The travel industry is one of the largest in the world. Those who work within it include authors, journalists, bloggers, tour operators, travel agents, owners, managers and their entire staff that includes public relations, marketing, customer service or anyone else caught in the middle.
Now is your chance to get an in-depth look into their lives. Learn what brings them to work each morning, how they deal with problem customers, how they work on a deadline or write the next chapter of their book. These are their stories of struggle, accomplishment and survival.
Today's guest is Darla Worden, author and owner of Worden PR.
Where does your love of travel come from?
Growing up in rural Wyoming and being a voracious reader from a young age, I dreamed of traveling the world. When it came time to choose a college, I looked at a map and picked the point that seemed farthest from Wyoming- –Miami, Florida. I had never been on a plane until the day I left for college and I had never seen the ocean before. However, I missed the West and my family so after my freshman year, I returned to Colorado to finish college. While walking across campus one day, I saw an advertisement for tutoring students on a ship that sailed around the Mediterranean so I sent in my application and a few months later found myself on a ship in Spain. That was my first trip to Europe and the beginning of my travel lust.
Out of all your career options, what led to public relations?
Like many people who love to read and write, I majored in English Literature. When I graduated from college, I wanted to be a features writer at a newspaper. But since I didn’t have a journalism degree, I couldn’t find a job in the editorial department—I found one in the public relations department of the Denver Post. It was a fantastic opportunity.
Through the years, while working at my “day job” in public relations, I’ve continued to write magazine articles, nonfiction books, a cookbook, and two novels. It didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t going to get rich writing the great American novel, so I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to use my writing skills in public relations work and yet can also pursue the creative side of writing in my free time.
How did being raised in Wyoming instead of a big city help you later in life?
Being raised in Wyoming is what shaped me into who I am today: my independent nature, curiosity about life, and adventurous spirit—this all comes from my Wyoming roots. When I was growing up, I loved to listen to my relatives tell stories as they sat at the dining room table drinking coffee. Stories my grandmother told about homesteading in Wyoming or stories my grandpa told about being a sheriff. I started writing them down in the third grade.
What is the best advice your parents ever gave you and why?
My parents taught me to be independent. As self-sufficient country people, they raised us with the tools we needed to become adults, we weren’t coddled as children. My parents had no problem pushing the birds out of the nest when it was time for us to fly. I think it was hard for them to understand my choices like going to Miami to college or taking the job in Spain, but they never told me not to do go. They let me make my own choices and didn’t interfere—yet when I needed their help and support they were always there.
What is the one place you've been that everyone should see before they die?
Paris. There is something magical about the city, its ancient streets and beautiful parks. Skyscrapers aren’t allowed in Paris and as a result sunlight pours onto the streets (unlike the darkened canyons of streets in some cities.) One of the reasons I love Paris is that it’s so easy to get around with the Metro or you can walk and walk. And its place in history with so many important sights like the Eiffel Tour, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Luxembourg Gardens, Sacre Coeur are places everyone should visit.
If you could retire tomorrow but only pick one place to do it, where would it be?
Denver, Colorado—my true home. I love this city—it’s beautiful, easy to navigate, has a rich cultural community and wonderful restaurants. But most importantly my friends and community are here and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
You are also an accomplished author. Tell us about your work.
Currently I’m working on a book about Hemingway’s Paris years. Hours evaporate when I write, there’s nothing like it. But I’m easily distracted with several ideas at once—I’m also working on a play and a novel.
What is the most remote or isolated place you have ever visited?
My travels have not been to what I would call “remote or isolated” places. Some of my favorite spots are small villages like Doolin, Ireland when there was only one B&B in town. Or Montalcino, Italy. Or Palma de Majorca, Spain. I enjoy meeting the local people and learning local customs.
What is the worst travel experience you can remember?
Returning from Italy, I missed my connecting flight in Paris. The people behind the counter said (in French) that it was my own fault for making the connection so tight—they didn’t realize that I spoke a little French, enough to understand what they were saying. They wanted to book me on a flight a couple of days later at my expense. I had to argue with them to put me up for the night and get me on the first flight out the next morning (in my pathetic French). But I succeeded! However the hotel I stayed in, if you can call it that, was the worst place I’ve ever stayed. It was like a dorm room but worse. I think the bed was made of cement. It was so noisy that I counted the hours until I could go back to the airport. I slept on top of the sheets. Thank God I didn’t get bed bugs.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be an author?
If you want to be an author, then write. There’s not a magic formula—it just takes sitting in a chair and doing it. A wise instructor once told me “writers write.” Probably the one thing that separates a successful writer from those that fall by the wayside is discipline; you need to keep going no matter how many rejections you receive. If you are a true writer, you don’t have a choice, you HAVE to write. Setting aside time every day to write will produce results—a person who wrote just one page a day will have 365 pages in a year!
Taking a class, attending workshops, finding a mentor—these are all helpful for improving your writing skills and making contacts. Plus there are so many options in today’s publishing world for writers: you can write a blog, publish an eBook, self publish a print book—you don’t need to wait for a traditional publisher to buy your book. It’s a very liberating time to be a writer because there are so many options of publishing available to us.