U.S. National Parks Try New Ways To Appeal To Minorities

While U.S. national parks see millions of annual visitors, only 1 in 5 are non-white, and Hispanics (the fastest-growing demographic in America) account for only 1 in 10 visitors. The New York Times just reported about programs hoping to increase visitor diversity by engaging minority audiences with targeted blogger content and highlighting American Latino and African American contributions to park history.

Non-profit organizations are working with the Parks Service and adventure outfitters to market the fitness benefits of the parks, create new attractions, and recruit more minorities to work in the Parks Service. Blogger Carol Cain was selected for one of the American Latino Expeditions and wrote on her blog about making the parks part of her (Latina) heritage, but also warned about the sense of “isolation” she felt as one of the few people of color in the parks.

The National Parks will be free to all on September 28 for National Public Lands Day, and again in November for Veterans Day weekend.

Learn Map Design In Online Class

Like many travelers, I am a map nerd. I love them all, whether they are scribbled on a bar napkin, printed in an antique atlas, or GPS-enabled (the quirky paper ones are really the best, though). Often, a map is the best way to communicate experiences, share recommendations and tips, and document your travels. How about learning to design maps, meet some like-minded folk, and find out how to “communicate places beautifully”?

Paris-based blogger and designer Anne Ditmeyer is teaching a virtual class beginning this month on map design on Skillshare. The three-week course will cover both hand-drawn maps and mapmaking in the digital age, culminating in some live “office hours” where you can bounce ideas off each other and present final projects. There are no grades, but she’ll feature her top ten favorites on her blog, so you might get some good exposure if you are creative in your map project. You don’t need any fancy computer or design skills, and it’s a bargain at $20 (about the cost of a guidebook these days), so what are you waiting for?! The class already has students in over a dozen countries around the world; check out a map of them (I’m on there for Istanbul) here.

Sign up for the class here. It runs February 18 – March 11, but you can access the lectures and content at any time after they are posted and learn at your own pace. Read more about what you can expect from the course and Anne here.

[Photo credit: Anne Ditmeyer, Prêt à Voyager]

Travel App: Rome For Foodies By Food Blogger Katie Parla

If you are planning a trip to Rome this year and want to be sure to eat well, download food blogger Katie Parla’s Rome for Foodies app for iPhone and iPad. The Rome travel app features short and sweet reviews of everything delicious, from best bakeries for breakfast to wine bars. All of the app’s maps and features can be accessed offline, and you can filter by budget, category and distance. What sets Rome for Foodies apart from other travel apps is an insider’s guide to the city with thoughtfully chosen recommendations personally vetted by a food lover and city expert. You can also get an up-to-date stream of Katie’s latest blog posts about Rome if you are connected to the Internet, and see her favorites in Katie’s Picks.

If you are in New York City this weekend for the New York Times Travel Show, be sure to see Katie speak about Italian craft beer on the Europe stage, and participate in a seminar on the latest apps for travel, along with signing copies of her National Geographic book on walking in Rome.

Buy “Rome for Foodies” on iTunes or via ParlaFood.com.

[Photo credit: Katie Parla]

The shame of old (travel) blog posts

February 27, 2005: I posted about jetlag and date confusion, about how I can’t keep a calendar straight, how my expat life made that even harder for me to do, and how oh, we’re going skiing and also, I can’t wait to eat noodles later! It is written as though you know all the details of my life, who’s in it, and actually care about those things.

October 31, 2007: I posted a review of a 1966 movie about Hawaii. I managed to cross reference that review with some sharply written references about Hawaiian history and then, I tied all this in to the frustrations and vanities around the sun break guide to Hawaii I was writing at the time. I found a way to complain about writing a guidebook to Hawaii. Imagine.

March 17th, 2009: I posted a link choked name dropping round up of a day I spent at SxSW,the Music, Film and Interactive mega-event that takes place in Austin, Texas, every year. Do I tell you who these people are or why they’re important? No, I do not. Do I tell you why I’m in Austin at all? Nope. I make all kinds of assumptions about what and who you know. I proudly alienate all of my readers who aren’t there at the time. Way to go.

