Tim-and-gang-after-BPHere’s a shot of my literary hero Tim Cahill and a bevy of beautiful admirers after the marathon that the Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference always is. He’s looking slightly startled, don’t you think?

September 3, 2014
7:00 pmto8:30 pm
Lost Kidnapped Eaten Alive!Want to hear your favorite passage from Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive! read aloud to you?  Come join the fun at Books Inc. on Wednesday, September 3, at 7 pm. for the East Bay Launch Party.

Back by popular demand:
I’m baking my grandmother’s brown bread for this celebration, because it was a bit hit at the Marin County Launch party. Of course we’ll also have wine for your enjoyment and refreshment.
Books Inc. Berkeley, 1760 4th Street, Berkeley, CA.

Roll-yr-clothesThis one demonstrates the clever one-outfit, one-roll technique, which would be brilliant for anyone organized enough to know ahead of time what components they’re going to wear together. It also has a lively soundtrack.

Shirt folding redux

August 30, 2014 | 1 Comment

shirt-foldingWe’ve seen this spectacularly speedy shirt-folding technique before, but here it is illustrated with lines and letters. Thrilling!

You’ll also be thrilled to learn that I’ve added a “Packing Tips” category, to make it easy to find this video again when you need it.

eBagI’m always looking for the perfect travel bag, and this MotherLode TLS may just be it. It has lots of well-thought-out features, including two separate-but-conjoinable main compartments, adjustable “shelves,” and built-in compression straps. Users/reviewers seem to love it. Check out the video on the linked page, showing features.

ZipperSecurityHere’s a video showing how easy it is to break into a locked suitcase. I’m posting this not to encourage break-ins (the bad guys don’t need me to show them how to rip people off), but to show you, dear reader, that a locked suitcase does not equal security.

Carryon-SafetyThis Mike Adams (“the Health Ranger”) video is described as “a 100% foolproof solution to stop the TSA from stealing your valuables.”  I post it with some caveats: Most TSA agents are probably honest, and the techniques shown would slow down—but not stop—a determined thief. Nevertheless, this could be helpful information for securing your carry-ons.

BoatingPartyI enjoyed this New York Times article, Drawing Yourself into the Scene, about the way art and literature can make us more observant when we travel.

I’ve certainly found that taking notes, composing photos, researching a subject, and questing for anything all make me more observant and appreciative.

(And, as an aside, I remember seeing Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party” at a traveling exhibition—it was so beautiful up close that it made me cry!)

Americanflagphoto: RCB

This is from a 2013 Thought Catalog article; it remains an enlightening read. Includes such comments as:

  • Return policy
  • Free refills
  • American foreign policy is a very inaccurate reflector of public consensus
  • Philanthropy
  • President doesn’t automatically become the richest person in the country
  • How open Americans are about their shortcomings and always ready for self-criticism
  • Clothes washing machines
  • Buffets
  • Walmart
  • Obesity
  • Customer service
  • Impressive distances and poor public transportation
  • Rich musical history
  • The size of houses

jim benningJim Benning, travel writer and Deputy Travel Editor at BBC.com, just taught a class on personal essay at the Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference. Here he tells us what he looks for in travel narratives. (These clips are edited for length.)

Jim Benning 3

Jim on finding the story and developing a narrative arc:


Jim discusses how he develops a narrative arc in his own work—for example, in writing Lust in Translation about his encounter with a Chinese prostitute who was trolling for clients. The story is great, and hearing Jim talk about it is even better:

viewbugThis site lists photo contests—the subjects vary from human lips to lighthouses.

TonyWheelerTony Wheeler, cofounder of Lonely Planet, spoke with Don George on the opening evening of the 23rd annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference. Here’s a snippet of Tony explaining how Lonely Planet got its name.


In his latest book, Dark Lands,Dark Lands Wheeler brings his inimitable wit and style to an exploration of some of the world’s most troubled nations, including Colombia, Congo, Haiti, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe, and Israel-Palestine.

Here’s a list, reprinted with permission from Betsy Graziani Fasbinder of ways we can all support independent authors. I’m especially happy to post it now that I am an indie author, and fully appreciate how much friends and fans can do to help get the word out.

How to Support your Favorite Indie Authors—A Few Tips

Promoting a book is almost as hard as writing one. Maybe harder. Publishers only promote their high-profile authors. Lesser known authors shoulder the expense and burden themselves. You can help the cause of good books and authors you love, with little or no money and very little time. If you genuinely enjoy a book and want to support its author, here’s how:

WildLife14 stories. All original. All award-winning.

I just read—and thoroughly enjoyed—Lisa Alpine’s latest collection of “too-true” travel tales. From two-stepping in New Orleans to learning about war from “an attractive, sexy, twenty-years-younger-than-me pain in the ass” Israeli, to accepting a job as nanny for Keith Richards’ children, Lisa’s globe-trotting adventures are wild and comic.

