Join Us at TBEX Athens (And Free Registration Winner Announced)!


Hello fellow travel bloggers and readers!

Because TBEX Europe is coming up soon (October 23-25, 2014), we thought we’d highlight some of this year’s speakers that we’ve interviewed over here at Travel Writing 2.0 to celebrate the upcoming conference. This year’s lineup, which includes our very own Tim Leffel, is sure to be pretty amazing.

Click below to read the interviews we’ve done with some of this year’s TBEX Athens speakers:

Bret Love of Green Global Travel blog

David Farley, author of An Irreverent Curiosity

Laurence Norah of Finding the Universe blog

Michael Collins of media consulting company Travel Media

In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing more interviews with the TBEX speakers, so make sure to check back regularly!

**And a big congratulations to Jessica Dawdy for winning our free TBEX Athens registration contest! You can connect with Jessica over on her blog Ways of Wanderers or on Twitter @waysofwanderers.

Travel On,

Tim & Kristin


To read more about the TBEX Europe conference, check out their homepage to see a list of speakers, workshops, trips, and get registered.

Working on the Road With Nora Dunn, the Professional Hobo

Professional HoboNora Dunn is a former certified financial planner who is the editor of The Professional Hobo. She is also a freelance writer, and a regular contributor to Wise Bread, Transitions Abroad, and many organizations’ websites, newsletters, and blogs. She’s the author of How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World and runs a free course on traveling full-time in a financially sustainable way. See more on Nora here.

You’re known as an expert on making a living pursuing the location independent lifestyle and write a lot of articles about the intersection of travel, writing, and finance. How did you get to where you are now?

I sold everything I owned (including a busy financial planning practice) in 2006 in Toronto Canada, to embrace my dreams of full-time immersive travel. On a quest to “live” around the world, I usually camp out for at least a few months in most locations. Initially, between a desire to experience local life for longer periods of time (rather than passing through as a tourist), and a desire to keep my expenses low (whilst building my freelance writing career), I discovered how to get free accommodation around the world. I use a variety of modalities such as volunteering, couch surfing, house-sitting, and living on boats. (I wrote a book on it here.)

Now, seven years and a few dozen countries later, I’m still on the road, and I’m an international freelance writer on the topics of travel, personal finance, and lifestyle design. With this location independent income – along with travel hacking strategies like free accommodation and cheap transportation (with frequent flyer miles and mystery shopping) – I continue to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way.

I admire you for so diligently keeping track of your income and expenses. How have both been going the past few years?

Each year I do a rundown of both. Here’s my expenses and my income for 2012, for example, and you can find past years’ in related posts.

My expenses and income for 2013 were also sustainable, but both were much higher, due to a few costly tragedies, as well as having to support my partner. I haven’t published those figures yet, but I will do so shortly. Meanwhile, here’s what I did: 12 countries and 29,000 miles.

I focus a lot on cheap places to travel and live in the world, but you’ve managed to pack in a lot of places that are not perceived as a bargain. How do you make it work and still keep expenses low?

stay for freeI’ve traveled and lived in some of the more expensive places in the world. Instead of looking for budget destinations, I’ve chosen to travel to places where there has been a free accommodation opportunity for me – which in turn, saved me over $63,000 in my first five years of traveling.

I’ve lived 6 months in Hawaii, 1.5 years in Australia, 1 year in New Zealand, I’ve traveled and lived around Europe, and I spent a few years on the Caribbean island of Grenada. None of these places are particularly cheap if you’re renting a place in a conventional way. But because I’ve largely had free digs – and the ability to shop and cook locally instead of being in the tourist/expat centers, my cost of full-time travel (as I’ve posted in detail) has been way less than than to live in one place.

However, I’ve also paid rent a few times, including in Grenada – where I spent $350-500/month for a furnished apartment. You can spend much more there, but it boils down to knowing some locals who can connect you, as eventually happened to me. The same thing happened in Australia; after volunteering for 7 months, I found a full house in the countryside to rent for less than $400/month. It was far from plush – but it did the trick.

I’m currently in Peru, where the cost of living is very very low. I’m staying at a retreat center, which is an expensive option, and paying less than $700/month. In buying local food and cooking in my kitchen, I would be hard-pressed to spend more than $1,000/month on living expenses here – and that includes a few indulgences too.

Nora Dunn in Peru

What advice you would give to bloggers, freelancers, or any other people who want to live a better life for less, on getting beyond the fear and anxiety that holds people back from cutting loose?

