Angela Tuell 0:05
Welcome to Media in Minutes. This is your host Angela Tuell. This podcast features in- depth interviews with those who report on the world around us. They share everything from their favorite stories to what happened behind the lens and give us a glimpse into their world. From our studio here at Communications Redefined, this is Media in Minutes.
Today we are talking with travel and design freelance writer Theresa Christine. Theresa's work revolves around women's issues worldwide, interesting locals, couples travel and design. Theresa has snorkeled between tectonic plates in Iceland, gone horseback riding in the Brazilian countryside and written on an octopus art car with Susan Sarandon at Burning Man. She is also the creator, producer and host of the travel and feminism podcast, The Wild and Curious. Hi, Theresa, welcome.
Theresa Christine 0:59
Hi, thank you so much for having me.
Angela Tuell 1:01
Yes, I know you've been busy. You just moved two weeks ago.
Theresa Christine 1:05
Yeah, it's been. It's been wild moved across the country. And it was just like non stop. It was it was one of those things where it was like, you're waiting and waiting. My husband and I were waiting for like, approval from his company. And then it happened. And then it was like, then we found a place and then we were driving across the country. And so it's been a whirlwind. But now I am here. Very, very happy.
Angela Tuell 1:29
From LA to Charlotte.
Theresa Christine 1:31
Yes. Yeah, I just needed a change of pace. I mean, you know, it's it's been a really wild and exhausting two years. And my apartment in Los Angeles just felt really tiny. When I left. Yeah,
Angela Tuell 1:46
Yeah. You'd be amazed what what the space feels like there I'm sure.
Theresa Christine 1:51
Yeah. I mean, it's nice. Just to have my own office. Like, that's, that's a big plus for creativity and just being able to write and, yeah, you know, even two weeks, and I'm like, okay, yeah, this is this is a good spot.
Angela Tuell 2:03
It was the right move, right? Well, I'd love to start with you walking us through your career and how you got to where you are today.
Theresa Christine 2:10
I've always been like interested in creative like in the arts. I was pursuing acting for a while actually in New York, and then kind of moved to San Francisco and was figuring things out. And when I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles to be with my, my then boyfriend, now husband, I was working as a personal assistant for somebody, and it was virtual. So I was like, Great, I'll just take this with me when I go down to LA. And as I was moving, like two weeks before, my boss told me that he no longer had money to pay me. And so I basically got fired. And it's one of those things looking back now I was like, oh, that's like the best thing that could have happened to me, because then I got to Los Angeles, and really just thought, like, Okay, do I want to be a virtual assistant still, like, is this what I want to do? And I turned to, I had a travel blog that I had been doing, and I was just kind of like, you know, I feel like, I could get paid for this. Like, I could get paid to write about travel. And even just like paid to write in general. And so that's sort of when I got to LA, that was what I did. And I you know, I got really lucky timing wise. And I was also probably really persistent with this one company that was hiring. And they, they brought me on as a writer, they focus on design as far as like brand design and packaging design. Okay, I was the managing editor for their site for a while. And then after I did that, it was just kind of like, I knew I wanted to do more travel. And I also kind of wanted to be freelance. So I shifted, shifted gears a little bit. And I focused on pitching, pitching different publications, I learned a lot from Dream of travel writing with Gabi Logan. She has this great website set up with different courses and just she is a fount of knowledge when it comes to travel writing. And so that really, that really helped me like get started and get going. And then, you know, it's been a little bit of like, a lot of reading, and then also just doing and going through the process of going on press trips and pitching and writing for publications. Yeah.
Angela Tuell 4:22
So you really focus now are you on travel and design, right?
Yeah, those are the two that I that I focus on.
And what types of stories and projects are you currently working on?
So I love doing design destination guides. They're really fun ones to work with tourism boards. So I have a couple of those in the works, actually was just emailing today with the Austrian tourism board. So they have a couple of really cool design cities. And so I'm hopefully going to be putting that together. I do have this one client it's just like the best situation. It's like she wants me to write specifically about Italy, travel and it's in wine content. So that's really fun to do. And it's also really enjoyable, because it's not just like, you know, five wines to try when you're in southern Italy. It is a site for like an affluent traveler for somebody who wants to know more about the history and the culture. So it's always a fun research project too.
