Category: Travel writing

Write travel plans, get paid in travel books

I am pretty much done unpacking after my recent move to Tallahassee. I have too much stuff. I need to get rid of some books so i thought it might be fun to trade them for travel plans – you write a travel plan, 5 days or more, anywhere in the world. It could be a vacation you’ve done, a vacation you want to do, a vacation you’ve heard about, whatever. Any vacation, anywhere in the world. Email it to me, I might ask you to make some edits, but if the story gets published eventually, I will mail you a travel book (your choice). If you live in America, I will pay for shipping.

So far, I have these books piled up, ready to be traded for your travel stories.

Grayton Beach Affair
Best in Tarvel 2011
The Call of Sedona
Lonely Planet Canada (2003 or so maybe)
Lonely Planet Southeast Asia on a Shoestring (maybe 2005 or so)

Review of Cruise Journal by Peter Loughlin

Pass the Seasickness Pills, written by Peter Loughlin and edited by his son Martin, is an interesting and humorous journal about the experiences of the author and his wife Sheila while on a 12-day cruise of the Mediterranean. The conversational, straightforward style of Loughlin’s writing adds considerable credibility to his personal observations onboard the Portuguese ship Funchal and on shore. Anyone who has traveled on a cruise can readily identify with the nuisances and unforeseen problems, which invariably occur at the most inopportune time.

Journal entries include both the positive and negative aspects of the cruise from miserable weather which seems to follow them everywhere, noisy, irritating passengers, and unappetizing food to the occasional below average entertainment and all too familiar discomfort of seasickness. Seasickness is not an unusual occurrence, as Sheila soon discovers, and it affects most travelers at one time or another. I could relate to this unwelcome ailment and the frustration of frequent visits to the ship’s doctor which interfere with the pleasure of cruise ship travel. Seasickness is often the reason why travelers miss that special captain’s party or other important event. Unable to attend, they remain confined to their cabin and spend hours wondering if the cruise was such a good idea after all. Yet, despite the undesirable aspects of their journey, the Loughlins awake each morning, eager and ready for a new and different adventure that awaits them. They look forward to visiting various ports of call including Oporto, Lisbon, Vigo, Tangier, and Gibralter before arriving in Cork and returning home. While reading the author’s excellent descriptions of their sightseeing ashore, it did cross my mind that more detail about the ship’s facilities and passengers might be included.

Cruise ship vacations are usually promoted and described in glowing terms, where each picture perfect day meets the traveler’s highest expectations. The recent news reports of shipboard problems and passenger dilemmas are perceived as rare exceptions for the most part and do little to deter the continued interest in cruises. Loughlin’s journal simply reminds us that the unexpected should not interfere with cruise travel enjoyment. Pass the Seasickness Pills is an amusing story which gives readers a realistic overview of cruise travel in a delightful and entertaining way. The journal will appeal to older couples like themselves, or to any age group for that matter who seek the variety and pleasure that a cruise has to offer.

Published: 5 Apr 2013
Amazon Kindle Edition – $1.99

Sharon L Slayton
June 2013

Advertorials being passed off as real news

When looking for something new and fun to blog about today I ended up pretty angry with some of the “news” being published.

Normally I only link to decent or better writing but here I link to some things so you can decide if I’m overreacting or if these newspapers are really as evil as I think they are.

Early bird discounts to Galapagos By Max Harold, Postmedia News – of course you expect an article about a travel deal to include a company’s information but this one seems to have been written by the company.

I thought maybe Postmedia was a press release company or something so I looked them up:

On July 13, 2010, Postmedia Network became Canada’s newest media company and the country’s largest publisher of paid English language daily newspapers. The company’s assets also include community-based publications and 50 destination websites. Our award winning journalists capture important and engaging stories with words, pictures and video and publish them to a growing list of media platforms.

Congratulations on your award winning reporting I guess.

