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:





Michael Turtle Interview: On Being in the Moment & Creating Timeless Travel Content


The Astounding Travel Writers interview series continues!

Today, I am pleased to share with you an interview with Michael Turtle, a journalist-turned-travel-writer from Australia who is plunging the depths of what our magnificent planet can offer. In this interview, we cover how travel can teach patience, going pro, and creating timeless travel content. Enjoy!

Michael Turtle with Sea Turtles

1. 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?

Mentioning what I do for a living is normally something I try to avoid in first introductions. It’s always a bit complicated. If someone asks, I usually say I’m a travel writer. But when they start asking who I write for — and I can’t name big international publications they recognize — I start to explain what travel blogging is.

2. What does Travel mean to you?

To me, travel is about exploring and learning. It’s about seeing more of the world we live in and meeting the people who make it what it is. Travel isn’t about relaxation or escape, in my opinion. It’s about challenging yourself to know and understand more.

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

Travel has definitely forced me to become more patient and tolerant. Not that I was intolerant, as such, but I would get frustrated by things outside of my control or people who weren’t behaving the way I expected. Now I know which things to worry about — the ones that I can actually do something to improve or solve. The other things I am more relaxed about.

4. Have you ever hitchhiked?

I have certainly got lifts from strangers who have stopped and offered to drive me somewhere but I have never stood on the side of a highway with a cardboard sign and my finger out. It’s not that I’m scared of being murdered or anything… I just worry that I might not be able to sustain a conversation the whole time and the driver might get bored of me!

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

It started with actual travelling, I suppose. I knew I wanted to leave Australia for an extended period and see the world — so obviously some kind of travel. The writing about it came as part of that but was never intended to be the focus.

6. How was your site born?

I started Time Travel Turtle to be a bit of a portfolio for freelance writing work and a way to keep my sanity and give myself some structure as I travelled around the world. It has grown over the years and now it takes up most of my time.

7. Do you use social media daily? And if so, how do you find balance with it within your daily routine?

Assuming I have an internet connection, yes, I use social media every day. I’m probably not as dependent on it as some other travel bloggers — and that’s a good and a bad thing. I find that I enjoy being in the moment and only later think that I should have tweeted about it at the time, for example.

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

These days I find that I choose particular activities or go to a particular place in order to get a story to write about. So the balance is a bit easier because they are more intertwined. I will always be thinking about how I’m going to put an experience into words and what I want to ask someone so I can quote them later. That doesn’t mean I can’t still be very involved and enjoying what I’m doing, though.

Michael Turtle in North Korea9. Do you have any advice for people who want to start a travel blog or grow their travel blog?

Travel blogging is not an easy industry and it’s one that is constantly evolving. That means you need to have a long-term plan and be prepared to commit for many years to see any kind of professional benefit. If travel is your main passion, then make sure you keep enjoying that and don’t stress about the blogging side of things too much. If making a blog successful is your passion, then you can’t treat your travels like a holiday.

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

In a general sense, the stories I’ve written that I’m most proud of are the ones about people. There is something really special about sharing the lives of interesting characters with your readers. Everyone connects and that’s the whole point of what we’re doing!

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

It’s a tricky question because I think the freedom of online means the travel writing industry will become increasingly fragmented. There used to be a fairly consistent style to the writing you would read in print publications or in guidebooks because there was such a limited number and they were competing with each other. Now, with social media and blogs, the key is to be individual and different from everyone else. That means the good bloggers and writers are trying to challenge themselves and push the boundaries. Where will this lead us in the future? Well, that’s up to the imagination of the digital pioneers!

12. Is there anything you’re working on that you’d like to plug?

There’s nothing out of the ordinary. I do make an effort with my writing to create stories that aren’t time-specific. I like to think that most posts on my blog are relevant and interesting to anyone who visits now as much as when they were written months or years ago. So I always encourage people to look through the back catalogue for some destinations they want to know more about.


Thanks again for being up for an interview, Turtle! I really enjoyed this, and I’m sure the readers will, too. Happy travels! 🙂

 

To Learn More about Turtle: