Teresa Bergen is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer and web content developer who specializes in health, fitness, and travel. Her articles appear in numerous print and online publications. Teresa is the author of Easy Portland Outdoors, Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide, and Meditations for Gym Yogis. She’s also the vegetarian/vegan editor of Real Food Traveler. Along with writing, Teresa is a yoga teacher and ACE-certified personal trainer and health coach.
Enjoy chatting with Teresa below, and be sure to see conversations with our other Wander contributors. In addition to Wander, be sure to follow Teresa on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and on her own website, Veg Travel and Fitness.
Why Travel Writing?
I’ve written ever since I was teeny tiny. My mother was a big factor, as she was a first-grade teacher and later a school librarian. In grade school, I won prizes for my short stories about lizards and dinosaurs. Later, I got a BA in journalism and an MFA in fiction writing.
My love of travel began with family road trips around the west as a child. We lived in San Diego and mostly traveled in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona.
Today, I write both fiction and nonfiction. In travel, I like to write about my favorite activities, which usually happen outside.
I love to travel around the world. I’m always interested in different cultures and landscapes. Then again, when I stay close to home I can often bring my dog. Travel writing is rewarding because it lets me expand my horizons as far as activities I do, the cultures I encounter, and the people I meet. Things I’ve tried for the first time while on assignment include kayaking, paddleboarding, rappelling, zip-lining, cross-country skiing, and indoor skydiving. Plus, I’ve been places I never thought I’d have the opportunity to go and discovered really cool places it had never occurred to me to visit.
My biggest challenge as a travel writer is leaving my husband, dog, and cat so much. I especially miss my little black cat, who usually sleeps in my arms.
What Do You Offer Wander Readers?
I love to share my own special combination of eco-travel, outdoors, fitness, vegan, animals, and spa interests.
What is a Favorite Wow Moment?
Staying at a desert camp in Jordan’s Wadi Rum. It felt magical and even had giant Aladdin type lamps at the entrance.
At sunset, we lit a semi-circle of about 100 luminarias and watched them burn in the desert night.
Share a Favorite Food Moment on the Road
When I was in Dubai, I went into a market and was fascinated by how many different types of dates were for sale. I’d never realized every Middle Eastern country produces different types of dates.
What is Your Best Travel Advice?
Sometimes visiting really different places seems scary. But dangerous things happen in our own homes and hometowns, so you might as well see the world.
Do You Have a Funny Story to Share?
So many funny things happen while traveling, but I’m having trouble thinking of a succinct story here. So I’ll just say that my photos sometimes crack me up later. My very personal interests sometimes overwhelm the point of the trip.
For example, I once went to a wedding in the Virgin Islands and came home with about four wedding photos and 200 pictures of iguanas. Or while in Alaska, I shot tons of photos of really furry domestic cats I saw walking around town, instead of glaciers and orcas. Also, I love old cemeteries and have thousands of cemetery photos with no real purpose.
Do You Have a Favorite Article You Have Written?
My favorite article was on Galapagos tortoises for Reptiles & Amphibians, the journal of the International Reptile Conservation Foundation. Nobody else would have let me go on about reptiles for that many pages, and also include lots of iguana info (I’m crazy about iguanas). Plus, the editor enhanced my copy with more scientific terms so I sounded like a reptile genius.
More recently, my favorite writing project is my attempt to kayak or SUP in every US state and Canadian province. So far I’m only at about 10 and 3 respectively, so I have a long way to go.
What is Always in Your Carry-on Bag?
Laptop, chargers, vegan protein bars, lip balm.
Where Do You Hope to Travel Soon?
When I can once again travel outside the U.S., I would love to visit Sri Lanka again. Here in the U.S., I’m on a quest to paddle in every state and still have about 40 to go, as mentioned above.
The Biggest Bucket List Item You Can Imagine
If money were no issue, I’d spend more time traveling around Europe, hiking, kayaking, visiting spa towns, and seeing great artworks.