Expo 2020 Dubai Preview

Expo 2020 Dubai Night Shot

What You’ll Find at the “World’s Greatest Show”

The New York Times Travel Show Raises Awareness

As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prepares for its colossal celebration, The New York Times Travel Show attendees caught a glimpse of the Expo 2020 Dubai preview.

Wondering what to expect at the upcoming World’s Fair?

“Warm Emirati hospitality at its finest,” according to Sumathi Ramanathan, Expo 2020 Dubai Destination Marketing director.

Expo 2020 Dubai Preview
Image courtesy of The New York Times Travel Show

If you attended The New York Times Travel Show Jan. 24 – 26, 2020, chances are the Expo 2020 Dubai exhibition caught your eye. Visitors congregated in and around the exhibits to get a glimpse of what’s in store when the “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” world fair extravaganza opens on Oct. 20, 2020. Guests will have 173 days to savor the cultures, food, exhibitions, and entertainment before the fair closes on April 10, 2020.

Scroll down to read my interview with Ramanathan. Ticket and general information are available at the bottom of the page.

Al-Wasl Dome
Al Wasl Dome is a sight to behold with the largest 360-degree projection surface in the world.

What was the overall goal of the Expo 2020 Dubai exhibition and presenting sponsorship at The New York Times Travel Show?

North America is an important source of visitation for Expo 2020 Dubai, and the aim of participating at The New York Times Travel Show was to raise awareness among consumers and among the North American travel trade. We already have a number of Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATRs) in the US and we would like to sign on more ATRs that will be able to bundle Expo 2020 tickets with other travel packages, while also availing them of a commission, plus access to all marketing materials, official ATR logo and, in select cases, joint-funded marketing budget.  

How did the show help prepare visitors for Expo 2020, which begins in October?

The response from the audience was terrific and surpassed our expectations. Many New Yorkers recalled the World’s Fair that took place in Flushing Meadows, Queens, in 1964-65, and were nostalgic, recalling their happy memories of visiting it. Visitors were blown away by what was on offer, which included consumer seminars, trade luncheon, and special demonstrations from MasterChef US Season 7 winner Shaun O’Neale, who showcased a preview of what to expect at Expo 2020. One member of the audience, who runs a travel agency, said that she would close her agency for six months (the duration of Expo 2020) so she can move to Dubai! Overall, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and it is a testament to what will be The World’s Greatest Show.

Expo 2020 Opportunity District
Visit the Opportunity District and discover how you can make a difference in the world.

How will Expo 2020 bridge gaps in understanding cultures around the world?

Expo 2020 provides a platform for 192 participating countries to share their cultures to a global audience. As the host country, the UAE (United Arab – which is home to more than 200 nationalities – will highlight its capacity to bring together the world. Millions of visitors from around the world will experience warm Emirati hospitality at its finest, as well as the UAE’s values of inclusion, tolerance, generosity, and cooperation.

Visitors to Expo 2020 will discover different cultures through 60-plus live shows daily. National Days, will be celebrated by each of the 192 participating countries plus Six Special Days – Diwali, UAE National Day, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and International Women’s Day and 200-plus food and beverage outlets that will offer more than 50 cuisines from around the world.

What makes the travel show an ideal platform to showcase what’s to come in October?

The fact that it is the largest travel show in North America enabled us to reach all of our key stakeholders (travel trade, media, and consumer) in one location over three days, allowing for an in-depth, quality engagement through the various different formats offered by the show (including seminars, demonstrations, press conferences and also through our exhibition booth).

Al Wasl Dome an architectural wonder
Scroll down to read Interesting Facts About the Dome.

How long has Expo 2020 Dubai been in the works and how is Dubai preparing for the event?

In 2013, member nations that form the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) voted for the UAE to host Expo 2020.

The first World Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, Expo 2020 will be the largest event ever held in the Arab world. We are predicting 25 million visits over the six months of the event, with an anticipated 70 percent of visitors coming from abroad – the largest proportion of international visitors in the 169-year history of World Expos.

Ensuring the city is ready to host such a large-scale event, the City Readiness Committee oversees the coordination of dozens of local and federal entities, including key players such as Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the Roads and Transport Authority and Dubai Police. It will ensure the city is prepared to host an exceptional Expo, focusing on how Dubai and the UAE will enhance the visitor journey and cover areas such as immigration, transport, events, healthcare, and attractions across the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, significant planning has also been made to engage the entire UAE community – from a Ramadan initiative, during which Expo staff, partners and volunteers hand-delivered more than 25,000 Expo gift boxes to homes across all seven emirates, to The World’s Greatest Show in the Making Tours, which offered sneak previews of the Expo site. Many more activations are planned in the coming months to build the connection between UAE residents and Expo 2020.

Contact Information:

Are you interested in attending Expo 2020 Dubai? For ticket and general information contact (+971) 800 EXPO (3976) or send a message via the website.

