Travel Inspired 

Here is where I get to share travel tips, vegan recipes inspired by the places I explore, destination guides, packing lists, and travel writing wisdom. Dare to read on if you want a serious case of the travel bug!

What Phrases You should Learn Before Traveling to another Country

Americans have a terrible habit of traveling to countries whose primary language is not English, and assuming that everyone will speak English.

The world often sees American tourists as entitled, prideful, and rude. To be honest, a lot of this is true. Whenever I travel, I see fellow Americans cutting in line, not even attempting to communicate in the language of those hosting them, cutting people off, and overall just acting like they own everyone and everything around them. This isn't okay, and while I also know plenty of kind and responsible American travelers, it's unacceptable that so many are not.

So while there's a lot of work to be done in order to get rid of these harmful behaviors, I'm going to start with the issue stated at the beginning- Americans go to other countries and assume that they will be catered to in their own language, even if the country doesn't use English as their primary language. I am not saying that Americans should become experts in say, French, before exploring France. It's important that we explore everywhere we can (respectfully) in order to gain empathy and grow by being exposed to other ways of life, and it's vital to support other cultures and countries. What I AM saying is that at the very least, people should write down some phrases that they know/think they'll need to use in the language of the country that they're visiting

Why is this important?

MANY REASONS, but here are a few:

1. It shows respect for the culture and country and people that are allowing you to be there as a guest.

2. It is a way to acknowledge the fact that your way is not the only way of life, that there are other languages besides your own, and that you're aware that you're not the only person on the planet.

3. Speaking English without attempting to communicate in their language in some way is a form of erasure. You are essentially trying to erase the existence and validity of this beautiful other language, culture, and therefor people by acting like none of those exist. Your lack of acknowledgement of them is you allowing them to cease to exist in your world, and you have absolutely no right or power to do that.

4. It is something that a decent human being would do.

I am not saying that if someone sees you, assumes you're an English speaker, and starts speaking in English that you should refuse. By all means, in this situation, speak to them in English (but please acknowledge and thank them for doing that for you).

I am not saying that if you get in a situation where you need to use a phrase that you didn't look up ahead of time, that you should just leave. In that situation, you can either look it up on your phone and use that to communicate, point or gesture to explain your point, or apologize and let them know you're struggling to communicate in the language and ask if they speak English (if they do, THANK THEM). Just do your best and put effort in. People appreciate that, and it's the kind thing to do. If they see that you're trying, they'll usually help you out.

SO, as the title of this suggests, I am going to list out some phrases that I've found to be very useful when traveling around the world. It's important to note that different kinds of trips will require different kinds of phrases. For example a scuba diving trip will mean that you should look up words and phrases that have to do with the gear, the sea, etc. I am listing ones that apply to ANY TRIP, so please add on to it depending on where you're going and how you're traveling. This will require a little bit of planning, but just do your best. That's the bottom line of all of this.


How much is this?
How do I get to the Airport?
How do I get to...?
Where is...?
Is this vegan?
Thank you!
You're welcome!
bus station
I need help.
I'm lost, could you help me?
Nice to meet you!
What's your name?
My name is...
I am from...
Where are you from?
grocery store
gas station
I'd like to order...
Could I borrow your phone?
(all number 1-10...but you can always gesture for this)
What time is it? (but you can always use your phone- this is for those whose phone dies, which is super common while traveling)
What/excuse me/could you repeat that/sorry?
I don't understand!
I speak English.
Do you speak English/Could you help me in English?
I'm hurt!
Could you show me?
My (the language of the destination) isn't great, but I'm trying.

I hope this helps people become more mindful and kind travelers, and I sincerely hope that Americans quit being so full of themselves and disrespectful when they travel. Even if you mess up, lose the list, your phone dies, or for some reason you can't communicate in the language, just do your best. TRY. That's honestly all anyone wants.


