Blogger Elizabeth Seward

Introducing another new blogger at Gadling, Elizabeth Seward.

Where was your photo taken: Puntarenas, Costa Rica. I was lounging at the Los Suenos Resort there (on the Pacific side of the country) for a few days. This photo captured me mid-thought, writing alongside the ocean. It should be noted, however, that I might have just been gazing off at a Scarlet Macaw.

Where do you live now: I’m a newbie to Austin, TX. I recently relocated from New York City. Fed up with the things in NYC that one easily becomes fed up with after nearly a decade of residence, I decided to learn a thing or two firsthand about this much lauded southern city. People told me Austin was great for music, the outdoors, nightlife, food, and weather, and those people were right. While I’m still navigating my way around, say, having a house and a yard (with a pecan tree out back), the transition into Austin has been smooth… and warm.

Scariest airline flown: I don’t routinely get jittery on planes. I prefer to anxiously deprive myself of sleep the night before, powerlessly succumb to deep sleep mid-air, and let the landing jar me awake. But a recent viewing of a “World’s Most Extreme Airports (!!!)” kind of show clued me in on the fact that I’d flown into, apparently, two of the most EXTREME airports out there: Saint Martin/Sint Maarten and Vail, Colorado. And yeah, when I think back to those flights, I’m pretty sure I was wide awake well before landing.

Favorite city/country/place: Anything not overrun by kitschy tourist attractions probably appeals to me. I don’t have any sort of rain forest vs. mountains vs. desert vs. city preference, but I did go somewhere this past summer that was remote and took my breath away: The Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan. This sliver of land farther north than the city of Quebec juts deep into Lake Superior. In the summertime, daylight sticks around until 10pm (or after), the weather is warm but not too hot, and the lake is, I kid you not, glistening.Most remote corner of the globe visited: I once took a plane to San Jose, Costa Rica and from there I caught another little plane (only 6 of us, including the pilot, fit on board) to Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica (about 4-5 hours by car south of San Jose). I then took a boat across Golfo Dulce, a body of water teeming with dolphins and brightly-colored wildlife, to an eco-resort called Playa Nicuesa. Playa Nicuesa can’t be reached by car because it’s in the middle of a more or less untouched and protected rain forest–no roads even go there. The open-aired resort serves delicious local and seasonal food. And the best part? There’s no TV, Internet, or cell phone use this deep into the rain forest, so you’re alone with nature, whether you like it or not.

Favorite guidebook series: The only travel guidebooks I own are the ones I find in thrift stores (or the ones my mother finds for me in thrift stores) and among those, it’s not easy to pick a favorite. The photos are usually as inspiring as the information is outdated. I enjoy meandering through places using my own kind of guide: some combination of tips gathered from cutting edge travel sites, friends’ Facebook feeds, and recommendations made by locals.

How did you get started in travel writing: I got into travel writing by way of an industry that encourages travel: music. While on tour, I found myself with a lot of free time between arriving at a city and performing in the evening. Reflexively, I began documenting my travels (venues, restaurants, vintage stores, good trails, off-the-beaten-path stuff, etc.)in my journal. My fascination with exploring became more public when I started a website,, to help me keep an organized database of my favorite places (and eventually the favorite places of other writers, many of them also touring). The launch of the website simultaneously acted as the launch of my travel writing career and now I often find myself in a reversed situation from where I started–trying to squeeze shows into my free time when I’m traveling.

The ideal vacation is: A vacation that gives me freedom from the stresses back home. I travel all of the time for work, be it writing or music, and people will get mushy about my travels (“Oh my gosh! I wish I could just take off work and travel all of the time!”) without considering the fact that I’m actually still working when I’m traveling. I’m almost always still plugged in, still dealing with email, and still seeing news headlines in my peripheral vision. My ideal vacation is one that allows me to actually check out, detach, and detox while my inbox overflows.

Type of traveler–vagabond, luxury, camper, package, adventurer, etc.: I’ve had my favorite travel experiences while living in a van and driving across the USA on tour, washing my hair in McDonald’s bathrooms no less. Inevitably, vagabond and adventurer has to be my reply… but I openly embrace what every style of travel has to offer. READ: You won’t find me snubbing my nose at a pampering massage treatment, freshly caught lobster, or plush hotel beds.

