By Maria Vigil
In my 19 years of life, I have been fortunate enough to travel a bit, but not nearly as much as I hope to. When I was 5, I went to Croatia with my family for a month, and then spent about a week in Rome. After that, the farthest I traveled was to Yakima to get apples or Uniontown for the annual sausage feed, until my senior year of high school. In the spring of 2014 I was able to go to France for 3 weeks, spending time in Paris and in the south of France.
Since my travel experience is not very extensive, I was unsure about taking a travel journalism course. My advisor suggested it as it fulfilled a requirement for me so I signed up, and now at the end, I am glad that I did.
The biggest struggle that I had in this course was getting out of my comfort zone. It has always been hard for me to reach out to people, and as a reporter for the last few weeks, that is what I had to do to set up interviews. That being said, once I did get over my fear of setting up the interviews, they were the most enjoyable part of the class. The class helped develop my confidence and skill in reaching out to people.
The interviews that I had to conduct helped me meet people that, had it not been for the story, I would not have crossed paths with. While I did get to meet more people from Spokane like the chef at Sante, the most exciting part was getting to talk to people from out of the Spokane area. For my TSA story I got in contact with Lori Dankers, a media relations director for the TSA and for my Lego story I was able to talk to the artist in New York who built the sculptures (unfortunately not in time to incorporate the interview into my story).
Taking a travel journalism class not only helped me gain confidence and meet new people but it made me look at my hometown in a different way. I have grown up in Spokane and I love the city, but I always saw it as a place to live but not visit. When I began the class and was thinking about stories to do I automatically thought as far out of Spokane as I would be able to travel, because I did not think that there was anything in Spokane hat would draw in visitors. As the class went on and I had to find stories, I began to look at my hometown for what it had to offer, instead of what it did not have. I have a new appreciation for Spokane and was able to experience in ways that I had not before, with food, sights and people that were new to me.
If you are thinking about taking a travel journalism class I would suggest it, even if you are not necessarily going into communications or journalism. It helps you develop discussion skills and confidence and develops a new appreciation for the places that you go. In my favorite work, Lord of the Rings, Tolkien wrote, “It’s a dangerous business Frodo, going out your door. You step onto a road and if you don’t keep your feet there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” This class made me step outside of my door, my comfort zone, and I was swept of to all sorts of wonderful places. So step outside your door and go see new things, even if you are just seeing seemingly ordinary things with new eyes.