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Why I Travel

Why I Travel

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Why I Like Writing About Travel


Several months ago I read a comment that an obviously angry reader left on a popular photography website. It left me wondering about why I write about my travels and share my photos. The writer felt that people who write about their travels are braggarts and only want to impress other people with the fact that they have money and can go anywhere in the world. This comment has been on my mind for some time so I decided to address it. Do I brag about my travels?  Do I share my travels and photos with friends and family who want to know more about what I saw and did while I was gone? Do I think I’m better than others because I travel?  I like to think that I am sharing with people who are interested in my work.  I don’t think I brag. I don’t have a lot of money and I can’t go everywhere in the world.  I have to save my money and plan my trips to fit within my budget.  I write because I hope that people will be interested in reading about my travels.  Of course, I also hope that a magazine or newspaper will be interested enough to publish my story and photos.  It doesn’t just happen.  You have to work at it.  You have to do research on your location and on what magazine your story would fit in. You have to send out queries to editors and try to make your story look like the best story about Paris, Fiji, Arizona or wherever. Then you have to wait to hear from the editors.  It may be weeks, months or maybe just days while you wonder if it’s gone into the editor’s spam or trash file. That is not the fun part of travel writing.

I wanted to travel all my life. My father instilled in me his love of travel. I don’t know if he ever did any foreign travel other than Mexico and Canada but he loved road trips in the USA.  I love road trips. Packing up the car with suitcases and food to eat along the way is always exciting to me. Even a day trip to some town in a neighboring state or the state I live in can be exciting.


Being retired offers me more opportunities to travel because I am not governed by the calendar or the clock. I am governed by my budget. Living on Social Security isn’t easy. It’s one-fifth of what I brought home when I was working. The first year was difficult. Adjusting to the mammoth paycut hurt bad enough but health problems really made me think that retirement sucked. I managed a short trip to Miami for a photography workshop and a cruise to Alaska which had been planned and paid for 2 years before. The rest of the year was plagued with Menierre’s disease, Norovirus with a trip to the ER (not related to the cruise), a knee injury, and a severe back injury which happened the day after we got home from Alaska. The back imjury lasted for almost 5 months. The year ended with my mother passing and my sister very ill.  If this was retirement, I didn’t want any part of it.


After that first year of retirement, I put more effort into my photography. My husband and I took a road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a photo workshop. I blogged about the trip on the attendees’ page. I learned to make a video. I took a lot of photos. I got home and planned every weekend to take advantage of all the upcoming free events during the summer. Since I was taking a trip to Los Angeles to a family reunion for my husband’s family in September, I took the opportunity go to San Diego for a travel writing workshop at the same time. At the workshop I realized that I loved to write. Heck, I loved to travel and I loved telling people about my travels. I wrote a story about our stay at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. It was published in Travel Post Monthly’s December 2014 issue. I came home from San Diego ready to be a travel writer. Just before I left for Los Angeles/San Diego I reconnected with a long lost friend. It had been 32 years since we’d seen each other. I got a call from her when I returned from my trip. It turns out that she owns a private tour club and she invited me to go on a 32-day trip to Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu to photograph and write about the experience.  It took the next 5 months to plan that trip. You can read my blog on “When Vacation Plans Change” at www.tumblealongtales.com and on my Facebook page “Tumble Along Tales”.


Travel is what you make it. I discovered last year that writing is something that has been missing in my equation of travel and photography. Taking a photo is fine but when you explain what that photo is about it takes on a new dimension. How many times have you looked at a photograph that doesn’t have a caption and wondered “Where is that?”, “What’s the story here?”. Now, if it’s a good photograph of an iconic place you may not need an explanation. If it’s a really good photograph of some scene you might see on a small island in the South Pacific, wouldn’t you want to read a story about why this photograph is important? I don’t just want to write about what’s important or interesting to me but what might be important or interesting to other people. I love reading other people’s travel stories. Since I started travel writing I have met many travel writing friends. I read their stories and look at their photos. I frequently find myself wishing I could be where they are or were. Well, I can be if I plan it.  Anyone can travel.  Whether you travel to Europe, Asia, the Americas, the South Pacific or a small town in your home state,  you are traveling. If you live in a city and take the subway, taxi or bus, you are traveling. Add a camera to your trip, take photos, write captions or a story and share it all with friends – YOU are travel writing.

