Q&A: 8 Questions for Alumna and Travel Blogger Heather Mason
University of Virginia alumna Heather Mason is dwelling what many might call the dream: she gets paid to travel the arena. Mason, a 1996 graduate who majored in English, is an author and photographer primarily based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She moved there from Washington, D.C. In 2010 to join a boyfriend and, as she wrote in her debut blog submit, due to the fact “I think I belong there.” She had visited Africa once in 2007 thru her task with a business enterprise centered on pediatric HIV/AIDS remedy and prevention.
“It became only a life-changing revel in,” she stated of that first visit. “At the time, I was dwelling a fairly conventional, 9-to-5 existence. However, I couldn’t get Africa out of my head. After a variety of soul-looking and emotional soreness, I determined to move there. It just felt right.” Seven years later, Mason’s first weblog post has spawned masses greater, and her thriving travel blog, 2summers, is her complete-time career.
She has earned sponsorships, newspaper columns, and other possibilities, visiting extra than 20 countries alongside the way. Her articles and photographs offer tantalizing glimpses of these trips, from bustling metropolises like Cape Town, Nairobi, or Mexico City to vibrant scenes from island seashores, South African wine, the United States, and of a route, the streets of Johannesburg. UVA Today stuck up with Mason among journeys to examine extra about how she became interest in living and discover her fine journey recommendations.
Q. How did you switch your weblog into a full-time career?
A. When I arrived in Johannesburg, I had no idea I might become writing for a dwelling. I deliberate about maintaining consulting for my enterprise in Washington, D.C., which I still do occasionally. Beyond that, I didn’t definitely have a plan. I started the weblog definitely because this becomes a massive move for me, and I wanted to file it.
However, inside two years, I started getting more possibilities for journey writing and photography, all stemming from my weblog. Today, I basically use the blog as a portfolio for different pictures and writing jobs. I write regularly for a neighborhood newspaper, numerous magazines, and lifestyle websites. For example, I these days did a series for Mercedes approximately extraordinary street journeys. I also make little journeys backed via tourism corporations and write about my experiences.
Q. What sponsored journeys have you carried out lately?
A. Right now, I am doing subsidized posts on Mauritius, an island where many South Africans tour. Recently, I went to Stellenbosch, a South African metropolis recognized for its wines. I joined several other bloggers spending per week there. I am very fortunate that I can get by way of here without incomes huge profits because the cost of living is surprisingly low. So I handiest take delivery of sponsorships that I consider are a good match for my target audience – journeys that I might do regardless, just due to the fact they’re exquisite.
Q. What advice do you’ve got for writers and photographers hoping to do something comparable?
A. The first factor you have to do is create a weblog and replace it constantly, without focusing on the cash. It sounds simple. However, I think many humans consider they may begin being profitable in six months. That isn’t always the way it commonly works. When you first begin, consider it as an ardor project, not a profession. If you find a niche that works for you and consistently put up in it, the opportunities will begin to come. My niche was Johannesburg. I confirmed up right here with the eyes of a vacationer, wrote about what I saw, and it resonated. Now, I sense so lucky that I get to try this. I have gotten to do so much stuff that I by no means might have achieved.
Q. What do you adore about Johannesburg?
A. Jo-burg (as we name it right here) is like the New York City of Africa. This is in which everybody comes, from throughout Africa and beyond, to try and make it. It’s a loopy mix of cultures, making it a completely stimulating area and a hard location, with a large poverty gap. It makes for an exciting, dynamic metropolis with plenty of power.
Q. What is one of your favored destinations you’ve got visited?
A. I sincerely loved exploring Swaziland, a tiny, landlocked country that borders South Africa. Many human beings do now not even are aware that it exists. However, they ought to. It is adorable; the humans are so pleasant; it’s easy to get around. There are lovely rolling hills, brilliant small guesthouses, exciting neighborhood crafts made using amazing weavers and sculptors, and high-quality trekking and wildlife. I would truly endorse it.
Q. Most uncommon ride you have got taken?
A. Reunion Island, an island in the center of the Indian Ocean that is absolutely part of France, is one of the most stunning places I have ever been to. It’s very tropical and wild – we even flew over a volcano spewing lava – but it additionally feels French, within most cases French-speaking humans and French meals. It is simply a very unusual, tiny island that few people understand.
Q. What tour advice do you’ve got for people inquisitive about touring South Africa?
A. For the ones interested in touring Africa, South Africa is an incredible area to begin. You can get around on your own quite easily, and the trade price favors Americans. I advise permitting three weeks if feasible because there may be a large variety of geography and topography here. You can cross snorkeling or scuba diving, go on a safari, climb a mountain or explore cities. There is also tremendous food and notable wine, which is both brilliant and amazingly cheap.
Q. Any other journey suggestions for those in search of terrific neighborhood experiences?
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