Tag Archives: travel

Is It Really a Vacation If You Work?

My wife and I recently took our summer vacation — a 12-day trip that took us to Massachusetts, where we enjoyed the company of family and lobster; Las Vegas, where I can’t tell you most of what we did, because that stays in Vegas; and San Diego, where we chartered a sailboat and alternated between utter peace and quasi-mayhem in one of the world’s busiest harbors.

Now, here’s the confession: We both had our laptops and iPhones (mine equipped with a mobile hotspot) in tow, and I had my digital recorder and earbud microphone.

It’s a shame to ruin your time off with work, isn’t it? Doesn’t that just defeat the whole principle of getting away and decompressing?

Meh, not really. There have been times where we’ve taken completely unplugged vacations; this time, it wasn’t really an option. My wife is finishing up her master’s degree and had assignments due. I had received a plum writing assignment two days before we left from one of my longest-term and most lucrative clients. (I didn’t even tell her I was going on vacation.) I’d need to do the interviews, though not the actual writing, from the road. At the risk of sounding like a professional athlete, “It is what it is.”

And at the risk of sounding like a politician, make no mistake: We didn’t work the whole time. Indeed, we compartmentalized our work bouts to as short time frames as possible — and were 100% in vacation mode every other waking minute. And that, right there, is the key.

Yes, it required a mind-shift and significant self-discipline to leave a hot craps table to interview a CPA about tedious multistate tax issues and the rapid increase in IRS audits. In an ideal world, I surely wouldn’t check emails from a secluded little harbor where we were the only ones anchored.

But at the risk of sounding like a goon in a mafia movie: It’s just business.

Jake Poinier is the owner of Boomvang Creative Group, a Phoenix-based editorial services firm, and writes an advice column for freelancers at DearDrFreelance.com.

The Realities of Travel Writing

Omega Music Dayton Ohioby Joe Wallace

I just read a blog post on a blog that shall remain nameless that stated “travel writing is as exciting a career as it is glamorous”. Having recently finished driving cross-country as part of my Vinyl Road Rage blogging trip writing about indie record stores across the USA for Turntabling.net, I feel uniquely qualified to both agree with (slightly) and make fun of this sentiment.

Really, travel writing is NOT sparkly fun. I hate when people try to gloss over the hard work involved with this type of freelancing by saying how glamorous and exciting it can be. It’s every bit as glamorous as you think it is–as long as your idea of glamour is a 16 hour day.

On my cross-country blogging spree, in its third year now, I’d think nothing at all about touring, photographing, and writing notes on six record stores in a day. Only once did I have the pleasure of hitting those six shops in the same city. New York was cool that way, but I spent a lot of highway time getting to the rest. So many little country roads, so little time.

Then there’s the challenge of finding a place to work and post, keeping freelance clients happy while I juggled them and the travel writing. And I think I managed to eat twice a day. I’m sure of it. Snacking in the car doesn’t count as dining, in my book anyway. But I did manage to eat the free hotel breakfast and find decent places to eat somewhere near the breaking point when I just…couldn’t…drive…anymore.

But it WAS exciting, I’ll give you that. There is something about hitting the open road all by yourself, nothing but your self-imposed deadlines and client demands standing in your way. But GLAMOROUS? Well, maybe if you like the smell of your own dirty laundry as it festers away in the back seat.

And we haven’t even come to the part where you review the notes and photographs and try to remember everything that you did.

That, folks, usually comes at the end of the day after your body tells you it’s time to sleep, either behind the wheel or in the hotel bed. Sit there bleary-eyed with Jon Stewart on in the background and just try to recall which places you saw that day and the funny thing that one guy said about his craziest vintage vinyl collector customers. Was that Provo? Or Box Elder? Maybe it was back down near Woman Hollering Creek?

Honestly, the toughest part about doing that type of travel writing–as opposed to the kind where you jet off to foreign lands and such–is having to explain to the family and friends you might have scattered across the route why you can’t really spare the time for a visit. They already think we don’t have jobs, now they see us doing this glamorous and exciting travel stuff and they want us to play with the kiddies and eat barbecue, cuz we’re not THAT busy.

If only.

Joe Wallace writes about and sells rare and obscure vinyl records at Turntabling.net. He also writes for a variety of finance websites and covers military topics as a 13-year Air Force veteran. Contact him: jwallace (at) turntabling (dot) net.

Freelancing On The Road: Preparing for Disaster Using Gmail

Vinyl Road Rage 2 on the roadby Joe Wallace

I’ve been posting a series of lessons learned from my travels as part of the Vinyl Road Rage series I’m writing over at Turntabling.net, and wanted to include a simple trick I’ve been using for several years now as a way to avoid disaster as a hard-core road warrior and writer.

It’s bound to happen to you eventually–a laptop crashes to the floor of a coffee shop, your hard drive fails, files get corrupted, viruses, you name it. The bottom line is that as a writer, you depend a hell of a lot on these often-fragile things called computers.