On your next trip, you are forced to schedule a 24-hour layover. You have $200 to spend. Where do you spend the layover and why:

Less than 24 hours to have some fun? Bring it.

$20 cab into town from airport, it’s evening.
$30 bed reserved at likely awesome spot with probably good people, courtesy of Air B&B.
$19 round of drinks for me and my hosts at their favorite dive bar in town.
$1 two songs on the juke box.
$20 admission into the circusy loft party the guy at the dive bar tells me about, the one where people are fire dancing and hula-hooping and the live band is inviting me, and everyone else, to come on stage figure out a way to be percussive.
$15 late night/early morning breakfast at the best 24-hour diner in town with new friends from the loft party. Maybe my Air B&B hosts are with me, too.
$3 coffee I grab at the first coffee shop I see that looks good, and by good, I mean a coffee shop that looks like it’s been around the block a few times.
$7 earrings I talk myself into buying from the nice girl outside of the coffee shop.
$2 tip for the talented musicians playing on the sidewalk.
$3 local newspaper to read while basking in the park’s sunshine.
$15 ticket to borderline-pretentious-but-maybe-still-cool early afternoon cultural event.
$5 post-event obligatory purchase (roasted peanuts? bookmark drawn by a child in need?).
$20 lunch at some tasty spot, a place with a low tourists-locals ratio.
$20 thrift store purchases.
$20 cab back to airport.

Done. Why? Because 24-hour layovers suck. Getting an authentic feel for a town is way better than getting an authentic feel for an airport.

Photo Credit: Ben Britz

Don George: Travel writing and the Book Passage potion

Two weeks ago the Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference – that annual four-day summer camp for travel creators – magically unfolded in Marin County’s Corte Madera once again. The conference is always one of the highlights of the year for me, and it proved so this year as well. Looking back, I’ve distilled five lessons from this year’s reeling, regaling, roller-coaster ride.

1. Travel writing makes you see the familiar anew: The conference actually kicked off for me with a pre-conference one-day in-the-field workshop. This year I took a hardy and convivial band of 11 writers to Point Reyes Station. This tiny town on winding Highway 1 seems the quintessential Northern California outpost to me. Though the population is only 350, the locally headquartered Cowgirl Creamery sells cheeses from as far away as France, England, and Italy (as well as its own signature, creamily delicious Mt Tam and tangy Red Hawk cheeses); on the one and only main street, Coyuchi sells organic textiles made in India, Cabaline offers Western and Australian saddlery next to Marin-made hats, and Zuma showcases jewelry crafted in Africa, Asia and down the street. In short, it’s a captivating mix of the local and the global, distinguished by its quality and its commitment to sustainable principles and practices.

We spent the day exploring the town as if we were travel writers on assignment, poking our noses into the pungent Creamery, eyeing the bales of hay, organic produce and handmade candles at Toby’s Feed Barn, wandering into the Giacomini Wetlands — and stopping to smell the lavender en route — and then sitting around a weatherbeaten picnic table in the town’s scrubland-cum-park right on main street, talking about the most telling details we would use to evoke this special place for someone who’d never been there.

The day was a terrific reminder for me about the value of approaching the world as a travel writer: I have been to Point Reyes Station a dozen times in the past decade, but going there with a writer’s mindset opened me up to the place, made me look, smell, taste and listen more keenly, forced me to pay attention in a way that I don’t when I’m just coming to town to buy cheese or visit beguiling Point Reyes Books. Paying attention, I learned again, is the foundation of great travel writing – and as a bonus, it deeply and resonantly enriches your everyday life as well.

2. The Editor: endangered species or evolution in action? In the ensuing four days the conference plunged headlong into its frenetic schedule of morning workshops, afternoon panels and evening events. Subjects spanned the spectrum of travel and food writing and photography (we explicitly added food to the conference curriculum this year – who doesn’t like to eat when they travel?): writing for newspapers and magazines, blogging and writing for web sites, creating the personal essay and memoir, crafting the narrative, building and refining your own website, working with an agent, producing videos, conjuring cookbooks, self publishing, social media-izing.

If everyone becomes their own publisher, will the art of editing become extinct?