Yeah, I'm sure.
Theresa Christine 5:29
And yeah, those are, those are just so I, you know, I love I love Italy, and I was going there quite a lot before the pandemic started. And so I was actually wrapping up an article for her this week. And I was like, I need to go back, like, book a trip. And then I also do I love doing interviews with people. So I, you know, I've done designer interviews, people in travel interviews, I recently spoke with the head of branding and packaging at Patagonia, which was really cool. And I also most recently, I've been kind of eyeing the cruise space, because I have worked with porthole crews before and they're just, they're a delight. And I think that, you know, as travel is coming back, and people are wanting to do cruises again, and it's just on my radar.
Angela Tuell 5:30
Yeah. What outlets are you writing for?
A variety of different outlets. You know, I've done Fodors and Lonely Planet. I do Salt and Wind, Print Mag Design, or Print Mag, which is it sounds like it would be a print publication, which formerly was now it is all digital. That's that's a big design one for me. So yeah, I'm kind of all over the place.
Yeah. Over the years, what - I know this is a hard question - but what have been some of your favorite stories?
Theresa Christine 6:47
Yeah, that is a very tough question. Because I think part of it too, is I try to only do stories that I'm really excited about. And, you know, I'm pitching stories that I think are interesting. One that I was particularly proud of was a piece for Fodors on traveling to Antarctica and like, How sustainable is that? I had gone on a hurt Hurtigruten expedition down to Antarctica in 2019. And I just felt like a little conflicted being on this ship, you know, and it's like this, you know, the most pristine place in the world. And how ethical is it to bring tourists there. This particular ship was the first battery powered ship to go there. So that was, you know, that was kind of the big news part of it. But then I was like, you know, thinking about like, me stepping foot on this continent, like is that ethical. And I got to talk with some some really cool people in the science realm. So I was really happy to put that one together. There's this one for SF Gate that I did. And the editor, you know, at Burning Man, you like, you have no connection really to internet, so not the outside world. And so this editor on Twitter was just prior to Burning Man was like, Is anybody going like I want to, I want some cool stories. And I was like, I'm going like, I can't tell you any cool stories. I'm not going to know until I experienced them, right. But then I came back and I was like, I dude, I found this noodle shop at Burning Man that is taking reservations for next year. So I got to write about this like little restaurant at Burning Man that was taking reservations for the next year, it was just like, one of those crazy wild cool things. And most recently, that I was really excited about was for Print Mag, which was a design guide to Los Feliz, which is the neighborhood that I lived in, in Los Angeles. And that one was really special, because obviously like, I loved the neighborhood, I enjoyed living there. And I also got to do the photos for the piece, which is pretty cool.
Angela Tuell 9:00
That is really cool. How do you typically find your stories? Do they come from ideas from PR professionals? Or I know when you get there you describe a little bit about how you can find this story, but how else do you get them in general? Maybe if you're not traveling at the time?
Yeah, I mean, definitely PR emails are really useful. You know, you get a lot of them. And so I don't, I don't respond to most of them just because I can't. For a while I tried to. And then it was just like, too exhausting to constantly deal with that back and forth. But I do like I see those emails and I look at them and you know, they will sometimes be in my brain and months later, I'll think, Oh, wait, this person emailed me about this and I'll be able to go through and find it. So that is definitely useful. I also, you know, something that I got from Gabi Logan's Dream of Travel Writing was kind of thinking in terms of what publications might be interested in a story. So, you know, being really familiar with the kinds of stories that BBC Travel publishes, that, you know, Fodor publishes, because there's just not every publication is going to be the right place for a certain story. So I have to find that. And so reading those publications and being like, oh, okay, getting getting the gears turning and thinking, well, if they liked this particular story, this might translate, you know, from what I've experienced. Yeah. And then also just asking a lot of questions, you know, you know, when I'm on the ground, talking to anybody that I can, and, and asking as much as I possibly can to see where that might lead me. Because sometimes those first few questions don't go anywhere. But then you get something really interesting, like a little tiny nugget, and then you're like, Okay, well, that is something I have to pursue.
