IFWTWA Travel Writer and Blogger Insider

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Listen to the Big Blend Radio Travel Writer & Blogger Panel Discussion featuring International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) Members:

Dr. Cacinda Maloney – Publisher of www.PointsandTravel.com, travel writer and blogger, photographer, social media influencer, travel expert and brand ambassador.

Mary Lansing-Farah – Editor in Chief and creator of the popular Los Angeles based lifestyle and travel blog, www.AlongComesMaryBlog.com, and IFWTWA Board Director.

Lara Dunning – Freelance travel writer for and writer for www.SmallTownWashington.com, editorial and social media manager for WaggonerGuide.com, creative nonfiction writer and author of young adult novels.


1. What led you to a career in the travel writing industry?

– Cacinda: I was a Chiropractic Physician in Phoenix, AZ for 22 years and during that time I made a lifestyle choice to travel every 6 weeks of my life.  So naturally, I wanted to document it through my storytelling and photographs. This eventually led me from a scrapbook to an online medium to produce my work.  I have now been blogging travel online for 5 years.

– Mary: It was all on a fantastic whim when a friend showed me the ropes to become a blogger, in April of 2012.

– Lara: During my MFA program, I took a nonfiction course and fell in love with the genre, so much so, that I decided to get a dual focus degree for young adult writing and nonfiction. The blog came about after I had been freelancing for about two years, and I decided I wanted to expand my love of small town traveling.


2. What attributes do you have that make you a good fit for being a successful travel writer?
– Cacinda: Attention to detail is the main thing that makes me a good fit.  As a physician, I had to pay attention to details and that translated into my creative work on the ground with my photography and then ultimately with my storytelling. Also, I have the ability to write great amount of details on the sly — ie in airports, buses, etc, as well as great research skills.

– Mary: When I travel, I love to find the local spots, not just the tourist attractions. I feel my interest in learning a culture helps me in my writing.

– Lara: I have very thick skin and don’t take criticism personally. And, my goal is to always strive to become a better writer.

3. Who or what inspires you?
– Cacinda: The first person to inspire me to learn every detail about a place was an old business trainer I hired for the clinic.  He was also a Chiropractor who traveled extensively and eventually turned his passion of Chiropractic into a location independent coaching business so that he could travel. His name is Dr. Mark Radermacher. I once called him on the phone to ask him some questions about Vienna, and he gave me a 30-minute dissertation of what to do and where to go and he knew it like the back of his hand!  That was my inspiration to learn more about travel. He also taught me the concept of traveling every 6 weeks of my life, which I was able to implement and did for 22 years while practicing as a Chiropractor. I now travel more than that and went to 47 countries in 2016, with 72 countries as my life long total.

– Mary: I’ve had such terrific opportunities happen from a previous post. I publish one article on something (or, somewhere) great, and then, if an opportunity presents itself thanks to that article I shared, more adventures happen. Nothing is more exciting than when one adventure turns into another!

– Lara: My father is a constant source of inspiration. At a young age, he knew he wanted to be a scientist and even though he had some setbacks in his late teen years, he always made career choices to guide him to his dream job.

4. Describe your ideal audience.
– Cacinda: It consists of myself and my long time friends: 30-65 educated females married to affluent men who love to travel and want adventure in their lives. They typically have tweens, teenage kids, or adult children in college and plan the family vacations. They speak English and are from North America or Europe.

– Mary: Fellow Millenials trying to find their place in this crazy world!

– Lara: My ideal audience would be someone who is a small town enthusiast, likes slower paced travel and is curious about history, and enjoys culinary travel and local adventures.

5. What is your pet peeve in regards to the travel writing?
– Cacinda: Basically my pet peeve is that everybody travels differently and there is no one correct way to do it.  Some people love the great outdoors, others culture, others daring adventures. There are so many places to go in this world and so many different ways to do it.  So just find your niche and be the best one writing about that.  There is room for everybody and no need to bash others in the process.

– Mary: It definitely can be competitive, like anything else. It’s important to remember, there are enough opportunities to go around.

– Lara: It never ceases to amaze me how undervalued writing is. Every week I see postings for jobs that want writing for very little pay. Writing is a craft and hard work and should be treated as such.


6. What personal changes have you had to make in order to build your career?

– Cacinda: Pretty much everything!  I chose to quit my job as a Chiropractor and work full time in the travel world after about a year and half of doing it part time.  Then I had to learn to make it into a business, as in the beginning it was just a hobby.  I also had to learn who all the players were by attending conferences and then trying to figure out what my place was in this world.  It has definitely been a process of growing and learning.  I knew nothing about SEO and traffic building, as I had always just focused on the travel itself, so there is a great learning curve in technology as well.

– Mary: Learn how to speak cleverly in 140 characters or less!

– Lara: Since I am a one woman show, maintaining Small Town Washington & Beyond has taken over my personal and social time.

7. What do you consider your biggest challenge?
– Cacinda: Technology is one – learning the ins and outs of an online business using WordPress and SEO techniques.  Also, in a weird way, travel has become my biggest challenge in order to make my travel website grow!  I had always just done this for the travel aspect of it, but if I want to get my stories out to the masses then I have to stay home more (ie NOT travel) and learn how to blog better!

– Mary: Lately, it’s finding a balance of managing my day jobs with my travels, and writing about it all.

– Lara: There never seems to be enough time and I have a backlog of stories to write. That in itself is a good thing, but it can also feel very overwhelming. My goal this year is to better manage my freelance life and blogging demands.

8. If you could invite any three people (alive or passed on) for a dinner party who would they be?
– Cacinda: Tony Robbins, the Dali Lahma, and Jesus.

– Mary: Dorothy Parker, Joseph Campbell and Marilyn Monroe.

– Lara: Edward Abby, David Wade, and Laura Hillenbrand.

9. If you could switch careers for a day, what would you choose?
– Cacinda: Own a small resort or B&B caretaker on an island. Scuba Diver Instructor in Fiji. Travel PR, to see what they do from the other side of the coin, working in advertising/marketing.

– Mary: I would want to be Madonna for a day, as long as I inherit her performance talents.

– Lara: I’ve always been fascinated by those who live an isolated monastic lifestyle, so I would have to say I’d like to be a monk for a day, or maybe two.

10. What is the most important tip you would pass on to another person just getting started in the world of travel writing?
– Cacinda: Learn SEO from the beginning!  That way what you write has a bigger chance to see more eyes. I wish I would have learned that a long time ago.  Learn what drives traffic to your site.  Learn who your audience is and carve out a niche within the travel world.

– Mary: In this day and age, social media and promotion is vital. As a great friend told me: It’s 40% writing, 60% promoting.

– Lara: Learn your craft. Take classes, read books, write and rewrite. Don’t be afraid to slash and cut and rearrange. Every word penned will get you closer to your dream.

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association


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