Cynthia Dial is an
award-winning journalist and admitted addict—a travel addict—because for her
travel is like breathing, she can’t live without it. As a travel writer whose
office is the world she’s visited all seven continents where she’s attempted
Argentina’s tango, canoed in the Amazon and sat amongst penguins in Antarctica,
all for a good story. Her career spans over two decades. She joins us this week
to talk about her career and the changes she has seen over the years. She also
offers advice to aspiring writers.
have had a successful writing career spanning two decades, please share with us
how you got started and what the journey has been like for you.
On the surface my entry into the travel writing arena appears to
have been simple. During my stint as a travel agent, a new travel industry
magazine crossed my desk. The magazine,Travel
People (which has since ceased publication), showcased those working in
the travel industry in non-traditional roles. Through my affiliation in the
local San Diego travel community, I had become acquainted with Billy Riley, a
colorful 70-year-old Southern belle who was general manager of the Horton Grand
Hotel, which was comprised of two century-old hotels, disassembled brick by
brick, reconstructed side by side and restored with loving care by a team
including Miss Billy (as she was affectionately called). As I came to know her,
I became as impressed with her past accomplishments as I was with her present
endeavor. She was San Diego’s first female general manager of a major hotel,
the first female president of the hotel/motel association and the first female
recipient of the city’s annual Travel Industry Person of the Year award.
the potential of a story on Miss Billy, I wrote a query letter to the editor ofTravel Peopleand upon
quickly receiving the go-ahead. I interviewed Miss Billy, photographed her and
wrote a 1,000-word piece for which I received a check and a byline. My first
query and my first draft resulted in my first payment and my first clip. For
me, this career came easy. Right? Wrong.
month I was invited to Israel at a time when the country was considered
extremely unsafe. Yet, my travel experience was a priceless visit during which
I never felt danger. So, upon my return I sent a query letter to a variety of
major US newspapers and continuing with my perceived good luck, I received the
reply, ‘Yes, on spec,’ fromThe
Dallas Morning News, The Los Angeles Times andThe San Francisco Examiner.Already
resting on my laurels, I assumed my previous luck would prevail. The resulting
article was good; but even I knew it wasn’t great and I received three
This is when I learned that the roller coaster career of a
travel writer is replete with ups and downs, and the only way to be a success
is to present my best work – always.
As far as my journey, it has exceeded my dreams – allowing me to
travel the world . . . for work. I simply love it!
I understand your book entitled
Get your Travel Writing Published is in its third printing. What was your
inspiration for writing the book and how do you feel it helps other writers?
The purpose of my book was to simplify the process for aspiring
travel writers, noting the essential steps to take and pointing out possible
pitfalls. In short, my goal was to give readers the tools necessary to put
their travel experiences on paper and sell them, which I have tried to do by
sharing personal experience through travel anecdotes and professional guidance.
have been a travel instructor for several learning institutions offering travel
writing tips and travel advice. What advice do you have for new writers
or established writers who want to increase their visibility?
Adhere to the law of averages and submit, submit, submit. It’s
like throwing pasta against the wall: some of it has to stick. When beginning,
write for local outlets, regional outlets; and once established, push the
envelope and approach high-profile publications or e-zines. And these days,
maintain an active profile on social media.
You have managed to diversify
your career with writing, photography, instructing and appearances – what tips
can you offer to other writers who want to break into instructing and personal
Again, initially contact those institutions that are less
intimidating, more approachable. An example might be your local library – a
venue that would be more comfortable for a first- or second-time presentation.
Then, go after television stations, writers’ conferences, etc. Lastly,
practice, practice, practice (always aloud). Do NOT think you can wing it. To
this day, I practice extensively before I speak publically or appear on
organizations do you belong to in connection with your writing and how do you
think they have helped you in your career?
Initially, the organizations of which I was a member were travel
oriented and included San Diego Women in Travel, Pacific Asia Travel
Association (PATA) and American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) – all of which
I served as a board member. My philosophy was that it was more advantageous to
be the organization’s only travel writer, as opposed to one of many. I recently
joined the San Diego Press Club (one of the nation’s largest), and received the
2015 First Place Excellence in Journalism Award for “Television Same Day News
Feature.” And as this is a career measured by achievements and networking, I consider
my membership a valuable one.
Having been in this business
for over 20 years, what changes have you seen and how have you adjusted to
The biggest changes involve the Internet. Granted, research via
the Internet is light years from those days when a day at the library was an
integral part of writing a piece. And if I forget to ask a question of an
Italian winemaker when in Tuscany, I simply email my request, as opposed to
yesteryear’s necessity of a pricey (typically ill-timed) international phone
That said, the Internet and social media have modified this
profession to one in which everyone who travels, has an iPhone and expresses an
opinion is considered a travel journalist. It’s the only industry of which I am
aware whose pay over the years has steadily decreased (many times to nothing)
You’ve been to all seven
continents and to countless destinations, what are you three favorites and why?