Yes. Talking about travel, you have done some amazing things. What have been some of your favorite adventures, besides Antarctica, maybe?
I am talking to Antarctica was so cool, like, what a what an incredible destination to get to go on for work. I, I had never been the kind of person who was like, I want to do a safari in my life. It was never, it was never like a bucket list thing. But in 2019, I did go on a Tanzanian safari with Elewana Collection. And that was organized by Alison Sager at Viva Lifestyle PR. And that was like, the most magical trip ever. I mean, I think just by nature of being on a safari, it really was like, I don't know, I can't even describe it. It was just like, it was I was there solo, but like, I could see how it was like a romantic trip for people. And like, it was adventurous, but also like, you know, these places that are doing safaris will do luxury. And so it was just like, it was kind of like everything, and then also just rooted in nature and like the earth. So it was really beautiful. I always have a good time at Burning Man. That's one of those things where it's never a press trip. Like that's something that I do on my own. And then I get stories from that. And I think probably the biggest like, bucket list thing, you know, talking about the safari where that wasn't ever a bucket list. And I'm just like, dying to go back. The big bucket list thing for me was actually going to Chernobyl, which I did. I think that was also in 2019 that I did that. And I just like really wanted to go and like, tour like where it had happened. So I went. And I had arranged this trip and did it with Gamma Travel and got to see like the exclusion zone and everything. And it was that was also really cool, too, because I took photos and got to put that together for Insider. And it was yeah, it was just like, one of those things where I was like, this was something I really wanted, and I got to achieve it. So it felt really good to do that.
Yeah. And in 2019, you also went to all seven continents, right?
Yeah, it was. It was so cool. Again, that was never, never a big goal. But to be able to say that was like, oh, okay, cool.
Yeah. And then, in December, you said, "this year, I'm going to slow down." Like in 2020. So little did you know, was this all your fault?
I put it out into the universe.
Right. So you did. I'm sure you came to a halt for a little while?
Theresa Christine 13:40
Angela Tuell 13:41
For a long while, right?
Long while. Still I mean, honestly, things are still kind of slow. And like I'd mentioned, the articles that I'm working on for Austria and some of the design articles there. That was a trip I was supposed to take in November. And it couldn't happen then because they went into lockdown again. So like things are still dicey. For sure.
Yeah. But was it nice to have that break then completely? Or were you really missing travel? Or did it take a little while?
Theresa Christine 14:11
Yeah, that's tough. And it's such a good question. You know, I definitely missed travel. Because, you know, I recognize in myself that I am sometimes a person of extremes, like I pushed myself to the edge of how much I could travel because I was I was gone half of the year in 2019. And I was pretty exhausted by the end and I was saying yes to a lot of trips, that I think ultimately everything was an okay fit but not everything was like a great fit for me. So I went into 2020 thinking, Okay, I'm going to be a little bit more reserved, like a little, a little bit smarter about what I choose. So it felt like I was, you know, I had grown as a person and I was trying to approach things in a healthy way and not just Like, no travel whatsoever, and that just like, you know, obviously, the pandemic happened, and I did end up being in that other extreme. So, yeah, you know, the circumstances of the world were not great. And I'm lucky that I had design writing so that I, I was able to continue to, to work at least. And I just felt like, you know, I was privileged to be in a safe space at home with my husband, and my cat. And I was just, you know, I was able to continue to write and so like, I am a little bit just like, very thankful that at least it worked out that way. And I know that that is not the case for everyone.
Angela Tuell 15:45
Right? So how do you prefer to travel?
