Joshua Berman is a travel writer and Spanish teacher based in Boulder, Colorado. He writes a monthly column for The Denver Post called “Around Colorado” and is the author of six books, including Colorado Camping and Crocodile Love and he’s even done a TedX Talk. Joshua has spent a life traveling to remote parts of central America and other amazing parts of the world and getting paid to write about them. In our minds this makes him the perfect person to tell us what it’s been like to spend a life moving around and also how to do it.
- What first inspired you to start writing seriously?
My first writing job was a year after graduating college (with a B.A. in Environmental Studies) at an extreme sports magazine called “Gravity.” There I learned the nuts and bolts of pitching magazine stories and editing magazines. Still, I left that job to join the U.S. Peace Corps in Nicaragua, which changed everything. After my 2.5 years of service, I wrote my first book (with coauthor Randy Wood): MOON NICARAGUA, the first ever fully comprehensive guidebook to the country. Suddenly, I had something every travel writer needs: a niche.
- What has been the defining moment of a life spent writing?
My guidebook research got me into many unexpected situations and adventures, and I am grateful for all of them! The best may have been sleeping atop a Maya pyramid in the middle of the Belizean jungle to honor the Maya Long Count calendar ending on December 21, 2012. This happened after two years of researching and writing my book, Maya 2012: A Guide to Celebrations in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize & Honduras. After the experience of sleeping on the pyramid and interviewing the country’s Director of Archaeology, I raced back to the jungle lodge to write and file the story for National Geographic’s travel blog.
- How do you manage to strike a balance between being a Freelance writer, a Spanish teacher, television production fixer, travel expert, trip leader, husband, and father?
One word: coffee. Seriously, though, they all blend pretty nicely together: as a Spanish teacher, I get to keep my connection to Mexico and Central America alive and during school breaks, I often travel on assignment. When I’m lucky, I get to take my family along on research trips—last summer we visited every major hot spring in Colorado for a Denver Post feature article; the summer before that, we went to over 100 campgrounds to research my book, Moon Colorado Camping: The Complete Guide to Tent and RV Camping.
- How do you keep focused on your writing?
With three kids and multiple jobs, I don’t have time for writing rituals or developing methods to stay focused—I’ve learned to just sit down and get ‘er done. Yes, social media can be distracting while I’m writing, but I often use it for my research (crowdsourcing info and ideas), or just for moral support every half hour or so.
- What’s next on your Bucket List?
My work has led me to a number of bucket-worthy experiences in Central America—including appearances on the Travel Channel, helicopter flights, and a few crazy wildlife encounters. It was also on my bucket list to marry a travel-hungry woman, go on an epic round-the-world honeymoon, then write a book about it—the result is my first narrative book, Crocodile Love: Travel Tales from an Extended Honeymoon. Next up, it is my dream to get my whole family to Nicaragua so that my three daughters can be surrounded by kids their age speaking Spanish. I just need the right project to come along…
Joshua, it’s been a pleasure to chat with you thanks for getting involved and if anybody else wants to check his work and what’s he’s up to, go this his website: http://joshuaberman.net or check out his TedTalk below. If anybody has been inspired to put this on their Bucket List go to the main website www.tickthebucket.org, Thanks Josh!