An Open Response To the Society of American Travel Writers For Having Stripped Me of My Travel Photography Awards

This morning I was notified by the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) that I have been stripped of all travel journalism awards given by the organization and its foundation for the use of performance enhancing drugs. In particular I have been stripped of the following awards:

Moreover, I have been notified that my membership has been suspended pending a review by the special committee looking into the use of performance enhancing drugs by writers and photographers.

I take these accusations very seriously as this is a major attack on my reputation. This action was taken without any hearing, or ability for me to plead my case. Given that I was not given the chance to defend myself, I’ll will use the only platform I have available to me to answer these charges.


Every year after the SATW awards ceremony, winners are required to submit a urine sample for testing of various regulated compounds. For the last 3 years I’ve dutifully submitted my sample at a certified facilities wherever I happened to be in the world. The processing of the samples are done out of pocket and every year I have passed with flying colors. I’ve often had to go far out of my way to visit certified testing facilities in various countries. I remember having gone far out of my way in both Thailand and in the United Kingdom.

My most recent test came back in February testing positive for several banned substances. In particular Foolazine, a drug manufactured by the Pfizer Corporation which provides stability, strength and speed to your right index finger, and Anselize, a drug used by former East German photographers which supposedly improves image composition. (although this has never been proven!)

I want to categorically state for the record I have not, am not, or ever will use any performance enhancing drugs to improve my photography.

The results from my most recent test had to have been a false positive, as I have never taken any such drugs. Moreover, the fact that SATW took such drastic action, which besmirched my good name, without any advanced notification is reckless and without precedent. The fallout from their announcement was immediate. I have already lost my staff position with Newsweek Magazine and my spot in BlogHouse Detroit.

It isn’t often discussed publicly, but photographers are aware of the illicit market in photography enhancing drugs. Like many other travel photographers, I’ve been approached by underground photodrug dealers all over the world. However, I have never given in to the temptation. I have always believed in an all natural approach to my photography and have never taken anything more than herbal-photo supplements.

Also, why does SATW crack down on performance enhancing drugs, but turns a blind eye to extensor truncation surgery, aka “Bob Holmes Surgery” which provides almost all the same benefits to the index finger???

Moreover, I’m saddened that SATW has chosen to target photographers as the focus of their witch hunt, when everyone knows that travel writers are more apt to use performance enhancing drugs to overcome writers block.

I have spoken to my attorney Roy Dewitt, and we will be filing an injunction against SATW to reverse these actions and seek a formal investigation.

I know there are a lot of bloggers, writers and photographers who will use this as an opportunity to attack me and try to bring me down. Do not believe what they are saying.

I have full faith that I will see this wrong righted, and that my name will be cleared. Thank you all for your support during this troubled time.

Win an Allianz Global Assistance GoBag

Win an Allianz Global Assistance GoBag
Win an Allianz Global Assistance GoBag
This week’s Instagram photo contest has a special prize. The good folks at Allianz Global Assistance, and my newest sponsor, will be providing the winner of this week’s contest with a TravelSmart GoBag, which is filled with essential things for your next trip. Items include a first aid kit, toiletries and other items to make your trip safer and more enjoyable.

All you have to do to win is tag your photos on Instagram with the hashtag #EverythingEverywhere that fit this week’s theme: Roads. Just tag any photo which you think fits the theme of “roads” and on February 7 I’ll pick a winner. If you have posted a photo to Instagram in the past which fits the theme, just add the hashtag in the comments of the photo and it will count.

I’m excited to be working with Allianz, as they are probably the best travel insurance company for global travelers. Almost everywhere I’ve been in the world, I see signs for Allianz. When you are traveling around the world, a global presence is exactly what you want in an insurance company. If something happens to me I want to know that the company that is trying to help me has experience and resources to help me.

Announcing My 2015 Travel Photography Tour – The Galapagos Islands

2015 Travel Photography Tour

For the last few months I’ve had dozens of people asking me about where and when my 2015 travel photography tour was going to take place. After working with G Adventures for the last few months, I’m finally ready to make the announcement.

