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Travel writing literally saved my life.

Almost three years ago, I found my youngest son dead. He had been ill, but his untimely passing was unexpected and it shook me to my core.

I couldn’t comprehend life without his presence. The tears were endless, and I moved through the motions of daily life while barely existing. Eventually I closed my online business, stopped blogging (something I had been doing since 2007), and descended down a deep, dark “rabbit hole.”

Months later I began to see a grief counselor. I thought I was depressed… so her diagnosis of PTSD came as a surprise.

She suggested journaling. I wasn’t interested. But the idea of writing again had been planted… and, on the way home from that milestone appointment, a new blog came alive in my mind.

On April 10, 2016, I published my first post. It felt good to be writing again. It was therapeutic… but I knew I needed more than a blog. When asked what I’d like to do in the future, the words, “I want to be a travel writer” came tumbling out. Travel writing became the lifesaver for a grieving mother who was drowning.

As of today, 25 of my articles have appeared in a variety of online and print publications, with eight more articles waiting in the wings. I can now say I’m a paid travel writer. And the perks have been a dream come true.

Whisky tasting at Michael Flannerys in Limerick, tea at the Ritz Paris, and a private visit to the Coco Chanel Suite are just a few of the experiences I’ve been able to share with my husband.

Travel writing provides focus, and it keeps me grounded. It’s far too easy to “go down that rabbit hole” when tragedies or struggles happen in life. I’ve found that balance is key… my work hours are jam-packed with travel, writing, and research, but I limit it to 20 hours or less each week to maintain that work-life balance and still find success.

Here are some tips that help me save time…

  • Before a trip, I spend time researching and then I fill in the blanks while traveling. This makes it easier and faster to write an article once I’ve returned home.
  • A small recorder with extra batteries is always tucked in my bag. This is handy for note-taking or unexpected interview opportunities. The combination of the recorder and a small notebook works well for me.
  • I take an excessive amount of photos which are used for reference. Street signs, museum signage, menus… anything is fair game. These photos serve as a reference for small details to include in my article.
  • Business cards come in handy. Many businesses have cards available, and I ask them for one if needed. If there are questions or I need to double-check a fact, the contact information is right at hand… I’m not wasting time searching for it. In a pinch, I also jot down notes on the back of the card.
  • Writing about what interests me allows me to write faster. Food, wine, museums, and history are a few of my favorite subjects. I find that when I’m truly interested in a subject, the piece writes itself.

At this point in my life, 20 hours or less a week is a perfect fit. Anything more, and I’d feel like I have a real job. Anything less, and my mind would have time to wander into deep holes again.

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