The faculty consisted of distinguished editors, writers, photographers, publishers and agents, and the rich range of offerings was both exhilarating and exhausting. I realized again how many people are passionately committed to the art and craft of publishing, and how varied the opportunities are today. But weaving through these revelations was a subset of questions I had initially begun to ask after TBEX in New York, when the multi-layered landscape of contemporary publishing had become clearer to me: As the world of publishing continues to evolve, what will become of the role of the editor? To put it more finely: If everyone becomes their own publisher, will the art of editing become extinct?

Some conference participants told me that even when they publish their own work, they recognize the need for editing and so they hire editors to refine their work. Is this the way of the future, I wondered: Will the editors one day be working for the writers? Will all the independently supported filters and curators of content – from the New Yorker to my neighborhood Piedmont Post — someday simply disappear? And would the world be a lesser place if they did?

As a writer, I’ve loved and respected editors all my career; they make my work better. As a reader, I’ve relied on them to sift through the mountains of content to curate what I spend my precious time reading. And as an editor, well, I understand how an editor can make a difference in a manuscript and in a reader’s life. I honor the role of the editor, and I hope it never disappears. But as the publishing money-rivers trickle into rivulets and the self-publishing options infinitely expand, what modern Medici will fund the editors of the future?

3. Travel writers just want to have fun:
Still, the conference experience wasn’t all troubling questions. Au contraire! Based on the prodigious quantities of good food, good drink, laughs per minute and hours of tale-swapping, one lesson came through crystal clear: The basis of lusty, zesty writing is a lusty, zesty approach to life. The deeper and fuller you immerse yourself in the world, the deeper and fuller your writing will be. In other words: If you want to be a great travel writer, work really hard on having a good time.

This was evidenced throughout the conference in an affirming generosity of spirit, from morning consultations to midnight conversations, and in an all-around insatiable appetite for language, literature and life, but it was demonstrated most convincingly on Saturday night, which in recent years has tumbled into a kind of karaoke klassico. After a throat-loosening sequence of pinot noir- and absinthe-sampling sessions earlier in the evening, the only thing any self-respecting Tim Cahill wannabe could do was take to the stage and warble “Born to Be Wild.” Therein lies greatness.

4. When the going gets tough, the writing gets going: One corollary truth emerged time and again in panel and piazza discussion alike: As Tim Cahill and Carl Hoffmann put it, the travel writer’s worst nightmare is the trip where everything goes smoothly. So when your bus breaks down in the middle of mountainy nowhere, or you’re moored on a moth-eaten mattress waiting for stomach swells to subside, or you’re suddenly abandoned and bewildered in the heart of a sweltering souk – rejoice! And whip out your notebook, for the fun — and your story — is about to begin.

There’s a larger truth here: The world around us is full of stories. Be alive to the possibilities – approach the world with an open heart and a curious mind – and you’ll always find something to write about. Where the outer map intersects the inner map, that’s where you should begin.

5. Great travel writing = timeless transportation: For me, the highest highlight of the conference occurred on the very last day, when I asked Tim Cahill to read what I consider one of the greatest examples of travel writing ever. It’s the end of his incomparable story “Among the Karowai: A Stone Age Idyll,” which appears in the collection “Pass the Butterworms.”

It goes like this:

It rained three times that afternoon, and each downpour lasted about half an hour. In the forest there was usually a large-leafed banana tree with sheltering leaves where everyone could sit out the rain in bitter communion with the local mosquitoes.

Just at twilight, back in Samu’s house, where everyone was sitting around eating what everyone always ate, a strong breeze began to rattle the leaves of the larger trees. The wind came whistling through the house, and it brought more rain, cooling rain, so that, for the first time that day, I stopped sweating. My fingers looked pruney, as if I had been in the bath too long.

Samu squatted on his haunches, his testicles inches off the floor. The other man, Gehi, sat with his back to the wall, his gnarled callused feet almost in the fire. It was very pleasant, and no one had anything to say.

After the rain, as the setting sun colored the sky, I heard a gentle cooing from the forest: mambruk. The sky was still light, but the forest was already dark. Hundreds of fireflies were moving rapidly through the trees.

William rigged up a plastic tarp so the Karowai could have some privacy. Chris and I could hear him chatting with Samu and Gehi. They were talking about tobacco and salt, about steel axes and visitors.

Chris said, “I don’t want them to change.”

We watched the fireflies below. They were blinking in unison now, dozens of them on a single tree.

