When I read this line in a blog post it immediately resonated with me.
As I sat down to write yet another budget I knew I wouldn’t stick to, the guilt of living week to week and having absolutely no savings, was a little overwhelming.
I’ve always lived and travelled by the motto “it’s better to have debt than regret”. Surely, that’s what Twain was referring to when he spoke of dreams and regrets, and throwing off bowlines?
I’ve never felt like it was a case of competing with anyone, but just fulfilling my own needs. The need to live the life I wanted, not the life I could afford.
The funds to get through university, live on my own and travel overseas, have all been borrowed, consolidated, financed and refinanced. But now I’m 12,000 miles from home and my banks refuse to send my bills overseas. So, a nice lil’ pile of letters accumulates at my parent’s house, and then they pop them in the post. These bills arrive every few months, often in the same box as my birthday and Christmas presents – always a lovely ‘surprise’!
Mum and Dad are under strict instructions not to open my mail under any circumstances. All banking related correspondence MUST be posted directly to me. I think the knowledge that their adult daughter saved more in her primary school Dollarmite account, than what she can now, might be difficult to comprehend.
Saving $50 when you’re 8 is amazing. Saving $50 when you’re 28 is appalling.
The fact that my current job includes all food, rent and bills should really see me with much more cash left at the end of the week then what I have. I think it’s something to do with my unlimited entertainment and travel budget…
At this stage I’m not even thinking about trying to make money from my writing. I’m just excited that I’ve actually started writing again and my goals for the next 12 months are to update my blog weekly, publish one article a fortnight and complete a chapter of my book every two months.
My next big financial outlay will be a return ticket from the UK to Oz, however, at this stage overstaying my visa and risking deportation seems like a much cheaper option…
As a newbie to the world of travel-writing, the idea of pitching, polishing and publishing articles is somewhat terrifying! And, with so many publications to choose from, where does a girl begin?
In addition to printing your work, many publications also offer mentoring and networking opportunities, competitions, tours and the chance to join an inspiring community of female travellers! Following are 10 publications to get you started:
Road and Travel
Road and Travel is an online magazine, aiming to educate and inform women’s choices regarding their “automotive, travel, and personal safety needs”. Courtney Caldwell is the founder and editor-in-chief. Although the magazine is aimed at women, submissions should be written to appeal to both men and women interested in travel and automotive topics.
Hint: Visit the Travel Channel for categories of published articles
Postcards from Millie
Postcards from Millie is an online, Australian travel community. Founder Victoria Ugarte, started the site from her experiences in the masculine business world where she witnessed women “compete rather than collaborate” missing out on the “nurturing, life-connecting side of being a woman”. Travel stories can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The site not only publishes travel writing, but provides seminars, organised trips, coaching and workshops.
Hint: The travel diaries of inspiring women are a great read!
Women’s Running Magazine
Women’s Running Magazine is a print publication, issued six times a year. Topics include fitness, health, nutrition, active destinations and individual profiles. Breanne George is the editor-in-chief, and encourages email queries to email@example.com. Responses may take a minimum of 6 weeks.
Hint: Experienced travel writers may pitch a query for the “Active Getaway” department
Galavanting aims to provide “more than just the latest gear and reviews of ludicrously expensive resorts”. Editor-in-chief, Kim Mance, is also founder of the Travel Blog Exchange. Story pitches or completed articles from female writers can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with a short bio and links to previously published work.
Hint: Articles offering a female perspective on family travel or a couple’s trip are also welcome.
Wanderlust and Lipstick
Wanderlust and Lipstick, covers travel stories, tours, tips and recommended gear. Articles are sought from female writers, although work is not restricted to a female audience. Founder and editor, Beth Whitman, accepts queries or finished pieces emailed to email@example.com. Submissions from previously published writers will be given priority.
Hint: Wanderlust and Lipstick will include links to your website or book in your writer bio!
Journey Woman publishes writing from a female perspective, although articles from men will be considered if they address the sites mandate to “inspire females to travel safely and well and to connect women travellers worldwide”. Submissions via email can be made to the publisher and editor, Evelyn Hannon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hint: Check out the suggested article categories before submitting.