What happens when you’re freelancing on the road, and suddenly the contents of your hard drive are unavailable?

A lot of people back everything up to flash drives and thumb drives. It’s a good idea, but I have been burned more than once in an emergency where I was forced to deal with outdated computer gear  in a hotel lobby, airport, public library or other space where you might not be able to hook up a portable USB drive to a computer you need to use due to equipment or security limitations.

My solution? I compose everything in Gmail as a rich text e-mail and send it to myself. From Gmail I can copy/paste into Word or open up Google Documents and paste there, then download as a Word file and e-mail it on.

With Gmail, I always have my work with me, no matter what phone or computer I need to access. Unless you are limited to an old Sinclair or are trying to access the Internet using an Apple IIe, the Gmail solution is pretty useful.

It’s not the most elegant one to be sure, but it has really saved me in cases where I needed to make a deadline but couldn’t access my hard drive. You can get to Gmail from any computer, iPhone, Android, etc. make your modifications and send along. Yes, tweaking a document using an iPhone can be a major ordeal, but if it means the difference between staying on deadline or not, answering a client question or providing examples of your work in a pinch, there are much worse things that could happen.

Advice On What To Pack For A Long-Term Trip

packed_bags

Packing is never an easy task. When I started packing for my year-long trip, it was one of the most difficult parts to planning for the trip. After a lot of trial-and-error and getting some experience on the road, I was able to finally settle on what the perfect things to pack were.

If you’re considering a long-term trip yourself here is some general advice:

  • Figure out approximately how often you want to do laundry. My recommendation is every 5 days. (If you start out with 5 days of clothes, as you travel this number will steadily increase – not because you buy more clothes but because you’ll wash things in the sink and your smell test will become easier to pass.)
  • You’re not traveling to the moon; don’t pack for every imaginable situation. If you need something you can almost always find what you’re looking for or something close to it at your destination.
  • You can send things home too. If you end up packing too much, not a big deal. Sending packages home is reasonably priced.
  • If it gets cold, you can buy a jacket. If it’s hot you can buy extra T-shirts.
  • Think versatility. Almost everything in your pack should serve more than 1 purpose. You’ll see what I mean below.

To see a detailed list with pictures of what I packed for my year-long trip check out the full post.

If you’re a female, you may be more interested in the female edition.

Freelancer Freebies–No Longer Free?

freelance travel writingby Joe Wallace

I’ve done a lot of travel writing in one form or another–from half-hour long television scripts for the Korea Destinations series aired by the American Forces Network to quick little blog posts about road tripping across the USA, I’ve taken every kind of transportation imaginable.

Part of the trick to being a successful traveler, never mind being a good travel writer, is to take full advantage of every discount and price cut you can. You learn to pounce on frequent flyer miles, AAA, any and everything you can find.

But the times are definitely changing. Just ask the author of this ABC News post about fuel surcharges for supposedly free air travel purchased with frequent flyer miles. British Airways apparently tacked on a whopping $500 surcharge to an otherwise “free” flight.

It’s bad enough that flyers must pay to check baggage, eat overpriced food, and endure intrusive security pat-downs. Now this? In America it’s more isolated according to the ABC story, but it’s definitely an industry trend worth keeping an eye on.

The purpose of this post isn’t to rant about how unfair that particular surcharge is. Instead, I’d like to draw attention to the nickel-and-dime practices as a whole to raise some awareness about how much it’s costing you to do things directly related to the freelance life.

Continue reading

Five Awesome Travel Bloggers

your_new_office2

One of my favorite forms of travel-writing is travel-blogging. It’s fun to vicariously live through other people’s travels. Here are five of my favorite travel bloggers (in alphabetical order).

  1. FoXnoMad – Anil’s travel blog focuses less on his own travels and more on educating his readers. His posts help you choose the right laptop as a traveler, teach you how to travel with pets and he has numerous posts on various destinations around the world.
  2. Nerdy Nomad – Kirsty’s travel blog is quite a bit different than the others on this list. She’s an Internet marketer who often puts everything aside to volunteer and help people in need. She has volunteered in Indonesia after last years massive earthquake and in Haiti after their devastating earthquake this year.
  3. Nomadic Matt – One of the most popular travel blogger’s. Like Anil from Foxnomad, Matt is living the travel blogger dream. He started his blog as a way to keep in touch with friends and family and now makes enough money from his blog to travel full-time.
  4. The Professional Hobo – Just like the title of her blog, she’s a professional traveler and writer. She has a great bi-weekly series called “Week in the life” where travelers give the details of their weeks.
  5. Wandering Earl – Ex-cruise ship worker, now full-time traveler. He’s a great writer and currently having quite an adventure visiting countries like Lebanon and Syria in the middle east.

Jason Demant is the founder of UnAnchor.com, where you can find detailed do-it-yourself tour itineraries for your next trip. For the latest on travel-writing you can follow him on Twitter @UnAnchor, or join the I Love Travel Writing Facebook group.