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Katherine Parker-Magy was always interested in becoming a writer and was an English major in college. During high school and college, she worked as a reporter at her local newspapers. But it wasn’t until a few years after college, after having lived in New York City for a bit, that she started to pursue the dream.
“I went to graduate school for literature and, afterward, began freelance writing full-time. My work has been published in Architectural Digest, Forbes, Business Insider, TripSavvy, The Daily Beast, Quest Magazine, and more”.
Katherine has always loved to travel, primarily because she loves meeting new people and is curious about other parts of the world.
“There is nowhere on the planet I would not like to visit. I was hoping to become a travel writer, and after a year or so of freelance writing about other topics, I finally started placing travel stories, and that has become my primary focus as of late. (Pre-pandemic, that is!)”.
When the COVID Lockdown came Katherine was originally quarantined at her family’s house in New Jersey with her parents and two brothers (my sister, luckily, was elsewhere). All that togetherness was ultimately bonding, but during the time they were in full lockdown, it was—as you can imagine—anxiety-inducing for this writer.
“I am now based in Jackson Hole and am focusing on stories about the American West for the moment”.
How has the impact on tourism and travel affected you?
Well, I’d primarily been focusing on stories about international travel, and now, mid-pandemic, there is certainly an emphasis on domestic stories and road trips. I do believe, however, that people read about travel not only to book trips but to get inspiration about other parts of the world. The fundamental desire to learn more about other people and cultures and places isn’t going away just because there’s a pandemic, so I am very optimistic about the future of travel.
How do you think the industry will change in the future because of this?
I believe that short-term, there will be a focus on safety regulations and domestic trips. However, I do think that being locked inside has made people think more about the favorite trips they’d always wanted to do, but put off—say, Kenya, for example, or Peru, or anywhere in South Asia! (Far away for Americans). So, I do believe travel will bounce back once there is a vaccine or available, at-home testing. I would hope that airlines maintain their more humane policies that they’ve implemented during this pandemic (i.e. ability to re-schedule flights without an additional fee, leniency for cancellations), as I found the prior policies slightly Draconian.
When it comes to the growth of the digital nomad industry Katherine thinks that on one hand, COVID-19 has made this lifestyle more difficult, as it is harder now to traverse the planet during a plague. On the other hand, thanks to stay-at-home orders, everyone is a nation of digital nomads—able to work from whatever remote location has WIFI and good cell reception.
“I think what may happen is that people will now travel on longer trips when they take a vacation, as the risk presented by traveling as higher, and the need to be back at the office is lower. So, we may all become part-time digital nomads in the near future.
Is eco-tourism something you are concerned about?
The concept of eco-tourism has been top-of-mind for me since I began traveling professionally, and discovered that the need to preserve the natural landscape of various places is inherently tied in with the local culture—an experience I found visiting the Central Andes in Peru, the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. Thankfully, sustainability and ethical travel have become more important in recent years—not only to local visitors bureaus and tourism officials but to travelers themselves. And I foresee this expanding even more in the future, as the pandemic has brought to the forefront not only the fragility of local communities who are reliant on tourism dollars but the devastation that over-tourism has brought to various ecosystems. I’m thrilled also with the workfellow journalists have also done covering this topic, including Jonny Bierman and Merissa.
What do you do personally to help the environment when you travel?
I try to make sure that I leave a place better than I found it—which, for me, means counteracting my CO2 footprint, and also finding ways to help local communities—often by writing about locally-owned businesses and spotlighting ethical and sustainable hotels or restaurants or travel companies for would-be vacationers to frequent on their next trip.
What is your advice to other digital nomads?
Invest in portable chargers! You never know when they will die on safari, or when you’re stranded without cell reception in a rainforest. Organize your Gmail inbox—color-code emails by editors, publicists, airlines, etc. And be flexible! Try to work whenever/wherever you can. Sometimes I think I file my best stories while jet-lagged, on deadline, from a departure gate somewhere out and about in the world. (It’s almost harder to focus during this endless lockdown that I’m experiencing while quarantining. The days are endless, so you feel like your time to work is endless too—and then that time slips away!)
Thailand is a Country Katherine is desperate to visit and she would recommend Nepal, Kenya, and Peru which have been her favorite trips thus far.