Welcome to the Break Into Travel Writing Podcast Episode 20: National Geographic Traveler of the Year Shannon O’Donnell

Shannon was the 2013 National Geographic Traveler of the Year and a grassroots tourism advocate. She has been on the road since 2008 photographing grassroots initiatives and communities all over the world.  Her website, “A Little Adrift” Inspires wanderlust, enables armchair travelers to gain a slice of insight into remote and developing regions of the world, and empowers 20-something women to travel solo.

Shannon O'Donnell at Isle of Skye, Scotland

Shannon O’Donnell at Isle of Skye, Scotland

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Episode 20: 2013 National Geographic Traveler of the Year and World Class Photographer Shannon O’Donnell

Find out how a one-way ticket to Australia in 2008 began Shannon’s non-stop travel, where Shannon knows she’ll find the best coffee in the world and why finding a local tour guide is the best point of entry for travel in a new country on the 20th episode of Break Into Travel Writing.

The Finer Details of This Show Include:

  • How Shannon went from an ‘infant photographer’ with a point and shoot to National Geographic Traveler of the Year.
  • How she self-taught herself to be a world-class photographer.
  • If you are just starting out with photography use aperture priority or shutter speed priority to learn your camera’s flexibility.
  • How to find metadata setting for each shot on your camera and when photos are downloaded.
  • Why post-production is your friend.
  • Why you should be using Lightroom to edit photos.
  • Why the learning is in post-production and it’s where you find out what angles work.
  • What travel is like as a vegetarian that lives a flexitarian philosophy.
  • Why it’s important to be flexible when traveling and respect cultural norms.
  • Her seven-month trip with her niece in SE Asia.
  • How to homeschool from the road.
  • How 1 travel experience can blow everything open that you believe about the world.
  • How to find ways to engage in a location through homestays and volunteer work.
  • Why SE Asia is a great ‘next’ place to travel if you haven’t ventured beyond Europe yet.
  • The 1st step you should take if you want to do volunteer travel (and it’s not picking an organization).

Shannon also shares her insights on how to stretch yourself as a traveler and to pick new destinations to explore without taking yourself too far outside your comfort zone. We also talk about photography and which social media platforms work best for travel writers and photographers. Some of the main points we discuss are:

  • Shannon’s top tips for travel photography including; framing, the rule of 3rds, post-editing, shooting in raw, and where your horizon line needs to be.
  • Why it’s important on Twitter to tweet more than travel-related posts.
  • When it’s good to promote a post on Facebook.
  • Why Instagram is the #1 platform to join if you are a travel photographer.
  • Why Twitter is the #1 platform to join if you are a travel writer.
  • Which social platform she gets the most traffic from with the least amount of work.

And here is what a day of work looks like in Shannon’s world!

Shannon O'Donnell at Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Shannon O’Donnell at Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Episode Resources

Panasonic GF1 Micro Four-Thirds Digital Camera
Panasonic LUMIX GX7 Camera
Canvas of Light Blog
Primer Guide for Volunteering from Shannon
National Geographic
National Geographic 2013 Traveler of the Year

Shannon’s National Geographic Blog
Grassroots link to local tour guides and more
Outside Magazine
Rule of 3rds
Travel Massive
World Domination Summit (WDS)

People Mentioned on this episode:
Gary Arndt
Daniel Nahabedian
Todd Meisler
Chris Guillebeau
Elizabeth Gilbert
Jodi Ettenberg

Connect with Shannon O’Donnell
Shannon’s Website, A Little Adrift
Shannon’s Website, GrassrootsVolunteering.com
Shannon’s Book, The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook (Traveler’s Handbooks)
Shannon on Facebook
Shannon on Twitter
Shannon on Instagram
Shannon on Pinterest
Shannon on G+

Connect with Break Into Travel Writing
The Aspiring Travel Writer, the Facebook group

Hope you enjoyed this episode and please join me in thanking Shannon for being here! And thank you as well. We’ll see you next time!

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Interview with Traveler of the Year and World Class Photographer Shannon O’Donnell

Interview with Traveler of the Year and World Class Photographer Shannon O’Donnell

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