As a global online community, Tango Diva empowers women to embark on solo travel. Founder Teresa Rodriguez Williamson, publishes articles covering a range of topics from style and wellness to destination reviews. View the Tango Diva checklist, editorial calendar and style notes before submitting your article to email@example.com.
Hint: Submissions from first-time writers are welcomed and when you’ve published 5 pieces on Tango Diva, they will present you with a press pass, for press trips and tours.
Women’s Adventure is a print magazine published quarterly. It covers sports, travel, fitness and lifestyles of active women. The founder and editor-in-chief, Michelle Theall, welcomes queries via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow up by email if you haven’t heard back in 2-3 weeks.
Hint: Timely pitches with alternative story angles and suggestions for sidebars or web links, will grab the editor’s attention
Co-founders Vivienne Chapleo and Jill Hoelting, started the North American-based Wave Journey in 2006. This online travel resource caters for women who “love to travel, cook, read or revel in outdoor activities”. Feature articles on first-hand travel tales, recommendations and reviews are sought for the website and monthly newsletter. Article submissions copied into the body of an email can be sent to email@example.com.
Hint: A minimum of 1 photo (maximum of 12) submitted in JPEG format is required for articles to be featured on the homepage
GoNOMAD Women’s Travel
GoNOMAD Women’s Travel is currently seeking more articles to increase its coverage of female travel. Published articles include reviews of female getaways, books, websites and advice such as Love the One You’re With: How to Travel Together Without Killing Each Other . Queries and submissions can be emailed to the editor Max Hartshorne at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Hint: Let them know if you’ve posted or blogged a link to their writer’s guidelines and they will bump you to the top of their list!
After reading a publication’s guidelines, familiarise yourself with back-issues of a print publication, or online articles if it’s a website. This helps you to gain a feel for their style and also prevents you from pitching ideas that have previously been published.
Karatala cymbals clash and tambourines jingle to the recurring beat of the mrdanga drums. Robes and saris dance energetically to clapping hands. And fingers focus on chains of beads, counting the mantras as they chant
“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare”
They move in single file as their leader darts out from side to side handing out leaflets. Today their traditional skirts and dhotis are partly obscured by more practical winter-wear with puffer jackets, football scarves and an electric-blue EVERLAST hoody.
“Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”
They stop suddenly on their spiritual journey to the temple. Bewildered tourists and locals gather where the Hare Krishnas have turned to form a blockade. The chanting and dancing continues but their focus has shifted to their target – London’s Oxford Street McDonalds.
Cameras and iPhones emerge to capture the scene as the meditative chanting transcends the chaos of the black cabs, double-deckers and rickshaws on the street. I breathe in traces of woody incense. It masks the stale cigarette smoke that usually suffocates the air, and I shuffle past their protest.
Continuing up Oxford Street, and turning left into Tottenham Court Road, I provide a tourist with directions to the British Museum – a regular community service I perform. Unlike Oxford Street, with its high-street chain stores typical of most European cities, Tottenham Court Road is conveniently divided into two shopping needs – electrical at one end and furniture at the other. Clearly a street designed by a man.
On my way home I stop in at a Pret A Manger for a hot chocolate; after 18 months of ‘research’ it’s London’s best hot chocolate on the high street. Hugging the takeaway cup, the heat warms my hands and I sip the smooth chocolaty-sweetness. I grab a window seat and clear the packets, wrappers, films, sleeves, containers and cardboard coffee cup holders, into a pile of sticky, rubbishy mess. Wiping my hands, my attention is drawn to the protest outside.
The masked protestors gather with placards and flyers. This internet-group called “Anonymous” holds weekly demonstrations here outside the Dianetics and Scientology Life Improvement Centre. Checked bandannas and t-shirts are used as makeshift face coverings but most wear the Guy Fawkes mask. The masks are a reference to the British rebel and the film “V for Vendetta” depicting an antigovernment movement. A protestor yells his taunt through a megaphone
“Why is ya shop so emp-ty”
The protestors erupt in laughter. On the other side of the road the undeterred scientologist ushers people inside for “FREE PERSONALITY AND IQ TESTING”. He hands out business cards to avoidant shoppers.
