Favorite Things I Wrote, 2013

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2013 was certainly a year of “growth” for me.  The other day, I looked back at some of the first articles I ever wrote for Matador, and compared them to recent ones.  It’s funny how over time you can just sort of “fall into” place, when the place feels right enough.  I’m definitely lucky to have a job that allows me to write, and be creative.  Here are some pieces I am most proud to have published this year:

Books

101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die | St. Martin’s Press.  I just recently read over some of the entries I wrote for this book, which will be officially released on January 7, 2014!  And damn, if there is anyone who excels in the art of trashy travel, I.am.it.

101 Guys to Date Before You Die | Thought Catalog.  While only an eBook, I’m proud to say I have written some kind of literature.  Plus it was fun walking down memory lane and constantly cringing at my idiotic romantic mistakes.

Articles

Why you should start traveling alone | Matador Network.  A fast-turnaround, reactionary piece, I never imagined it would explode over the internet like it did.  I received a lot of emails from people who were inspired by it.  Awesome!

How to piss off a Czech | Matador Network.  This piece was fun to write, but also made me think about what exactly “identity” means to people, and how we should never judge someone, or say they are not something they wish to be, because their sense of identity is not literal enough.

What to Pack for a Travel Shows and Conferences | Travel Fashion Girl.  I always love writing for Alex when I get the chance, and this piece was fun because it combined my love for fashion and design as well.  Plus, it helped me prep for TBEX!

Dear Mom: I want to travel with you | Matador Network.  My mom is imPOSSIBLE to get gifts for, so I wrote this for her for Mother’s Day.

How travel has ruined me | Matador Network.  This was probably THE most fun article I’ve ever written, and one of the most true.

I’m At A Funeral | Thought Catalog.  While not necessarily “cheery,” I felt this was a very vulnerable piece for me, and the style in which I wrote it is very different from what I usually do.  I also found comfort in the people who left comments.

Where to get shitty like a president this July 4th | Matador Network.  While this piece totally flopped, I still had fun combining my love of history with my love of getting schwasted, and that’s all that matters to me.

What are some of the things you’re proud to have accomplished this year?  Link me!

3 awesome not-so-last-minute Christmas Gifts for Travelers

Only one more week until Christmas!  There are tons of gift guides floating around the internet, but not all of us are savvy shoppers.  Luckily, my gift guide is useful for those who forget to buy a loved one a gift literally at the last minute:

101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die ($11.00).  I wrote several entries for this book, including New York City, Prague, Charleston and my home region of Long Island.  Each one is hilarious and provides useful information for not just partiers, but adventurous travelers in general.  It’s currently available for pre-order, but every order comes with an awesome 101 Places Koozie!  It officially launches January 7th, just in time for Three Kings Day, so it’s technically still a great holiday gift.

101 Guys to Date Before You Die ($3.99).  Nothing like an eBook about my failed relationships to make you feel better about yourself!  With the click of a button, you or a loved one can revel in the ups and downs of 20something dating.  Maybe you’ll laugh.  Maybe you’ll say “Holy shit, that’s so me.”  Or maybe you just have an extra $4 lying around that you don’t know what to do with.  I promise, you’ll have a good time reading it (and will probably need a cigarette right after…).

Give the gift of education – purchase a course at MatadorU for you or someone you love ($350).  It seems steep, but compared to some of the other travel courses on the market, it’s seriously a steal (Conde Nast is trying to develop one for about $900…).  Courses in Travel Writing, Photography and Film are available online, and can be completed at your own pace.  Each chapter helps you build upon skills desired in the travel writing field, from story development, to pitch and query writing.  We even have some resources to kickstart your career in travel.

I am totally alive (just super freakin’ busy)!

Little gifts I’ve gotten from student teaching – so adorable!

I know, I know – I’ve been terrible at updating this site for the past four months.  BUT it’s not because I’m lazy and distracted – it’s because I’ve just been TBTF – Too Busy To Function.  Here’s why:

~I’ve been student teaching since September.  It’s been an awesome, emotional roller coaster of an experience that I will never forget.  While I’m looking forward to working from home again, I have to admit it’s going to be difficult to leave my class, cooperating teacher, and school.  I look back at this awesome journey, see how far I’ve come, and think to myself “Wow – I did it!  I did it and it was great!”