How to Travel more Often

Traveling is always an adventure, and is something that most people want, but few do often. I always tell my clients, "I'm here to craft a more well traveled and well read generation", and it's true. I am. I truly believe that seeing the world makes people more empathetic, open minded, educated and informed, grateful, and confident. These things are all attributes that I hope to help people develop, because imagine what the world would be like if everyone had them! Pretty joyful, right? SO, in honor of that, I figured I would make a list of ways that everyone can get started with that and travel more often. Hope it helps!

How to Travel More Often:
Learn as many languages as possible: This opens you up for not only safer travels and being able to get around easier, but also for international jobs that pay you to travel-  whether that be a government job, travel writer (WOOHOO), or corporate job.

Save your money: This may seem obvious, but always be squirreling away what you can. Rather than always eating out, think about this- a meal locally could be a meal abroad, so save that money for that! Only buy what you need, buy little material things when possible, walk more, freeze food, can food, and thrift!

Keep your eye on flights: You never know when certain flights will go on sale! I love to just buy the cheapest flight to the first place that I see haven't been to. It's so fun and exciting, and you never know where you'll end up buying passage to! Keeping your eye out also helps you to be aware of places or airports you might not have known about before.

Study geography and other cultures: Get fluent in these things! It will help you get along with locals (which creates opportunities in itself like places to stay and tips for the area), become aware of places to travel to, and understand places you might end up in!

Talk to strangers: I know, I know- "STRANGER DANGER!!", but if you do so (wisely) you will make more connections to people who might bring you travel. Not to say you should use people, but growing your circle (locally, online, or when you're traveling) means not only making friends to love, but also growing the number of possible couches to crash on, locals to show you around, and friends to split travel costs with!

Earn more money on the side: Hustle! Hustle! Hustle! No matter how much you make at your day job, consider also capitalizing on your other talents and interests. Do you paint? Sell paintings! Do you cook well? Consider catering! Do you own a lot of clothes? Sell some! Great at organizing? Organize closets or plan events! The list is endless! Sell items, make and sell items, sell services, and keep your ear to the ground for ways to earn more travel funds (the internet is a great tool for this).

Consider a job in the travel industry: You don't have to be a writer or linguist for this (although communication skills and knowing more than one language does help get these positions). Jobs that pay you to travel thanks to their nature or location include resort jobs, tour guides, travel agents (yes, they still exist), cruise ship crew positions, volunteer work, community work, ESL, acting, singing, government work, scuba instruction, modeling, the military, and much more. Most of these jobs are not necessarily in the travel industry, but again- they will get you traveling!

Be flexible: Be willing to travel during off-seasons, to places simply because they are affordable currently rather than at the top of your list, be okay with traveling cheaply (in the transportation there and the expenses during), and try to be able to take work off spontaneously to go somewhere that's suddenly inexpensive. That last thing can be tricky, but being spontaneous in general helps!

Attend conferences: Whether that be travel writing conferences or mindfulness conferences, these are held all over the world and is a fun way to see new places. They can be expensive but most offer scholarships, and if you can speak on the topic and are chosen, discounts or even free travel is given!

Get vaccinated: Making sure that you have all your shots means that you can go see more places in the world, without having to worry about catching something preventable. Check your government websites for recommendations on vaccines for different regions!

Enter giveaways: This is a long shot, but you never know- you COULD win! There are plenty of free ones to enter online, so doing a simple Google search should be sufficient. Cross your fingers!

Post faithfully on social media: This is a good way to get different brands' attention (a great other way to hustle?- becoming a brand ambassador!), and be the beginning of partnerships with places like hotels, tour companies, and even cities! Presenting yourself online as someone who has connections, can get attention, and is easy to work with is a good way to have these places reach out to you in exchange for free stays, money, or travel expenses covered! If you are feeling confident, consider reaching out to THEM!

Take road trips: Something that is super underrated is playing tourist in the country you live in! I have seen every bit of the continental U.S.A. because I drive and explore every bit around me. Seeing my own country is in no way a side note to international travel. I cannot tell you how many people I know who have been to Paris but have never seen the next state over from them, or their opposite coast, or major cities in their country! It's crazy to me. The key to being well traveled is not in randomly seeing a few specific places scattered around, and not in only seeing the places near you or your state- no. It's in seeing everything you can get to. It's in exploring every bit of your own country, and then grabbing on to opportunities to see beyond it. Road trips are essential for that, and you'll see more than you will flying.