“Do you think that’s paternalistic?” he asked. “Some new politically correct form of imperialism?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

But I thought about it. I thought about it all night long. When you suspect that your hosts have eaten human flesh in the very recent past, sleep does not come easily. It seemed to me that I was out of the loop here, not a part of the cycle of war and revenge, which was all just as well. I had expected to meet self-sufficient hunter-gatherers, and the Karowai were all of that, but they wanted more. They wanted steel axes, for instance, and did not equate drudgery with any kind of nobility.

I tried to imagine myself in an analogous situation. What would I want?

What if some alien life force materialized on earth with superior medical technology, for instance? They have the cure for AIDS, for cancer, but they feel it is best we go on as we have. They admire the spiritual values we derive from our suffering; they are inspired by our courage, our primitive dignity. In such a case, I think I’d do everything in my power to obtain that technology — and to hell with my primitive dignity.

I thought about Asmat art and what is left in the world that is worth dying for. I thought about Agus, who wept over his first bowl of rice and whose first contact with the world set him up in the business of cutting down the forest that had fed him all his life.

I thought about the butterfly I had caught when I was a child. My grandmother told me never to do it again. She said that butterflies have a kind of powder on their wings and that when you touch them, the powder comes off in your hand and the butterfly can’t fly anymore. She said that when you touch a butterfly, you kill it.

Butterfly; Karowai.

Sometime just before dawn, I heard a stirring from the Karowai side of the house. Samu moved out from behind the plastic tarp and blew on the embers of the fire. Gehi joined him. The two naked men squatted on their haunches, silent, warming themselves against the coolest part of the forest day. Presently, the stars faded and the eastern sky brightened with the ghostly light of false dawn.

A mist rose up off the forest floor, a riotous floral scent rising with it, so I had a sense that it was the fragrance itself that tinged this mist with the faint colors of forest flowers. The mist seemed the stuff of time itself, and time smelled of orchids.

As the first hints of yellow and pink touched the sky, I saw Samu and Gehi in silhouette: two men, squatting by their fire, waiting for the dawn.

After Tim finished reading this, for a couple of heartbeats an awed and reverent silence filled the room. Then we burst into applause.

The observations, reflections and illuminations, the precision and the pacing, in this passage soul-sing the transporting power of great travel writing. It’s why we do what we do.

Why we do what we do: So Book Passage poured its rejuvenating potion again this year, and I drank and drank. (Drink enough of that stuff and you’ll do karaoke too.) It made me appreciate anew the heart and craft of writers like Tim Cahill and Carl Hoffman, the indispensable role of publications like WorldHum, National Geographic Traveler, the LA Times and SF Chronicle, Sunset, and Afar, the world-reveling and -revealing richness of great photography, and the passion that we who labor in the field of travel content creation share: the wanderlust that propels us, the wonderlust that fills us, and the poignant potion we concoct when we mix and share the two.

Here’s a toast to all the good people who attended this year’s Book Passage – and to all the travel and food writers and photographers who aspire and abide in the Book Passage of the mind. Keep doing what you do: The world needs you.

[Photos: Flickr user Jen SFO – BCN; SmugMug user Spud Hilton; Spud Hilton; Flickr user ExperienceLA; Spud Hilton]

Passports with Purpose raises $13,000 to build school in Cambodia

One of the most difficult parts of travel is visiting a less-developed country, seeing a need, and wishing there was something you can do to help fill it. So four travel bloggers from the Seattle area got together and decided to raise some money and put it to use on a particular project. This year, that project is building a school in Cambodia, and they’ve been joined by over 50 additional travel writers, bloggers and travel websites in raising the funds.

The effort, dubbed “Passports with Purpose” started with a goal to raise $13,000 by December 21. But they weren’t just asking for donations out of the goodness of your heart – those who contribute will be entered to win in drawings for some pretty cool prizes like Flip cameras, Shutterfly gift cards, travel gear, and even free stays at hotels around the world. Each entry costs $10 and you can enter to win the drawing for the prize of your choice. Each prize will be valued at $75 or more.

As of yesterday, the group met their $13,000 goal, but rather than stop there they’ve decided to go even bigger. Now they’ll try to raise an additional $13,000 to staff the school with a nurse, install a water filer, and plant a vegetable garden.