~I am finally graduating from grad school!  Getting my Masters in Education two years later than planned isn’t terrible, considering I switched majors and had to deal with Hurricane Sandy turning my life upside down.  It’s very exciting, such a relief, and the skills I have acquired are incredibly valuable.  While I don’t plan on getting a teaching job anytime soon, I am excited for the kinds of opportunities that lay ahead.

~I’m working on a few book projects, as well as writing for Drive the District.  It’s a great new website with an edge, and I’ve been recruited to help write content for their New York section.  I’m lucky that Matador provides me with a steady, reliable paycheck, but every once in a while, it’s good to challenge myself with new partners.  Speaking of Matador…

~I have been promoted again!  Starting next week, I join the ranks as a Managing Editor at Matador Network.  Talk about an amazing journey – this time last year, I was drafting up entries for our second publication, 101 Places to Get F*cked Up Before You Die!  I’ll still be heading up their Social Media for a bit, but this is an epic new chapter I’ll be traversing.  My parents have finally realized that my career in freelancing is a pretty legit deal, and I am honored and excited to embark on this new phase of my life.

Overall, I have to say that 2013 has been a pretty amazing year.  I am hoping and praying 2014 will not let me down.  I am also hoping to be ore consistent, so watch this space.  I’ll have a roundup of my travel resolutions of course, forthcoming.

To new adventures!

5 lame things you can buy with $10 (and 10 awesome things you can potentially win)

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Our lives are boiled down to dollars and cents.  These days, $10 will get you as far as:

  • 1 vodka-soda at the nearest bar (gone within fifteen minutes, ten if you’re super thirsty)
  • 3/4 of a movie ticket (1/2 if you’re going to a movie in 3D)
  • 1.3 extra value meals at McDonalds (GROSS no one needs more than one!)
  • 2.5% of an Ipad (not even worth it)
  • This Groupon for OhConcept Leather-Look Leggings (um, if that’s what you’re into…)

$10 doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you’re lucky, one donation could get you:

Put things into perspective – donate to Passports with Purpose and make a difference by helping to build schools and literacy programs in Mali, Africa.  You could win one or more of these awesome prizes, and do something good in the meantime!

PwP has a goal to reach $115,000 by December 9.  Are you up for the challenge?  Click here to get started!

Matador Network has teamed up with Twenty-something Travel to donate a MatadorU course of choice.  This is your chance to educate yourself with one of our awesome travel writing, photography or film courses, while helping to educate children and adults in the Sikasso region of southern Mali.

Passports with Purpose is back! Donate today!

Passports with Purpose

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!  I know it’s cliche, but ’tis the season everyone – Hanukkah is in full-swing, and Christmas is on it’s way.  You COULD go out and buy an Ipod for a loved one, or a latte for yourself, but what if you took that cash and spent it elsewhere?  Say, on someone who could use a few extra dollars to improve their life?

I’m talking about donating your extra holiday money to Passports with Purpose.  Each year, travel bloggers from around the world host prizes to raise money for a special charity aiming to make a global impact.  This year it’s all about buildON, an organization that, with the money raised through PwP, will help construct three schools and fund three adult literacy programs in the Sikasso region of southern Mali, Africa.

Education is the doorway to success, and because of that, I’m happy to announce the donation of a MatadorU course to the prizes available at PwP.  The prize is hosted by Stephanie Yoder of Twenty-Something Travel, a seriously cool chick who Matador Network is proud to partner with in this endeavor.  Donate for a chance to win any MatadorU course of your choice – travel writing, travel photography, or travel film.

Receive an awesome education that will help you launch a career in travel media, and help jump-start the construction of education facilities for adults and children in Mali!  It’s literally a win-win situation!

There are tons of other prizes to bid on as well, from hotel stays to travel gear, tours and gift certificates.  I’ve donated already but will probably donate again, because it’s just that fun!

What’s the process like?

