Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Favorite 'City Movies' of Five Travel Writers...

Five travel writers - Pico Iyer, Heidi Julavits, Tony Wheeler, Ayun Halliday and Rolf Potts - were asked by FilminFocus what their five favorite city films were.

Here's what they came up with...

Pico Iyer listed 2046, The Buena Vista Social Club, Mystic River, City of God and Monsoon Wedding.

Heidi Julavits listed Rosemary's Baby, Saturday Night Fever, Spirited Away, Vertigo, and Band of Outsiders.

Tony Wheeler listed The Year of Living Dangerously, Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome, Blade Runner, The Lives of Others, and Arabian Nights.

Ayun Halliday listed Underground, Before Sunset, Daughter from Danang, Lost in Translation, and The Edge of Heaven.

Rolf Potts listed Lost in Translation, Beyond Sunrise, Do the Right Thing, Boogie Nights, and About Schmidt.

This got me thinking what my favorite city movies. Here's what I came up with...

Buena Vista Social Club (Havana, Cuba)
You've Got Mail (New York)
Midnight in the Garden of Good an Evil (Savannah)
Leaving Las Vegas (Las Vegas)
Chinatown (Los Angeles)

So what's your list of 'five favorite city movies'?

(discovered via World Hum)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Melbourne Festival of Travel Writing...

Here's a good reason to pack you bags and head over to Australia. The University of Melbourne is hosting the The Melbourne Festival of Travel Writing from 19-20 July 2008.

There's a great line up of speakers, including Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler and travel writer Tom Swick (interviewed by Write To Travel in May last year. Tom is scheduled to talk about 'A Glamorous Invisibility: The Travel Writer's Changing Role and Image' on the Saturday and will be holding a Travel Writing Workshop on the Sunday.

If I can pick up a cheap airfare, I might just 'cross the pond' and check it out...

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Travel Writing Miscellanea...

Fellow blogger and travel writer Leif Pettersen was interviewed for an article about Twitter. Called Keep it Short and Tweet, the article quotes Leif on his initial reaction to Twitter...

"I didn't get it," said Pettersen, 38, of his first reaction to the ultra-short posts. "It was like hearing bits of conversation from a room full of schizophrenics."

But looks like he's got it now. You can follow Leif's twitter over at his Killing Batteries blog.


Jerry Guo over at has been Talking travel with the notorious Thomas Kohnstamm.


The Sunday Herald has a review of Semi Invisible Man: The Life Of Norman Lewis, a neglected British travel writer who apparently "...spent his life foraging around some of the world's most dangerous places, from civil-war Spain to remote corners of Asia and drug-ravaged Latin America." Can't say I've ever heard of him, but he's now on my reading list.


SF Gate reviews "Presidential Travel. The Journey From George Washington to George W. Bush". Another book that sounds intriguing.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Travel Writer interviews...

I seem to have run out of travel writer interviews at present. 'Fraid I haven't had any time lately to search any out. But if you know of anyone who wants to be interviewed, drop me an email.

Meanwhile, here's a couple of interviews from around the net...

Conde Nast's Daily Traveler recently posted After Iran: A Chat with Rick Steves


The Tokyo Traveler interviewed Matthew Firestone, one of the authors to The Lonely Planet Guide to Japan and the writer of Gadling’s Big in Japan

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Authors@Google: Photographer Joe McNally.

Photographer Joe McNally discusses his book "The Moment It Clicks."

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b5Media looking for two travel bloggers....

The Travel & Culture Channel at b5Media have vacancies on two of their established travel blogs...

The Toronto Traveler

The Atlanta Traveler

Contact: Mary Jo Manzanares, Travel and Culture Editor at

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

What is Twitter?

What is twitter?

Why do we need it?

How does it work?

These are the questions I have about twitter. So if anyone out there can lead me to a resource or two that can explain what it is and how it works in 'very' simple terms, would greatly appreciate it. As usual, technology is puzzling me.

So far, have found this video 'Jack Dorsey Presents Twitter'.

Jack Dorsey Presents Twitter from biz stone on Vimeo.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Interview with a Travel Writer...Jeremy Head.

Today we talk with travel writer Jeremy Head, author of the recently released Frommer's Seville Day by Day

You can find some of his travel articles at Times Online, Wanderlust The Guardian, and Travel Weekly. Jeremy has also been active in television, recently presenting undercover reports for ITV's Holidays Undercover (prime time TV on a Tuesday evening in the UK) and also as a guidebook 'expert' on Channel 5's the Hotel Inspector (due for transmission early autumn 2008)

And of course, like all travel writers now, Jeremy maintains a travel blog - travelblather - where he writes about travel and travel writing.

Hi Jeremy and welcome to Write to Travel.

