A Conversation with Kim Foley MacKinnon

Kim headshot7Kim Foley MacKinnon is a Boston-based editor, journalist and travel writer. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, AAA Horizons, Travel + Leisure and USA Today, among others.  Kim is the author of several Boston based guidebooks including Outdoors with Kids Boston:  100 Fun Place to Explore In and Around the City which is a valuable resource for Boston parents.  Kim joins us on TravelWriting2.0  to talk about what initially inspired her to travel, differences between writing guidebooks and travel articles and how she has managed to balance a travel writing career with raising a daughter.

You’ve been a travel writer for most of your adult life, what initially inspired you to start traveling and writing? What has the journey been like for you?

I wanted to travel the world as soon as I could read. National Geographic magazines and books like Agatha Christie’s “Death on the Nile” and the Sherlock Holmes series fueled a lifelong passion to see the places featured within those pages (still waiting for access to Narnia). And while I always wanted to be a writer, I didn’t quite imagine I’d be a travel writer. I started out as a journalism student, working at the Boston Globe on straight news in college. Later, I became a guidebook editor, then moved on to writing guidebooks and freelancing travel articles. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

You are very active in the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), how do you feel organizationsKim in Lake Charles like that help you in your travel writing career?

It can be very solitary being a writer sometimes. I think it’s important to be in an organization with like-minded people. We can network, bounce ideas off each other, learn about new trends and generally enjoy some of the camaraderie 9-to-5-ers have.

What advice would you give to someone near and dear to you who wanted to become a travel writer in today’s market?

Being a travel writer doesn’t mean you’re on a permanent vacation, despite what many people think.  Travel writing, like any job, involves all the usual things (paying your dues, climbing the ladder, etc), but you should have a passion for sharing the world with other people. On the more concrete side of things, besides hopefully writing well, mastering a little bit of everything publications need, from photography to social media, is a requirement for every type of journalism these days.

Kim in NorwayYou’ve successfully balanced the demands of raising a daughter and travel writing. Can you tell us a little bit about how you did it and how often you take your daughter along with you?

Well, you always hope for balance and I think we’ve been mostly successful at it. I think it helps that I’ve had this career since she was a baby. Me being away for a week or so every month is our family’s normal; it’s what she’s grown up with, so it’s not too disruptive. I take her and/or my husband as often as it makes sense for my stories and our schedules. I don’t take her out of school, so she’s limited to summers and vacations. She loves to travel, which makes me very happy.

You have written several guidebooks throughout your career. How does writing a guidebook differ from writing travel articles?

To begin with, the sheer volume of information! Writing a travel article usually involves just one place or experience, while a book covers so much more detail. The bonus of writing a guidebook is that I get to include things I might have to leave out of an article.

Your travels have taken you all over the USA and to many international destinations. What are Kim in Parissome of your favorite travel experiences?

My favorite travel experience is usually the one I just had, but if I had to pick just three, I’d say taking my daughter on her first international trip when she was two to Italy and just being embraced by everyone everywhere (thus refuting every warning I got about traveling with a toddler); snorkeling in the Galapagos – if I was told I could only revisit one place in world, I’d pick there; and every U.S. cross-country trip I’ve ever taken, from one with a girlfriend more than 20 years ago when we had no money and camped to last summer with my family, when we drove from Boston to the Grand Canyon and back in less than three weeks.



Kim Foley MacKinnon is a Boston-based editor, journalist and travel writer. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, AAA Horizons, Travel + Leisure and USA Today, among others. Travel is her passion, with food a close second. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and has several guidebooks to her credit. She only has three states left to complete the whole set and has visited almost 50 countries at last count.  You can find more about Kim at her website www.kfmwriter.com  

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