Debbie Stone Travel Writer and Columnist
his month we are featuring Debbie Stone, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications, ranging from newspapers and magazines to travel-related websites. Additionally, she has served as a travel specialist for the Npr-affiliated, talk radio show, “2 Boomer Babes,” as well as for local T.V. stations in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She also writes a monthly travel column for Luxe Beat Magazine called Put a Pin in it!
Debbie came to travel writing after working in a number of different careers: as a play and dance therapist, an ESL teacher (both in the U.S. and abroad), an airline sales and public relations rep, an adult basic education instructor and a newspaper reporter. It was while she was a journalist living in Seattle that she began dipping my toe in the travel writing waters. Thanks to the encouragement of her editor, she started to pursue travel writing in earnest. That was fifteen plus years ago, and Debbie is happy to say that she continues to be fully engaged in the profession today. It is work that excites and stimulates her and it allows her to explore the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers. Debbie views herself as an avid adventurer who welcomes new opportunities to increase awareness and enthusiasm for travel and crosscultural connections.
How did you discover your love for travel?
My love for travel was ignited early on, when I was just a young girl, by my mother whose passion for adventure proved to be contagious. I was fortunate that my family went on many vacations, as these trips introduced me to a world outside my childhood home in Chicago. Travel opened my mind, extended my awareness and gave me an education I could never have received from books. I sought opportunities to continue traveling when I was in college and in later years, choosing to study, work and volunteer abroad whenever possible. As a parent, I made travel an important part of my kids’ lives, with the goal of passing on my love of adventure, my curiosity and my explorer genes to them. Writing is my primary passion as I feel I can communicate more effectively in words, plus I have always loved the written word so I naturally gravitated to this form of communication. I do, however, take all of my travel photos for my stories, realizing that sometimes a picture is equally or even more equipped at telling a story.
Describe your writing process.
I carry a small notebook with me when I travel and jot down my impressions, feelings, necessary information, etc. I even use it to sketch certain places and people. When I get home, I go through the information I have gathered, along with a few special mementos I have collected, my notes, photos, etc. and use everything to craft my story. I write while the memories are still fresh, yet I also give myself some time to digest the experiences. I typically design a rough outline of the story, having decided the focus with the audience in mind, and then I get to work. I write in my home office, which is a room decorated with items and photos from my many travels. It sets the stage for my creative process. I usually complete a story within a day or two, as I am disciplined to complete the assignment quickly through my experience as newspaper reporter. Then I wait a day before I look at the article again, with fresh eyes, make the necessary corrections/ additions, etc. I choose destinations that appeal to my interests at the time, whether they are cultural, historical, wildlife, adventure, culinary, etc. I also choose places and modes of travel that I think will appeal to my readers, which range from high-powered professionals and active retirees to solo travelers and families with young kids. Lately, I have been trying to pick some far-flung destinations to satisfy my bucket list/dream locales, like Antarctica, India and the Amazon. However, I recently chose to explore a small, relatively unknown place in southeastern Wyoming, as I wanted to write about a destination that I know most people had never heard of, let alone visited. There’s something special about discovering such a place and feeling like you are one of the few writers to capture its beauty.
If you could be anyone else, who would you be?
I would love to be a cultural anthropologist like Margaret Mead, who went to live among people in esoteric parts of the world to try and understand and document their cultures. I enjoy writing about luxury because it brings me in contact with some of the best properties, finest food/ wine offerings and top-of-the-line experiences. It’s an exciting and fascinating world with a high droolworthy factor that is irresistible in its pull.
Where do you see the luxury market going?
The business of luxury continues to change and evolve, as people’s hunger for new and more luxurious experiences grows, along with technological advances. The bar keeps on rising, which forces those in the industry to be on their toes, constantly thinking of how to meet and exceed the expectations of the very wealthy consumer. It’s exciting to see the innovative results that occur in this market. I have so many favorites, but one of the standouts has to be trekking through Nepal with Dr. Antonia Neubauer, founder of READ (Rural Education and Development) and founder and president of the cultural tour company, Myths and Mountains. Visiting the many small library community centers that Toni and her nonprofit organization have helped to create within these tiny mountain villages was an incredibly unique and eye-opening experience. It brought home the realization of the importance of such facilities as catalysts for rural development. As we visited these places, the villagers would line up to greet us and spend hours regaling us with stories of how the libraries and centers were helping to make positive changes in their lives and the lives of their children.