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Tag Archives | Travel writing

Have any questions about taking a Disney Cruise? Ask me.

Last week my family and I went on the Disney Dream for a three-day cruise of the Bahamas. While I was there to research Disney Cruise Line’s Halloween and holiday activities for MapQuest videos, a bunch of friends asked me via social media more generic questions about going on a Disney Cruise. So I’m going to answer them in a Q&A article for MapQuest too.

Have any Disney Cruise questions for me? Add them to the comments or email them to me at zach@zacheverson.com. Thanks!

MapQuest publishes my feature article on visiting Boston child-free

Boston collage

Remember that article I started live-writing in front of an audience? Last week MapQuest published it:

“Enjoy a child-free visit to your hometown: After a four-year parenting bender, it was time for a daughter-free detox in Boston”

Thanks to Mike Yessis at MapQuest for editing it, Molly Kravitz at Connelly Partners for helping arrange my stay, my wife for accompanying me on the trip, and—of course—my folks for watching the kids.

It was a fun piece to research, write, and produce. The writing took me a bit longer than usual, in part, I think, because of the live-write. Writing in front of an audience compelled me to take a different approach than I usually do, trying to make the text readable before it was really ready for other sets of eyes. I’ll probably try the live-write stunt again, but more likely for a shorter piece.

MainStreet quotes me in its article on overrated travel destinations

Main StreetMain Street quoted me in its recent article:

“The Six Most Overrated Tourist Sites on the Planet”

My answer (you’ll have to go to the last page of the article to read it): Mount Rushmore. I visited when I was 14 and driving cross-country with my family. Afterwards, I expressed my disappointment to my parents, who weren’t pleased to hear it and, if I remember correctly (I don’t always), made me write a journal entry on why I shouldn’t complain about the wonderful trip I was on.

Journal entry or not, 24 years later, I’m still hating on Mount Rushmore.

About yesterday’s writing live stream

Thanks to everyone who watched me start writing my article yesterday for MapQuest about my recent visit to Boston. Overall, I found the experience positive. As for viewers, well, you were promised a video live stream of a guy writing an article and real-time access to the Google document. So hopefully your expectations were low but exceeded.

A few thoughts:

  • At first, having an audience influenced my writing, making me feel like I needed to have a readable narrative upfront. As time passed, peer pressure became less of an issue.
  • I usually take more breaks than I did today. And spend more time on social media, checking RSS feeds, etc. So thanks for keeping me on track.
  • I felt exhausted afterwards, but that might have been because I skipped my morning snack so as to spare viewers the sight of me eating oatmeal.
  • I’m probably going to do it again (call it Zach Write Live, or something).

Did you watch? If so, please let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks!

Get an exclusive inside look at what writers never (rarely?) let you see

“The New York Times” recently launched Times Insider, which “takes readers behind the scenes of the New York Times newsroom to show how its journalists around the globe work and how decisions are made.”

Seeing how the “Times” is this blog’s chief competitor, I’m going to try to one up it.

Today, I’m working on the first draft of an article about my recent visit to Boston (I was born there and grew up 15 miles north of the city, but haven’t had much opportunity to explore the city since). It’s part of MapQuest’s 99 Summer Travel Quests series. While traveling around Boston, I shared the experience in real-time via Tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook updates. And now I’m letting anyone watch me write the article. Seriously:

Those links will be live from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT today. A couple caveats:

  • If I’m not there, assume I’m in the restroom and/or getting a snack, and will be back shortly.
  • You might see big blocks of text pasted into the document. I’m not cheating. Those are notes and I’m copying them from iA Writer, the app I typically use for writing an article.

What we’ve been doing at MapQuest

MapQuestIt’s been a bit since I posted about what we’re working on at MapQuest. Here’s a quick rundown:

Launched editorial content on a spiffy new template

Editorial content (“articles” to the lay person) debuted on MapQuest in June. The first big template blowout we did was for “Prince’s ‘Purple Rain': A 30th Anniversary Tour of Minneapolis to Die 4.”

Debuted editorial content in MapQuest’s apps

Editorial travel content in a navigation app, right where people need it most. Version 4.4 of the iPhone app, released in early July, includes gameday guides to all 30 MLB ballparks, in which local experts share their insights about their home field. (You can view the gameday guides on the World Wide Web too.)

Published a “99 Summer Quests” series

For summer 2014, MapQuest is running a “99 Summer Quests” series, with 99 articles highlighting “memorable, meaningful, just-gotta-do-it experiences for every day of summer vacation.”

Started a celebrity-traveler interview series

We’ve been talking to celebs like José Andrés and Lois Lowry about how travel impacts their work, as well as suggestions for travelers to the celebs’ hometowns and their tips for hitting the road.

Debuted pop culture tours

Remembered the aforelinkedto Prince article? Of course you do! Several more posts that blend travel with pop culture are forthcoming.

Engaged in social media

You can’t publish articles without sharing them with an engaged audience these days. To that extent, we’ve been focusing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +. And we just packaged our content in five Flipboard magazines too.

Published lots and lots of articles

While we’ve built up a deep network of contributors, I’ve managed to get myself some fun writing assignments:

Photo: Courtesy MapQuest

Aol sells Gadling to Skift

Gadling logo

Based on the emails I receive and this website’s search engine traffic, some visitors here are interested in the travel blog Gadling. (I edited it and contributed to it for a spell after joining Aol and MapQuest in October.)

Today, Aol announced it sold Gadling to Skift. Appropriately, you can get the details on Skift. Or Gadling.

And if you were emailing me via a Gadling account, best to use zach.everson@mapquest.com now. Thanks!

Flashback: That time I reviewed a stay at my parents’ house

My parents' house

A few years ago, I reviewed the accommodations at my parents’ house for the now-defunct UpTake. (Executive summary: I enjoyed my stay, although the barware could have been better.) As I’m staying with my folks again next week, bookending my visit to Boston to research an article for MapQuest, I figured it was time to resurface my review (because evergreen content):

UpTake: “An objective review of the accommodations at my parents’ house”

Heading to Boston next week: suggestions needed

Toro Boston

Of all the cities I’ve been fortunate enough to visit in recent years, I’m probably most excited about my next trip: Boston. I was born there and grew up 15 miles north of the city. I haven’t been back though in more than 18 months—my longest stint away. And while I love seeing my family and friends there, rarely do I get the opportunity to explore the city when I visit.

This visit though, that all changes: my parents are watching my daughters while my wife and I explore the city for three days, researching a feature article for MapQuest’s “99 Summer Travel Quests.” That being said, I could use some suggestions for places to visit, especially restaurants and bars (a return visit to Toro, pictured at top, is highly probable). Please let me know your recommendations in the comments. Thanks!