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The Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu? Sunrise on the Ganges or sundowners in Kenya? A luxury high-rise room with skyline view or waterside loft with no exterior wall to mask the ocean waves? Being a travel writer means you often face the difficult dilemma of making these kinds of choices, being the arbiter of all things travel. What’s your favorite place? The best hotel? Most amazing trip? After six years and a respectable number of countries under my belt (19 to date), I’m prepared to say that trying to answer these questions might be the most difficult part of the job. Oh, there are pitfalls to be sure, a broken toe in Peru, a black eye after a fall near Tbilisi, and of course, sleepless nights spent in cramped airplane seats. But nothing compares with the excitement of exploring new places, discovering new food, meeting new people who are so different and still very much just like you. Mark Twain’s famous quote often comes to mind: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. … Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” I learned that first-hand. Never having met a Sikh before, I had lots of questions for a young tour guide in India who practiced that faith and told me about the traditional underclothes that Sikhs wear as a part of their religion. We both laughed heartily when I mentioned that I would be telling my friends in Chicago about him, his underwear, and his wish to visit Las Vegas. For the record, Machu Picchu trumps the Taj Mahal, sundowners in Kenya top sunrise on the Ganges, and the oceanside open-air loft beats the luxury high-rise. But that’s the beauty of the job. You get to check them all out and everyone gets their own pick. If I can leave you with one tip for the travel writer’s life, it’s this… Whether you’re a tech marvel or you can barely figure out how to get your computer on much less use it, your camera (and the camera inside your cell phone) are quickly becoming notepad replacements. With a simple click today, you can snap photos of museum exhibit explanations, restaurant menus, and street signs to remember where you were. Another good tip is to use it to photograph business cards from every restaurant/hotel or shop you might consider including in your story. That way you will have the correct address and phone number for putting in the story, but also a contact person should you need to ask more questions after you return home. Share on Facebook

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