I have similar issues with The allure of winter in Europe by Dan Jordan, The West Australian. Based on the title I was expecting something about some European cities that are nicer to visit in winter than in the summer. I remember thinking about the same thing when I was in Istanbul last January and normally travel to Europe in the winter. Instead it seems the reporter is trying to play salesman for some tour company.

So I gave up looking for travel news and decided to blog about the sad state of travel reporting instead. Not that I have nothing against advertising. The problem is when newspapers give us advertising and call it news.

Going to Tallinn, Estonia this summer!

A while back I mentioned this call for papers for a conference to be held at Tallinn University, Estonia, “Educational Travel – Expanding Horizons.”

I just got the good news – my submission has been accepted so I will be speaking at the conference! The title of my paper is “Travel writing for advanced English language learners.”

Naturally, if I’m going to fly all the way to Estonia I want to see more than a few rooms at the university. I’m thinking 2-4 weeks on vacation plus the conference is more like it.

The questions start here. How long do we spend in Tallinn? I write about how I’m a fan of slow travel but I haven’t done it in a long time. And even if I do spend a month somewhere it doesn’t have to be in Tallinn – Tallinn could be the weekend trip.

On a related note, we need to decide if we’re going to try visiting any nearby cities / countries. Top contenders include:

Prague Czech Republic (not really close and I do worry about the summer crowds bothering me)

St. Petersburg, Russia

Stockholm, Sweden

Helsinki, Finland

Krakow, Poland (also not that close)

Copenhagen, Denmark

Of course there may be smaller towns I should consider but haven’t heard of yet. Any ideas for me?

Toilets in Europe including squat toilets (or Turkish toilets or Asian toilets)

Thank you to Pieternel for forwarding me this article (which I otherwise would have missed) with tips on finding toilets in Europe. I know that in Amsterdam I saw more men peeing on the streets than I’ve seen anywhere else in the world. I guess that’s what happens when even McDonalds charges you to use the bathroom.

Anyway, in this article Rick Steves shows us that travel writers don’t only handle the glorious topics. I’ve heard people complain about Paris and the lack of toilets but when my wife and I were there we often saw toilets on the sidewalks. The article I link to above says they cost you a few coins but I don’t remember that – I think we used them for free in Paris.

But the biggest surprise of the article was the mention of Turkish toilets that, from the description, sound exactly like Asian toilets. Rick Steves says they are around but I’ve never seen one in Europe. Maybe when I head to Turkey for a week in Istanbul my luck will change. In Korea we still have Asian style squat toilets but mostly you’ll find western toilets. In China it seems the opposite is true considering that Koreans put up this sign to deal with Chinese tourists who misused western toilets.

Call for papers: Educational Travel conference in Estonia

Part of my job is to speak at conferences and publish papers. I normally stick to TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) conferences but this title seemed like it might be a good one for me: Educational Travel – Expanding Horizons. It will be held at Tallinn University, Estonia, 19th to 21st of August 2011.

At first I thought I might interview some students who traveled to do volunteer work. You may, for example, remember this story of a young woman who had a remarkable experience in Nepal.

That seemed like a pretty good match to one of the main conference themes:

Conference Theme:

Educational Travel is undertaken for a wide variety of purposes and includes both formal and informal experiential learning. It includes, but is not limited to, travel aimed at:

-Satisfying curiosity regarding people, language and culture

-Stimulating interest in art, music, heritage and folklore

-Inspiring concern for the natural environment and geological features

-Deepening the fascination with cultural heritage and historic places

Speakers will address key issues relating to Educational Travel from a range of academic, public policy and operational perspectives. The conference sub-themes provide a coherent logic to the proceedings yet are diverse enough to allow for the articulation of a wide range of perspectives which it is hoped will result in lively debate and provide new insights into the production processed and consumption practice of Educational Travel.

