Heather was a practicing lawyer until she decided to pursue her love of travel and writing and dedicate a year to traveling around the world with her family. Now, as an award-winning journalist and blogger, Heather writes about family travel, parenting, culture, and lifestyle for such publications as O Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, and The Toronto Star. Check out her blog Globetrottingmama.com and enjoy our interview!
Heather, you run the travel blog Globetrottingmama.com. Tell us a little bit about why you decided to start blogging and what advice you might give other new travel bloggers.
I started the blog about a year before leaving on a trip around the world with my family in 2011. The goal was personal. I wanted a way to keep in touch with family, friends, editors and colleagues while we were on the road and a place to collect my ideas about what we were doing and what was left to be done as we organized. I was so nervous about hitting “Publish” in those early days. It would take me forever to get it up! But eventually I realized that self-censorship really isn’t good for anyone. My advice to new travel bloggers? Find your voice. Speak in that voice through your blog. Blog like there’s nobody watching. ;)
You’ve been traveling around the world for one year with your husband and two young boys. Now that you’ve returned home, what’s next?
We left in June 2011 and returned in June 2012. Over the course of one year we visited 29 countries on six continents. We traveled continuously, never returning home until the end of the journey. We stayed put for about nine months after returning home, but then the fever hit again. We’ve been traveling regularly since and are planning another long-term experience for a few years down the road. Our trip netted us an inaugural National Geographic Traveler Magazine “Travelers of the Year” award.
What are some of the most rewarding moments you’ve had traveling with your family, especially with Ethan and Cameron?
I was looking through some pictures this morning and it hit me all over again. I can’t even begin to explain to you the value I’ve found in having that much time with my kids. Even those of us who prioritize family in every day life barely get a few hours with them each day. I was with mine 24/7 for a year. It wasn’t always easy but it created opportunities to get to know each other that I just couldn’t find at home. Some of our favourite moments:
- realizing how paranoid I am as a mother as I watched my kids ride ostriches in Vietnam
- watching the boys overcome their hangups (Ethan was a picky eater and Cameron was super shy) and triumph in their own successes
- going to Egypt even when everyone said we shouldn’t and finding incredible people there
- Falling in love with India and Portugal
- Experiencing the lantern festival in Thailand and finding friends we’ll love forever in France
You have an impressive repertoire of freelance work, having written for such publications as O Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, and The Toronto Star. How did you approach your first editor and how has that process changed for you over the years?
Wow. In some ways it has changed a lot and in some not at all. A lot of writers rely on cold pitches – writing a letter they hope the editor will pick out of their inbox. I’ve never liked that approach. I’m a big believer in relationships. If there’s a magazine I love I try to connect with the editor in person. If that’s not possible then a well-researched pitch letter followed by finding opportunities to connect in person is my second choice. It’s so important. I don’t write for a lot of places but I do write for a few places all the time. That speaks to the relationships I’ve built. I think new travel writers should take advantage of gatherings like TBEX or New Media Expo or Blogher to allow for opportunities for those real-life connections. Also, don’t forget the value in your fellow writers. There will come a time when they’ll be asked to recommend someone for something they can’t do. It could be you.
As the travel industry continues to move toward embracing digital technologies, how do you see your income mix changing over the next 5 years? 10 years?
My online work has already heavily increased over the last few years. I think that will continue. I don’t think magazines will die altogether (I really hope not!) but I do think they’ll continue to evolve. Along with travel writing, I also write features about parenting, lifestyle topics and corporate matters. Diversity will continue to play a big role in my work.
What did you speak about at TBEX Dublin? Could you give our readers a small taste of what you taught in your session?
At TBEX Dublin I spoke about family travel blogging. I enjoyed the session which allowed a group of us who are involved in that field to share notes and insights on the topic. I’ve got a few speaking appointments coming up in the months ahead as well. In December I’ll be speaking at the Society of American Travel Writer’s Canadian Chapter’s annual conference in Sarasota . And in January, you can find me at the New Media Expo (formerly Blogworld) in Las Vegas.
Heather Greenwood Davis is a former lawyer turned multiple award-winning journalist, travel columnist, freelance feature writer and blogger. Called to the Bar in Ontario in 2001 after completing both Journalism and Law degrees, Heather practiced for several years before successfully returning to her primary passions: writing and travel. Today her columns and feature articles appear in newspapers, magazines and online publications around the world including O Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, The Toronto Star, Lexpert Magazine, Canadian Living Magazine, Canadian Family Magazine, Parents Canada and more. She also runs the family travel site Globetrottingmama.com.
Interview conducted in November 2013 by Kristin Mock.