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Journey into The Ritz-Carlton publishes my thoughts on the perfect Washington, DC weekend

Ritz-Carlton logoJourney into The Ritz-Carlton is a portal into the hotel company’s travel expertise. Travel experiences and memories from around the world are inspired by the desire to create memories that last a lifetime. The storied hotel brand has brought together a collection of truly unique experiences and moments that range from Balinese weddings on white sand beaches through to fabulous cocktail recipes from chic rooftop bars.

For Journey into The Ritz-Carlton, I wrote “Washington, D.C.: A City Reborn.”

Latest assignment was close to home, but still a bit trippy

Wells Fargo Advisors LifescapesBehold my latest article:

Washington, D.C.: Beyond the Monuments

While the article didn’t take me far from home, it did take me back in time:

  • The editor was my college roommate.
  • The outlet was Wells Fargo Advisors’s Lifescapes publication. Wells Fargo bought First Union, my first post-college employer (“Thank you for calling First Union’s Retail Investment Group. This is Zach Everson speaking. How may I help you?” x 65 times a day).
  • The subject is DC, which is what I covered for my first travel writing gig (with Gridskipper).

Also, as of this post, my article is the most popular on the Lifescapes website.

Photo: Courtesy Wells Fargo Advisors

I interview myself about getting laid off at MapQuest and becoming a freelancer again

MapQuestWhat happened?

On Jan. 31, I was laid off after the Aol-owned MapQuest decided to refocus resources away from publishing original travel articles.

Were you surprised?

For several reasons, no:

  • I work in media.
  • I work in travel media. (Getting laid off from a travel media job made me feel like Goodfella‘s Henry Hill when he first got pinched—it wasn’t a good thing, but it kind of added to my bona fides.)
  • A couple weeks earlier, Aol-owned Tech Crunch reported in a widely circulated article that its parent company was restructuring and layoffs and site closures were likely. To the best of my knowledge, no one at Aol refuted these rumors. Additionally, for months media coverage of Aol has focused on the company’s transition from content creation to selling online ads.

Do you regret putting aside freelancing to work full-time at MapQuest?

Not at all. My experience at MapQuest was fantastic and I learned a ton. For the first time since I started travel writing in 2005, I worked in-house with other travel writers and editors. Day in, day out I got to talk travel, writing, editing, social media, media strategy, journalism ethics, and the like with colleagues whose backgrounds differed from mine.

Also, I got to do some challenging work at MapQuest. And I picked up a bunch of new skills, most notably with video.

MapQuest was a fun place to work and there’s a lot of enthusiasm around the site and apps—which are much better than their reputation. It’s ridiculous that in tech, being around for a couple of decades is a bad thing. MapQuest’s apps are very competitive with other mobile-navigation options.

I’m thankful MapQuest ventured into publishing original editorial content and gave me the opportunity to be part of that effort.

That sounds like a lot of corporate speak.

You’re probably right. But it’s heartfelt.

What are you doing for work now?

As great an opportunity as MapQuest was, I am very excited to be freelancing again (I freelanced from 2004 to 2013).

Yes, I know you freelanced. I’m you.

Quiet, you’re ruining the structure. Since leaving MapQuest, I’ve already had three articles published on Condé Nast Traveler’s website and had some good conversations with editors for other publications.

I got into travel writing because I like (wait for it) travel and writing. Over the past five years at, Eater Louisville and MapQuest, I devoted a lot of attention to web traffic, editorial and social media strategies, managing freelancers and interns, template design, and a bunch of other areas. While I enjoy that stuff, I’m excited to devote all of my energy now to creating fun and engaging content.

If you’re an editor looking for articles that’ll be amusing and insightful, I can be reached at

That was shameless. You’re not looking for full-time employment?

If I found the right opportunity, I’d jump. But I’m not just looking for a full-time gig for the sake of employment.

Are you moving back to Louisville?

While I miss parts of Louisville dearly, my family is staying put in the DC area. We’re a lot closer to our families, my wife has a fantastic job that she loves, and we have roots here (we’d lived in the DC area for 10 years before heading out to Louisville).

Any missed opportunities you regret at MapQuest?

Yes—a thousand percent! I wanted to interview Shingy, Aol’s digital prophet, when the Internet was at peak Shingymania. I’d been assigning Q&As with notable people who travel a lot for work (celebrity chefs, actors, authors). Aol’s CEO Tim Armstrong told Details that “David Shing is an explorer of the future. He lives in multiple worlds and interacts with multiple worlds, and he really goes out into the future and sends us road maps back. I look at him as mapping the future landscape, the same way that the early explorers did.” So Shingy sounded like the perfect subject for a travel Q&A with MapQuest. Also, Shingy attends a lot of conferences, so I figured he’d have some practical advice for travelers too.

Sadly Shingy was off limits at the time. I’d still love to interview him though, maybe over carrot sticks at Applebee’s.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.

The pleasure is all mine.