Arlington's Clarendon Center was ground zero for Travel Writing, A One-day Short Course available through the county's Adult Education program. Our teacher was Jerry Haines, a former lawyer and college journalism teacher turned Washington Post columnist. The class was made up of 7 women and 3 men, ranging in age from early twenties to late forties.
— So You Want To Be A Travel Writer, March 2007
I invited Jerry out for coffee as part of my effort to reconnect with everyone since returning home.
Since taking his travel writing course, we'd loosely stayed in touch.
While I was traveling, he'd check in on this blog from time to time.
When I had the opportunity to write about Medellin for AskMen.com, he offered me some guidance from his 12 years of travel writing experience, which I greatly appreciated.
We met at a Starbucks in Clarendon, near my old apartment. It was good to see him again.
Since taking his class, I felt more worldly and accomplished, having blogged for two whole years through 20 countries.
We talked about a variety of subjects and shared stories from abroad.
An interesting theme that came up was the changes rippling throughout the traditional print media and how it affects travel writers and editors.
Contractions in budgets and staffing at newspapers across the country have lead to editors taking early leave and looking for freelance work on websites.
Jerry said that he had lost a lot of the contacts he used to have relationships with at print publications as a result.
While this trend may increase competition on the more prominent travel blogs, it also appears the web is becoming an equalizer of sorts.
The ability for a travel blogger to develop a broad audience and personal platform for their travel writing can lead to opportunities to be published alongside those former travel section writers and editors.
You can read Jerry's good-humored writing at a few of these online publications:
- Seven Magic Travel Words on World Hum
- Articles for the LA Times
- Casual Eats Travel articles
Do you want to hear more of Jerry's perspectives on the state of travel writing – past, present, and future?
If yes, please leave a comment, and I will see if he is open to a written interview.