Gary Arndt is an awarding winning travel photographer who has been traveling around the world non-stop since 2007. His blog Everything Everywhere one of the Top 25 Blogs on the Internet by Time Magazine in 2010. He is a regular contributor to American Forces Radio and has appeared in the New York Times, CNN, BBC, The Atlantic, Outside Magazine and many other news outlets around the world.
How did you get started traveling?
I didn’t come from a family that did a lot of traveling. Outside of a few summer road trips, we never left the state of Wisconsin. In fact, i never saw salt water until I was 21 years old. In 1998 I sold my internet business to a large multinational company, and I convinced them to send me on a tour to their offices around the world. In January 1999 I visited Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore, Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels and London. It was an eye opening experience and something which stuck with me for years.
Eventually, based on that experience I made the decision to sell my house, and I began traveling full time in March 2007. I’ve been traveling ever since and have been to over 175 countries and territories around the world.
How did you get started writing?
I’ve kept a personal website since the mid 90’s, before they were called blogs. During my 1999 trip around the world, I created a small website to document my travels for everyone back in the office. Starting a website when I made the decision to travel full time was a very natural thing for me to do.
What do you consider your first “break” as a writer?
Most writers get a break when they are selected to do work for a major publication. Because I self-publish everything on my website, my breaks don’t come the same way they do for freelance writers. My first big break as a blogger came in 2010 when Time Magazine named me of the 25 Best Blogs on the Internet. After that I got much more attention from the world at large and my audience grew substantially.
As a traveler and fact/story gatherer, what is your biggest challenge on the road?
My biggest problem of late is simply working from hotel rooms. Poor wifi, uncomfortable desks, and constantly changing schedules. I’m writing this in Bangkok where my sleep schedule has been so screwed up this week, that I’ve been sleeping in 2 shifts a day, instead of once at night.
What is your biggest challenge in the research and writing process?
The biggest challenge is time. Because I’ve been nomadic the last 9 years, I’m always on the go. Having the time and a place to reflect on my experiences has been difficult.
What is your biggest challenge from a business standpoint?
The business side of things are doing well. The hardest thing for me is managing the growth while still traveling. Because I have my own audience and outlet, the business problems I face are closer to what a publication has to face rather than a freelance writer.
Have you ever done other work to make ends meet?
I began traveling with saving I had from selling my business and my house, so I haven’t had to do other things since I’ve started this.
What travel authors or books might you recommend and/or have influenced you?
To be honest, I don’t read much in the way of travel writing. When I visit a place I’m more likely to read a history book to try to get a backstory about the place.
What advice and/or warnings would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing?
Travel writing and travel photography have always been considered glamorous professions, so there has always been a long line of people who wanted to pursue it as a career. However, the number of publications limited the number of writers.
Now with the internet, there are no gatekeepers and anyone can start their own website….and that is exactly what thousands of people have done.
Many people think this is a path to fame and fortune, and it is almost certainly not. The odds of success are low, and even if it happens, it will take years.