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I'm over 50, is it too late to become a travel writer

story and photographs by John Lamkin

Author exploring Mayan temple ruins - Quintana Roo, Mexico
© John Lamkin
Spanish church built atop Zapotec temple
© John Lamkin

The view from the balcony of this five-star resort is spectacular. The multi-colored Caribbean shimmers in the late day sun. I'm resting now after an afternoon of exploring Mayan archaeological sites.

Sometime back I queried myself, "I'm over 50, is it too late to become a travel writer?" Of course, my answer to myself and anyone else is a resounding NO. It's never too late if it's what you would love to do and you are still physically able.

I first started travel writing when I was much younger (I'm in the beyond part of the 'fifty and beyond' now). I wrote a few articles, but only published one—the pay was decent. But my travel writing career was put on hold. Then came after a divorce, a move back to the land in the wilds of Nova Scotia, graduate work at the San Francisco Art Institute, the startup of San Francisco Camerawork, moving to Taos, New Mexico, back to the land again and building my own house. Finally, in that 'way beyond of fifty' I took up travel writing again. A really good move!

Now I've experienced luxury, adventure, many new and interesting places, other peoples and their customs, new food, and much more. I did many things I wouldn't have otherwise done and have seen so much more.

You aren't born a writer, you learn. It helps if it's doing, or making it possible to do, what you love. For my partner, words magically flow onto the page or the computer. For me it's a much slower process--more work, but as they say in Spanish "vale la pena." I've climbed Mayan pyramids not open to others, seen the inside of prisons, a different prison that even had a spa. I've visited a cemetery island built by the Mayans to bury their elite and royalty and later used by pirates such as Captain Jean Lafitte to attack shipping in the Gulf of Mexico, and gone to caves where the people have been making “panama” hats for generations. I've had the privilege of going to places where tourists don't go, places where people commented, "You aren't going there are you? It's very dangerous." and found them to be and feel safer than my hometown and my country"

There are so many things I wouldn't have been able to do if I had not become a travel writer. I'm not in it for the money, but the love of knowledge, adventure and of doing what I love. So if you want to ask the question, regardless of your age, this is your answer.



So You Want to be a Travel Writer by Susanna Starr

John Lamkin interviewed by: Maralyn Hill & Tim Leffel

Judith Fein, travel writer/photographer interviewed by John Lamkin

Fifty and Beyond a book about aging

Examiner article about travel writing (tongue in cheek)

Look for John Lamkin's upcoming book
An Odyssey of the Heart
by Susanna Starr
with Photographs by John Lamkin

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