This interview is with Ken Lovering author of Travel on a Dime. I think Ken grew up in New England, where I was a transplant there for 22 years. However, we both are UMass Alumni. Let’s move on and learn about Ken and his travel writing.
Maralyn: Please introduce yourself and provide some background.
Ken: I got a Bachelors degree in psychology from what is now the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, one of the country’s first mill towns. At the time, I was on my way to being a therapist.
In hindsight, it’s interesting to me that the morning after I graduated from college, literally at 6 A.M. the next day, I hopped a plane to Europe to do the cliché backpack thing. That should have told me that travel would become more important to me than sitting in an office listening to people go on about their lives.
When I was an undergrad, all my professors told me what a strong writer I was. And I certainly got huge satisfaction out of putting ideas into words. So I eventually shifted my attention to writing as a career and got an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston’s Back Bay. But it’s not often with certainty and confidence that one gets an MFA, right? I mean, what do you do with it? It’s not necessarily a useful degree in a mainstream sense. It’s a creative person’s degree, but we live in a society that rewards conformity, productivity, and the bottom line.
Maralyn: So how did you get into travel writing?
Ken: I soon discovered an opportunity to write for a travel company and I thought, Perfect! I already knew I loved to travel, and here I can conjure a sense of place on the page and get paid pretty good money to do it. Over time, I rose up one of those rickety corporate ladders to become a marketing director. That meant I had all these other writers working for me. I completely got sucked into the whole corporate sensibility that’s driven by – well – conformity, productivity, and the bottom line.
And it worked for me for awhile. I was writing intensively, refining my editing skills, and best of all I was traveling to parts of the world I never imagined I would see. So for 8 years, I was willing to gingerly tiptoe through political and corporate minefields.
Because in return, I got to experience things like a wild taxi ride through Cairo, a camel ride in Morocco, African safaris, the ruins at Pompeii, and cruising down France’s Seine River. And the company I worked for paid for it all.
After a while, I started to feel as if I was selling my soul to the corporate world, despite the obvious travel perks. I thought there must be a way for me to do all this traveling and writing on my own terms rather than on corporate terms. But of course, I knew that I could never travel free like I had been with the company. So that’s when I started researching how I could travel cheaply on my own.
Maralyn: And that’s how your book Travel on a Dime … Now! came about?
Ken: Eventually, yes. I actually created several smaller books first, each one focused on a different element of travel: getting to your destination cheaply, finding inexpensive or free places to stay, and buying into prepackaged tours. And the more I worked with these smaller books, the more I realized the opportunity to offer one comprehensive travel resource. I heard one person refer to it as your “one stop travel shop.”
Maralyn: But how is using your book different from just going online to make your travel plans?
Ken: The book points you in the right direction so you can decrease the time you spend online searching for, say, the organization that offers free or low-cost volunteer opportunities … or the website where you can reserve a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I basically collected all this information I could find about traveling cheaply, and put it in one resource. I even found one site that links you through to countless budget airlines around the world.
I find myself always going back to the economy when I talk about my book. Things might be turning around, but they’re turning around at a snail’s pace. So if many of us want to continue traveling – whether we’re travel writers or just independent souls who want to explore the world – we have to think differently about how we approach travel.
Maralyn: Could you explain that more?
Ken: The travel industry wants us to travel in a very specific way, right? For instance, we’ve all been trained to stay at Sheratons and Hiltons all over the world. These chains built their fortunes on the notion that they allow you to travel halfway round the world and feel at home … because all their rooms look the same as the one your parents used to take you to in Poughkeepsie! Yuk! Who wants that? Plus, you pay through the nose for services you’ll never use while you’re there.
If I’m investing my valuable time and energy to get to my destination, I want a unique place to stay while I’m there. So my book shows how you can skip the overpriced Sheratons of the world for accommodations that are far more unique and authentic, far less expensive, and sometimes even free.
Maralyn: What can you share with others as to important tips or suggestions for other writers on writing and publishing?
Ken: For this book, I needed a writing coach. The scope of the project was so huge that the thought of where to start writing every day was overwhelming. So she helped me set weekly, manageable goals to keep me focused. I hope to take those practices and carry them to subsequent projects.
Maralyn: How did you publish this book?
Ken: I went with Lulu (www.lulu.com) because I found them to be the easiest, to be honest. It really was as simple as uploading a pdf to their site, and selecting a cover design and book format. I’ll be looking into guidegecko soon as another platform.
Maralyn: Have you also added an e-book or CD?
Ken: Yes, Travel on a Dime … Now! will soon be available to download to Kindles and I-Pads and other readers.
Maralyn: Where can readers learn more about your book?
Ken: You can certainly visit my blog, though I’ve been neglecting it! It’s at www.TravelonaDimeNow.com/blog. Otherwise, the best place to go is right to the source: www.lulu.com. You can either order it as a print-on-demand book or you can download it as a pdf.
Thanks Ken. I think we all could get some good tips from Travel on a Dime.Thanks Ken. I think we all could get some good tips from Travel on a Dime.
International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
Books By Hills Success With Writing Where & What in the World
Member: Society of Professional Journalists
Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, “$uccess, Your Path to a Successful Book,”