Antarctica – It’s the continent most do not have the opportunity
to visit, thus, the one I most wanted to see. And once there, you truly feel
you are at the bottom of the world (which, of course, you are).
Burma (also known as Myanmar) – Because of its military
presence, the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi (until a couple of months before
my visit in 2011) and its virtual isolation from the rest of the world, it was
an unblemished, authentic travel destination. The biggest perk was that in
spite of the oppression, the people were warm, welcoming and genuine.
Anywhere in Europe – At heart, I’m a romantic. I love
cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, quaint villages – everything that is
Europe. And I especially love the diversity from country to country. I try not
to go to a destination again and again because it means that there is a new
destination to which I will never go; but my ‘forever’ exception is anywhere in
Dial is a seasoned travel writer, author, presenter and teacher. Among her outlets
are TIME magazine, Hemispheres, Costco Connection, Shape and the Toronto Star,
for whom she wrote the column, Shopping Trips; as well as online outlets
including JustLuxe.com and TravelSquire.com. She also authored the book, Get
Your Travel Writing Published (McGraw-Hill is the US/Canada distributor),
hosted the No Passport Required show on World Talk Radio and frequently appears
on television as a travel specialist. To learn more about Cynthia, visit www.travelwritingbycynthiadial.comand follow her on Twitter.
Terri Marshall is a freelance travel writer, editor and blogger. Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the USA, Europe, into Central and South America and to Antarctica. Favorite adventures include crocodile tagging in Belize, reindeer driving in Norway, and hanging out with penguins in Antarctica. Keep up with her adventures on her website at www.trippingwithterri.com join her on Facebook and Twitter or email her at terri [at] trippingwithterri.com.
Last year, I read an interesting article that said the desire to
travel is genetic. While there’s no actual travel gene, there is a risk gene
that most travelers tend to have. That makes sense to me. I think we are risk takers. Instead of just saying “I wish...”, we say “I will...”.
Another Gypsy Soul
Travel may not be for everyone but I think what separates us doers from
dreamers is that we’re willing to risk it all to make our dream of travel
happen. The desire to do so comes from deep within our soul. We want to see the
world and nothing is going to get in our way.
I've always felt I was a wanderer. I have
friends and family love to travel and take vacations but not like me. I have a
New York, Paris and London might dominate when it comes to
fashion, nightlife and entertainment. But it is a more low-key city that has been crowned the best
place in the world to live.
The Austrian capital of Vienna beat 229 other cities to take
the title in the 18th Mercer Quality of Life survey.
Photo by Cynthia Dial
It was followed by Zurich, Switzerland in second place and
the New Zealand capital of Auckland in third.
Access to healthcare, quality of education, housing and
environmental factors are all taken into consideration by the team at Mercer,
one of the world's largest HR consultancy firms.
The results of the study, the most comprehensive of its
kind, are used by international corporations to assess how safe it is to send
their employees to a given city.
Seven of the top 10 places with the best quality of life
were in Europe, and nearly half of them were in Germany. Munich, Dusseldorf and
Frankfurt ranked at four, six and seven respectively.
The Danish capital of Copenhagen, which was recently named
one of the happiest places in the world to live, came in ninth place.
Despite its high cost of living, Geneva, also made the list,
coming in at number eight. Residents of the Swiss city, among the richest in
the world, enjoy high standards of education and low crime rates.
was named the 10th most desirable place to live. Its stunning natural
environment, beautiful weather and thriving cultural scene all work in its
Vancouver, Canada, one of the country’s most diverse cities,
was came in fifth place.
But British cities have failed to make an impact on the list
this year, with London the highest place at 39. The only other English city to
make the cut is Birmingham at number 53.
Scotland fares slightly better with three cities -
Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen - ranked at 46, 55 and 59, respectively.
Belfast was ranked in 64th place.
One place where safety has become a more pressing issue over
the last year is Paris, where a string of high-profile terror strikes causing
the French capital to fall 10 places to 37th.
Crime and personal safety are also factors that keep many US
cities out of the top spots, with none of them managing to break the top
San Francisco is the highest ranking at 28, followed by
Boston at 34 and the Hawaiian city of Honolulu at 35. Chicago and New York City
come in at 43 and 44 respectively.
Bottom line: Vienna is the best city in the world to live in, while London, Paris and New York don't make top 35 as German-speaking cities dominate quality of life rankings.
COMPLETE LIST OF THE BEST (AND WORST) CITIES IN THE WORLD TO