By traveling the world, and breaking free from the North American standards of living (and “requirements” of living), your expenses can go down. As an example, Panama and Costa Rica have become hotspots for expats and retiring Americans, which have in turn pushed the cost of living and real estate up almost disproportionately to the rest of Central America. However with less “stuff” to worry about (like expensive healthcare, and over-priced insurance policies, and of course the ever-present “Joneses” to keep up with), most Americans I spoke to in an expat community near Panama City where I was house-sitting said they still had a way lower cost of living than they ever could have managed living in the States. And if you want to stray just a wee bit further from the norm, you’ll find cheaper yet alternatives and places to live, along with a cheaper cost of living.

I co-authored a book called 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget; a creation from a site I contribute regularly to called It’s an entire site dedicated to living better for less money. There’s a large movement of people on this bandwagon, and with a dose of creativity and flexibility, anything is possible.

In 2006, I had no idea that full-time travel could actually cost less than $20,000/year, nor that I could find a way to sustain it with little more than my laptop and an internet connection. But once I made the commitment to a better life abroad, it was amazing the opportunities that came to me – opportunities that I finally had the flexibility and ability to jump on and try out.

After wandering for many years, you’re semi-settled right now in Peru. What are you working on?

nora-dunn-trainAfter over seven years of transient wandering, I’m ready for a place that I can call mine (even if it’s rented), that I can use as a base for other travels, and also as a retreat to simply do my own thing. And Peru (specifically Pisac) resonates with me very much as a place I feel comfortable enough to call home, and yet exotic enough that I feel like I’m still traveling every time I leave the house!

I’ve got another e-book that just came out on my train journeys around the world, and I’m writing a book about working on the road to be published as part of Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide series.

Nora Dunn has been traveling in a financially sustainable way since 2007 and works as a blogger and freelance writer. See TheProfessionalHobo for regular updates and her free course. Follow her on Twitter here: @HoboNora.

Interview conducted in August 2014 by Tim Leffel, author of Travel Writing 2.0 and A Better Life for Half the Price.



An Interview with Diana Laskaris


Diana is the co-founder of The Food Travelist, a new blog dedicated to food cultures around the food. Not new to the culinary food and travel niche, Diana will be speaking at TBEX Cancun in September about building culinary food travel brands–it’s sure to be a great presentations. Enjoy our interview!

How did your blog,The Food Travelist, get its start? What was the inspiration?

My Co-Founder, Sue Reddel and I had a previous website ( that was more general in nature. Out of that we found that people were most interested in food and travel. We learned more about the culinary travel industry, earned our certifications as Certified Culinary Travel Professionals and decided to focus exclusively on this arena.

On your blog, you say that your mission is world peace through food. Could you elaborate on this a little bit more for us?

I believe that when people get to know one another, the barriers to understanding can be overcome. Food is our common ground and sharing a meal is a great way to get a conversation going. In fact, we wrote a chapter in Have Fork Will Travel, the World Food Travel Association Handbook, specifically about food and drink as communication.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned since you started blogging? What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is that nothing happens overnight, with few exceptions. It takes a lot of work, persistence and continued effort to make headway. I went to a conference recently where almost every blogger/speaker talked FT-logo-betaabout how much they do without compensation. I wish I knew how difficult it is to get actual money from brands and sponsors. Everyone thinks that you work for free product or travel, which is nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills.

Where do you see social media going in the next 5, 10 years? What advice would you give to bloggers who are just “starting out” and who don’t know much about using social media?

I think social media, like all technology is constantly evolving and changing. What may be the most awesome platform for you today may be useless in the future. Find out where your audience is and keep your dialogue going with them. You will start to see the changes in what they want as they are happening and not be caught off-guard if one platform or another ceases to be useful. Don’t expect things to stay the same, and if you’re starting out, keep that in mind.

You’re going to be speaking at TBEX Cancun 2014 in September. Can you give our readers a little taste of what you’ll be talking about?

Sure! I’m honored and thrilled to be speaking at TBEX. My topic is for people who are interested in culinary travel as a blogging niche. I’ll show them the ways they can capitalize on the boom in this area, whether they want to focus on a specific aspect such as the cuisine of a specific destination or add culinary highlights to their already existing blog. People are interested in learning about the food culture of different destinations, getting authentic recipes, and discovering tips on the best spots for local fare. And food diana3photos are always fun.

You recently returned from a trip to Cuba. Tell us about some of the highlights from the trip!

It was an extraordinary trip for me. The people I met were absolutely amazing. We visited a church where our hosts cooked not one, but two meals for our group of 13 in addition to our guides and translators. The food was delicious, extremely simple to make, using mostly citrus marinade with garlic and few spices. Beans and rice are their everyday food, but they made sure we had meat at both meals, which I know was a big treat for them. It was humbling and exciting at the same time to watch them in the kitchen.  There’s nothing quite like someone cooking the food of their culture that they hope you enjoy. It brings us all closer together.