This year’s travel photography tour will be heading to South America and will be in the GALAPAGOS ISLANDS!
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Instagram Travel Photography Contest – Mountains

This winner in last week’s photography contest is Darren Clarke! He won for his photo of prayer flags in Nepal. He will be getting a $200 voucher to use on a trip with G Adventures and a year of photo hosting on Smugmug.

The theme for this week is: holidays and festivals.

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The Great Slowening or Why I’m Going to Take a Break From Traveling for a Few Months

I’m taking this advice
I’m tired.

I am writing this in a hostel in London. My feet are sore, my back hurts and I still want to sleep after having slept for 10 hours. I’ve just finished the big World Travel Market show in London and I’m exhausted.

I’ve been to 35 countries and territories this year already. That includes a 12,000 mile road trip this summer which took almost 3 months. Last year I visited 44 countries.

I’ve now been traveling for 2,793 consecutive days. Over the last 7.5 years I’ve been to 175 countries and territories. Not only do I travel more than most people, I travel more than any other blogger or travel writer that I know of.

That isn’t a complaint. I’ve seen and done more during that time than many people do in their life. I’ve swam with sharks, bungee jumped and have had the pleasure to have taken amazing photos from all 7 continents. The decision to travel full time is probably the best decision I’ve ever made.

However, it hasn’t come without a cost.
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Seven Years On the Road

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the day I turned over the keys to my house and began a life of full time travel. There are other dates close to this I could have chosen as my anniversary, but I picked turning over the keys to my house as the start of my travels because that was the point of no return.

When I began in 2007 I told everyone I would be gone for a year, but secretly I thought I might be gone for two. Never in my wildest dreams, however, did I think I be doing this seven years later.

Never did I think I’d be celebrating this day on a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean having visited over 150 countries and territories around the world. I never could have imagined that I’d have won so many major travel photography awards, because when I started I never thought of myself as a photographer.
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My 2013 Travels in Airport Codes

This year I landed on the world’s shortest commercial runway on the island of Saba
During 2013 I’ve kept track of every flight I’ve taken, including connections and layovers. As all my flights for the rest of the month are already booked, I am able to publish a complete list of every flight of 2013.

Believe it or not, I didn’t qualify for elite status on any airline this year! Many of my flighst in the summer were on LIAT which doesn’t have a frequent flyer program. My flights to Africa on South African Airlines were only given 1/2 credit by United. I will end up 13 miles short of elite status on United. My next Star Alliance flight is on January 1, 2014 out of Sydney!

My other flights were scattered amongst other airlines. This is one of the reasons I am giving up on chasing elite status. The benefits just aren’t worth it anymore.

Where you see a | symbol, I transferred between airports by ground or water.

Total flights: 84
Unique Airports: 72
Shortest Flight: 12 minutes (St. Martin to Saba)
Longest Flight: 15 hours, 50 minutes (Vancouver to Sydney)
Lost Bags: 3 (Virgin Gorda to St. Martin, Boston to Dublin, Vancouver to Sydney)
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December in Australia

December 2013 Australia RouteI’m happy to report that I’ll be spending most of the month of December in Australia!

Starting in early December I’ll be embarking on a 3-week long tour of Australia with G Adventures. This tour will be the 5th continent I will have traveled to with G Adventures and my longest trip with them to date.

I’ve been to Australia six times now, but my first and biggest trip to Australia was back in 2008 when I spent almost 5 months in the country and visited every state and capital city. I drove from Melbourne to Cairns and from Darwin to Perth. I even took a bus from Adelaide to Alice Springs.

I’m often asked if I revisit places I’ve been before, and the answer is a resounding YES! Most of the stops on this trip are places I visited in 2008, but it was under different circumstances. My photos from 2008 were OK, but I have a much better idea of what I’m doing now. Also, after years of daily photos, I’ve pretty much run out of decent photos of Australia to post on my site. So if nothing else, I’ll be able to restock my portfolio with Australia images.
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