The deadline to donate and win a prize closes December 21 and winners will be announced on January 5. All proceeds from the entries will go directly to American Assistance for Cambodia, an independent nonprofit organization formed in 1993, which works with the Cambodian government to build school in rural villages.

Win a trip to Hawaii with 52 Perfect Days

Have a great sustainable travel story? Travel website 52 Perfect Days is looking for submissions for their 2009 travel writing contest, which has a theme of sustainable tourism, ecotourism, agrotourism and voluntoursim.

The first place prize is a three-day vacation in Kauai, Hawaii, including accommodations, tours and activities (but not airfare). The second place winner will receive a custom-designed website and third place gets a Kelty Day Pack.

Submissions should be less than 1000 words of original, unpublished work. The contest is open to residents of North America who are 18 years of age and older and there’s no fee to enter. Entrants will be judged on how well they convey a sense of place and engage the reader while telling a story that relates to the theme.

Entries are due by Saturday, October 31 and winners will be announced by December 31.

Free press travel: necessary … and certainly not an evil

The blogosphere has been heating up over the issue of ethics and “swag.” There’s plenty of free stuff flowing through the media industry. At Gadling, obviously, the big one is travel, but gadgets, books, liquor, cigars and other products are often supplied for use in writing a story. The Federal Trade Commission has made what was a debate into a legal issue by requiring disclosure by bloggers when they receive these freebies (Gadling already requires this, so no changes will be necessary here). The issue is not only contentious, but it’s emerging unevenly. In the end, it’s the readers who will be impacted.

The FTC rule requires disclosure only by bloggers – traditional media outlets will not be affected, despite the fact that they receive plenty of swag … and that we (the bloggers) learned it from them. If the goal is to help the consumer make an informed decision, this rule will only “help” blog readers and leave consumers of traditional media exposed.

Beyond the question of fairness, though, there’s a greater issue: practicality. Especially in the travel space, the trips and gear provided by hotels, restaurants, manufacturers and their publicists is a vital part of how we can provide more than mere reblogs of “man pukes on a plane.” Original travel content comes at a cost. Travel writers need to be out on the road to be effective, and even 12 months of discount travel can add up quickly. For readers interested in luxury and upscale experiences (and there are many here and at Luxist, where I also write), it would be impossible for impoverished bloggers to deliver first-hand accounts of these destinations.

It can be tough to understand the role that comp’ed travel can play in an operation such as Gadlings – or that of any other publication that covers travel. So, to help clarify the issues involved, here are 10 factors that help make sponsored press trips effective.

1. Boots on the ground make a difference
You can do a lot using other people’s information. Press releases, websites and interviews can provide plenty of insights on what it’s like to visit a particular destination. And, most travel writers, especially when faced with the prospect of daily deadlines, use these resources regularly. But, there’s no substitute for feeling the sand between your toes, breathing the mountain air or smelling a Seoul subway during rush hour (not bad, just very different from New York). If travel writers need to pay for these trips, there won’t be nearly as many … which means that readers lose the on-the-ground observations that make a hotel or city or flight come to life.

2. The money has to come from somewhere
There are three parties that could conceivably pay to send a writer to cover a destination: the writer, the publication or the destination. Contrary to popular belief, travel writing (or any other form of blogging or journalism) really isn’t a road to riches. We do it because we enjoy it. So, paying to take a trip could cost at least as much as we’ll make writing about it. Now, the publications could pay. But, if you haven’t noticed from the number of magazines closing, media companies are about as wealthy as their writers. They can’t afford to have travel writers out on the road frequently. Hell, some of them can’t even afford to have travel writers at all. Finally, there are the PR agencies and the destinations themselves. They realize that they’re taking a risk when they pay to send a reporter on a press trip (they could wind up with a shitty story). But, they generally have the resources to commit to the effort. So, do the math – where can the money come from?

3. An awful trip will be noticeable
If a travel writer has a truly miserable experience on a press trip, you will notice it in the writing. I can tell you I’ve never been pressured to deliver a positive story. I do tend to highlight what interests me or what I think would interest you, simply because that’s what I figure interests you. If you’re heading to Paris, for example, you probably want to know what to look for – what’s fun and exciting. The reason these trips often contain positive information is because nobody I know plans a trip around misery. But, if there is something that warrants your attention – that happens to be negative – the travel writer will probably make sure you’re aware of it.

