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?

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13 Places to Go in 2015

Cruising with Rock Stars in the Bahamas

FloggingMollyOne of my favorite bands, Flogging Molly, is taking to the seas with various punk bands (including Gogol Bordello who has the best live performance EVER) for a three day, pirate-themed St. Patrick’s Day cruise extravaganza. On the Salty Dog Cruise you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the artists and are treated to special performances and DJ sets. I don’t even know what a punk DJ set would be like, but I really want to find out.

Thailand

Phuket

Photo by William Cho

I was supposed to go to Thailand a few months back with friends, but unrest and protests broke out and I thought the better of it. In hindsight I wish I had gone. Thailand boasts amazing night bazaars, glittering beaches, astounding islands, and vast palaces. It’s also on The Blonde Abroad’s list of safest places for solo female travel.

New England in Autumn

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WikiCommons/ bdesham

I live in the desert. Leaves don’t really change colors here and I never get to wear scarves. I just want to see some leaves and wear a scarf. For everyone else who actually has a change of seasons, you can take a drive up the scenic Mohawk Trail, one of the countries first official scenic drives, or engage in some outdoor activities like canoeing.

Connemara

InaghValley

Inagh Valley

While staying in Dublin I took a tour over to Connemara and it was love at first sight. I don’t know if it’s because it reminds me of Seward, where I once lived (sort of), or if it’s just some sort of ancient magic, but there’s a sense of home there and interconnectedness to the land. Connemara, especially in the spring/summer months, offers a myriad of activities including, kayaking, hiking and cycling, and horseback riding. You can also take a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, the ultimate road trip through the West side of Ireland.

Horseback Riding in Scotland

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visitscotland.com

I’ve always wanted to see a country on horseback and I can’t think of a better place to do this than the Scottish Highlands. Highlands Unbridled offers an Outlander ride for all my fellow lovers of the novels and most companies offer a stop at the Glenlivet distillery for lunch and tastings.

Running of the Bulls, San Fermin, Spain

640px-El_torico_de_la_cuerda,_Chiva

wikimedia commons/ Mortorell

Just a few weeks ago I was having lunch with my family in Chicago and my cousin looks at me and says, “Taylor, you can run, right?”
“Yes… why?” I warily replied.
“You want to do the running of the bulls?”
And that’s exactly how I was recruited into doing the Running of the Bulls in San Fermin, Spain. We threw La Tomatina in Valencia for good measure because great family vacations are running from angry beasts and large-scale food fights.

Chile

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Lago Chungara (Wikimedia Commons/David Guallini)

I’m currently watching the Dakar rally race and felt rather inspired to pick one of the countries through which this race goes. With 8,000 km of trails, I’m sure you can find plenty of hiking or cycling to occupy your time. Chile also has mummies, the famous Easter Island, skiing, a ton of National Reserves, and volcanoes. Chile really has it all, especially for you outdoorsmen.

Ur and Nineveh, Iraq

ninevehAdad Gate

Adad Gate at Nineveh (Fredrarch/ WikiCommons)

While in college I had to do a massive project that focused on the archaeological sites at Ur and Nineveh. Ever since then I have been dying to go and trek the cities I know so well on paper, cities that played an integral role in the urbanization of the rest of the world. More than that, I want to see these fascinating sites before they are destroyed (ISIS recently issued a threat to destroy the walls of Nineveh).

The Stampede Trail and Magic Bus in Alaska

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Erikhalfacre/WikiCommons

Like every good adventurer I am a fan of Into the Wild. It’s a bit macabre to visit the site in which this young man perished so needlessly, but I suppose if you’re going to be hiking the Stampede Trail anyway, you should probably get this one in soon or wait for the river to freeze again so you don’t get stuck on the other side of the river like Christopher McCandless. If you don’t care about the trail then go visit the replica made for the movie in Healy.

Any City Hosting an F1 race

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photo by Studebaker Hawk Photography (my dad!)

I love Formula 1 and all the cities on the list are dream spots. From Monaco to Sochi, to Budapest and Catalunya, and my favorite U.S. city, Austin. If travel were free (and I didn’t have a day job) I would be at every race.

See the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, Iceland

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Wikimedia Commons/ McKay Savage

Reykjavik isn’t just fun to say, it’s a fun place to be! Not only can you go searching for the Game of Thrones filming locations (oh goodness, now you all know how nerdy I am), but there are dozens of outdoor adventure tours on horseback, ATV and pretty much anything that moves. Let’s not forget all the Viking sites to visit.

Up Helly Aa in Scotland

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WikimediaCommons/ Mike Pennington

In a nutshell, Up Helly Aa is a festival where a bunch of Scots dress up in Viking costume (obviously I have a thing for Vikings), carry torches through the town, and light a galley on fire. This is followed by parties that last until morning during which the Jarl, who is head of the celebration, makes a stop at every one. I want to go this year since I will be so close, but I read that the parties are private so I will need a friend in Shetland first.

Oktoberfest in Munich

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photo by Andreas Steinhoff

I have been trying to make it to Oktoberfest for quite a while, but I always forget that it’s not actually in October. Who wants to go?