Old (travel) blog posts. They’re there to keep us humble. The shocking typos and editing oversights. The tone-deaf attempts at humor and self deprecation. The utter failure to provide any kind of context for, well, anything. The vain assumptions that these things matter to me, therefore, they must matter to you. I’m talking about my blog, of course, your archives are a library of beautiful syntax, of sensible contextualized advice, and entries that stand alone on their own merit, each one a well formed travel essay or service piece that could live a healthy life outside of the confines of your blog. Right? Right.A punishing little WordPress plug in called Advanced Random Post tortures me every time I refresh my site. It works its nefarious self-esteem busting evil by publishing, in the second slot on my home page, a post pulled at random from the archives of my site. On the one hand, this is a good thing. It pulls up selections from a series of guest posts I ran one April while I was traveling, 30 days or so of well written stories from friends and fellow travelers who kindly sent a story my way to keep my blog from going dark. It reminds me of, oh, that time I took a tour of the shipping terminal on Seattle’s Harbor Island or visited the Ballard Locks when they were full of running salmon. I see these old posts and I think, “Wow, that was a great day out.”

But Advanced Random Post also presents writing from my days as a volunteer for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. Those aren’t about travel! What was I thinking! And oh, no, I didn’t really choose to write about how tired I am after that hike in the Austrian Alps, did I? Not when I could have either posted a simple photo or told you how to do that hike yourself. That would have been useful to my readers. Instead, it’s two paragraphs of whining about fatigue. Why did I think you’d want to read that?

Every time I load a page, I’m confronted with the mistakes (and less often, triumphs) of my past. I can see the trajectory my writing has taken, I can see things change. I’m not the same traveler I was in 2004 when I started my blog in its current incarnation, and I’m certainly not the same writer. Seeing that old work reminds me of places I’ve been, of what’s changed. Sometimes I’m pleased but mostly, I’m just embarrassed. Did I really publish 600 typo choked words about an hour in a tea house? What was I thinking?

Books by Gadling bloggers

Gadling bloggers are a busy bunch. When we’re not posting the latest travel news or accounts of our adventures, we’re writing for newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. Many of us have written books too.

David Farley takes the prize for weirdest subject matter with An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town. So what’s Catholicism’s strangest relic? Nothing less than the foreskin of Jesus!

Some of us have jobs other than writing and this is reflected in our work. Talented photographer Karen Walrond has published the only photo book so far by a Gadlinger, The Beauty of Different: Observations of a Confident Misfit. Flight attendant Heather Poole is coming out with Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet in March 2012. Foodie Laurel Miller is coauthoring Cheese for Dummies, coming in 2012.

Sean McLachlan will become Gadling’s first novelist when his historical novel set in Civil War Missouri, A Fine Likeness, comes out in October. When he isn’t traveling he’s writing history. His military history books for Osprey Publishing include American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics, Ride Around Missouri: Shelby’s Great Raid 1863, Armies of the Adowa Campaign 1896: the Italian Disaster in Ethiopia, and Medieval Handgonnes: The First Black Powder Infantry Weapons. He’s done three books on Missouri: Outlaw Tales of Missouri, Missouri: An Illustrated History, and It Happened in Missouri. He dipped into medieval history with Byzantium: An Illustrated History.

Given that we’re all travel writers, it’s no big shocker that we have a slew of travel guides between us. Andrew Evans wrote the Brandt guides to Iceland and Ukraine. Pam Mandel wrote the Thomas Cook guide HotSpots Hawaii. Matthew Firestone is a Lonely Planet regular. His titles include Costa Rica, and Botswana & Namibia. He’s contributed to several other titles. McLean Robbins contributed to the Forbes (formerly Mobil) Travel Guide (Mid Atlantic). Melanie Renzulli shares her love of Italy with The Unofficial Guide to Central Italy: Florence, Rome, Tuscany & Umbria and Frommer’s The Irreverent Guide to Rome. Libby Zay has coauthored three VIVA Travel Guides: Quito, Ecuador; Macchu Picchu & Cusco; and Guatemala.

Don George takes the cake for travel writing. Not only has he given us all some good tips in Lonely planet’s book on Travel Writing, but he’s edited a long list of travel anthologies such as Lonely Planet’s Lights, Camera, Travel!, A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, By the Seat of My Pants, Tales from Nowhere, and A House Somewhere. Besides his LP titles, he’s edited Salon.com’s Wanderlust and Travelers’ Tales Japan.

So if you in the mood to read something offscreen, pick up a title from one of these talented authors!

[Image courtesy Yorck Project]