So I am not a braggart.  I make my plans of where I want to go, I research the location, cost and best time to go to save money. I look for fun things that are free to do or low cost. Most locations have lots of things to do for free. I start saving for that trip months in advance. I share this information with friends, family and strangers Look at everyday things you spend money on – coffee drinks, cigarettes, beer, wine, clothes, shoes, etc.  Figure out what you can cut spending on. Start a travel fund with the money you are saving.  If you really want to travel you’ll be able to find ways to save for it. Most cellphones have good cameras.  You don’t need the most expensive camera.  Whether you have a DSLR, point and shoot or cellphone camera, you need to learn to use them to take the best photo you can. So go out and enjoy your world wherever that may be. Hope to see you out there on your travels and taking photos. Happy trails to you until we meet again.

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6 Replies to “Why I Travel”

  1. Kudos, Karen. I met you at the Ultimate Travel Writing Workshop in San Diego and have enjoyed reading your posts to the Workshop FB page and reading about your successes in getting articles submitted and accepted to magazines. I have not yet gotten anything written up that I felt confident to submit, but I keep plugging away at it. So thanks for your entries. They make me feel that I CAN DO IT.

    Kate Leland

    1. Thank you, Kate. I submitted an article to Travel Post Monthly first. They accepted it and that gave me the confidence to keep going. This website has been a big confidence builder as well. My Facebook page “Tumble Along Tales” is also doing well. Just start writing and it gets easier. I haven’t submitted much to magazines yet because I’ve been so busy but now that I’m back to being healthy I am developing stories for submission. If you want to write up something and want someone to read it before submitting it I’d be glad to help out.

  2. Hi Karen, I so enjoyed this write-up. You know, some people have pessimistic/negative outlooks, and it seems that this is what you ran up on. I like how you explained how you became interested in travel writing, how you achieve travel and travel writing. And I like your positive outlook. I’m retired, too. And I, too, went to the travel writing conference in San Diego with my husband. It was all great learning and good fun! Haven’t started yet ( : p ) but I hope to get out there and begin soon. Wishing you happy travels!

  3. Great post Karen! I have a friend that thinks the same way as that person who made that comment. It drives me crazy. He thinks blogging about my travels is so self-centred. What else am I supposed to write about if I’m a travel writer?! It’s my perspective on my experiences.

    Anyway, it’s so great to see that you’re quite focused. For me, traveling around the world this year (only 1.25 months (not even) into it), I haven’t had a chance to do anything!

    I feel the pressure everyday (reminding myself that I’m not writing anything) and I feel I am letting myself down as I wanted to use this journey as a platform for my travel writing and photography as I continent hop. But I need some good down time to do this…. Mid June in Italy will be here soon enough (and then I can do some work). I want to enjoy the moment and just absorb all of the experiences. This is my life and you only live once…. So I’ll get to my writing when I get to it! Signing off from Bali and heading to India tonight! Cheerio!

    1. Thanks, Tawna. Don’t worry about not writing while you are traveling. On my big trip which was 32 days I only wrote a couple of stories. We were so busy that taking photos of each location was about all I got done. Spotty internet (and expensive) service, storms, etc played a part in not writing. I did promise myself that I would journal everyday but broke that promise. Next trip that is definitely going to happen so I don’t forget things. Relax, enjoy and write when the urge to write gets to where you just have to get your story out. I don’t have even near all my stories written and more have come along. Have a safe and wonderful time traveling.

  4. Karen,

    I enjoyed your very down-to-earth and sensible explanations of why you travel. You don’t owe such an explanation to anyone, but I enjoyed reading it all the same. Those who might begrudge you your experiences are the same ones who, if and when they travel, become the Ugly American stereotype that is too loud, lacking in good manners, and engages in brash misbehavior. Thanks for sharing your trip!

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