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

Yes. I was always good at writing at school. I won a couple of diary writing competitions as a kid and dreamed about being a writer. Oddly I ended up working in Marketing for 5 years out of Uni and it took a year out travelling for me to take the plunge and go for writing as a career.

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

I don't believe in breaks. I did work experience at a magazine company in London and asked the editor if I could try writing a few travel pieces. He said 'yes'. It's about getting yourself in the right place at the right time and that's about persistence and research.

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

Don’t do it. Seriously. The pay is lousy. (I earn at best around £20,000 a year and doubt I'll ever do any better as a freelance.) The competition is fierce too. But what's worse is that after a few years even travelling loses its appeal. If you love travelling, then travel. Don't make a job out of it and ruin it for yourself. Travel writing is damn hard work – most of the time you are so busy when you are somewhere you don't have time to really appreciate it properly.

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

Bleak. The net is providing so much content for free people no longer value it. Decent travel content takes time. It needs careful research and quality writing. But because there's so much for free out there now people have forgotten this. My latest guidebook Frommer's Seville Day by Day is for sale on Amazon right now for £3.

That's less than the cost of a beer. That's plainly not sustainable. Publishers are running scared – both books and magazines. Ad revenue is declining and their profit margins are under siege. Instead of going on the offensive and saying 'If you want decent quality, accurate, trustworthy travel features and guides you need to pay a decent amount for them' and keeping prices at a sensible level they are continually cutting costs. That means writers are getting paid less and less. I recently heard someone was offered £1000 to write a 40,000 word guidebook with pics. Ridiculous. To do that job justice would take at least three months. You do the maths! Pay peanuts… get monkeys. You pay your writer that kind of amount how good a research job do you think they will do? It's a downward spiral and it's awful to watch, particularly when you're part of it.

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

AA Gill is Away Just brilliant. AA Gill's first collection of travel pieces written for the Times. His introduction on how he goes about writing a travel piece is excellent and thought provoking too. I loved Bill Bryson's books as a kid, but now I find them a bit clich├ęd to be honest.

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

Sleeping. The longer I've done this job, the more beds I've slept in, the more I find I can't sleep in strange beds. Weird.

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

Brighton. My home town. It's the best – it's on the doorstep, it's by the sea and it has some great pubs. You should try it!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Destination Writer for Travel Website...

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Destination Writer for Viscape Travel Website

"Got Sass, Humor and Wit…

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Seeking Talented & Experienced Travel Writer:

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-with effervescent, fun and outgoing personality
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This will be a super fun and ultra-creative contract position with the cutting-edge innovative company, Viscape. The best part about the job is that you can work from your laptop, whenever you want and from wherever you want. Of course, you need to possess excellent writing skills and a go get-um’ attitude! We are also assuming that you are already well-traveled and have been to some of Viscape’s feature destinations. If so, Viscape could be the perfect opportunity you are looking for! We can’t wait to meet you!

Initially, this position is on an independent contractor basis for a trial run, but may convert to a full time position with proven performance.

About Viscape

Viscape is a Web 2.0 social marketplace for vacation properties- social like Facebook and a marketplace like Ebay. Ride the! It will change traveling and vacationing forever!

Apply Here

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Duffie Books Looking for Women Travel Writers...

Duffie Books, a small company that publishes e-books and pod books, is looking for women writers who have traveled on their own and are interested in writing about their experiences in the form of a guide, journal, how-to or personal story.

Find out more here...

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Gayot Publications looking for travel writers...

Gayot publications - - a leading upscale travel and leisure Web site is seeking experienced travel writers with excellent knowledge of one or more of the following cities: Milan, Caracas and/or Frankfurt.

See full details here...

(found via About Freelance Writing)

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Travel Writing Miscellanea...

Budget Travel Magazine has put together it's 10th Anniversary issue with the help it's readers who wrote and provided tips for most of the articles. Great way to keep the readers happy. But what about the writers ? Do they feel a little left out? Sheila over at Family Travel has written an interesting post about Why would a magazine have YOU write their articles?

Interesting article in the Times Online - A travel book that pussyfoots around doesn't take you anywhere. Have a read and then head over to travelblather to why Jeremy seems to think the article missed the point.

Julie at the the traveler's notebook offers her thoughts on How to Get the Most Mileage Out of Your Travel Writing

And finally, Peter Damms co-founder of Travllerspoint Travel Community featured in my very first Green Tips for Travelers over at Traveling the Green Way.

And there's still time to enter the Green Travel Carnival that will be held on 11 June.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Interview with a Travel Writer...Robert Todd Felton.

Today we talk with travel writer Robert Todd Felton. Since deciding to take a break from teaching four years ago, Robert has published three books and is having too much fun to return to the classroom. His writing has been published in National Geographic, Backpacker, and Automotive Traveler. Having just finished writing his latest book, Walking Boston, which is due to released in the coming months, Robert is now contemplating co-authoring a book on the best ice cream shops in New England with his two kids. You can read more about his plans at his his Red Room blog.

