I haven’t had a “real” job—you know, one of those 9-to-5 office gigs—since 2008. But I earn good money. Enough that I’m able to travel the world, save for retirement, and dine at nice restaurants without ever breaking a sweat about my bank account. You see, in 2008 I quit my office job so that I could wander through the Middle East, Asia and Australia for a few years.
All is quiet in the condo where we’re staying on the paradise island of Ambergris Caye, Belize. I’m up early. The world hasn’t yet come to life. When my five children wake up we share a breakfast of fresh mangoes and pineapple with black beans and rice seasoned with coconut oil. We wash it down with some cold coconut water. Locals call it pipa and it’s cheap and plentiful on a palm-fringed island like this one. After breakfast, it’s time for the pool where we laugh and splash and play until lunchtime.
New Zealand is one of the most scenically gorgeous countries on earth. For most people, it’s either the trip of a lifetime or a destination to only dream about. Not for me. I went there for the second time last November. A long way to go—but it’s not too bad when you can break the journey. This time around, I chose to stop off in Hong Kong—and of course I had to take in the harbor light show…
My prior career as a tax preparer meant I was used to navigating endless flowing rivers—of paperwork—and I always seemed to be going against the current. I’ve since had a river-related experience in my new career as a travel writer…but it was a lot more fun. Here’s how it happened. My destination was the rugged Toledo District in southern Belize where an Indiana Jones-worthy cave begged exploration.
When you decide to go overseas, you don’t just get to enjoy your new host country—you also get the opportunity to experience all the other nations in the neighborhood. So, now that I’m staying in Buenos Aires in Argentina, I recently decided to use the opportunity to take a short trip to nearby Uruguay. It was a country that took me by surprise.
I never tire of Bangkok. I’ve been coming here for years and although the city itself has changed, a new building here, a shopping center there, the essential feel of the place hasn’t changed at all…and that’s what I love about it. There’s something in the air in Thailand’s capital. It’s a city for city lovers…partygoers…travelers and adventure-seekers. It’s crammed with exotic, bustling markets…17th-century temples…art-deco hotels and has fast-food stalls on every corner. For 24 hours of the day, people are living and making a living all around you.
For travel writers, sampling local food specialties is part of the job. So to ignore the Antiga Confeitaria in Belém, Lisbon’s ancient maritime suburb, would be criminal. Decorated in blue and white azulejo tiles, this bakery/cafe is a shrine to the world’s most heavenly custard tarts—Pastéis de Belém. Famed throughout Portugal, these are pastries with history.
- A Glamorous Job That Could Take You All Over the World
Posted on October 4, 2012 by Steenie Harvey
A travel writer gets to visit so many wonderful places. It’s easier to pick out the disappointing trips. And in truth, in all of the 20 or so years that travel has been my ‘job’, I can only think of three that were less than stellar. At this moment, I’m putting together an itinerary for a return trip to New Zealand—with a stopover in Hong Kong. From Auckland, the City of Sails, I’m headed to the Southern Alps where much of Lord of the Rings was filmed.
Last summer, I spent an action-packed month flitting around Europe following my lifetime passions of travel, history, and track and field. How did I pay for it? I found 11 different magazines willing to send me checks in exchange for articles about my experiences. I visit Europe every year for four weeks by selling enough articles in advance to pay for the entire trip. I even manage to bring in a good income over the following year…
Matt Kepnes of Boston, Massachusetts found a way of ditching the 9-to-5 grind by harnessing the Internet’s income potential. Today, he’s a travel blogger who travels the world while making a full-time living from writing for the web. Right now, home is the cut-price beachside paradise of Sihanoukville in Cambodia. Matt got his start as a travel blogger.
After a somewhat bumpy and dusty drive, passing by small pueblos, burros, and sombrero-wearing farmers, we arrived at Mexico’s most unique set of “waterfalls.” Around 40 miles from the colonial city of Oaxaca, is Hierve el Agua—The Water Boils. This bizarre formation is one of only two found anywhere in the world; the other being Pamukkale in southern Turkey.
Pub life is the center of Irish culture. It’s a place to gather over a pint, listen to music and tell tales into the wee hours of the morning. Literary legends aside, Ireland has given us famed drinks like Guinness, Jameson and Baileys which can be found in any bar worthy of the name anywhere in the world. To experience the origins of some of the favorite Irish tipples, head to Dublin.
