and I was able to ‘show, not tell’ in a way I never could before. The software I use is Windows MovieMaker, which came bundled with my computer. You do need something that will make digital video files, but there’s no need to dash out and buy a digital camcorder. Even a cheap digital camera may allow you to take short movie clips, or maybe you can do it with your mobile phone.

Even if you can’t do sound, MovieMaker will allow you to do narrative as you’re editing your clips. When I’m done, I upload to YouTube, then embed them into my blog … there’s easy instructions on how to do this in both Wordpress and YouTube. A word of caution, though. I’ve seen blogsters who have seen someone else’s video on YouTube, and embedded it into their blog. I’m not sure whether this is actually illegal or not, but I do feel uneasy about it. I’d advise erring on the side of caution. Put in a link by all means, but don’t embed it.

As far as sounds are concerned, I’m still experimenting. You can make a sound-only podcast with MovieMaker, but the result will be in a format that the site I use, www.podbean.com, won’t accept. But I can import it into iTunes, which I set up to convert anything it imports into MP3 format … don’t ask me how I did it; I’ve forgotten! I haven’t yet worked out how to embed the sound file into my blog, but I can provide a link to it.

So, there you have it; not only words and pictures, but also moving pictures, and spoken, rather than written words. There’s instructions on how to do it on all the sites I mentioned … I’m reminded of the line in ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines’ … ‘How does a German officer learn anyzing? From ze book of instructions!’ The important thing is not to let one medium take over the site to the detriment of the others. I can’t tell you how to do that, though. I have enough trouble trying to achieve the balance myself!

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

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Creative Weblogging Network looking for Travel Bloggers...

Interested in a paid travel blog position. Creative Weblogging Network is advertising for two travel bloggers.

One for The Flyaway Weblog, a travel blog that focuses on traveling on a shoestring budget.

The other is Wandalust, a UK Travel Blog.

You can find out all the details about requirements and pay over at their information page.

Good luck to anyone who decides to apply.

Let us know how you get on...

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Weekly Top 5 Blog Posts for Writers...

1. Writing for Content Sites and Networks

2. The Art of Email-Writing and How It Can Make or Break Your Business

3. Unbiased, Independent Guidebook Review (that I co-wrote): LP Tuscany & Umbria

4. 8 Lessons Bloggers Can Learn From Sony

5. 4 Easy Tips for Shooting Better Travel Videos

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Interview with a Travel Writer...Tim Leffel.


Today we talk with Tim Leffel, award winning travel writer and editor. Tim is also the editor of Perceptive Travel, a web magazine that is home to narrative travel stories from book authors on the move. A man on the move - Tim has circled the globe three times and has dispatched articles from five continents over a 16-year period.

Tim is the author of several books - Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune: The Contrarian Traveler's Guide to Getting More for Less (Travelers' Tales Publishing) and is co-author of Traveler's Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America. His stories have appeared in a wide variety of publications. He has a regular column for MSNBC.com and contributes to several websites, including two of his own blogs: the Cheapest Destinations Blog and Practical Travel Gear.

Hi Tim and welcome to Write To Travel. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us…

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

No, I wanted to be an NBA player, a rock star, or a tennis pro, but none of those seemed to work out--I found out they required actual talent. So instead I worked my way up through the marketing ranks at RCA Records after college, in Nashville and New York. I found I did have a knack for writing while there, though it mostly took the form of trying to make mediocre rock bands sound like they wouldn't be forgotten in five years. (Most were.)

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

My first two articles were for the Travel Smart newsletter and Transitions Abroad. I've been writing for the latter ever since. My big financial break was getting hooked up with a trade publication reviewing hotels in Turkey. That led to later assignments in India, Nepal, Korea, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and many more. I still work for them too sometimes---I'm covering the Guanajuato state of Mexico next month.


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

The advice is starting to shift a bit because of the power of self-publishing. When it comes to the traditional path of getting articles into magazines, my advice is to write like crazy, read a lot, learn how to edit well, and remember who your real customer is--the editor. Start small and then think big instead of trying to do it the other way. Most of the work comes from doing short and focused service pieces (how-to stuff). And keep your day job until you get wildly successful, of course.

