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Q&A: 8 Questions for Alumna and Travel Blogger Heather Mason

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University of Virginia alumna Heather Mason is dwelling on 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, she joined a boyfriend and, as she wrote in her debut blog submission, due to the fact, “I think I belong there.” She visited Africa once in 2007, during her task with a business enterprise centered on pediatric HIV/AIDS remedy and prevention.

“It became only a life-changing revel,” she stated of that first visit. “At the time, I was dwelling in a fairly conventional, 9-to-5 existence. However, I couldn’t get Africa out of my head. After various 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 more than 20 countries. 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 how she became interested 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 have a plan. I started the weblog because it became a massive move for me, and I wanted to file it.

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However, within two years, I started getting more journey writing and photography possibilities stemming from my weblog. Today, I use the blog as a portfolio for 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 about extraordinary street journeys. I also make little journeys backed by tourism corporations and write about my experiences.

Q. What sponsored journeys have you carried out lately?

A. I am currently 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 fortunate to earn huge profits by living here without income because the cost of living is surprisingly low. So I handiest take delivery of sponsorships that I consider a good match for my target audience – journeys that I might do regardless, just because they’re exquisite.

Q. What advice do you’ve got for writers and photographers hoping to do something comparable?

A. The first factor you must do is create a weblog and replace it constantly without focusing on the cash. It sounds simple. However, I think many humans believe that being profitable is six months. That isn’t always the way it commonly works. When you first begin, consider it an ardor project, not a profession. The opportunities will start if you find a niche that works for you and consistently put up. 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 feel so lucky that I get to try this. I have gotten to do so much that I might not 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 where 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 visited?

A. I sincerely loved exploring Swaziland, a tiny, landlocked country that borders South Africa. Many people are not even aware that it exists. However, they ought to. It is adorable, the people are so pleasant, and 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. What is the most uncommon ride you have 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 visited. 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 have for people curious about touring South Africa?

A. Soutthose is an incredible area to begin for those interested in touring Africa. You can easily get around monthly, 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 brilliant and amazingly cheap.
Q. Any other journey suggestions for those in search of terrific neighborhood experiences?

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Geneva A. Crawford
Twitter nerd. Coffee junkie. Prone to fits of apathy. Professional beer geek. Spent several years buying and selling magma in Miami, FL. Spent a year lecturing about psoriasis in Las Vegas, NV. Managed a small team writing about circus clowns in Las Vegas, NV. Garnered an industry award while writing about lint in the financial sector. Spoke at an international conference about getting my feet wet with dust in Libya. Spoke at an international conference about researching rocking horses in Bethesda, MD.