“Rip it up, rip it up”
A passerby eagerly obliges, tearing up the card and throwing the pieces into the air. The protestors erupt in cheers. I exit the coffee shop bracing myself to cross at the lights – a direct path between the scientologists and the protestors. As I pass a scientologist hands me a card. I snatch the card and shove it in my handbag. The protestors jeer and the scientologist shakes his head.
The alarm vibrates, sending my mobile towards the edge of the bookcase. I fling my arm out to catch it. I’m too late. It plummets to the floor, sending the back cover and battery flying. It’s 7:30am. I’m on my hands and knees, rummaging through clothes for my SIM card.
With my phone still in pieces, I drag myself to the kitchen. I flick on the kettle and return to bed to snatch a few extra minutes of sleep. The fact that he’s plonked this bed in the study hardly makes it ‘my bedroom’. London is my base but I felt more at home waking up in that shabby hostel in Ireland.
The breakfast times were more flexible and at least the universal-rules of hostelling allowed for some personal space. I always slept-in, taking advantage of the late check out or paying for the extra night just to have a little more sleep.
The kettle clicks ready and I get up to make his tea: one and a half sugars, three squeezes of lemon juice and a quick dunk of the tea bag. I add some cold water from the tap; filling the mug within an inch from the top, I dip my little finger in to test the temperature.
I hear him stir. “Dear, I’m awake”.
“Hello, just making your tea” I call out, in our usual morning exchange.
I go to my room and swap my pyjama pants for jeans. I throw a cardigan over my singlet, buttoning it up on the way to his room.
“Good Morning! How did you sleep?” I ask my 93-year-old client.
He smiles and nods, pretending to hear. “Good Morning, dear. How did you sleep?”
He sips his tea and then we begin his physio for the morning. We do ten leg raises on his left and ten leg raises on his right leg. I assist him to catheterize and have a shower. I take the towel I’ve placed on the radiator, wrapping it around his shoulders. “Ooh, lovely dear, lovely” he coos. It’s an endearing morning-murmur that makes me smile.
He dresses while I prepare breakfast. He’ll have Special K; I know this because he has had Special K for the past 67 days in a row. I fill the bowl a quarter full, slicing half a banana over the top. I prepare a shot glass of orange juice and a shot glass of water. Two prunes are placed on his side plate. Sometimes I try to give him three or four, but “two is plenty dear”. I’m not really hungry this morning – just worn out. I miss the big Irish fry-ups and family breakfasts. Just like the ones my cousin’s wife would make.
I’d mistakenly told her I wasn’t hungry that morning but that just encouraged her to load up my plate. There were eggs, bacon-rashers, fried chips, beans, tomato, mushrooms; black and white pudding. Breakfast was always followed by our light-hearted quarrel as I declined yet another cup of tea. She’d always insist “Ah, go on, of course you’ll have cuppa tea. I’m just after putting the kettle on for myself and Tommy” And before I knew it there would be a cup in my hand. “There you go lovey, you drink that up”.
He sips his tea and we look out the balcony-window. The sea gulls won’t join us for breakfast now that winter has moved in. The looming BT Tower reads “915 days” in its rotating Olympic countdown. After breakfast he turns on the wireless and “BBC news at 9 o’clock”. The volume suggests we’re broadcasting to the city of London. The static and talkback is a harsh contrast to the trad music that filled the little Ballydehob pub that night.
The session grew from two musicians to twelve. There were guitars, an accordion, a bodhran, fiddles and flutes, a tin whistle, violins and many floor-tapping feet. Each musician shuffled around the table, with their ciders and Guinness, to make room for the next. I shuffled around the bar to make room for the locals as the tiny town filed in. We chatted about Guinness, the recession, dream-catchers and music.
