I am a travel writer and editor based in London, born and raised mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area. I love London's diversity, its blur, its restaurants, its incredibly well-connected airports, its parks, and the patterns and habits that make integration a challenge. Well, most of the last.
My love of travel runs deep. My parents stuffed me into a back carrier when I was a newborn and took me along on a round-the-world adventure. We stayed in Thailand, where my father spent a good share of his professional life, for several months. My first word was in fact a Thai word. Adolescence brought two longish stints in Europe – one in Vienna, the other split between Vienna and the tiny southwestern German federal state of Saarland, where we lived, pre-Schengen, just a few kilometers from the border with France.
I tried to forget travel in the 1990s. I burrowed away as an undergraduate in love with social theory, did my time as an underemployed San Francisco barista, and finally entered a doctoral program in American Studies in Ann Arbor. For a period of six years, my only international travel was restricted to excursions to Windsor for Chinese food and a single road trip to Toronto.
Eight weeks in Europe at the close of my field exams, a gift from my mother, changed everything – to be defamiliarized, to explore, to figure out foreign words never previously seen – I'd missed it all so much without realizing it. I spent part of my summer fellowship on a return to Europe later that summer.
I completed my doctorate quickly, bloodlessly, and embarked on a different career.
I have written travel articles and occasional cultural commentaries for the New York Times, Guardian, ELLE, Condé Nast Traveler, the Conway Bulletin, Monocle, and National Geographic Traveler, among other publications. I like blogging, too. I was the founding editor of the EuroCheapo blog in 2007 and contributed regularly to Gadling for three years. I have also blogged for Jaunted, Gridskipper, Sunvil, vtravelled, and National Geographic Traveler's Intelligent Travel. I also updated sections on Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Montserrat in the lamentably discontinued Rough Guide to the Caribbean; in addition I've pounded countless pavements as a hotel reviewer for EuroCheapo, covering a dozen cities in total.
In 2011 and 2012 I had the good fortune to edit Travel by Handstand (later Crave Travel), a magazine for the tablet. I commissioned and edited some great work, developed most of the magazine's departments, and contributed a dozen articles of my own. Travel by Handstand was very well received. It won Gold in 2012 and Silver in 2013 in the app category from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation's annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition awards. I do miss it.
I have a great interest in destination branding and am slowly building that side of my professional portfolio. I've contributed twice to FutureBrand's Country Brand Index and have done a bit of independent destination brand consulting. I'd love to do more. I believe that the best place brands embrace their most local characteristics. Limitations are legitimate strengths, not weaknesses.