Whether she’s snapping pictures of a lion cub in Zambia, or writing about little-known Latin American towns, travel writer and photographer Michaela Trimble has always loved finding a good story.
The Mexico City-based writer is almost always on the move, charting cross-continental trips to cover stories for publications like Vogue, National Geographic, and The New York Times: T Magazine, among others. But despite her endless wanderings, Trimble is struck by the small moments of connection and beauty to be found on the road.
“Though cultural differences make the world such a vibrant place, at our core, we’re all souls having a human experience…”Michaela Trimble
Having wanted to be a travel writer since she was a teenager, Trimble has done more than achieve her dream. She’s developed a platform through which she can empower communities and individuals through her stories—amplifying the voices of those working toward conservation and sustainability.
In 2018, Trimble summited Kilimanjaro as a fundraiser for the East African Wildlife Society’s anti-poaching initiatives and the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project. She had been inspired by a previous trip to Africa, and took the opportunity to give back to the land and people that impacted her. This is but a microcosm for how Timble approaches travel and the world at large: with open eyes and a helping hand.
Now, she’s living in Mexico City between her trips, reporting on traditional culture in the modern world and digging deep into the city and its surroundings as only she can. We caught up with Trimble to understand exactly how her travels have influenced her writing and what advice she has for those who would follow in her footsteps.
How and why did you decide to become a travel writer? How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve wanted to be a travel writer since I was a teenager. I even wrote an essay describing my future career as a foreign correspondent in middle school. After graduating from the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, I received my master’s degree in global marketing at Emerson College in Boston. One of my professors introduced me to the man who became my boss at AFAR Magazine. The rest is history!
When were you first inspired to write about the natural world, travel and conservation?
After living in New York for several years, I quit my job at AFAR to freelance. Shortly thereafter, I started traveling the wilds of South America, and I rediscovered myself in nature. Being immersed in remote destinations for weeks at a time completely changed my life. I found both a balance and respect for the natural world and the part I play to protect it. All in all, my mission is to journey to the most remote stretches of the Earth to write inspiring, transformational stories promoting the power of adventure travel and the conservation and protection of wild places and the people and species living within them.
What advice would you offer budding travel writers and photographers?
Travel. It’s really that simple. Though it may be hard, I suggest everyone save money and quit a full-time job at least once in their life. It’s so liberating to own your freedom and shed the idea that you need to follow a conventional path. And once you do, the world will open up to you in incredible ways.
Why do you travel? What do you hope others learn from your experiences?
Recently someone asked me what my hobbies are outside of work. I had to pause for a second because my work is one of the foundations of who I am. I simply couldn’t imagine a life where I don’t write just as much as I couldn’t imagine a life where I don’t travel. It is who I am. Traveling and writing feed and nourish my soul and spark a light in me that I always want to keep ablaze. I believe it’s the most precious gift on earth to be afforded the chance to hear the stories of others and be trusted to take those stories and relay them to an audience with truth, clarity, and perspective. If there’s one piece of wisdom I could impart on the world it is to simply go. Go somewhere, anywhere. Unearth yourself. Get uncomfortable. Then find comfort in the commonality you share with others who, on paper, appear totally different from you. You will be surprised when you discover how similar you are.
What has been your favorite destination in the last year and why?
I was on the road for about four years until I moved to Mexico City in November. I’m completely enamored with Mexican culture, both past and present, and I couldn’t imagine loving a city more than this. Be it the historical significance of regional dishes or the vibrancy and warmth of the city’s creative community, I am so excited to grow here for years to come.
Do you have any tips for travelers researching places they should visit? What things do you look for when deciding where to go?
No traveler is one-noted. It’s as easy as deciding what type of experience you want—from diving deeper into a culture’s food or exploring a destination’s wildlands—then researching how to make your trip happen. Now more than ever, I also believe it’s important to stay in hotels and travel with operators who prioritize sustainability. It’s up to both travel providers and travelers to go beyond biodegradable straws and reusable water bottles to really consider the footprint we’re leaving on the destinations we visit.
To keep up with Trimble’s endless travels, be sure to follow her on Instagram.