Theresa Christine 15:48
Hmm. So being a travel writer, and doing press trips has definitely made me more selective. You know, because obviously, when you're going places, not that you like, you don't want the VIP treatment. But you will often get it from restaurants and from hotels, like you, you know, you get the nicer stuff, because they want to impress you, and they want you to have a good time. And to have to be comfortable and to have good stories to share. And I feel like you know, like, if I travel with my husband now and we were to do a weekend away or something, I would be a little bit like, more, I would be harsher on the service, and maybe the decor in a hotel room, for instance. But that said, like, I and I tell this to people all the time, like, I'll go anywhere in the world in coach, like, I don't care sticking in the crappiest seat, and I'll go, I'll be happy. You know, this wasn't the case, when I just started getting into travel writing. But I do prefer hotels, I think both practically and also just ethically from like an overtourism standpoint. So I think that's, that's one of the big things where I'm like, yeah, like, if I'm traveling, I probably want to be in a hotel. But again, I go to Burning Man, and I'm like camping and you know, don't shower for a week. So it all depends. But I think the ultimate thing that I've gotten, as far as like both press trips and personal trips is free time. Like, if a press trip does not have any free time built into it, that's a red flag to me. Because, like you inevitably need time to rest. You need time to like sort your notes. And you know, sometimes you're just tired, you need an a nap. And which explore on your own. Exactly, and like explore your own individual stories that you're going for. And and that's something that I've sort of learned through going on press trips, and now on personal trips, I make sure that I don't overschedule myself.
Angela Tuell 17:55
Sure, that's hard to do.
Theresa Christine 17:57
Oh, yeah. Cuz you want to you want to go. And I especially from the United States, you know, coming from the United States, you're very often, you know, we're in a productivity mindset, and like, you have two weeks of vacation, maybe and so you're like you want to pack it in. And it's, it's really hard to just be like, You know what, I'm just gonna wander the streets right now and just see what happens.
Angela Tuell 18:20
Yeah. What other advice do you have for travelers in general?
Theresa Christine 18:24
The best thing is to you know, reach out to people who you might know, who knows someone who lived there, or who's been there, and get advice, so that you're going in a little bit knowledgeable on some of the things that you might want to do. And I always do like to look at the Wikipedia pages for the destinations I go to, not that I become super, you know, super knowledgeable that I could spout this information out. But I think it's useful to know, like, the history of a place. Yeah. Especially when you're visiting places that have been occupied, you know, like, and are, like, technically, other countries, you know, like, I went to Tahiti, for work and one thing that that was really important to me to ask people was like, How do you feel about like, technically being France, you know, like, they're so far away from you? And you're this like, tropical island? Like, is that? Like, how do you feel about that? And you know, how do you feel about you know, the Tahitian language or the French language you know? So, always asking a lot of questions now guards and trying to understand some of the history is is always interesting. And also just, you know, asking locals asking the restaurant like the person serving you in a restaurant, like, what would they recommend for, for going out to like go dance or something. So that's, that's a great way to like, get a running list of cool things that maybe people who are residents will do.
Angela Tuell 19:58
That's great advice. You're also the creator and host of The Wild and Curious podcast, a travel and feminism podcast, right, where you seek to incredible women around the world who are breaking barriers, helping their communities and taking names. I love that description. How did that come about? And how's it going?
Theresa Christine 20:20
Oh, well, it came about because I got kind of tired of feeling like the shows that I was watching about travel. It was always men telling these stories, and they were talking to men in these places. So I love Parts Unknown. I think Anthony Bourdain was brilliant and taught us so many things about travel and culture. But I remember watching like I was binging those first few seasons. And I think about season three, I was like, what, like, why are there no women guests on this show? Like, it's always Yes, him sitting and chatting with this guy. And this guy's mom, or this guy's like sister is in the background cooking. And I just found that really frustrating. And again, like, I think it was a genius show, but it left, it, you know, it set out to do what it was supposed to do. But I wanted to set out to do something different. So I actually with a lot of help from PR folks connected with really incredible women all around the world. You know, incredible women who are working with like Intrepid and Adventure Canada, and women who are like really hard to find, and like Nepal, and Uganda and all of these little tiny places, these little tiny towns around the world. And I just, I like talking to them about what it is that they're doing and what it's like being a woman where they live. And it's essentially like, like if you could travel to that place and just sit down with a person who lives there, who is a woman and has the experience of what it's like being a woman there. Like that's essentially what you're getting through the podcast. And so right now we're on a tiny hiatus, because obviously, I just moved, and my co host, Suzanne got a new job. But that's been really demanding. But we do have like six episodes already recorded. And so got a really cool person, a really cool woman in the trans community in Thailand, a differently abled person in India, who did some truly incredible work making the buses more accessible. So wow, just really excited for what's coming up.