I hope this helps you guys travel more often, and feel empowered to see new things! These things have been the secret to me seeing so much, so I hope you get to do the same because of them. 


Must Haves for Every Travel writer

The travel writing life isn't for everyone. It's BUSY- you're either traveling or writing constantly. If you thrive off of the rush of those things, can manage your time well, are great with people and words, then it's the perfect career! So if you find yourself saying, "Um, yes that sounds amazing!" or are already a travel writer, here are some great essentials just for you:

a good planner- You will be juggling a lot as a travel writer. Your days will be filled with meetings with clients, booking trips, making phone calls, researching destinations, going through your travel diaries, interviewing fellow travel professionals and vagabonds alike, and WRITING. You need to get organized and figure out how to manage it all, and a planner is perfect for that. My favorite is the Green Dreamer Planner. It's eco friendly, lasts for two years, is organized beautifully, and helps plant trees!

a travel diary- As mentioned above, a travel diary is part of the process of travel writing. You don't have to write everything down. Take lots of photos to jog your memory, but anything that you want to remember that isn't photographed (emotions, random facts, etc.) should be written down. This is great for your own keepsakes, but it's an amazing resource for when you need new material. I don't like having anything too big with me. I typically just bring a carry on or backpack even on the longest trips to save money (the price of luggage is enough to pay for LOTS of meals abroad), so I am all about saving space. I recommend getting the pocket sized version of Decomposition notebooks. They're eco friendly, beautiful, and small enough to carry around throughout the day!

a camera- While accompanying photos aren't required for all travel platforms when you send in your articles, it's recommended by all and preferred by the best ones. It doesn't need to be a super expensive one. Just make sure you have a camera that can capture a few beautiful shots on your vacations. I recommend getting a used one (I love Canon, so if that's an option for you DO THAT). Keep in mind though, there will be places that you might travel that won't be ideal for taking out a camera. In places like those (more dangerous places, places with crazy weather, etc.), I would at least take good photos on your phone or on a cheap SMALL camera that you can quickly stow away. Just use your best judgement! When we were in Norway, I barely got any photos because it was snowing nonstop! I took a few at night, but other than that, I just enjoyed myself and used my phone for photos. No need to stress out about it. Just do what you can and soak up every minute!

a binder or large notebook- You're going to be pitching stories a lot in this industry, so it helps to have some good ones ready! I just use a notebook for this, but if you are the type that needs tabs and everything to feel organized, get a binder! Write down your story ideas, article ideas, pitches, drafts for cover letters, lists of places you want to pitch to (or already have pitched to), places you want to write about or travel to, and anything you might need to write good travel pieces!

language learning tools- Something that many travel writers fail to do is to learn another language. It REALLY helps propel your career if you know another language besides English and Spanish. It sets you apart, and it lets employers and platforms know that you know a lot about the culture or can at least get around like a local would. People learn languages in all kinds of ways, but a few things that help me pick up new languages is immersion, just talking with people who speak it until I can form sentences (miming in the meantime), reading a book in English and a book in the new language side by side, listening to music in the language, and watching movies with subtitles set to the language I'm trying to learn. I work in five languages thanks to these things, and I'm slowly picking up a few more. When I was backpacking in Iceland, I had a list of Icelandic terms and phrases that I used when talking to locals, read every road sign, and only spoke English when there was no way I could respond in Icelandic. I couldn't say many things in the language, but a few things stuck and I'm excited to learn more of it! Another thing that helps is taking public transportation! In Finland that's the only thing we used to get around, and we learned some phrases because of it. It forces you to pick it up because you're surrounded by locals, you HAVE to get somewhere at a certain time, and everything is organized. Another option is carrying a dictionary in the language around with you! I did that in Brazil until I could speak fluently, and now I dream in Portuguese (although it helps that my family speaks it).