Hi Robert and welcome to Write to Travel. Thanks for stopping by...

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

Yes, I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote stories as a child, poetry as a teenager, and fiction as an adult. I was an English teacher for nearly a decade and kept trying to make time to write but never managed it. There are those people who can write successfully with a full-time job. I am not one of those people. I wish I were.

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

About the time my wife finished graduate school and wanted to return to working more, I was beginning to burn out on teaching. What I really wanted to do was make a go of it as a freelance writer. So we agreed I would take a year off from teaching to be there for our kids and try to land some writing assignments. A week later, a friend emailed me to ask if I knew any writers. A friend of his was starting up a publishing company and they were looking for a writer in New England to write a literary travel guide to the Transcendentalists. It was unbelievably lucky – a perfect match. I am passionate about both travel and literature; it was exactly the type of book I would buy.

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

Take courses. Not only does it introduce you to the both the craft and business of writing (and it is a business), but the best ones help create a network of other writers you can lean on. In addition, read. I know that is a bit obvious, but I can’t overstate the importance of reading article after article in the magazines you are targeting. Not only do you get the tone and scope of what their authors are writing, but you get a better sense of the types of subjects.

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

I think it is an exciting time for writers. With the web, there are so many places to put your words and pictures that you should never be at a lack of places to send your work. Granted, many of them are not paying, but they do offer a way of building a platform and honing skills. At the high end of paying markets, there is so much competition that you really have to be on top of your game to get a shot. And then, there is a fair amount of luck – sending the right pitch to the right editor at just the right time. I came back from Sayulita, Mexico with a great story. I pitched it to National Geographic Traveler only to find out she had just signed a contract for a story on Sayulita the week before.

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

Although he is not often considered a “travel writer” as such, and there are a whole host of other problematic issues with him and his work, Ernest Hemingway captures the tactile, sensual details of place and travel better than anyone else I’ve read…except perhaps Annie Dillard. She is also not considered a travel writer, but her books explode with the details of place. Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck, William Shakespeare, Henry David Thoreau – the list is long as it is apparently male-centric.

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

For my books, I have always done the photography as well as the writing, so when I am out traveling, I definitely feel torn between the two. You really can’t photograph and write about a place simultaneously. Sometimes, like on my recent trip to Cuba, I will have time enough to concentrate on first one, than the other. But usually, I am trying to stuff a day’s worth of photography and a day’s worth of writing into a single day.

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

My family has owned a small cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California for close to thirty years. Although I have lived across the country and in Europe, that lakeside cabin has always felt like home. It is both peaceful and joyous, relaxing and exciting. There’s lots to do or places to just do nothing.

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Sunday Times Magazine Looking for Travel Writers…

Head over to Freelance Writing Tips for all the details, including what they are looking for and who to contact.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Traveling the Green Way...

You might have noticed that the posts here at Write to Travel have been a little sporadic over the last week or two.

Well, there's a good reason for this. I've been busy on a brand new project for b5Media, establishing a new blog in their Travel & Culture Channel.

The blog's called Traveling the Green Way and it's a great way to combine my love of travel and writing while focusing on an important world issue.

Sure hope you stop by and have a look.

And for any of you who write about travel, I’ll be hosting a Green Travel Carnival every other week.

So think green with your travel posts and join the first Green Travel Carnival that will be held on the 11th of June.

Here’s how you can Join the Green Travel Carnival.

See you there…

And for any of you who are interested, I'll be looking at posting a regular 'Green Tips from Travelers' series over at Traveling the Green Way.

If you are, how about sending me an email (subject heading: Green Tips from Travelers) with answers to the following questions...and don't forget to add a little bio about yourself, especially any links to your writing and blogs.

- how do you travel green ?
- do you have a favorite 'green place' ?
- what do you recommend for travelers who want to go green ?

Look forward to hearing from you...

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Want to write for Budget Travel magazine ?

It's a stupid question really.

After all, who wouldn't want to right for Budget Travel magazine...

Well, turns out there's still time to enter their Road Trip Writer Contest.

Here's the scoop...

"In our anniversary issue, we announced that we would be sending one lucky reader on a Road Trip assignment for the December/January issue. To enter the contest, click here and tell us your idea for a story. The trip can be anywhere in the U.S., but you have to be able to complete it in four days. And we want you to be creative—find a unique part of the country to explore or give us an interesting angle on how to write about a particular place. Submissions must be received by July 1, and if yours is chosen, you'll have to be able to travel by the end of August."

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Photographer Pep Bonet talks...

Video featuring award-winning photographer Pep Bonet who talks about his photographic experiences in Darfur, Sierra Leone, and Somalia.

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