Abstracts are invited on the following sub-themes:

-Educational Travel and Community Development

-Educational Travel and Dark Tourism

-Educational Travel and Destination Marketing

-Educational Travel and Environment

-Educational Travel and Ethics

-Educational Travel and Senior Tourism

-Educational Travel and Heritage

-Educational Travel and Mobility

-Educational Travel and Pilgrimage

-Educational Travel and Social Media

-Educational Travel and Transformation

-Educational Travel and Travel Writing

-Educational Travel and Volunteering

In the end I stuck with what I know better (teaching travel writing to non-native English speakers).

If you’d like to speak at the conference you can submit your abstract online. Please contact Dr. William Feighery at for further information on the conference or if you have any queries with regard to paper submissions/themes.

Win (but really work for) a trip around the world!

They pick a winner and everything but the winner has to write as they travel around the world – they (National Geographic Adventure) call it Blog Your Way Around the World.

First you write 400 words on why you should win. Then you collect votes. S/he who ends with the most votes wins so it’s a popularity thing and you’re supposed to use Facebook and Twitter and all that. Votes are collected until December 31, 2010 11:59pm EST.

Prizes include:

– Whitewater rafting on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River with O.A.R.S., National Geographic Adventure’s “Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth” and one of Travel & Leisure’s “Top 33” Adventure Outfitters.

– Polar bear viewing in Churchill with Natural Habitat Adventures, leaders in responsible nature travel and worldwide ecotourism for over 25 years.

– Heli-hiking in British Columbia with Canadian Mountain Holidays, the world’s premier heli-skiing & heli-hiking operator.

– Bicycling through the Czech Republic and Austria with Backroads, the world’s #1 active travel company.

– Zip-lining, surfing and wildlife viewing in Costa Rica with Off the Beaten Path, the leader in guided small group and custom-tailored adventure travel

– A life-changing Galapagos adventure with Lindblad Expeditions, pioneers of expedition travel, named in Travel & Leisure’s 2009 list of best small-ship cruise lines, “#1 Small Ship for Families” and Conde Nast Traveler’s 2009 Gold List for Best Cruise Lines.

– Expedition cruising in Borneo with Orion Expeditions, winner of the Cruise Passenger Readers Choice Awards for “Best Small Ship,” “Best Cuisine” and “Best Adventure Tourism.”

– A customized safari in East Africa with six-time Travel & Leisure “Best Tour Operator,” Micato Safaris.

Of course if you already work hard enough and want to set your sites on winning something to help you relax instead of become a big shot travel writer (or you can do both), there are still a few days left to enter the free Unwind contest.

Conference Announcement and Call for Papers: Tourist Experiences: Meanings, Motivations, Behaviours.

Dates: April 13th – 16th 2011

Venue: University of Central Lancashire, Preston (UCLan)( and Lake District

Keynote Speaker – Professor Chris Ryan, University of Waikato, New Zealand

Following the successful Tourist Experiences: Meanings, Motivations, Behaviours Conference hosted by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in April 2009, we are pleased to announce the second Tourist Experiences conference, to be held in April 2011.

The purpose of this conference is again to provide a forum for exploring the diversity of behaviours, motivations and meanings embraced by contemporary tourist experiences, further contributing to our knowledge and understanding of how and why tourists experience spaces, places, peoples and cultures.

Uniquely, it is intended that this conference will be held in two locations. The first part of the conference (registration, introduction/welcome, keynote presentation, first night and first day parallel paper sessions) will take place at the UCLan campus in Preston. All delegates will then be transferred to the internationally-renowned Lake District, one of the most scenically dramatic areas in England. Here, the conference will continue for a further two days, including the opportunity to participate in a choice of study tours within the national park.

