© Laurie McAndish King

I interviewed travel writing guru Don George at the Commonwealth Club of California on October 7th.

Don discussed what the day-to-day life of a travel writer is like, how to approach travel as a pilgrimage, traveling to sensitive places that need to be preserved, the cultural effects travelers have on the places they visit, how best to visit areas that are politically volatile, how travel writing enhances the experience of travel, and figuring out the meaning of life.

Wordrates or PresslandContently’s “The Freelancer” brings us news of Pressland and Wordrates, both of which allow freelancer writers to rate and review media companies and editors much like one would review a restaurant on Yelp.

“The true value proposition [of Pressland and WordRates] is connecting freelancers with editors via an open directory. It’s an issue of empowerment for writers and accountability for editors and publishers.”

The complete article is here.

Real-life Jetmen

November 23, 2015 | Leave a Comment

This video is so amazing I had to include it: Armed with unguarded ambition and the vision to push boundaries beyond the unthinkable, Jetman Dubai and Emirates A380 take to the skies of Dubai for an exceptional formation flight. (You might want to turn the sound down before playing.)

Surprises in China

November 23, 2015 | Leave a Comment

map of ChinaTravelers Joan Hall and Lenny Karpman visited eight Chinese cities on their own in September. They found it easy to get around (even though they don’t speak Chinese), comfortable, and relatively inexpensive. People were friendly and looked well nourished. Lenny provides details of the trip and lets us in on his favorite Chinese snack in this open letter:

laptop woman

A Google Chrome extension called Language Immersion aims to replicate the experience of language immersion while you’re browsing the internet. tells Business Insider about the product:

Users select one of 64 languages supported by Google Translate that they’d like to learn, as well as the level of immersion they need, from “novice” to “fluent.”

The extension then translates random words on whatever you’re reading online into the foreign language. (You can click on the translated words to put them back into your native language.) If you roll over the translated words, you can hear them pronounced by a native speaker.

What do editors of Yahoo Travel, National Geographic Intelligent Traveler, and two airline magazines want to see in their inbox? And what annoys them to death? reports on Travel Writing 2.0 from the NATJA Conference in Puerto Vallarta this past spring. (The next NATJA conference will be in Oxnard, California April 4-7, 2016.)

Find out what these editors had to say:

  • Paula Froelich – Yahoo Travel Executive Editor
  • Leslie Trew Magraw – National Geographic Intelligent Travel Managing Editor
  • Jacquelyne Froeber – Celebrated Living Editor-in-Chief and American Way Executive Editor

PhonePlanOh gosh; calling while traveling gets more complicated all the time. Here are a couple of places you can learn more:


TwicerFeatured as an iTunes Store Best New App in 2015, Twicer lets you “create slick videos from the palm of your hand. Record or import your source video then add a video commentary layer to tell the world what you see. Upload it and your first Twice is ready for others to discover.”

CharbonneauChateauThinking of trading homes with someone in another country? It’s a good way to save money when you’re traveling, and Bradley Charbonneau over at Repossible.com has done it enough that he’s learned the ropes. The image used here is from Bradley’s post How We Stayed in an $8,400 Villa in the South of France for Free. Find that and more in his Home Exchange series.


August 30, 2015 12:00 amtoSeptember 5, 2015 12:00 am

Perry GarfinkelI recently interviewed author, longtime New York Times contributor, travel writer and writing teacher Perry Garfinkel for the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer.

Listen to Perry and me here as we discuss travel writing, percussion, Buddhism, stealing, Woody Allen, and using what Perry calls the “Travel Writer’s Mindset” to extend your vacation and make it more enjoyable. I also got a sneak peek at the curriculum for Perry’s upcoming travel writing class, which will be on Martha’s Vineyard from August 30 – September 5.

TheFreelancerContently’s The Freelancer published this list of rates paid to freelance writers and photographers. It is not limited to “travel” publications per se, but then, neither are travel writers—so here you go.

Travel WardrobexxxHere’s a glimpse into one of my guilty obsessions: If only I had the perfect travel wardrobe (my thinking goes), trips would be more … well … actually, they’re already pretty terrific. Every time. Nevertheless, I am sure they would somehow be better if I had The Perfect Travel Wardrobe. Here Kimberly Genschmer Vital Brasil (yes, that’s one person, and she has a wonderful sense of style) has done all the requisite research, and provides travel wardrobe ideas for everything from Santa Cruz to a Mediterranean Cruise. Go ahead and click on through. How can you not want to know how to pack for Paris in the winter with just a carry-on?

AudioThanks to Karen Misuraca for this link to an International Journalists Network article by Jessica Weiss about audio recording tools. Weiss gives us a rundown on the pros and cons of Google Voice, Free Conference Call, TapeaCall, RecordMyCall, and other popular apps, services, and devices.

