For a majority of her career, Dana Rebmann worked in television news for NBC in San Francisco, and rarely had the opportunity to report feature stories. Now, as a freelancer, she enjoys writing about things that make folks smile including travel, adventure, and food. Dana still serves as a travel correspondent for KRON4 television in San Francisco, so along with photography, she shoots a great amount of video when on the go. She joins us this week to talk about her career path and what she sees for her future.
You started with a career in broadcasting/producing, how did that lead you to your current travel writing career?
My broadcast journalism career provided a solid foundation; I knew how to write (quickly) and concisely. I enjoyed working in television news; it simply got harder to juggle the hours and responsibilities when my kids came along, so I started exploring other writing possibilities.
What was the first travel article you ever got published and how did that come about?
My husband and I refused to stop traveling when our kids came along, so it’s fitting my first article was about a family trip to Madrid. Family travel stories comprised a majority of my work when I was transitioning from only broadcast news to feature writing for print and online magazines and blogs. There was a big incentive to attack the learning curve and make travel writing work – it provided the flexibility to keep writing and be a mom.
You’ve traveled extensively with your husband and children—even while the girls were young. How do you feel that has influenced your daughters now that they are young adults?
Not discounting the benefits of family time together, the perks of traveling with my girls really started to become obvious as they grew older. From an education perspective, connections started to click in history, art, and an assortment of other classes toward the tail end of elementary school and middle school. But what they’ve learned goes beyond academics. Traveling can be intimidating. Foreign languages, unfamiliar foods, and strange customs push comfort zones. The more you travel, the more confident you become, and you carry that confidence with you, no matter how far, or close, you are to home. Through travel they’ve met and connected with folks from around the world, young and old, from all walks of life. They understand and appreciate cultural differences, and when it comes down to it, they’re better humans because of the people they’ve met and the places they’ve seen.
Travel writing is a balancing act even when there are no children at home, what has been the key to maintaining balance in your life?
Flexibility. Everyone in the house has to be flexible. It’s a great life skill and my kids had to embrace it early and often. In life and travel, sometimes things just happen, and you have to roll with the punches.
Staying organized is also key to my survival. The family calendar lists everything from travel plans, to spin classes, dentist appointments and article deadlines. It makes staying on top of everything possible, whether I’m standing in the kitchen, or conducting an interview thousands of miles away.
What advice would you give to a writer who hasn’t freelanced much (if any) about breaking into travel writing?
It’s much harder than most think. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it, it just means you need to be realistic. There will be many highs, but also plenty of rejection and disappointment. Be prepared to take it all in stride, and learn from it. Build a solid collection of clips. It won’t happen overnight. It will take time. Be patient. Read the publications you’d like to contribute to. Take any opportunity you get to meet editors face to face. Pitch, pitch, and pitch some more. And always enjoy those initial moments when you see your story in print for the first time. No matter the publication, it never gets old.
Where do you see your career going in the next 5 to 10 years?
It’s such a hard thing to predict. My goal is to continue to develop more relationships with quality editors and publications. I’ve spent a great amount of time working to improve my photography skills, and I think it’s paid off. Now, I’m trying to boost my video skills. It’s yet another capability I think will come in handy in the future.
Any bucket list destinations/adventures you’ve yet to check off?
African safari. That said, I’d go back to the Galapagos Islands in a heartbeat. There are many more sea lions, turtles and penguins I’d love to swim with!
Dana lives north of San Francisco in Sonoma Wine Country, so weekends spent enjoying and exploring the Bay Area typically outnumber those at home. Favorite trips, and recent assignments include shooting rapids in Finland, swimming with manatees in Florida, and searching for polar bears in Canada. Writing credits include Alaska Beyond Magazine, Diablo Magazine, Napa Sonoma Magazine, TravelAge West, The Telegraph.com, and more. Learn more about Dana’s work on her website www.DanaRebmann.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.