The new part is, you can hone your chops on your own site or blog now and actually make a little beer money in the process. If you find a niche that you can call your own, you can eventually make as much off your own site as you'd get from a lot of outlets you'll kill yourself sending query letters too. And you own your words forever.


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

The future looks fantastic if you're riding the right waves. Writers who whine and moan about where things are headed remind me of buggy whip makers complaining about the automobile. I actually had a veteran travel writer tell me last week that she has never written anything for the Internet and doesn't understand it. That blows my mind. What is she going to do 5 years from now--retire?

We're in a transition phase right now where pay for Web articles is nowhere near what magazines pay, but the glory days of print are clearly fading behind us in the rear-view mirror. Newspaper travel sections have dwindled to almost nothing and it's getting increasingly tough for travel magazines to thrive. The Web is not yet generating the same kind of ad revenue for corporations that print does, but if you own what you produce, that's actually an advantage we individual experts can exploit. I know a few travel writers who are pulling in six figures without sending out a single query letter or doing any revisions per article for a flighty editor in New York. They write about what they love for their own site and their passion makes them money. One person can create a mini-empire relatively easy these days if he or she is patient and persistent. It's a different mindset though, obviously. You have to be more creative and multi-functional rather than just stringing sentences together to meet an assignment.

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

I tend to draw influences from all over the map because the way you craft a good service article or a planning guide is very different than the way you go about writing a narrative travel article that is more literary. I read a ton of magazines and always have it seems. I love pretty much everything Graham Greene ever wrote, a lot of Somerset Maugham, Naipaul, Hemingway, some Thoreaux. But I also love weird books that push the envelope and things that make me laugh. Here's a top-10 list I did a while back: Top Ten Travel Books.

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

This makes me sound like a crotchety old fart, but I miss the days when I was backpacking around the world before e-mail because we could all completely unplug and disconnect, just living in the moment and soaking it all in wherever we happened to be. It's hard to do that now without having to say "I'm sorry" to a dozen people when you get back on line two weeks later. I have a family now, which means shorter trips and less lazy aimless wandering than when I started out. Plus there's the usual challenge of finding enough time to cram in what needs to be done on the road. The actual writing is the easy part. if the time is there.

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

It's a moving target because I'm going someplace new several times a year. I have fond memories of Nepal, Indonesia, and Peru, but I'd gladly go back to almost anywhere I've been, whether that's Laos or Lexington, Kentucky. I have a little beach casita in Mexico though, so I guess it's safe to say I like that country a whole lot.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Once Upon a Time…The Guardian had a travel blog.

Anyone been following the controversy over at The Guardian regarding a travel blog ?

If you haven’t, you’ve missed out on a fascinating story of ‘how not to create a travel blog.’

But that’s okay cause Pam over at Blogher (and Nerd’s Eye View) has put together a great post about the whole disaster.

Check it out…

Hipster Goes Travelblogging: Ends Up in Cyber Hell.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Travel Blog of the Week...Traveling Mamas.

Put four travel writers together and you get travel talk.

Put four moms together and you get child talk.

Mix it all up and you get the ‘Traveling Mamas’ blog.



Meet Mountain Mama (Kara Williams), Mudslide Mama (Jennifer Miner), Desert Mama (Beth Blair), and Cajun Mama (Shannon Hurst Lane).

All established travel writers in their own right, together they have formed a collective travel blog focusing on - you guessed it - travelling with kids. But it's not just about the kids. Traveling Mamas also is about romantic escapes, solo trips, and girlfriend getaways, plus travel industry news and travel gear reviews.

The blog has only been up and running for a couple of weeks now, but it’s full of useful, interesting, and entertaining information for anyone travelling with or without kids. Bet you didn’t know about the where and how to find letterboxing adventures or the growing popularity of babymoon vacations. It’s all here and more.

I was curious to find out how the blog evolved, so I contacted the Traveling Mamas to have a chat…


Write to Travel: So how did the blog come about ?

Kara Williams ‘We all met at Travel Media Showcase in November 2007 in Palm Springs. Prior to that, we'd only known each other via the Internet, primarily from our posts at www.travelwriters.com.’