4. Objectivity isn’t really the point
Travel is inherently subjective. I look at the type of trips Kraig Becker enjoys and wonder if he was dropped on his head (or fell on it on one of those excursions). And, I’m sure the backpack-and-hostel crowd looks down its collective nose at the luxury trips that I usually prefer. The travel writer’s job is to cover the destination fairly and accurately … which is much easier if you’re actually there. As long as you’re honest, it doesn’t matter who writes the check. Disclose who paid for it for good measure, so the readers can make the call for themselves.

5. Informed comments keep travel writers honest
Gadling has hundreds of thousands of fact-checkers: you. And, we make it easy for your voices to be heard. If you have a particular knowledge about a destination and disagree with the writer’s take, you can let him or her – and the other readers – know how you feel. Our articles are really the openings of conversations. Some openings don’t lead to much talking, while others do; the choice belongs to each reader. But, the mechanism is in place to keep the system smooth.

6. Desk reporting should be disclosed
It’s always interested me that desk reporting doesn’t have to be disclosed. If I go to a resort and write about it, I need to tell you if the resort picked up the tab. Meanwhile, a reporter at another publication who writes about the same place and has never been there doesn’t need to disclose a damned thing. If you follow the advice of the latter, you’re making a decision based on someone who’s only seen the walls of a cubicle. The information that that reporter used probably came from a press release or an interview with an executive from the resort being covered. If a sponsored press trip compromises reliability, desk interviews should raise big, frenetically waved red flags. It might make sense to see a bit more of the following: “This story was written from a press release and a short phone conversation with the resort’s managing director. I’ve never been there and have no plans to go. So, act on this story at your own risk.”

7. PR agencies and destinations know the deal
Any publicist who thinks it’s possible to buy a good story is a moron. If they weren’t worried, they would actually enjoy press trips. Instead, the PR folks organizing these things are always stressed out, making sure that a herd of reporters gets to the right place at the right time, ensuring that rooms are in order and so on. When something does go wrong, damage control is immediate. If the story were already paid for, they wouldn’t care.

8. The “best foot forward” problem
Unless travel writers were to go undercover, there’s always the opportunity for a hotel or attraction to go the extra mile for a writer. We know it happens, and we (at least I) assume our readers realize this, too. We try to cut through this to see how things really operate, but a well-run hotel, for example, won’t be able to do too much extra for visiting media. If it specializes in high-touch treatment, for example, they can’t really go extra high-touch for us. The things that bother me most – waiting in line behind an idiot intent on giving his life’s story at the front desk – don’t go away when you’re on a press trip. When restaurants close, they close – even for us. Hotels don’t have special, fluffier bathrobes for travel writers, and a few extra mints on the pillow won’t change the tone of a story.

9. Press trips are work
It’s pretty easy to perceive press trips as free, extended parties. There’s plenty of liquor flowing, the food is great and the accommodations are spectacular. Well, this is generally true (depending on the trip), but there’s a lot of work wrapped around this. In my experience, travel writers don’t get much sleep – after the day’s festivities are done, we actually get down to the business of cleaning up our notes, filing stories (from the road or on unrelated topics) and catching up on e-mail. We format photos, mess with video and try to keep track of the information being fed to us through a fire hose. Sleep is the first luxury to be sacrificed. It’s the nature of the beast. Press trips can be fun, but there’s also a considerable amount of effort involved.

10. The writer asks questions, hides and breaks the rules
Even though this is at least implicitly discouraged on some trips, the better travel writers will push the envelope. If I see something that interests me, I’ll excuse myself. If I’m told that’s not an option, I’ll raise hell until it becomes an option. I ask questions, and I know I’m not alone. At one restaurant, on a press trip, I wanted to interview the chef. The publicist wasn’t moving quickly enough for me, so I barged into the kitchen, interrupted the chef and got my interview. And, I know I’m not alone. When something doesn’t interest me, I skip it. Sometimes, I “accidentally” get lost. The better press trips, though, realize that travel writers can be like this, and they involve the loosest of agendas so we can wander around and cover what we want.

As you can see, I’m a pretty ardent supporter of free press trips, but I can see both sides of the issue. If you’re inclined to leave a comment, I’d appreciate your thoughts on this. It is a serious issue for the travel writing community, as it is for our readers. How do you feel about it?

[Photos via Migrant Blogger]