He’s not very chatty today. He reads and listens to the radio through the morning. I change the bed sheets, do the shopping and check the post before lunch. In the same time I’d climbed the Spinc and the Wicklow Way – an 11 kilometer mountain hike – still managing to write some post-cards and collect supplies from the co-op.
At supper we have our soup and half a slice of toast each. We watch our favourite show about a Swedish detective and then he blasts the radio on to hear the “BBC news at 10 o’clock”. Later, I assist him to catheterize and get into bed. We end our routine with his physio for the evening. We do ten leg raises on his left and ten leg raises on his right. I turn off the lights and finally finish my day.
On that trip I’d ended my days drinking, set-dancing and singing with locals. But not tonight. I go to the study and climb into bed.
And I reset my alarm for 7:30am again.
…we are not against good writing, in fact, we love it, but we shouldn’t have to ask “Where’s the beef?”
This candid-disclaimer from Discovering Family History is an editor’s plea to read their writer’s guidelines! Submission guidelines provide an insight to the sort of meaty-material a publication will print as well as tips on writing, formatting and sending your article.
My recent ramblings are inspired by back-packing Ireland and researching my Irish ancestry. The following publications print articles in the field of genealogy and travel, offering a unique angle for first-time travel writers:
Australian Family Tree Connections is a monthly print magazine publishing articles aimed at Australian and New Zealand family historians. Email email@example.com with your submission.
Hint: Preference will be given to articles which include photographs and/or illustrations. See submission guidelines
This American publication is distributed via print, the web, weekly e-mail newsletter and a free monthly podcast! Family Tree Magazine does not accept finalised articles and encourages writers to pitch their article or story suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hint: First-time writers will have more success getting published through the Branching Out department or developing new resources for the Toolkit section. See submission guidelines
Discovering Family History is a print magazine published 6 times a year, with most articles by freelance writers. These guys “accept but do not enjoy snail–mail” so call the editor Ed Zapletal on (888) 326-2476 or email him at email@example.com.
Hint: The site provides a list of articles Discovering Family History seek. Phone and let them know you’re considering writing for them and they will send you a free copy of their magazine. See submission guidelines
Gonomad are currently seeking more stories on family and female travel so contact the editor Max Hartshorne at firstname.lastname@example.org with queries and submissions.
Hint: If you mention that you’ve posted or blogged a link to their writer’s guidelines Gonomad will bump you to the top of their list – nice! See submission guidelines
BootsnAll allow you to submit your travel article online for review by one of their editors. Follow the guidelines to maximize your chances and expect to see your article published within two weeks.
Hint: BootsnAll are happy to post your bio, links to other published work, websites or books – who doesn’t love a bit of shameless self-promotion? See submission guidelines
There’s only six more sleeps ‘til Christmas as I head down Lower Gardiner Street, Dublin.
Hurrying through light drizzle, I dodge people and puddles to reach the payphone. The dialing display is smashed. I lift the receiver. No dial tone. The call uniting this Aussie lass with her Irish family has been thwarted. And by reckless vandals.
I trudge on umbrella-less in the rain, turning left down Talbot Street. Another pay phone. I reach for my little green notebook. This notebook fat-full of pages is ready to be filled but as I prepare to call, I sense that the few scribbled details beginning my search, may also signify the end…
Researching my Irish ancestry began in the genealogy department of the National Library of Ireland. Located on the second level was the free genealogy advisory service. I had little information to start with, just my grandparent’s names and dates of birth. The genealogist handed me a leaflet on ‘getting started’ and explained that many Irish records had been lost or destroyed due to pilfering, fires or Civil War. It did not look promising. For the dates I was working with he recommended I continue my investigations at the Irish Life Centre.
Here the research facility at the General Register Office holds all civil birth, marriage and death records from 1864 to 1921. I searched the indexed volumes, scanning pages of the large, red hardbound books. I felt that if nothing else, leafing through those old, fragile books and researching amongst my fellow family-history enthusiasts was excitement enough for my trip. I located my grandparent’s birth records and purchased photocopies. I wanted to obtain their marriage certificate but did not have a date. The assistant advised that if I presumed they were married young, around twenty as many couples were at that time, then I could search records within a five year time frame. I looked through the huge, heavy volumes while he ran a search through the online database. He found a match and I purchased their marriage record.
