I Wanna Be a Travel Writer – Intro


Carnivore's Grin
There’s nothing like a good ol’ Aussie steak-ribs-tatties-and-veg dinner to put a smile on Jen’s face.

I wanna be a travel writer.

Who doesn’t?

Most people think a travel writer gets paid to travel the world writing about their trips. I suppose that the lives of some successful freelancers could be summed up in those few words, but for the rest of us it’s not so simple.

I’ve wanted to be a travel writer since I started reading Tim Cahill articles that I found in a box of old Outside magazines at a mountaineering store in Truckee, CA. This was about seven years ago, and I was spending the winter in Lake Tahoe working at a ski resort. I was 22. I nearly drowned myself in beer and snow drifts, but I managed to get out of Tahoe still holding on to the dream of someday being a travel writer. Or at least seeing the Northern Lights in Alaska, like Tim had. And the Marquesas. And Africa, and, and, and…

So now, after nearly six years of working for Travelers’ Tales, after surrounding myself with travel editors, writers, and lovers of the open road, after taking writing classes and joining a writers’ group with accomplished travel writers of all ages, I’m off to take my stab at it. I’ll be in Australia and Southeast Asia for the next seven months, first on a work visa and then to wander. By the time I return to the U.S. I’ll have seen a little of the world, hopefully have gotten some bylines, and most of all I’ll have taken the test to see if my longtime dream is still for me.

Is there such a thing as a lazy traveler? Or does that automatically make me a tourist? Because I don’t want to be labeled a tourist. At least not till I’m much older and can afford to see the world from a different point of view. At the same time, I’m not that interested in seeing every sight, hiking every trail, or becoming best friends with every hostel goer I cross paths with.

A very good friend sent me off with these bits of advice:

  • Take pictures.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Drink coffee with people who don’t speak English.
  • Be aware.
  • Eat foreign candy. (That sounds good to me, even if I’d rather drink beer.)

We’ll see how it goes. Follow my travelogue and see what kinds of adventures I wind up in, both literary and otherwise. I won’t know until I take that first step.

Until the next time,
Jen Leo