My favorite is Lisa’s story about sniffing, and then licking, one of Monet’s famous water lily paintings in the MusĂ©e de l’Orangerie in Paris. “Does beauty have a taste? This pageant of floral sirens blooming in the midst of monochromatic winter is intoxicating…. Impulsively, my lips part. My tongue tip snakes toward the water lilies and licks….”  (Do not try this at home.)

WaterSlide“Nothing says summer quite like shooting out of a water slide, taking a big deep breath and splashing into a chlorine-filled pool. Krista Long’s series “I Love Summer” captures Iowa swimmers in that moment of pure joy or fear before they hit they water.” How does Krista do it? Check out this article on PopPhoto.

WadiRumAn open letter—and invitation to a conversation—from Alena, a Jordanian reflecting on the violence in the Middle East. “I hope that my words assist in healing and do not further fan the flames of destruction. Though focused on the current events in Gaza, these words are intended to speak to the larger scale of regional conflict around Jordan.”

September 16, 2014
7:00 pmto9:00 pm

EvaSchlesingerEva Schlesinger will be reading at Weekday Wanderlust on September 16th. Although Eva hasn’t announced what she’ll be reading, she promises it will be as funny and heartwarming as the “You Say Gingen I Say Giengen” podcast of her Germany adventure on PlaceTales.com. By the way, where is the nearest chocolate store?

HominyHear about travel to Charleston, South Carolina as the Amateur Traveler talks to Jen Leo and her husband John Caldwell about their many trips to one of their favorite U.S. cities.

AussiewelcomeRandom drawing for Facebook fans: Don’t miss this chance to win a two-week, all-expenses-paid photo safari across Australia. Paid airfare, meals and accommodations and photo safari provided by: Udesign Photography Tours.  The winner will be announced on Nov. 1, 2014 at Photo Plus Expo in New York, NY. Winner does not need to be present to win.


  • 5 Days – Kakadu
  • 3 Days – Uluru (Ayres Rock)
  • 6 Days – Sydney: Blue Mountains, Harbour Bridge Climb, Opera House, Bondi Beach

TraveAppsThe International Travel Writers Alliance provides its August, 2014 list of more than 100 essential travel apps (PDF), which help users do everything from finding vegan restaurants to organizing contact information to detecting the UV rating of your current location and reminding you to reapply sunscreen.

Photo by Richard Duval

Photo by Richard Duval

Photographer Richard Duval provided Jameson Fink with this primer on how to take better photos in the vineyard, in the tasting room, and of winemakers. Enjoy the slide show and get inspired!

ZuluWomenBay Area activist Patricia Walker, who has been leading trips to South Africa for years, has founded the Zulu Empowerment and Education Foundation.

Patricia says, “Zulu women and girls have largely been forgotten, first by the Apartheid government, when black Africans were forced to live ‘apart’ from the white population, and now by the current government — which appears to lack the resources or will to help and protect them.

What If … You Lose Your Car Keys, Passport, Wallet, or Phone While Traveling?

Keys in the toilet, one sign that you are having a bad day (Photo: Thinkstock)

After Yahoo Travel author Lisa McElroy accidentally flushed her keys down the toilet during a bathroom break on a cross-country trip, she asked two travel experts for their tips on “the best ways to cope should you ever lose your keys, your passport, your luggage, your wallet, your meds, or your phone.”  The article is here.

In Urban Insider, Annie Fitzsimmons tells us five things she learned from traveling with National Geographic photographer Catherine Karnow. (“Catherine may not realize how much of an impact she made on how I approach my own work. I kept scribbling notes while we were together because I wanted to remember how her singular brand of travel photojournalism took shape.”)

The article is here.

August 19, 2014
5:30 pmto8:30 pm
September 16, 2014
5:30 pmto8:30 pm
October 21, 2014
5:30 pmto8:30 pm

AdventureDrinksAdventure Drinks is an informal monthly happy hour for San Francisco Bay Area & Northern California adventure travel industry folks. It’s part of the global AdventureDrinks movement. 5:30-8:30pm on the THIRD TUESDAY of the month. More info here.

  • Receive Travel Writers News updates via email

  • Upcoming Events

    August 2014
    M T W T F S S
  • Available in August, 2017

    I'm thrilled that it's getting rave reviews! Order your copy of Your Crocodile has Arrived from Book Passage, and I'll be happy to sign it.  
  • Winner of 4 Literary Awards in 2017

    Lost Kidnapped Eaten Alive!Order your copy of Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive from Book Passage, and I'll be happy to sign it.
  • Get Occasional Updates

    You can also sign up for my personal Laurie McAndish King mailing list for occasional updates about readings and events.