My grandpa Thomas had died before I was born and my grandma Mary died when I was two. Having no memories of either of them I had just carried the knowledge that at some point my Dad’s parents had emigrated from Ireland to Australia. Standing there with those certificates in hand I knew more about their lives then I had for the past 27 years.
My next step was to find the church where they married. I thought it would be great to get a photo – Dad would love that. The assistant photocopied a Dublin map, traced the directions and highlighted the church.
My grandparents addresses were recorded when they registered to marry. We checked to see if they were still residential. Mary’s address was listed as Arbour Hill Barracks which was now part of the National Museum. Thomas’s Dublin address however was still residential. “Now let’s see if they have a public phone listing” I heard the assistant say as I struggled to keep up with how quickly my search was moving. He checked the Dublin Directory and turned the phone book around to face me. I read the name where his finger rested on the page: Joan Kinsella. I jotted down her number.
It had all happened so quickly, so easily. I was living a movie cliché – young backpacker locates long-lost Irish connections a week before Christmas – and then he smiled the words “it looks like you might have some relatives to spend Christmas with”.
She picks up. “Hi, my name is Rebecca Kinsella and I’m over from Austra…” “Who?” an older lady hard of hearing bellows back as my words trail off. Mustering courage I begin again. “Who is it?” she repeats quizzically. I attempt a third time, regretting the call and wondering why I got myself into this imbroglio with a random-stranger in Dublin. I’m confusing her and desperately I blurt out “you’re living in my grandpa’s house, so I thought we might be related?”
The phone is passed around. I speak to her son Jacko and daughter Pat. I confirm names and dates, panicky I might not know enough. I speak to her again. She falls quiet. In her silence I sense some recognition of my story. Slowly she asks in a lowered voice “’Was Mary your nanny?”
I tell her she was. I don’t know how we’re related but I’m convinced by the certainty in her voice.
“‘Well it’s a funny story” she says “… two sisters married two brothers. Your nanny Mary was my sister and I married your grandpa’s brother James”.
So there I was speaking to my Great Aunt Joan. At 85 years of age with 10 kids, 36 grand kids and 37 great grand kids. My Dad described it as “hitting the genealogy jackpot”. The news travelled fast and the next day I met Aunt Joan and many Irish cousins all huddled into the front room of my grandpa’s house in Terenure, Dublin. Dad made his first overseas trip to Ireland, with my Aunty for a family reunion. They met over 50 of their cousins and their aunties for the very first time.
Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend just how huge this experience has been – to process the enormity of locating my relatives in Ireland and the impact this has had on my family at home in Australia. As my Dad said “I knew about it but I just didn’t feel it was real”. Our families have connected through sharing photos, telling stories, laughter and singing – asking questions, recalling memories and exploring our past together.
So, how do YOU go about tracing your Irish Ancestry? Here are 5 quick tips to get you started:
1. Chat with relatives: gathering names, dates and stories from the start will save research time
2. Spell-check: consider variations/nicknames or mistakes in recorded names and dates
3. Hunt for hints at home: photos, letters, certificates, diaries, bibles, scrapbooks and heirlooms
4. Explore all resources: online, genealogy services, libraries, books, groups and workshops
5. Travel to trace: visit the areas your ancestors lived and worked. Talk to the locals
Researching your family history can lead to exciting, rewarding and unexpected experiences. Travelling to Ireland and finding my family was the beginning of a strong connection with this country. I bonded with cousins I’d never known existed and learned who my grandparents were and how they lived. Exploring the homeland my ancestors left behind provided a personal link to the history of this country and its people. It is a sense of belonging shared with others who have traced their tribe and journeyed home to Ireland.
Ádh mór/ Good luck
See Discover Ireland for Information on planning your trip and tracing your ancestry