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23 Things About B.iNK

barbara noe kennedy .. ink




  • I’m a travel journalist based in Washington, D.C.

  • I worked for 23 years as a senior editor for National Geographic Travel books before deciding to fly solo.

  • I count editing, copyediting, and proofreading among my gifts.

  • I’ve written four travel books – my favorite is my guidebook to Provence, which gave me the chance to explore every nook and cranny of this sun-blessed land. 

  • I have a Master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism where I learned the nuts-and-bolts of writing.

  • Some of my secrets to writing good copy include: use all five senses to describe your scenes; it’s all in the details; accuracy is the key to success.

  • I’ve been to more than 50 countries, though I always wonder how accurate that is. Hawaii, for example, is a completely unique culture, as different from Washington, D.C., as, say, Iceland or Ireland. And yet, it’s grouped as part of the United States. New Orleans, too, is more European/Caribbean than American.  

  • I grew up near San Francisco and every time I return to visit my family I wonder why I left. My favorite thing to do there is run in the hills of Mount Diablo with my sister Suzy.

  • I hate to profess allegiance to one place, but my absolutely favorite go-to away-from-home is France. I studied in Bordeaux for a year. I wrote the NatGeo guidebook to Provence. I have friends who live outside Paris. I return whenever I can.

  • I’ve contributed to many, many National Geographic travel books, including Secret Places of a Lifetime; Destinations of a Lifetime; Journeys Home; Hidden Corners; Weekend Getaways; and, my very first assignment, Crossing America.

  • I have B.A.s in International Relations and French. My first job was with the Asia Foundation in San Francisco, thinking I could save the world – but ended up only pushing papers. That's when I decided to move to Thailand for a year.

  • The top five places I’ve ever been are: Lijiang village, in the shade of Snow Dragon Jade Mountain in China’s Yunnan Province; the medieval village of Castello di Gargonza in Tuscany; the winery-spangled Russian River Valley; Koh Samet’s paradise beaches in Thailand; and the ferry in Sydney Harbour.

  • I’ve served as the National Geographic Expert on expeditions to Italy and France. Talk about a dream job ...

  • My fledgling digital magazine, The Joyful-Traveler, strives to bring the world closer together through travel and story-telling. I'm also working on a regional website, DC Getaways by Emme, showcasing great getaways from Washington, D.C. (still a work in progress).

  • My husband, David, and I are devoted to an orphanage in Zambia, where we are helping to build an electronic library.

  • If I could add to my top five places, I’d include Lake Itasca in Minnesota (where you can walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi!); the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park; Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley; Korcula in Croatia; and Catherine the Great’s Palace outside of St. Petersburg. So I guess that makes it my top ten.

  • What motivates me? I want to get more people traveling, to break down cultural barriers, to, well, bring peace to the world. I’m convinced that by getting to know people in different lands, you can’t help but to notice that everyone is striving for the same things – a roof over their head, food to eat, a safe place for their kids to grow up, opportunities to improve one’s life. As my former boss at National Geographic, the formidable Keith Bellows, liked to say: The passport is the new diploma.

  • In the world of experiential travel, the top six experiences I’ve had are glamping on the Great Ocean Road in Australia (where the star-filled sky is so close you could almost reach out and pluck them like diamonds); snorkeling for Roman ruins near Naples; searching for quetzal in Panama; high-altitude wine-tasting in Salta, Argentina; snuba-ing like a mermaid in Puerto Rico; and trekking four days on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

  • I self-published a book called MacArthur Came Back, about my mother’s experience growing up in the Philippines and surviving a Japanese prison camp during World War II. I want to turn it into a historical fiction novel.

  • Places where I haven’t been but am dying to go: Bali, Bhutan, Chile Lakes District. Oh, and Montana.

  • One of the first travel books I read was What Am I Doing Here, by Bruce Chatwin. I was entranced by his explorations around the world and the people he met, from filmmaker Werner Herzog in Ghana to dress designer Madeleine Vionnet in France. I loved his writing style—unexpected and irreverent—and admired his intoxicating spirit and sense of freedom. In fact, it’s because of this book that I traveled to the village of Baisha in the shadow of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in southwestern China and sought out local healer and herbalist Dr. Ho, whom Chatwin writes about (some say Ho gave Chatwin the poisonous fungi that killed him). 

  • I teach online travel classes with Women on Writing -- sharing with professionals the secrets to travel writing and publishing!

  • I also teach Creative Nonfiction -- and am trying to apply some of what I'm teaching in my own works -- including a guide to French America and the story of Lord's Mountain Orphanage in Zambia, my husband's and my second home.

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