Travel Blogger Mera Johnson Interview: A Full-time Mom Who has Found Balance

The Astounding Travel Writers interview series continues today with a newer member of the travel blogger sphere.

I first learned about Mera when she submitted an article to the Byteful Travel blog carnival a while back. Mera is a great example of someone who knows what they love to do and is actively doing what they can to share their adventures with the world in an honest, and very real, way.

Mera Johnson at the Beach1. Thanks for agreeing to do an interview today and being a part of my Astounding Travel Writers Series. It’s wonderful when we travel writers can connect. I’d like to begin with a simple question: 

How do you usually introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Mera. I live in a suburb of Chicago with my husband and two kids. I love to travel, and as I child moved around the Caribbean for my Dad’s job as a Methodist Minister of Religion. 

2. What does Travel mean to you?

It’s really about the experiences and memories you create. It has opened up the door to many life-long relationships and given me a wonderful perspective on everything in life.

3. In what ways has it pushed you to grow?

Travel can make one mature very fast. At 14 and 15, I traveled alone to track and field meets in other countries. I also left home in South America at 17 to come to college here in the US. I learned very fast how to interact with people, find my way around, and generally take care of myself. Imagine being in the Miami International Airport  by yourself at age 14!

4. Have you ever hitchhiked?

No. The opportunity has not really presented itself. However, I would hitchhike, especially if I’m not alone.

5. How did you get involved in the travel sector?

I’m very new to travel writing (7 months), however I’ve been traveling all my life.  I’ve become involved because I’m home with my children and would like an outlet. I love traveling so much though I don’t see myself going back to my old career. 

6. How was your site born?

I have been a stay-at-home mom for a few years now, and with my children getting older I wanted to find a hobby or possible second career. The blog is really an outlet for me. I really enjoy travel and love the places I’ve lived. My kindergartner, who is quite a handful, is now gone all day, leaving me with my very manageable 18 month old at home.

7. Do you use social media daily? And if so, how do you find balance with it within your daily routine?
Yes, I do, and sometimes I do feel it takes up too much of my time. I try to devote weekends to my family. I’m also a list maker, it helps me focus on my daily goals. I do need to spend more time working on my blog specifically, though. I tend to focus more daily on my personal profile.

8. In that same vein, how do you balance writing and travel?

I’ve only been doing this for a short time, I have not struggled with this issue. I have too much to write about. I only take 2 or 3 trips a year; however, local travel is also something you can write about. You can also write about travel tips, travel inspiration, travel deals, etc.

9. Do you have any advice for people who want to start a travel blog or grow their travel blog?

Go for it! Do it for yourself, if you get fulfillment out of it then others will as well. Do not expect too much when starting out. Write as often as you can and try to network with others through social media and local groups.

10. Out of everything you’ve ever published or created, what are you most proud of?

Well, I’m very proud of the blog itself. I’m not a very tech-savvy person. I recently took a trip to Guyana, South America, where I used to live; and I’m currently writing 4 to 6 articles. I’ve finished one already that is over 1,000 words. I think once I’m finished, that series of articles will be what I’m most proud of so far.

11. How do you see travel writing & travel sites evolving into the future?

It’s no big secret that travel writing does not make you rich. I see sites moving toward selling more products. I also see local travel as an under-represented area. There are so many backpackers and people out there traveling the world and writing about it. That’s wonderful but the average person wants to know how they can travel more on their budget and schedule.

12. Is there anything you’re proud of that you’d like to plug?

I’m now a travel agent! I love blogging but I also want to do more for people. I want people to be courageous and fulfill their travel dreams. Look on the blog (below) for more details.

Thanks again for the interview, Mera! Wishing you continued growth for your site. 🙂


To Learn More about Mera:

Tui Discovers a truly “Unexpected Texas” in her New Book (A Mini Interview)

When it comes to travel writers, we like to stick together and support each other.

That’s why I’d like to tell you a bit about my friend Tui’s brand new and very quirky travel guide to Texas called “Unexpected Texas.”

I’ve interviewed Tui before, but when she contacted me about participating in a blog tour for her book release, I thought a mini-interview was well overdue.

So, without further ado, let’s find out why this new guide is so cool, and some of the surprising gems about Texas within:

Tui Snider headshot 20131. Where did you get the idea for “Unexpected Texas”?

Last spring, I took part in the April A-to-Z Blog Challenge. Arlee Bird came up with the idea in 2010, and it has really taken off. Thousands of people participate each year, and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers.

The April A-to-Z Blog Challenge is a simple idea, but it’s a lot of fun. All you do is post on your blog each day for the month of April, except for Sundays. On the first day, you write about something starting with the letter A, the next day B, and you continue on through the alphabet. Most people choose a theme for their posts. I chose “quirky Texas.”

I didn’t expect much from the challenge, but I got a lot out of it. For one thing, I quickly realized that “quirky Texas” is a big topic. There’s enough material for several alphabets!

What surprised me most, however, was the positive reaction I got from Texans and non-Texans, alike. Texans would usually say something like, “I grew up here and never heard about the Santa Claus lynching,” or whatever odd thing I’d written about that day. Meanwhile, non-Texans often wrote things like, “I never wanted to visit Texas, but after reading your blog posts, I’d really like to see what you describe.”

Another big takeaway for me was how misunderstood Texas is. People, including me, often have very preconceived ideas about the Lone Star State. As I write in the Introduction to “Unexpected Texas”:

“As if I had misjudged an acquaintance, I realized that Texas has great stories to tell, but only if you ask the right questions. My earlier assumptions, based on the veneer of Texas, had blinded me to its depth. And while I wasn’t sure what to do with it, I began amassing quirky history and lore about this fascinating state. You hold the result in your hands.”

After the blog challenge ended, I realized I had enough material to create a book about offbeat and overlooked Texas travel — so I did!

Unexpected Texas paperback books2. What do you hope people come away with after reading “Unexpected Texas”?

I want people to:

  • Understand that there is much more to Texas than what headlines and stereotypes suggest, and that this applies to every spot on the globe, not just Texas.
  • Realize that the world around you is only boring if you take other people’s word for it.
  • Be inspired to pay more attention to their own hometown, wherever they may be, and start having their own adventures.

3. Do you have any advice for other bloggers looking to write their first travel guide?

I’ll let you in on a secret: You don’t have to rack up frequent flyer miles to be a travel writer. Sure, I’ve written about Venice and Pompeii, but most of the time, I write and sell travel articles about places within a day’s drive of my current home. My travel motto is that “Even home is a travel destination.” I truly believe that!

You can find Tui all around the web. She loves it when people say Hello (as do I), so be sure to checkout “Unexpected Texas” in the links below.

The Truth Beyond the Sky tiny coverAnd while you’re at it, why not checkout my Mythic SF novel? (You know, with it being free today and all.) Dubbed a “A Coming-of-Age story of the Highest Caliber”, The Truth Beyond the Sky, is totally free starting today in the Kindle store. In a possibly crazy move, I’m doing an unusually long 3-day promo. (Most promos are only 1 or 2 days.)

Now is your chance to experience the Journey: full of ADVENTURE, loss, hope, terrible beasts, ancient artifacts, legendary evil, great mystery, profound peril, and a finale that will stay with you. Again, it’s totally free during the promo (& cheaper than a latte afterward):

(And thanks in advance for resting your eyes on my work. It’s incredibly humbling.)

Once you grab that, be sure to grab “Unexpected Texas” and checkout Tui all around the web!