Angela Tuell 22:36
Great. We can't wait to listen, we'll make sure to include a link in our show notes as well.
Theresa Christine 22:41
Angela Tuell 22:42
I know, you mentioned you're also a photographer. And as you're traveling has helped you develop that skill, you know, was it out of necessity? Or did you have an interest in it always?
I did always have an interest, obviously, it's easier to package up a story if I can add on in my pitch that I can provide photography for it. Yeah, so that is really helpful. And, you know, I took a couple of photography classes in college. I always am. I always gravitate towards the photography exhibits or photography museums. And it was actually when I went to Antarctica, I still had a little point and shoot that was like it was a pretty decent point and shoot and I got some great photos with it. Right. But you know, for this trip, like this is a once in a lifetime trip. And some folks have like really great, like, much more expensive cameras that have a lot more capability. Yeah, lenses. And so one of the other journalists who was on this trip Zor Avila she, I messaged her after the trip, and I was just like, you know, I think like, I think I'm ready to get like a big girl camera essentially, and, and she gave me a little bit of advice and you know, basically sold me on this one Fuji camera that I ended up getting. And I got to use it for a couple of trips, pre pandemic. And it's been, you know, such a treat to be able to use it during the pandemic as well. And just like have that be a skill that I can work on. That is like a creative outlet.
Yes, yes. You know, before we go, we have to talk about your first book that you're currently writing and it's a romance. What can you tell us?
So the book is about this jaded, independent writer who she travels to Ireland to meet her newfound family and ends up falling for her half sister's very handsome, Irish photographer best friend. And while there she discovers that her DNA test results might not actually be what she originally thought. And so it's you know, if you're considering like tropes of romance, it's a small town romance. It involves travel which was like the top thing for me when I was starting out this project I wanted it to involve travel and Ireland was the last place that I traveled to. I was like, there in March 2020, when, like everything shut down, so it was on my mind. And, yeah, it's got like a cinnamon bun, male main character. So he's just like, super sweet. And I'm in the process of editing it right now. So it's actually like in a pretty decent spot. And I'm like, honestly, kind of in awe of what I've done because I printed it out. And I was like, I wrote 300 pages of this book. Yeah. And it's just, it's been such a joy to, like, I've always read romance and women's fiction, and kind of always thought like, maybe one day, I'll get to write my own and 2020 proved to be the time when, like, I, I have the time. So I was really lucky that I was able to pull myself together and just like, start writing it. And hopefully we'll start querying agents soon.
That's wonderful. I love to hear the good things that have came out of the pandemic. Those are a little more hopeful and uplifting.
Yeah, it's hard. You know, I, I know somebody who described it well, where it's like, we're just kind of like gone through this shared trauma, and we're still kind of going through it. And like, there's nothing that can diminish that for sure. But I am also, I'm grateful in ways that I was able to do this, and that this was something that I was able to put my energy into, because it's just been so so great to stretch myself as a writer, and also like, write a romance book that I would want to read.
Yes. How soon do you think it could come out?
I don't know. You know, it really depends on like, what querying is like, so basically, I'll reach out to agents, and I'll be like, I wrote this book, do you would you want to read it? And maybe represent me? And then if they do want to represent me, then they'd go to a publishing house and be like, do you want to publish this book? So it's, it's, you know, if I want to do traditional publishing, it's a pretty long process. And it would be potentially years, just because that's how traditional publishing is. If I decided to self publish, then you know, it could be much much sooner. So it's really a matter of just like kind of the route that I decided that I want to take and how it's received in a couple of months.
That's great. We will be watching for sure.
Theresa Christine 27:21
Angela Tuell 27:22
Thank you so much for joining us today.
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy that I got to be here.
You can find Theresa on Twitter and Instagram at It'sMeTheresaC or through her website at TheresaChristine.com or email her at sayhi@TheresaChristine.com. That's all for this episode of Media in Minutes, a podcast by Communications Redefined. Please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe to our show. We'd love to hear what you think. You can find more at CommunicationsRedefined.com/podcast. I'm your host, Angela Tuell. Talk to you next time.
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