professional clothes- This may seem obvious but I cannot tell you how many times I've seen fellow writers meet clients in jeans. GUYS. Dress for the gig you want- not the gig you have. I always at least wear professional pants and a button down shirt, but sometimes I wear something fancier. It can be tricky if you are traveling when you are meeting the client but that's something you have to make space in your bag for- NICE clothes. Again, at least a button down and slacks or khakis.

a website- Alright it doesn't HAVE to be a website, but at least something to show clients or possible employers that you are in fact a travel writer. It can be an online portfolio (that's all I used for years), a resume (I would accompany that with more), a travel oriented Instagram or Facebook, a YouTube channel, or yeah- a website. We live in the digital world now, so it's good to show people that you are aware of that and are competent. It also gives them a feel for the type of travel writer that you are, so make sure that whatever it is fits your vibe, personality, and style of work.

pants with lots of pockets- I know that sounds random, but when you are adventuring abroad, you're going to want to have your camera, phone, notebook, etc. ready, and digging around a backpack is not the best idea since backpacks scream tourist. I love my cargo pants! I've worn them all over the world, and they've been great! There's a few places where you can get them, but I recommend thrift shops, REI, LL Bean, or Eddie Bauer.

a workspace- Most travel writers work from home, and it helps to be able to get motivated and feel driven- things that are very hard to feel if you're working in bed under the covers. It doesn't need to be a desk or anything expensive, but you should have a space where you can have your list of pitches, travel diaries, globes, maps, planner, pens, paper, computer, camera, pictures of your travels (to inspire), phone with numbers of possible or current clients, blue light glasses (something EVERYONE should have), water, plants (to make it a happy space as well), and language dictionary or list of phrases (many of which you won't find on Google Translate since they are slang a lot of the time).

Well that's all! There are a few extra things that I could say about things to bring while traveling, but I think I'll save that for another post. I hope this helps all you current and future travel writers out there! These things have really enhanced my professional life, so here's to them enhancing yours!


How I Became a Travel Writer

I get asked about this all of the time. I am young and in school full time, and yet have four years of travel writing experience. That all said, the truth is I'm a 23 year old sophomore. I didn't just accidentally become a professional writer. It took a lot of really hard and underpaid (sometimes NOT paid) work. It took ignoring people who said, "You're not a real writer" because I wrote for smaller platforms or magazines. It took patience, confidence, and a lot of creativity. It took wanting it enough to give up other things (like free time and better paying jobs), and it took me believing that despite the critics and cramped fingers from typing all day, it would be worth it.

I grew up watching Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel. I grew up watching documentaries of different cultures and Bizarre Foods, reading about travel adventures (my favorite stories were Into the Wild and In a Sunburned Country- before that it was the Magic Tree House series), moving almost yearly, and constantly going on road trips with my family. I was surrounded by family members who spoke Spanish, French and Portuguese (among other ones), and my favorite movie was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (and Disney's Tarzan before that). It is pretty clear why I was struck with a serious case of wanderlust at such an early age. I wanted to travel everywhere, so I memorized maps, world cities and flags, and random words in other languages. I had a 17 page travel bucket list and I worked to check as many off as I could wherever I was (I am still working on it).

By the time I was in middle school, I knew for a long time that I wanted to be a writer. Poetry and stories flooded my mind, and I felt truly alive when I was writing and being creative. I entered and won poetry contests and state competitions, and consistently read as much as I could. That said, I was also a very active hiker, top varsity player on different school sports teams (through high school as well), and was always looking for the next adventure. I was creative, but I was also great with people, active, and always ready to do something new. That's why when I realized that travel writing combined all of those things, that became the dream.

At this point, I was in high school. Realizing that my dreams of traveling and writing could be combined really set the tone for the future. I went through some personal issues and a period in an oppressive cult (long story, but the important thing is that I got out), but afterwards, I dug in and started back up my journey towards travel writing. My idols were already well established in their career. They got to write for who they wanted, about what they wanted, and get paid what they wanted. When I actually looked into what the reality was for even just average writers, I was in for a rude awakening.

