Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of Luggage and Lipstick – a travel blog for baby boomer adventurers. She was recently named by TripAdvisor as one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials, and by Credit Donkey as one of “Best Female Blogs to Follow in 2016.” Patti survived a horrendous auto accident in South Africa with numerous life-threatening injuries and has emerged stronger and more determined than ever. She joins us to share her story and offer advice to those just starting out in the world of travel writing and blogging.
How did you get started as a travel writer and blogger?
In 2011, I had an epiphany. I decided that I wanted to radically change careers so that I could spend more of my time traveling around the world. As a lobbyist, I’d been published writing about government regulations. I said to myself, “If I can get published writing about such a dry subject, certainly I can get published writing about something people actually want to read!”
So I did copious online research, wrote my first story, and sent it to International Living Magazine. Voila! They accepted it! Then I attended Great Escape Publishing’s writers’ weekend workshop in Chicago. I came away with a great deal of useful information like how to write a query letter and tips for writing saleable articles. I was off and running and über excited about becoming a travel writer.
You’ve been able to recently leave your full time position as a lobbyist to write fulltime. Please share with us what the process has been like for you. Any tips for others wanting to do the same?
I could not wait to leave the icky world of politics, so I created an exit plan and worked it. It took five years before I could become a full-time travel writer/blogger. For anyone wanting to do the same, there are a few things I’d recommend. First, you must have the desire and determination. It’s not rocket science, but there’s a LOT of work involved, long days, and weekends. Second, find your voice, i.e. let your writing be sincere, original and intriguing. And third, stand out from the crowd. By this I mean deliver before your deadline, adhere strictly to the editor’s guidelines, provide photos so they don’t have to search, and accept last minute assignments. The easier you make yourself to work with, the more likely you will become an editor’s go-to person.
You’ve found a great niche as a boomer adventure traveler. Share with us what that road has been like for you.
That’s been the most fun part! I’m an adventurer – a somewhat quirky adventurer at that. I’m an adrenaline junkie so I participate in activities that most Boomers don’t want to do but find intriguing to read about. I got a lot of exposure by joining various Boomer groups in my social media channels, as well as networking with other Boomers at writers and bloggers conventions every year. I’ve made some close friends through the Boomer social media and conventions, and I’m grateful that they promote my writing.
As the survivor of a terrifying auto accident in South Africa, your road to recovery has been nothing short of amazing. Can you share your thoughts on that experience and what it has taught you?
In 2014, I was on my way to a safari just outside of Cape Town. Our vehicle was stuck by another vehicle driving at full speed on the passenger side where I was sitting. It was horrendous. They had to get pneumatic cutting equipment and the Jaws of Life to get me out. I sustained numerous injuries, some life-threatening. My diaphragm ruptured causing my stomach and intestines to herniate into my thoracic cavity. I had a ruptured lung, six pelvic fractures, broken wrist, and completely severed femur which is now held together with a titanium rod and screws.
I spent seven weeks flat on my back in a hospital in South Africa. Except for the occasional meltdown, I never lost hope and maintained my “Pollyanna” perspective. The hospital staff, doctors and nurses would ask me how I manage to stay so upbeat. “Because I love my job and I refuse to give up on my exciting life!” I’d tell them.
I was involved in intense physical therapy for a year. And now, although I’m still not quite back to 100% (that’s still my goal but even if I never reach it) I still think my life is better than just about anyone I know and I wouldn’t trade it.
What has been your most rewarding travel experience?
My most amazing experience was snorkeling right next to 40-foot whale sharks in Mexico. Coincidentally, my most rewarding experience was also in Mexico. I had an opportunity to visit a small village in Chiapas, Mexico. Although the villagers were relatively poor, they dressed the children in their Sunday best and they sang the sweetest song. I was taught how to cook their simple daily meal, and got to sit with a group of wizened old women. Even though I did not understand the language, smiles and eye contact transcend international borders. It did pique an interest in volunteerism for future travel.
It’s no secret you’re always on the lookout for the next adrenaline pumping adventure, what’s up next for your travel plans in 2017?
In March I’m planning to go scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. Other adventures being worked on include an Amazon cruise were I can swim with piranhas, hiking to Kjeragbolten in Norway, running with the bulls in Pamplona, and hiking to Machu Pichu. It’s unlikely that I’ll be able to do all of those this year, but they are bucket list adventures and there can be no doubt that I will do them at some point.
Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone.” Her work has been published in numerous outlets including The Washington Post, International Living Magazine, Travel Girl, CNN iReport, Epicure & Culture, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled throughout most of the USA and more than 50 countries and islands abroad. Follow Patti on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.