Call for Papers

Reflecting the location of the latter part of the conference in the Lake District, one of England’s most enduringly popular rural tourism destinations amongst domestic and international visitors alike, we would particularly welcome papers that, from an empirical or conceptual basis, explore the touristic experience of nature, wilderness or the countryside. At the same time, we would also welcome papers that address the general themes of the social significance / meaning of tourism, tourism demand / motivations, and tourist roles / behaviour, whilst more specific topics might include:

(Post)modernity and tourist experiences

Specific niche markets / behaviours (e.g. youth tourism, backpacking, ecotourism, etc)

The significance of tourist places

Tourist typologies

Spiritual dimensions of tourism

Tourist motivation

Tourism demand (models / perspectives)

Emergent behaviours / forms of tourism

Dark tourism

Researching tourist experiences: methodological perspectives

Tourism industry / destination perspectives

New tourist spaces

Heritage / authenticity

Expressions of interest and abstracts of up to 500 words should, in the first instance, be sent to Richard Sharpley. All submissions will be subject to a double-blind review. Abstracts should include author(s) names, affiliations and contact details, and should be submitted by 30 September 2010. Conference proceedings will be provided on a CD-Rom. As with the previous conference, it is also again planned to publish selected papers in an edited volume (see R. Sharpley and P. R. Stone (eds.) (forthcoming) Tourist Experience: Contemporary Perspectives. London: Routledge)

Conference fee / booking forms

The full conference fee is £550 inclusive of three nights’ accommodation, all meals, and transfers between locations. Day attendance and student rates are also available.

Conference convenors:

Richard Sharpley ( (+44) 01772 894622

Philip Stone ( (+44) 01772 894769

Luxembourg from Let’s Go Europe 2008

They didn’t have a ton on Luxembourg but Rick Steves’ Europe through the Backdoor had nothing so I’m happy to just to get a few ideas. They mention a few things in Luxembourg City, notably:

Wenzel Walk = a path in the the old city that includes the Chemin de la Corniche, known as “Europe’s most beautiful balcony.”

Bock Casemates = a fortress and 17 km of tunnels.

I suspect we’ll spend plenty of time just walking around shopping as Mancunian advised. Mostly they talk about stuff outside of Luxembourg City. Vianden sounds like a good day trip because of Chateau de Vlanded, “one of the most impressive castles in Europe.” They also have a chairlift that’s supposed to offer good views. They make it sound like buses only go to Ettelbruck and Clervaux (and Clervaux doesn’t seem to be mentioned anywhere else in the book – not even the index).

The other towns mentioned seem to involve outdoorsy stuff and it might be too cold for that in January.

Rick Steves’ Europe through the Backdoor 2009

As applied to my Amsterdam, Paris Luxembourg trip. I didn’t see Luxembourg in the index though so no help there. And I’d rather have a condensed list like this one than the 15 or so pages in the book on these 2 cities.


House of Hajenius (Rokin 92) = cigar shop that takes you back to 1915.

Paradox (Eerste Bloemdwarsstraat 2, 2 blocks from the Anne Frank House) = the most pleasant coffee shop according to Rick Steves.

De Hortus Botanical garden (no location given) = garden that dates from 1638.

Electric ladyland (Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5-HS) = tiny black-light art museum.


This one is set up as kind of a walking tour.

Start at the Arc de Triomphe (284 steps to the top), walk down Champs-Elysees, stop at Fouquet’s (stuffy inside but good for people watching outside) or Laduree (which Rick Steves prefers) for cofee, stop at a pedestrian island to look around, finish walking down Champs-Elysees to the place de la Concorde.

Then catch a cab to rue Cler (the pedestrian section begins at the corner of rue Cler and rue de Grenelle). Cafè Rousillon, Top Halles for fruit, The Franprix for groceries, Asie Traiteur for fast Asian food, La Maison du Jambon for deli food to go, Cafè du Marche for a reasonable meal, Caffe Vergnano for a blend of Starbucks/ bakery/ Italian food.

Then west to 8 rue du Champ de Mars and L’Epicerie Fine where Pascal will teach you about French food culture. Back on rue Cler, old fashioned and newer chocolatecan be found at La Mere de Famille Gourmand Chocolats Confiseries.