You write for whoever will hire you (assuming they are not an unethical company or anything), write for free if necessary (if it's a reputable magazine and you want them on your resume, but don't have the experience to be a staff writer), and write about anything even remotely associated with traveling. At times you just take any assignment to write, regardless of whether or not it has to do with travel writing, just to get more professional writing experience. You pay out the nose for good portfolio sites to market your work, pitch daily to get the ball rolling, get certified in as many areas as possible, and learn as many languages as you can. Then after a few years, you might get paid a decent base salary at an average magazine or platform, and you might get paid to travel.

I was in shock, but I wanted it too badly to quit the dream, so instead I dug right in. I had a full time job for most of the time, so I did this in all of my free time. I did it all. I paid for a portfolio. I got certified when I was eligible. I brushed up on my Italian and French to add to my other three languages. It was exhausting, but invigorating. Sure I had days that were frustrating, but they never outweighed the excitement I got from getting published and writing about adventures. I traveled as cheaply as possible (and only domestically at that time) to gain experiences to write about (that's a big thing that new writers forget to do). How else was I supposed to get more material?! I worked, adventured, and worked some more. I experienced everything from getting scammed by a Polish company who refused to pay after over a month of my translation work for them (sign contracts, people!!), to writing about topics that I did not care about when the travel market was slow, to falling asleep at the computer because I spent five hours straight pitching articles and reading up on how to do so correctly. I had to learn through experience because I was doing this on my own.

Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.

I know that's cliche, but I learned so much, got some of the most fruitful connections, and found my footing earlier than most travel writers that I meet who started from scratch like me. It was hard work, but now I am a PROFESSIONAL TRAVEL WRITER (still can't believe I get to say that). I am in school full time now, so I write more contracted articles, but I already have years of experience. I will have a degree in about two years, and so I will graduate with about SIX YEARS of experience, rather than every other college graduate writer who has zero years worth of experience (or a few months of a somewhat related internship or school newspaper work). By the time they have that amount of experience, I will have over a decade's worth. I would be in their boat if I hadn't taken a break from school, let people who doubted me influence me to quit, or gotten discouraged and not tried.

I worked my butt off to get here and I am where I am because of it.

I meet travel writers all the time who got into it because it was convenient. They already had a lot of money to travel, so they did so constantly. There was no all-night-SEO-tutorial-watching, and there was certainly no writing about things they didn't care for. All they had to do was write about a trip after they got back, and either post it on a blog, on their Instagram (that they had money to promote and grow rapidly), or pitch it to magazines where they generally knew the people there or had connections. It was a way for them to make money off of what they were already doing in their free time. These people are generally labeled as "Influencers" or "Travel Bloggers", and they identify more as being a brand or as a digital model, rather than as being a travel writer. There is nothing wrong with that, but when these are the images of "travel writers" that most people are exposed to, it gives aspiring writers a false sense of ease, and the idea that you don't have to be a good writer to make money as a travel writer  as long as you look a certain way and have a perfectly curated feed.

The truth is as long as you look presentable when you meet your clients (generally hotels), it doesn't matter if you are attractive, rich, or popular on Instagram. As long as you have professional travel writing experience, are a great writer, and know what you are talking about (languages help too), you will be a successful travel writer. It helps if your Instagram has a travel focus, or if you have a travel website, or really any platform where clients can see that you travel. It helps if you have an online portfolio to showcase your published work. What it comes down to is making sure that you are a professional who works hard, is good with people and words, and has the ability to travel (at least domestically). Pair all of that with the patience to write about less glamorous topics for a while, and you will be a successful travel writer.

I am thankful everyday that I stuck with it, despite it being harder than I previously thought it would be. Now I get to stay in luxury hotels for free, sample new restaurants at a discounted/no cost, get vacation deals, and most importantly, I get to do what I love and get paid for it. I don't have to take crappy gigs anymore if I don't want to (although extra money is always great, no doubt) and I get paid fairly for my work. When I am not in school anymore, I will be able to do this full time, and I can promise you the perks are even better for full time writers. It was quite the road here, but now I'm getting to reap the benefits. In fact my partner and I head to northern Europe in January, and when we are in Helsinki, we will be staying at the luxury hotel that accommodated the Olympic Games athletes in 1952...for free. Our room, sauna, and food is all free thanks to the fact that I am a travel writer who can bring them exposure, and that they liked my previously published travel articles. If the exhausted, broke, "not a real writer" version of Em could see me now, I think it would have been a little less discouraging at times. That said, the important thing is that I am here now, and I finally know what I am doing. I am by no means at the top of my career- I know I have a long ways to go (just like everyone since constant improvement should be all of our goals), but I know that it only gets better from here.

This career is not perfect, always hopping, or convenient, but it is always and completely beyond worth it. I can promise you that. So if you are an aspiring travel writer, to quote a very articulate motto, "Just do it". You'll be more sorry if you don't try, than if you try and decide it isn't for you. Learn a new language, save up for some trips, get really good at expressing yourself, and practice writing. These things all benefit everyone no matter what, so win or lose, the travel writing journey will improve your life. It definitely improved mine. 


Pictured above is me on my first luxury hotel gig when I was 21 at The Hay Adams in D.C.. Thanks to the city guide that I wrote and photographed for them, I got to stay there with my sisters for free for a few days in the spring during prime blossom season! It remains one of my favorite memories.

Playing tourist in my own home city

A while back, I was published by Taylor Magazine in London. I wrote about how you can see Seattle the good way. I love Seattle so much, but sometimes when you have lived there forever, you can take it for granted. I spent the last year or so figuring out how to renew my love for the city, and you know what? It worked! I took loads of trips there, and found new ways to enjoy the attractions and local splendor the city has to offer. I finally found my groove, and figured out how to do Seattle the way it was meant to be seen and experienced. You can read the article here for the guide.

Writing this was challenging in a way, because it was tough narrowing down what to include. There are sides to the city that are hard to convey if you have never been, there is food that is so fantastic but maybe just out of the way, and there are festivals that maybe just appeal to you. I only wrote about the basics (like the best two coffee stops, the most exciting areas, etc.), but I didn’t even get to cover things like the best sunset spots or where to grab the best falafel (for those who care, it’s this little stop just across from the SAM).

When you are from a specific city, it can be very challenging finding a way to simplify it into something that readers from far away can understand.

 The truth is, a city cannot be categorized or labeled into a tidy space. It is a living and breathing thing, that changes with the people and shifts with time. It is impossible to pin point exactly how a city should be experienced or viewed, because it depends on the person’s relationship to the city. I can tell you all day long that you need to try the matcha at Anchorhead Coffee, but if you are more of a hot chocolate person, then me categorizing the city as the place to grab a matcha really will never bring you closer to it. Maybe to you, the city is it’s floral stands and brick streets near Pioneer Square. Maybe to someone else it’s the underground tours.

A city is not one thing, but it is the relationship we have to it.

I encourage all of you guys to get out in your home cities. Re-experience it, and try to create that relationship with it. Figure out what defines it to you. Maybe even write down a little travel guide for your wandering friends! Try experiencing the city through the eyes of someone else- maybe check out the rock scene that you never knew existed, or the huge lineup of bakeries. To those drummers and bakers, those places ARE the city. I tried experiencing Seattle through different view points, and it’s really what grabbed my attention and renewed my love for my city. I suddenly saw all it’s sides and different personalities, and the complexity really reminded me that there is way more to Seattle than Starbucks and Pike Place Market.

Writing this article was all about finding that space in between the facets- where we all see on common ground, and we all sit around drinking the same coffee.

 I hope you all like it!



My Top 7 Books for Inspiring Wanderlust

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coehlo

In a Sunburned Country

By Bill Bryson

Into The Wild

By Jon Krakauer

The Kite Runner

By Khaled Hosseini

Eat Pray Love

By Elizabeth Gilbert

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

By Ann Brashares

To The Lighthouse

By Virginia Woolf

This was hard to narrow down! There are so many books out there that make readers into travelers, and I am so inspired by them all. Books are great for transporting us to worlds apart from our own, but when it can capture our imagination by transporting us to parts of our own world itself, that is so powerful. Happy reading!