2019 November Featured Journalist of the Month: Beth Arnold
Thursday, November 07, 2019 03:53 PM

 Beth Arnold:

I'm a journalist and award-winning writer, who has written for such print venues as Rolling Stone, GQ, InStyle, Self, American Way, Premiere, and Mirabella. In 2002, I became an early blogger, chronicling my husband's and my great adventure of selling our house in Arkansas, putting everything in storage, and uprooting ourselves to France into an online series and book called "Jours Of Our Lives," which is a companion book for his volume"Chasing Matisse." We lived in France for 10 years.

I was a regular blogger for The Huffington Post, and I've written for Salon.com, Vogue.com, and others. My prime journalistic topics are culture, travel, art, politics, and people. My online commentary has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, The Hotline, Der Spiegel, BuzzFlash, The Satirical Political Report, Daily Kos, AlterNet, Democratic Underground, PoynterOnline, and USA Today. "Black Entertainment Television--BET--used my video of election night in Paris during President Barack Obama's inauguration.

1. What got you in to travel writing?

 When I was growing up, my family were travelers. Every other year, we took three-week-long trips across the United States, from Arkansas to Crested Butte, Colorado, to Dodge City, Kansas, and on to Yellowstone.  Another was through the Southeast and then up to New York City and Niagara Falls. Our most exotic trip was to Mexico City, Taxco, and San Miguel de Allende. If my father hadn’t died in a tragic accident in his early 40’s, we were to have spent 6 - 8 weeks driving to Alaska the following summer. So I got a taste for wanderlust naturally and early on. 

 Also, people and their stories, as well as cultures, have always interested me, and a sense of place is an important part of any piece. It frames who we are. I always got that. One of the first editors I connected with was at American Way, and she sent me out to explore niches of the world that fanned the flames of my travel lust. I was always attracted to engaging my readers in worlds they didn’t know and in raising the consciousness.


2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?

For me, the most challenging part of being a travel journalist is to keep a steady stream of queries going out as well as the marketing of oneself that is required in all our Social Media these days. That is an endless and thankless job, and the skill set we hone as good writers (and many of us are introverts) does not include selling ourselves as marketers.  

 3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?

My laptop

 4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?

My most memorable travel experiences have been with wildlife—boating with the gray whales on the Pacific Ocean and in the Sea of Cortez, touching them, admiring them, respecting them—watching them breach and mother their babies. What a thrill! Also, seeing the migration of the Monarch butterflies in Mexico, seeing clouds of them—millions of them—everywhere one looks or steps. 

It’s like a dream. As the forest warms up in the morning, the butterflies float down. It takes one’s breath away!

 What is more stunning or healing than Nature?


5. How did you learn about NATJA, and why did you join?

 I learned about NATJA from a friend. I wanted to be among colleagues who are on the same travel page as me.


6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?

 My advice to a rookie travel journalist is to get out and experience the world and write, write, write about it. Whether you have an assignment or not, practice your craft until you gain confidence and get contacts that propel you forward.