The Truth of Becoming a Travel Writer

So, you’ve got the talent for writing, you’ve got the love of travel and adventure, but that’s not the most important element of travel writing. It has to be more than just a passion. It has to be a way of life you can live with or one you simply can’t live without.

When looking to get into travel writing you have to ask yourself, as I did with just about every profession I’ve ever considered (acting, flight attendant, teacher in the Alaskan bush), what are you willing to sacrifice? If you’re just starting out and don’t have a super high paying job with massive amounts of free time or work you can take on the road, then you’re probably going to be living on a shoe-string budget. There are bills to pay and equipment you’ll need before you even leave town. Once you’re in your destination you might be staying in hostels, which means giving up personal space, living out of a suitcase (that you can’t allow to explode all over the room), and trading in your comfy bed at home for the bits of cardboard that pass in most hostels for a bed. But you’re not just giving up the freedoms of having a place of your own. You’re exchanging your every day relationships with your friends for part-time friendships. Most travel writers tend to be gregarious people who make friends easily, so it’s not that hard to find someone to grab a drink with, but these are not people who know you inside and out and sometimes you’ll get somewhere in the middle of winter with hardly any other people in the same lodgings as you. Can you handle getting dinner or drinks alone? Odds are that you’ll be spending a large amount of time by yourself. So it’s important to know who you are and know your own mind.

Speaking of relationships, for some people the hardest adjustment deals with romantic relationships. If you’re lucky enough to have someone at home who doesn’t mind you being away all the time then you’re in great shape, but often times the men or women you meet might not take a relationship with you seriously if they know you’re not going to be around to cultivate it. Even if you find someone who is willing to do these things, there is an immense amount of work that goes into maintaining that relationship compounded on top of the work it takes to maintain a presence in the media world while traveling. Are you prepared to put forth that effort into a long distance relationship while working towards your goals?

Despite the aforementioned lack of outward glamour when you’re beginning, or for any writer who isn’t employed by a luxury travel magazine, you are trading all of those things for mountains towering overhead, awe-inspiring landscapes, beachside rides on horseback, city lights glittering in the night, new friends from every walk of life, evenings with a drink in hand listening to live music, afternoons in street side cafes, whirlwind romances, and endless adventure.

What it really boils down to:
“Would you be willing to trade all of this, from this day to that, for once chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they may never take our freedoooooom!” Wait a minute… that’s from Braveheart, but the point is the same. To rephrase, would you be willing to trade every bit of a normal life for the chance to tell the world how you lived free?



Review: Connemara-Galway via Extreme Ireland Tours

Traveling with Extreme Ireland Tours/ Irish Day Tours from Dublin through Galway on to Connemara was a somewhat lengthy ride. The first half of the journey took us through small suburbs of Dublin and eventually thinned to countryside villages and towns. We bypassed Galway and made our first stop somewhere in Connemara (a region in Galway County) to see the picturesque Quiet Man Bridge where John Wayne filmed scenes from his movie “The Quiet Man.”


Keeping with the theme, we also made an impromptu stop at the replica house from the same movie. Even if you’ve never seen the movie the views in these locations are beautiful and well worth the stop.


After that we traveled through country back roads to the Killary Sheep Farm, which I detailed in the previous post. I will say it is the best stop on the whole tour and an experience that actually feels authentic. So click here for a for account of our experience there.


From there you stop at Kylemore Abbey for lunch. Their cafe boasts mediocre food and an attitude of general disdain from its staff. I recommend bringing a picnic to enjoy at one of the benches and take in the view of Kylemore. We didn’t have enough time to see the interior, but I’m told the tour price isn’t a great value so save the Euros for Galway.


Following Kylemore are various scenic stops in Connemara and throughout the Inagh Valley. The scenery here will stop the breath in your lungs.


Galway is the final stop before heading back to Dublin where I picked up a new Claddahg ring from Thomas Dillon‘s. The city itself is very youthful as it’s mostly a college town. Also, they were setting up what looked to be a splendid Christmas Market so if you’re in the area around Christmas time (which begins earlier there than in the States since they don’t have Thanksgiving to wait for) give it a gander. Galway

Overall, I would give Extreme Ireland Tours a four and a half out of five stars simply because I would have liked more time in Galway, but if you give them notice you can stay the night and take the next day’s tour van back. Our guide was both entertaining and informative. Due to our small tour size we were able to make quite a few impromptu scenic stops. I definitely recommend going during the off season.


Stepping Out in Seattle

First off, I have to praise the many wonders of the site Airbnb. After hours of searching for a hotel with a decent location and price last minute for the first week of summer vacation I came up empty-handed but one of my travel buddies suggested Airbnb and we found a beautiful apartment in the young, hipster area of Capitol Hill. Walking distance to everything we could possibly want and a doable walk from the light rail station downtown. The best part is that we had a whole apartment to ourselves, complete with fridge, dishes, and a washer/dryer and it was cheaper than a hotel. If you haven’t checked out Airbnb then do it now. Don’t even finish this post. Just go check it out.

Like all great journeys getting to Seattle was a bit of a hassle. I won’t bore you with details but we finally got on a flight to Seattle and we hit the ground running.

While wondering around in search of food we happened across Von Trapp’s, a German chateau styled bar. Inside it was dimly-lit and completely wood interior with everything you could want to entertain yourself: shuffleboard, arcade games, bocce and various bar-style games. The real prizes of the place were their beer brats, pretzels (oh and that mustard!) and extensive list of German and Belgian beers.

Von Trapp's

For the life of me I can’t remember which German-style beer I ordered but the second I tasted it I was transported to a cabin in the springtime with a fire roasting nuts in a little hearth. It was magical and love at first taste.

The next morning was tourist time! We walked around downtown and hit the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. These are musts if you’re going to be in Seattle and Pike’s offers a lovely array of trinkets and souvenirs to bring home.

Downtown Seattle

We grabbed lunch at Piroshky Piroshky which is the best piroshky I’ve had outside of Russia (that adventure coming soon).

Pike Market

We topped our lunches off with a few wonderful glasses of wine at The Tasting Room hidden in one of Seattle’s alleyways. If you’re like me and can’t ever pick just one thing you’re in luck because they have themed sample arrangements for whatever kinds of wines you’re in to.

Tasting Room

Finally, we hit the gem of the journey. We met up with the Youtube vlogger for Asians Unite and Rant at Bathtub Gin Co.

Bathtub Gin

This is my favorite little speakeasy in the world thus far. The atmosphere is cozy and classy with a wide selection of liquors I’ve never heard of. Our experience was so magical that, by the end of our trip, we were all convinced our spectacular bartended, Matt James, was a figment of our imaginations and the Bathtub Gin Co. was simply a beautiful dream.

Weekly Vlog #3 with Fernet!

If you decide to go to the Bathtub Gin Co you will have to look very hard as it’s in a back alley with only a tiny placard on the back door to signify it’s existence (I still don’t believe it exists). Don’t give up, whatever you do, don’t give up in your quest to find it. You will be greatly rewarded when you do.

Seattle 'Murica!

Check out my travel buddy @YousefH