It’s a Tuesday morning in the Czech Republic and I’m sitting up in the light and airy third floor cafe above one of Prague’s most renowned theaters, trying out their special red espresso alongside a warm slice of juicy, black currant tart. From the long wall of windows to my right, I can see the sparkling Vltava River with its parade of long green, white and red boats.
You want to leave it all behind for that one idyllic Caribbean island—a place surrounded by vibrant seascapes and white sand…your very own hard-to-reach haven. But why settle for one when you can have 378? That’s a Caribbean island paradise for every single day of the year…and a few left over for friends. That’s how many islands sit in the San Blas chain, strung out along the Caribbean coast of Panama.
Part of being a travel writer is about finding a special place that can give you a unique experience far removed from the mainstream. It’s about buying a plane ticket to a destination of your choosing and letting fate decide what kind of adventure will dictate your course of action. After spending a few days in Bangkok, Thailand I purchased a flight to the tropical, hilly island of Phuket.
On the morning of my birthday this year, I woke up to the view of the Caribbean Sea. It wasn’t just a pretty view from an average resort – I was looking at the Belize Barrier Reef. If I got out of bed, walked downstairs and stood on the beach, the Reef would be a stone’s throw away.
Waking up to the sounds of howler monkeys quickly reminds me that I am, in fact, in the middle of the Belizean jungle. I’m at Cotton Tree Lodge, an eco-lodge in the southernmost region of Belize in the Toledo District. Why am I here? For the chocolate.
I was closing in on the San Blas Islands; a paradise archipelago scattered off Panama’s Caribbean coast. It was early morning and I was traveling from the mainland via motorized dugout canoe to Cartí, one of the largest of the 378 islands. We pulled up next to a wooden jetty…and stepped into another world.
Halfway between Iceland and Norway you’ll ﬁnd the Faroe Islands—an isolated North Atlantic haven of pristine natural landscapes, ancient traditions, and marine wildlife. Gaelic monks from Scotland and Ireland arrived here in the 6th century, but it was the Vikings who left a permanent mark. The Faroes still have a close cultural and political relationship with Denmark. Tiny and often uninhabited villages dot the 18 major islands, where you’ll also ﬁnd waterfalls ﬂowing over the sides of cliffs into the ocean below.
Renting a car is the best way to travel and it gives you total freedom. Most of the islands are connected by car ferry, sub-sea tunnels, and two—Streymoy to Eysturoy—by a bridge.
A Garifuna dancer strikes a pose at the annual junkanoo dance contest, a Caribbean tradition. Shaking themselves, arms half raised, the dancers move toward the drummers. Their feet and bodies respond to each beat of the pulsing drums. Chanting women and the cheers of the crowd drown out the lapping of the ocean waves, only a few yards away. I wiggle to the front through throngs of smiling Belizeans to get a better view.
St Tola goat’s cheese and organic leaves with a tomato, basil and vodka jelly…roast hake on a risotto of pearl barley with a truffle salsa. For a story about eating and drinking stops along Ireland’s river Shannon, the Purple Onion gastro-pub in Tarmonbarry is definitely worth including.
The best thing about being a freelance writer is that you can work from anywhere—so I packed up and moved to Costa Rica. It might seem like a brave move, but it was also a sensible one. The cost of living is low here—so paychecks go a long way. Plus, my family gets to experience another culture.
I had to work last Sunday. I was up by 7.30 a.m. But don’t feel bad for me just yet. Once out of bed, I slipped into my swimsuit, cover-up and flip-flops and checked out of my room at a hotel I was staying in at the mouth of the Rio Dulce in Livingston, Guatemala.
- Getting Paid to go on Adventures in Far-Flung Countries
Posted on May 9, 2012 by Katie Hilborn
I had been staying in the tranquil Nepalese tourist town of Pokhara for a month when a travel writing assignment came in. It involved researching retirement in Nepal—and I needed to find some expats. As I sat drinking my morning chai at a lakefront breakfast joint, I wondered where all the Westerners were hiding. I had seen only a handful since I arrived, and they all seemed to be just passing through.