Jennifer Miner ‘We all hit it off remarkably well, vowed to stay in touch, and well…’

Beth Blair ‘Shannon had the brilliant idea of starting a blog geared toward traveling moms. She asked if we would be willing to collaborate and we all jumped at the chance.’

Shannon Hurst Lane ‘The four of us just clicked and we decided to try and do something together that would possibly benefit the masses (consumer mamas out there in cyberland).’


WT: You make it sound so simple.

Jennifer ‘TMS experience [was] followed up by an email from Shannon saying "Look at our blog, I set it up for us already!" THAT was such an unexpected, brilliant, motivating thing to do, how could the rest of us not embrace it? Since then we've fiddle with the design, layout (etc), but the overarching philosophy behind TravelingMamas remains the same - to inspire other women to get out there and explore the world.'


WT: I imagine that you all bring different strengths and experience to the blog…

Kara ‘The beauty of this group blog is that we all have such different backgrounds and strengths. DesertMama (Beth) is a former flight attendant from Tucson. MudslideMama (Jen) used to be a college counselor in NYC, and now lives in California. CajunMama (Shannon) is a former firefighter who still works for her local fire department in dispatch in Louisiana. As for me, Mountain Mama of Colorado, I've been in the publishing industry for 17 years.'

Beth ‘ We tend to pull the best attributes of each "mama" to accomplish our goals. Personally, I prefer to keep my hands in the creative aspect of the blog.’

Jennifer ‘‘Since they call me the SEO Queen (I was hoping for Goddess - maybe next year!) I suppose my particular strength is knowledge of how to write for the internet. This includes search engine optimization, obviously, but also those poor gals have had to read through my manifestos regarding the importance of incoming links, page rank, keyword phrases, and other non-creative, technical aspects of running a blog.’

Kara ‘I'm the picky copyeditor of the group -- I've been known to go into my fellow bloggers' posts to fix typos. I like all my i's dotted and t's crossed.’

Shannon ‘I guess my role is to keep all the girls laughing. I REALLY like to make people laugh and smile, be it through an email or a blog post.'


WT: Is it a difficulty or a bonus that you all live in different states ?

Beth ‘I think it's so neat we all bring different backgrounds and locations to the blog. We are always learning from each other.’

Jennifer ‘For us, it's actually an asset: Four different regions of the U.S. are easily covered just by us looking in our own backyards!’

Kara ‘I think we all bring such different perspectives to TravelingMamas because we live in four different geographic regions of the U.S. CajunMama had to give me a Mardi Gras 101 lesson since I didn't understand some of her references to what happens down in the South during Carnival season.’

Shannon ‘It is so much fun and has given me something to be excited about again, in regards to travel writing. Writing is such a solitary career. How nice to be able to dish with someone about the job, with the ups and downs.’

Jennifer ‘One of the interesting benefits of Web 2.0 and new technology is that location is rendered nearly irrelevant for many forms of online writing.’


WT: The Traveling Mamas is in its infancy. Where do you see the blog a year from now?

Jennifer ‘Hmmm, this is a good question. There is indeed the fantasy of pina coladas on a tropical isle (honestly, who doesn't have THAT fantasy?)’

Kara ‘The four of us are on a white-sand beach in the Caribbean drinking mai tais celebrating our blogging success!’


WT’: Sounds great but let’s get back to reality…

Shannon ‘Hopefully we will all get to travel on a trip together as a group and blog about it. I would like to see us as the place where traveling mamas (and papas) go each day whether dreaming about a trip while at work or planning the ultimate getaway. Oh, and I would just love it if I saw someone wearing our t-shirts! Can I add Rock Star to the mix too? Seriously, we'll still be having fun a year from now.’

Beth 'We have discussed the different avenues we can take with the blog and to tell you the truth we have a lot of exciting endeavors planned. The details will hopefully get pulled together in May when we are together again. So stay tuned….'


WT: Well, you heard it here first. These gals have big plans...so as Beth suggests, stay tuned…

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Video Interview of Tim Cahill by Michael Shapiro...

Well known travel writer Tim Cahill is interviewed here by Michael Shapiro, author of A Sense of Place.



(source)

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