Business Traveler Interview: Chris Gray Faust

by Jessica on July 6, 2011

by Jessica | July 6th, 2011  

This is part of a new series here at WhyGo Business Travel featuring brief interviews with people who travel for work, asking them about what they do and some of their favorite travel tips. This way, if you’re looking for a career that will require travel, you’ll get to read about people doing some of the jobs you might consider – and you’ll also learn a few great travel tips from the travel pros!

This week, we’re talking with Chris Gray Faust. Chris is a Seattle-based travel writer and blogger – you may know her as Chris Around the World, and the moniker is appropriate (as you’ll see).

What do you do?
I’m a freelance travel writer/blogger. Outlets include a weekly column at Frommers.com and CruiseCritic.com, and my blog is syndicated on USA TODAY.

Before that, I was a travel editor at USA TODAY and, ironically, didn’t travel as much as I do now!

And before that (we’re going back about six years now), I was a career newspaper reporter, who was often sent on the road for assignments. My staff jobs were at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune.

What kind of travel do you get to do for work? Do you get to choose where you go?
I’m usually covering a certain event or cruise for my outlet. I choose where to go for the blog, but I also take assignments. My upcoming expedition cruise to Alaska is an assignment from CruiseCritic, for example. The editors chose the cruise that they wanted me to cover.

Do you add any extra “fun” days on to work trips? Why or why not?
Not often. Press trips and assignments are usually comped, but to make money on the experience, I can’t spend much of my own. I recently followed my husband on one of his business trips to San Francisco (he goes down about twice a month from Seattle), but that was for a conference, not for fun.

How often do you get to travel for work?
Once or twice a month. More than that, and life at home gets a little crazy between the two of us with our schedules. But if six weeks goes by without a trip, I get stir crazy!

Did you choose your job at least in part because you love to travel? Would you make the same job choice again, knowing what you know now?
Yes. I always wanted to see the world on someone else’s dime. When I started my journalism career, I intended to be an international correspondent (very few newspapers have those anymore, unfortunately). I took any assignment I could that involved travel, from natural disasters to breaking news events to going on the campaign trail. That on-the-road training has stood me in good stead as a travel writer.

And yes, even though I don’t work at newspapers anymore, I would have made the same choices. My career has been a privilege and a passion, and I’m lucky I had the chance (and the cojones) to pursue it.

What are some of your favorite travel tips that you’ve picked up?
Stay calm. Things may seem like they are falling apart – planes are grounded, there’s no rental car, your internet doesn’t work – but there’s almost always a workaround, if you think creatively.

Pack light. One bag. That’s it. And take out that extra pair of shoes. You aren’t going to wear them. Heels are almost always a bad idea. At some point as a reporter, you’re going to have to run. Might as well keep your feet comfy.

What one travel tip would you, as a business traveler, pass along to someone who doesn’t travel as often?
Have a system where you put things when you pack. That way, you’re less likely to forget something or lose stuff. I’m still working on this, by the way. My husband thinks I’m very unorganized!

What advice do you have for someone who’s interested in doing what you do?
If you’re interested in business travel, my advice is to do a lot of it when you’re young, especially if you plan on having a family/following a more traditional life path later. My sister spent most of her late 20s/early 30s traveling as a corporate accountant, going to a different branch of her company almost every week. By the end of it, she never wanted to see another hotel room again (although she did have an impressive array of mileage and loyalty points).

But if you’re dying to become a journalist, start with small assignments. Work your way up. Have an editor, even if it’s for your blog. And write constantly, with an eye toward continual improvement. I believe strongly in Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of 10,000 hours. You need to churn out a lot of crappy copy before the good stuff starts flowing.

Find out more about Chris by checking out her website Chris Around the World, and you can also follow her on Twitter @CAroundTheWorld.

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