Go to the PwP website.  Click on DONATE NOW, and browse through the prize catalog that comes up.  Read the descriptions of the prizes, then choose which ones interest you the most.  Your donations will be tallied up and you can pay via PayPal at the end.  There is a donation minimum of $10, but every $10 is another chance to win your selected prizes.

Donations will be accepted from November 26th to December 9th.  Winners are drawn at random, and notified thereafter.  Last year I was lucky enough to win two Windows Smartphones, a seriously awesome prize that I was able to give to my parents who were stuck in the flip-phone stone age.

I hope you join me in this charitable endeavor.  Even if you don’t win, you’ll still feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing you were a part of something BIG!

Did you donate to Passports with Purpose this year?  Which prizes did you bid on?

NaNoWriMo update: Complete and Epic Fail

 

I thought that, with an extra week to write, NaNoWriMo would be a piece of cake.

My hubris got the better of me.

Last year, I was soooooo diligent in writing my novel, because I didn’t really have anything to do.  Sure, I was dealing with Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, but I also didn’t have internet for about a week, so it was easier to hunker down and, you know, write.  I also was able to sneak in passages at my shitty job, and my semester was donezo, so I had loads more time to spare.  Back then, I wrote only a few articles for Matador, so NaNoWriMo took up most of my editorial timing.

Now however, I’m working for Matador full-time, and working on some awesome freelance gigs for a major company, and student teaching.  I try to write whenever I can, but it’s hard to even get my 1,500 words a day goal in – I teach until 3pm, get home and work until 11pm, and suddenly, it’s time for bed.

I don’t think I’ll be nearing the 50,000 word mark this time around.  I’m halfway there, which is admirable in itself, but the odds are not looking good.  What is good is that I will definitely be working on this project after NaNoWriMo is over, with plans to publish it sometime this summer.  So I won’t be abandoning the idea swiftly, but I won’t be achieving my goal of NaNoWriMo winning for a second year in a row.

But who knows?  December doesn’t start until Sunday – maybe I’ll get a second win, and come out all right.  For those of you participating this year, how is it going during this final stretch?

5 reasons why travel writers should participate in NaNoWriMo

Sardinal, Costa Rica. ©KatkaTravels

It makes you try out a new style of writing.  While it’s awesome to be an expert in a certain genre, as writers, we should be challenging ourselves.  That means diverging away from traditional travel writing, and trying something different.  How would you incorporate your travels into a fictional story?  What elements from your writing can you bring to something totally out of the box?

It instills diligence.  The best way to get better at writing, is to write – a lot.  Like, all of the time.  You should honestly write something every day, even if it’s just a short blog piece, or a letter to a friend.  Even journaling is good.  But to really excel at writing, you have to write with a purpose.  Crafting your NaNoWriMo story is an awesome way to up your game.

It teaches you the art of setting small goals.  ”I want to travel to Alaska from Argentina by motorbike in one month!”  Awesome idea, maybe not totally realistic – especially if you don’t own a motorbike.  It’s the same thing with NaNoWriMo – “I’m going to write 50,000 words in one week!” is totally unrealistic, but setting a smaller goal like “I will write 1,500 words a day” is like saying “I will learn to first ride a motorbike before embarking on this adventure.”

The 21 rule.  Some debate this as actual truth, but supposedly, if you do something for 21 days in a row – yoga, using new vocabulary, washing the dishes – it becomes habitual.  I think there is some credence to that, because if you do something long enough, you do get better at it, and it does become somewhat second nature.  So if you write every day, for 21 days at least, most likely, you’ll continue writing on day 22, 23, 24…This is good for travel writers because you will always find time to write, even when days on the road get hectic.

There is publishing potential.  This is the perfect opportunity to get started on that eBook you’ve been putting off.  When my eBook was published through Thought Catalog, I had a limit of 30,000 words – if you choose to go through a publisher, you may have already exceeded the maximum amount of words required of you with NaNoWriMo.  If you choose to self-publish, all you will have to worry about is cohesion.  After one month and a little editing, you’ll have a completed work that you can actually make money off of.

Are you participating in this year’s event?  

Add me as a buddy – username katkatravels.