Diana Laskaris is Co-Founder of, which launched in 2014 as an online publication and network connecting food travelers around the world with brands, destinations and experiences. Recently expanded, Food Travelist will begin hosting global tasting events offline in the fall and launched #foodtravelchat on Twitter, which garners more than 4 million timeline impressions per week. Diana is an accomplished culinarian, a professional member of the James Beard Foundation, Les Toques Blanches Du Monde, and The World Gourmet Society. She is the Chicago Ambassador for the World Food Travel Association and an active philanthropist in the areas of hunger and food insecurity as well as food waste management.

Interview conducted in August, 2014 by Kristin Winet.

A Conversation with David & Veronica James


David and Veronica James set out to “break the empty nest rules” after their kids left home and haven’t looked back since. They started their blog, Gypsy Nester, and have their first book, Going Gypsy, coming out in February 2015. In our interview today, David and Veronica talk about finding the courage to start their blogging journey together and what they will be talking about at TBEX Cancun 2014! Enjoy.

You started your blog, The Gypsy Nester, after your kids “flew the coop.” Can you tell us a little bit more about the inspiration for the blog and how you got started?

Like most couples, we had a big “now what?” moment when our youngest child was ready to fly from the nest. We were living in The Caribbean – in the U.S. Virgin Islands – so with all the kids on their own we thought it was a good time to go back up to The States and reconnect with family and friends. Ten thousand miles in a beat-up old motorhome we bought on eBay later, we had another “now what?” moment in Mexico and decided we liked the lifestyle, so we kept going.

We had already started documenting our adventures on a cheesy little blog – mostly to keep loved ones up-to-date. Our oldest daughter, thinking we might be on to something, dragged us – kicking and screaming – into social media. Once we got the hang of it, we loved it.

It’s a blast to share our lives with the world!

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned since you started blogging? What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?

Maybe the best lesson has been to allow things to go the way they want to go. By that we mean to be open and not try to force things. We never had a grand scheme, no big plan as to what we wanted to become; we just kind of followed life as it led us. We’ve become way more flexible than we used to be.

Did either of you have experience in writing and publishing prior to starting your blog together?

David sort of did. He was a staff songwriter for several music publishing companies in Nashville when we lived there. There are definite similarities that have helped him make the transition, a feel for words and conveying ideas.

Veronica owned one of the first web design firms in Nashville; there was copy and technical writing involved with that. She was also editor and publisher of the print news magazine gypsynester2and website for the school that our kids attended in the Caribbean.

Looking back though, we see our early GypsyNester posts and generally cringe, so the best experience for us was jumping in and doing it. Practice, practice, practice, write, write, write.

Where do you see social media going in the next 5, 10 years? What advice would you give to bloggers who are just “starting out” and who don’t know much about using social media?

We don’t even know what social media is going to look like tomorrow! It’s a dynamic, ever-changing medium mapped out on the fly by users and their preferences. The added element of what we expect to be an explosion of technology in that timeframe makes things even more exciting.

Our best advice for the newcomer is to be yourself and be social. It’s called social media for a reason. YOU are what makes your blog unique and keep that vibe going when you are interacting with folks. Trust us, it wasn’t until we found the guts to be ourselves that our site began to take wing.

You’re going to be speaking at TBEX Cancun 2014 in September. Can you give our readers a little taste of what you’ll be talking about?

Of course! The idea for Veronica’s talk was spawned from the #1 topic that comes up when we get together with fellow travel writers: Dealing with haters, flamers, and trolls.

Fear of cyberbullies can hold folks back from starting a blog and even seasoned bloggers (ourselves included) are constantly stunned by some of the mean-spirited comments flying at us on a regular basis. The first one is especially hard—Veronica’s came when she was called an emotionally bankrupt shell of a person.

I’ll be discussing how to deal with haters, flamers, and trolls on your blog and social media, as well as how to cope with the emotions inevitably felt when you are on the receiving end. You’ll learn when – and how – it’s proper to defend yourself, to let it go, to delete or – yes – even thank someone who has offended you.

And no interview with you would be complete without a congratulations! Your book, Going Gypsy, is coming out in early 2015! Tell us about the process of writing, editing, and publishing the book and what readers can expect.

twittericon_400x400Wow, it’s a long process! Going Gypsy is our first book, so we didn’t really have any idea of what we had gotten ourselves into. Writing for a blog and writing a book are two completely different animals.

