This week on The Traveler Series, meet Max Hartshorne of GoNOMAD. Max has been the editor of GoNOMAD—a successful travel website–since 2002. Over the past decade, Max has had the privilege of working with writers and publishing travel articles about nearly every country in the world!
He is a regular on two radio stations where he shares his latest travel tales and before he bought GoNOMAD, Max was the Managing Editor of Transitions Abroad magazine. On his blog Readuponit, Max writes about the people he meets along the way, the places he visits and his life as a travel editor, grandfather and bon vivant. Here I interview Max on what has been his favorite destination, his best advice to budding travel writers and what’s next for 2014.
What inspires you to travel?
I travel to write stories and take photos. I publish a travel website so it’s all a big part of my job. I love travel but I love even more that I can travel and work at the same time. Well, sort of.
For those who don’t yet know you, can you explain your travel style?
I am a travel writer so most of my trips are following an itinerary packed with activities, museums, local sites and most important, a chance to meet interesting local people.
How do you afford your travels?
Much of the time I am traveling as a guest of a tourism board or have been invited by a PR company to cover an event or a place.
Where has been your favorite destination?
I really love the NEXT destination most of all. I have great trips coming up, these two new countries are the most exciting, but I really love France and New Zealand, and Italy is always fantastic.
If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would you choose and why?
I need to live in the US because that’s where my family, my children, and my grandchildren live so I probably won’t move. But I envy my friend Tim Leffell who lives in Mexico and I would totally LOVE living in France.
What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural idiosyncrasy you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
You mean like an old priest in Cyprus talking on a cellphone?
What keepsake do you have to get at all your destinations? (Whether it’s something free like ticket stubs or brochures, or something you have to buy)
I always buy a little thing, a statue, or a little toy, that’s about 3” high, I collect these on my mantelpiece above my fireplace. But it’s all full so I need to find a new place—I always like something that is clearly from the destination, sort of a symbol that I can remember my trip by looking at.
How about the one thing you cannot travel without?
I have a lot of things that I’ve learned over the years of travel are invaluable—a three-prong plug with one converter to charge devices, a composition book (one for each trip), a glue stick to use to stick cards and menus in the book, a Nextor battery pack for charging things and various cameras and lenses.
What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve picked up over the years?
Whatever happens is usually for the best. When my train was overbooked last month en route to Portugal from France, I enjoyed a fantastic night of Pinxhos and dancing in San Sebastian, Spain. Totally unplanned, and almost the most fun I had on the whole trip. Spontaneity is your friend!
Why did you begin your website? And how did you come up with your website name?
I bought GoNOMAD.com in 2002, it had been founded in 2000. I was working for a travel magazine and hated the limits of print publishing. Web publishing is way better! It came with that name and I loved it.
What is your best piece of advice to budding travel writers looking to start a blog or website?
Buy a site that’s already got traffic, and don’t try to make any real money until you have real traffic. It’s really really hard to get visitors to a site, we are lucky to have had such a huge headstart. But intensive social media, reaching out and sharing links and creating great content is the path, it just takes a long time. Sorry our site isn’t for sale! I love it too much and what else would I do, I love publishing stories and traveling.
What’s next for you in 2014? (Trips planned, etc.)
I always try to go on about 10 or 12 trips a year. Next up is a cruise off the Massachusetts coast to Cuttyhunk, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard with Blount Small Ship cruises, then a visit to Northern New Hampshire and Newport VT, then Cancun for TBEX, Finland in Sept and Republic of Georgia on tap for Oct.
I hope to plan many more trips as the year progresses. We are continuing to develop relationships with major travel brands and setting up sponsorship programs and we are publishing more travel ebooks, adding to the 22 GoNOMAD Plane Readers we have on Amazon already. I hope to speak at TBEX and again at the New York Times Travel Show in early 2015.
Keep up with Max and his travels here: