Category 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.

New Travel Writing Market: Overnight Buses Travel Magazine

by Catherine L. Tully

ONB_Issue_1_CoverToday I’d like to share a new travel writing market with you–it looks intriguing!

Overnight Buses Travel Magazine is a new magazine for the iPad currently accepting submissions for the second issue. The first issue is already in the App Store and can be downloaded for free so you can take a peek and see what the writing style is like.

The current pay rate is between $250 and $350 (U.S. Dollars), depending on quality and length. They are looking for longer travel stories, preferably between 1000 to 5000 words, and the main focus is personal essays and travel narratives with the occasional book excerpt thrown in. They don’t publish guides, recommendations or accept queries; authors should send final manuscripts only.

Guidelines can be found on the website at and submissions can be sent directly to (Tom) at submissions (at) overnightbuses.com.

Freelancing in 2012

Joe Wallace Vinyl Collector and authorby Joe Wallace

About 20 days ago, long before 11:59 PM on December 31, a lot of freelancing blogs made predictions about the freelance landscape in 2012.

And the same as every year, a lot of predictions basically read, “more people will start freelancing, more people will quit freelancing, and more companies will hire more freelancers than ever before.”

You don’t have to be Nostradamus, really, to issue predictions like these.

I ignored all that sort of thing this year in favor of looking at the freelance landscape from a completely different perspective, thanks to a blog post by Dave Allen at the Portland-based brand agency North.

Allen was talking about an experiment he started in early January to work with all-mobile tools, namely the iPad2 and the iPhone.

He writes, “Since January 2nd I have been attempting to live without my MacBook Pro to work exclusively on my iPad2. I can honestly say that for 90% of the time the iPad is the perfect tool for my daily work activities. As an added bonus it’s many pounds lighter than the MBP and the battery lasts hours longer. Yet, as to be expected, there are some shortcomings that are holding me back from becoming a 100% mobile user.”

If you want a prediction about the state of freelancing in 2012, you need look no further than mobile–for some of us, it really is going to be the future of the business in terms of the portable office, working from the road, and making the most of every given second when needed.

I was on the fence about the iPad2 as a freelancing tool until reading Dave Allen’s post, and while he points to a few shortcomings, I personally believe–and here’s my prediction for 2012–that these issues can and will be addressed by some savvy developers who know the need to do business on these lightweight, flexible, and highly desirable platforms.

Freelancers, writers and editors in particular, are often stuck in the previous decade when it comes to technology. But the business is evolving as fast as the new toys hit the market. Are you keeping up? Treading water? I’m trying to get out of the wading pool and into the deep end with this stuff…it seems like the best way to survive.

Joe Wallace is an author, professional blogger, and vinyl collector. He blogs about rare and strange vinyl records at Turntabling.net, sells vinyl records at horror and sci fi conventions across the USA and is currently photographing more than 100 record albums for his forthcoming book WTF Records: The Turntabling Guide To Weird And Wonderful Vinyl. He is very busy but does consider freelance writing and editing gigs on a per-project basis. Contact him at jwallace (at) turntabling (dot) net.

Freelance Road Warriors: Lessons Learned While Working on the Road

Vinyl-Road-Rage-Record-Storby Joe Wallace

I’ve been working from the road as part of my cross-country blogging journey writing about indie record stores for my site Turntabling.net. The trip, called Vinyl Road Rage, isn’t a vacation–I kept working my regular freelance clients while out and about.

On this trip there was plenty to learn about the joys of extended time away from the office, using coffee shops as your office, and how to survive on the road as a freelancer.

A lot of what I filed away for future reference on this trip hasn’t been about the business of freelancing per se, but rather how to keep yourself ready to DO business as a freelancer while on the road.

One of the best investments I made in preparation for the journey? A 12-pack of bottled water that cost me $2.50. That’s the price of two gas station bottled water purchases, more or less. Every little bit counts in this economy.

Another excellent frugal traveling thing I’ve done this year was to take full advantage of the hotel continental breakfast. And I do mean “take advantage of”, as I stashed plenty of extra free fruit, oatmeal packets and other sundries to eat while on driving, sparing me a stop and a lunch bill.

Add to that a little trick I’ve learned to do over the years; one of my favorite kinds of food is Thai cuisine. Thai is extremely portable, especially if you have a cooler or ice chest with you. One Thai lunch is usually enough to split into two meals anyway (or at least it is if you eat like me) so I found myself getting double mileage out of my lunches when I did shell out for them.

Neglecting food is a bad idea for a freelancer–I try not to skip meals when I’m doing these cross-country drives, but I do like to make good time, too. From experience I’ve learned that a skipped meal equals poor productivity, reduced concentration and a higher potential for errors when working online. So I pack a lot of portable goodies like nuts, yogurt, low-fat cheese and organic peanut butter to tide me over when I’m trying to get some good driving time in.

When you’re in our line of work, it’s important to be healthy so you can perform in any required high-stress situation that needs your attention, whether that’s in the middle of a road trip or sitting in your pajamas in the living room. Find ways to stay fed, keep from getting sick, and still meet your road trip goals and you’ll have little problem making them habitual–the rewards are well worth the effort.

One last tip for a road tripping freelancer–the farther outside your destination city the hotel room is, the better the prices seem to be. Just sayin’.

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.