It’s been about three years from when we first thought, hey, wouldn’t it be cool to write a book? Our first draft ended up being completely reworked over the span of about two years. Then the whole process of finding a publisher can take quite a while – nearly a year for us, which, from what we gather, is actually fairly fast. We feel very lucky that it went as quickly as it did, and that we found a publisher – Skyhorse in New York City – that turned out to be a perfect fit for us, and our book. We signed our contract in November of 2013, have gone through another round of edits, and now have six months until our publication date. We are trying really hard to be good and patient, but the suspense is killing us!

Going Gypsy is the story of how we faced that “now what?” moment by pulling the ripcord on our daily grind, quitting our jobs, and going gypsy in a beat-up old RV found on eBay. On a journey of over ten thousand miles along the back roads of America (and a hysterical, error-infused side trip into Italy), we conquer old fears, see new sites, reestablish bonds with family and friends, and transform our relationship with our three grown children from parent-child to adult-to-adult. Most importantly, we rediscovered the fun-loving youngsters who fell in love three decades prior. Going Gypsy is coming out in February of 2015, but it is available for pre-orders now at:


David & Veronica are experiencing the collision of Baby Boomer and Empty Nester. Upon sending their youngest out into the big, wide world, they set out to break the empty nest rules by selling everything and hitting the road. To become more than empty nesters, to be gypsies, GypsyNesters! Along the way they rediscovered the couple who fell in love years ago and chronicled their journey in a new book, Going Gypsy: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All. Read more about their escapades at Connect with The GypsyNesters on social media: Facebook – Twitter – YouTube – Google+ – Pinterest  – GoodReads – Instagram 

Interview conducted in August, 2014 by Kristin Winet.

An Interview with Chris Christensen


Chris Christensen, the host of Amateur Travel podcast, has a lot to say about the travel industry. Before he started doing podcasts, he built and ran online communities and events for companies like TripAdvisor and the History Channel. In our interview today, Chris talks about transitioning into podcasting and what he will be talking about at TBEX Cancun 2014. Enjoy!

Chris, tell us a little bit about the inspiration between the Amateur Travel blog and podcast.

The Amateur Traveler podcast came before the blog and my love of podcasts came even before that. Shortly after listening to my first podcasts in 2005 I decided that I wanted to create one. I thought about doing a tech podcast, and I thought about doing a religious podcast. But, we had some friends over to our house for a Memorial Day BBQ and I found that all the best stories were travel stories. The first episode of Amateur Traveler followed about a month later.

Your first podcast went live in July of 2005. Now that we’re in 2014, walk us through how your approach to blogging and podcasting has changed since then.

When I started the show I thought it would be about my travel stories but the math did not work out. I was working full time with about 4 weeks of vacation and I was trying to publish 48 podcasts a year. I was rapidly going to run out of new stories. It did not take long before the show became primarily an interview show about other peoples’ travels.amateurtravelerphoto

If someone close to you wanted advice on starting a travel blog, what’s the most important piece of advice you could give them?

My first thought is don’t quit your day job. I do Amateur Traveler mostly for the love of travel, which is where the title came from. If you don’t love content creation it will get pretty tiring pretty quickly.

Most of our readers are interested in making blogging more than just a hobby. How do you support yourself with your blog, how has that income stream changed over the years, and what do you foresee in the future in terms of changes?

I don’t. I did try and quit my job and live just off the blog for a while but didn’t sell our house and move to Chiang Mai which would make more sense financially. Not only did I burn through savings but I also missed my work in software. I now am working on building a new company called which helps companies find bloggers to work with which I hope will make it easier for people to turn blogging into a career. I support myself by contracting half time as a programmer with my old employer TripAdvisor.

tripadvisorlogoYou’re speaking at the upcoming TBEX conference in Cancun. Can you give us a sneak peek of what you’ll be talking about?

 Ha, as it turns out I am talking about just this subject. The talk, which I am doing with David Brodie, who runs a PR firm in Vancouver, is called “Don’t Quit Your Day Job”. We are hoping to talk about some of the advantages of a day job and how to craft the right balance for you of mixing a career and blogging.


Chris is the host of the Amateur Traveler, a popular online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. He was formerly the Director of Engineering for TripAdvisor’s New Initiatives group, the EVP Engineering at LiveWorld where his team built and ran online communities and events for companies include eBay, HBO, TV Guide, Expedia, Marriott, A&E, History Channel, the NBA, NBC, ABC, Disney, Microsoft, WebTV and American Express. Chris now owns and runs which is a new startup connecting bloggers and industry contacts. 

Interview conducted in July, 2014 by Kristin Winet.