CostcoxxxThis linked article on Moneyning explains that Best Western, Hyatt, Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise all offer discounts or perks for Costco members.


Helen Maguire, Dave Cooney, and Laurie McAndish King (RT) Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Helen Maguire, Dave Cooney, and Laurie McAndish King (RT) Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Find out why flying from San Francisco to Dublin, Ireland is easier than ever. I visit with Dave Cooney and Helen Maguire about Aer Lingus’ new daily nonstop service from SFO to DUB, comfy lie-flat seats in business class, vacation packages, and an expedited reentry arrangement with U.S. Customs.

While the daily nonstop service and lie-flat seats are impressive, I personally am not likely to take advantage of the added convenience they offer…

But I’m all over the expedited reentry,

March 18, 2015
6:00 pmto10:00 pm

This month’s Weekday Wanderlust is a doozy!  The Three Wise Men, The Godfathers of Travel, The Travel Trio, The Three Horsemen of the … call them whatever you want. This travel-writing trifecta needs no introduction: Don George, Larry Habegger, and Jeff Greenwald are on the roster.


LarryHabegger  JeffGreenwald




Buckle up and join the fun, sure to be as illuminating as it is entertaining, on Wednesday March 18 at the Hotel Rex.  (562 Sutter Street in San Francisco). The readings start at 7 p.m., but a group of thirsty travelers can always be found at 6 p.m. in the Library Bar. Stop by and say hi!

SmartLuggageHere’s a link to Peter Greenberg’s article on the soon-to-come smart luggage: “Last year, Airbus introduced the prototype of Bag2Go, a suitcase enabled with an RFID chip. The technology works with airport and airline baggage systems to track your luggage.”

Greenberg also mentions the Bluesmart “suitcase that you can lock and unlock … using your smartphone. An integrated sensor weighs the bag, and an alert will go off if you wander too far from your bag. Oh, and it has a built-in battery charger.”

JauntedFind more travel news here on Jaunted.com, from an announcement about United’s new signature scent (Apparently they’re going to be spritzing the jet bridge, walkway, and the United Club with a scent they’re calling Landing) to Beacon’s new All-You-Can-Fly service between Boston, New York, Nantucket, and The Hamptons.

Writing Travel

March 16, 2015 | Leave a Comment

LanoraMuellerWritingtravel.com is similar to Travel Writers News, with tips for travel writers plus some beautiful photos by Lanora Mueller.

More puns …

February 20, 2015 | Leave a Comment

Because I know you all love them:

  • I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.
  • I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.
  • When chemists die, they barium.
  • How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
  • Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
  • I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
  • This girl said she recognized me from the Vegetarian Club, but I’d never met herbivore.
  • I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.
March 21, 2015toMarch 22, 2015

Storytellers ExpoMarch 17, 2015 update: The location for this conference has changed. Please check the conference website for the most up-to-date information.

Do you have a book or literary project that might work as a movie? If you’d like to meet with representatives from studios such as HBO, DreamWorks, Warner Brothers, SyFy Channel, Lionsgate, and Universal, check out Storytellers Expo 2015. The expo will be held March 21-22 at the Hyatt Regency SFO. It includes presentations and classes taught by successful established writers, and a Pitch Fest where you can pitch your projects to New York publishers, agents, Hollywood studios, and producers.

Texting“The evidence is, for language, that every time a new technology arrives, it expands the expressive richness of the language in a way that wasn’t there before.” Here’s how the internet is making English better.

PicoIyerI still like this three-year-old New York Times New Year’s essay, The Joy of Quiet, by Pico Iyer. (Click the link for the entire essay.)

The urgency of slowing down — to find the time and space to think — is nothing new, of course, and wiser souls have always reminded us that the more attention we pay to the moment, the less time and energy we have to place it in some larger context. “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries,” the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in the 17th century, “and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” He also famously remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

GoldenPagodaHere’s the trip we’ve all been waiting for: Discover the wonders of Japan on a 12-day journey with Don George (Sept 23–Oct 4, 2015). Don George, editor and writerDon is an editor-at-large and columnist for National Geographic Traveler magazine, as well as host of the National Geographic Live series of conversations with notable authors. Don has edited eight literary travel anthologies, including Better Than Fiction, The Kindness of Strangers, and Travelers’ Tales: Japan, and received dozens of writing awards, including the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Gold Award for Best Travel Article and the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year Award. Don lived and taught in Japan for two years, and his recent National Geographic Traveler article “Japan’s Past Perfect” inspired this expedition.

WildernessTravelBerkeley-based Wilderness Travel is looking for an experienced (3+ years) full-time copywriter and editor. Office hours are 8:30 to 5:00, M-F.  Download more details and application info here.

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