Tag Archives: Writing

Q&A with “The Professional Hobo”

When I began this blog in the beginning of the semester (wow, that’s weird to say), I didn’t really know what to focus on. I knew I wanted to do something with travel, but I wasn’t sure what. I mean, I didn’t have a job or any means of going places. I randomly surfed through pages and pages of blogs until I came across Nora Dunn’s The Professional Hobo. It contained everything I’ve wanted to do since I was little. I sent her an email asking a few questions about her and her travels and, much to my delight, she responded! I’d like to share her responses with all of you out there in cyber space.

Well I’d love to hear about your reasoning for picking up and deciding to travel.

ND: At the age of 30 and after sinking myself into my business and ignoring the ever-present voice in the back of my head suggesting I had an unfulfilled dream, I decided to sell everything I owned to travel full-time.

That was back in 2006, and since then my boyfriend and I have been on the road. We travel slowly everywhere we go, staying weeks to months (to years) in each location. We often work in trade for our accommodation to reduce expenses and get a more local experience, and my writing helps pay for other incidentals. As such, we travel full-time in a financially sustainable manner (read: we can do it forever if we want).

That’s fantastic. What is your favorite place to visit? Why?

ND: Right now my favourite place to visit is any place new! My reason goes hand in hand with why I travel in the first place; to discover new places and people, and to tell stories about it.

What got you into blogging?

ND: Blogging was initially a way to stay in touch with family and friends while I was on the road. Once I was traveling, I realized there is more to traveling with an internet connection than I had anticipated, and paying writing gigs started to materialize, along with the increased popularity of my own blog. Now I still use my blog to stay in touch with family and friends, but I also write for a much wider audience.

Do you have any favorite writers or publications?

ND: Rolf Potts has long been a favorite writer of mine, along with a few obscure ones that I won’t mention. I love to read travel memoirs and adventures, as well as how-to ebooks and articles about travel, finance, and business.

What was the most outrageous thing that has happened to you during your travels?

ND: I have a knack for the outrageous on the road. Here are a few tidbits of outrageousness:

My boyfriend and I contracted our first neurological disease from spear-fishing. (LINK:http://theprofessionalhobo.com/2008/02/an-introduction-to-spearfishingand-neurological-disease/) (It sounds more dramatic than it was, but don’t tell anybody. We like the story)!

I slid down a giant icicle 60 meters underground in an attempt to find the bottom of a cave. (LINK:http://theprofessionalhobo.com/2007/09/disaster-point-an-ominous-caving-experience/) Thankfully I was attached to a rope and climbed out…slowly.

In northern Thailand, my boyfriend and I stopped our itinerary in its tracks to raise money for the survivors of cyclone Nargis, who were hanging precariously on to life in the aftermath in May 2008. We raised $15,000 internationally and successfully sent aid into Burma. (LINK: http://theprofessionalhobo.com/category/burma-cyclone-relief/)

The week after we finished our fundraising campaign, my boyfriend spent a week in a Thai hospital suffering from Dengue Fever. (LINK: http://theprofessionalhobo.com/2008/05/hospital-life-with-dengue/)

Last year Australia, we found ourselves in the midst of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires: Australia’s worst-ever natural disaster. (LINK: http://theprofessionalhobo.com/2009/02/victorian-bush-fire-diary-february-7th-day-one/) Once again we rolled up our sleeves and helped to manage a warehouse receiving and distributing donations for fire survivors coming from around the country. We ourselves were evacuated for a month during this time, and when the project ended two months after the fires began, we were given 1 year extensions on our Australian visas and were given working rights too.

You never know what’s going to happen on the road. That’s what I love!

Do you have any collections or hobbies other than writing and traveling?

ND: Sure! As a former professional actor/singer/dancer, my love of musical theatre is never far from the front of my mind. When I get a chance to perform, I do!

I also love to be outdoors (as I mentioned earlier), and I love adventurous activities like rock climbing, scrambling, mountaineering, caving, bungee jumping, skydiving, motorcycle racing….and on it goes.

What would be your idea of a perfect day?

ND: I try to balance a little bit into each day – or at least each week. I get outside and hike/walk/swim/climb/paddle as much as possible. I also harbour a slight addition to social networking and clearing out my Inbox, which fills up quickly. I write for a variety of editors on a variety of topics, mostly centered around travel and personal finance. And I spend time with my boyfriend (who travels with me), and our local friends. No matter our location, these activities tend to be themes. Although nothing is perfect, I’ve designed my life to be as close to perfect (at least my version thereof) as possible.

Do you have any travel tips for the financially challenged?

ND: Yikes – travel tips for the financially CHALLENGED could be dangerous. I like giving travel tips for the frugally minded – and I manage to travel the world full-time for approximately $14,000/year (LINK:http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/cheap-travel/) using these techniques.

But if you are financially challenged, you might not have the ability to hit the road to begin with. I’ve received lots of emails from people saying they have all sorts of debt and no savings, asking me when they can travel full-time.

There are things you need to do to (responsibly) hit the road and travel. Here is a guide to some of the financial things you can consider before traveling:

Thanks again Nora! What an inspiration!

Tips to travel writers

I am new to this whole world of journalism. All I know is that I enjoy travel and I’d like to pursue a career that allows me to do lots of it, and write about it. I decided that reading my magazines and reading my favorite blogs just might not cut it. I googled travel writers and found some pretty cool resources. Sure, some of it was discouraging, specifically the Seven Myths of being a Travel Writer, which discusses some of the realities of the job. It isn’t always realistic to believe that everyone will want to read your stories, let alone have them carry you into super stardom as soon as they’re published, but as long as you keep writing and perfecting your technique, you aren’t wasting your time.

At the other end of the spectrum there’s tips by Rolf Potts. Here Potts mentions, what I consider, the most important factor of this whole job: “Whatever you do, remember that travel—not travel writing—should be your priority.” I’m a firm believer in doing something you love, simply so that you don’t feel like you’re working. Let’s face it, we didn’t choose this profession for the big bucks. He also suggests reading up and studying what you will be writing about, as well as knowing your audience.

Kelby Hartson Carr has a list of how to break into travel writing. This is a pretty basic list, but it makes sense. Number 1? Become a traveler. You have to get up and go places. I tried to develop this blog into my travel journal. It’s difficult in todays economy to find the means to go places, which is why I thought it would be interesting to put pricing limits on what I do and where I go. A repetitive piece of advice in these articles is that you have to write. If it’s a journal, fine, but you should develop stories; pieces of work that you can share with others, have them relate to and want to read. Think of your audience.

Check out this Travel Writing Portal for more tips from authors. Just remember to get out there and go places, write about it for practice, know your audience and work to get it published. Don’t give up right away if it doesn’t happen, it will take time. Good luck and Godspeed!