Interesting Facts About The Dome

Courtesy of
  • The dome’s steel crown weighs 550 tonnes
  • The total weight lifted during the strand-jacking process was 830 tonnes
  • There was a margin of error of only three millimetres during the positioning of the crown
  • The dome depicts a 3D visualisation of the Expo 2020 logo
  • More than 10 countries have been involved with the project, including the UAE, US, Mexico, Canada, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, China, and Japan
  • The complete dome trellis is 67.5 metres tall and 130 metres wide

Travel Hack of the Week:

No Comments
American authors Cookbook Reviews Jewish-American cooking Kosher-style recipes Lifestyle

Kosher-Style Recipes

Deep Flavors A Celebration of Recipes for Foodies in a Kosher Style
Deep Flavors A Celebration of Recipes for Foodies in a Kosher Style


Kenneth M. Horwitz: Producing Delectable Food More Than Just Process

A phenomenal cookbook is more than a compilation of recipes. The stories and history behind the meals you prepare are equally as important as the ingredients and preparation, particularly in the case of Kosher-Style Recipes. They are deeply rooted in tradition.

Kenneth M. Horwitz, “Deep Flavors” author, methodically presents his anthology of family recipes for original traditional and non-traditional Jewish, regional American, and international selections in a non-threatening format.

Without a doubt, step-by-step instructions are imperative because they teach as well as incite the cook to create. His fresh ideas for entrees, soups, side dishes, and desserts come straight from his heart.

Deep Flavors Author Kenneth Horwitz celebrates kosher-style Jewish recipes
Deep Flavors Author Kenneth Horwitz celebrates kosher-style Jewish food and the stories behind his recipes. Photo courtesy of Kenneth M. Horwitz.

That’s why you’ll savor every bite and the memories you share when you prepare your next meal with recipes from Deep Flavors. His collection is “A Celebration of Recipes For Foodies In A Kosher Style” and a labor of love.

For this reason, you’ll need to forget the fast food you ordinarily prepare for weekday lunches and dinners. Ideally, set aside time on a weekend or your day off to prepare your bread, main course, and side dishes so you can enjoy them all week.

Kenneth’s kosher-style recipes in this magnificent hardcover edition are driven by years of traditions with a unique spin on many of the flavors. They’re geared to the cook who enjoys the process of meal creation as much as the presentation and the dining experience.

Why would a travel writer review a cookbook? Because food is an integral part of my assignments and deeply rooted in creativity, artistry, and culture. Deep Flavors encourages family gatherings from the beginning to the end of your meal.

Visit the author’s website to order your copy.

Read this companion story about how one Pennsylvania-based restaurant satisfies its guests’ Asian food cravings.


No Comments
Film Reviews Lifestyle Movies about Art Movies about Italy Sony Pictures Classics Reviews

The Burnt Orange Heresy

The Burnt Orange Heresy Poster
The Burnt Orange Heresy 2019 film review
Left to Right: Claes Bang as James Figueras, Elizabeth Debicki as Berenice Hollis Photo by Jose Haro. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

Meet Art and Greed

The Burnt Orange Heresy music score by Craig Armstrong sets the stage for the adaptation of Charles Willeford’s 1971 neo-noir novel of the same title — an ideal storyline for thrill-seekers who long for a dark and contemplative plot. While thrillers are typically not my genre of choice, The Burnt Orange Heresy leads you on a rollercoaster ride filled with charm, passion, aggression, greed, and obsession, which unequivocally satisfies your hunger for suspense. Amidst a sprawling Lake Como estate, the beauty of the landscape and the opening scenes suggest tranquility, but then the dark character traits emerge.

The film’s cast, Claes Bang, (James Figueras) Elizabeth Debicki, (Berenice Hollis), Donald Sutherland, (Jerome Debney), and Mick Jagger (Joseph Cassidy) seamlessly meld their roles by dishing out varying degrees of suspense, surprise, and anticipatory anxiety.  

As the movie opens, the flirtatious and elegant Berenice Hollis, a teacher touring Europe, strolls into James Figueras’ boastful art lecture. After Figueras wraps up his presentation to a group of attentive tourists, the pair engages in banter that ignites a brief but memorable encounter. The storyline focuses on Figueras as he loses control of his voracious hunger to steal a rare painting.

The Burnt Orange Heresy cast
Left to Right: Donald Sutherland as Jerome Debney, Mick Jagger as Joseph Cassidy,
Elizabeth Debicki as Berenice Hollis, Claes Bang as James Figueras
Photo by Jose Haro. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

Wherever you choose to watch The Burnt Orange Heresy, be prepared for the unexpected shift back and forth to the edge of your seat throughout the film. Figueras begins to unravel from the moment wealthy art dealer Joseph Cassidy summons him to his villa on Lake Como.

A Glance At The Characters

Left to Right: Claes Bang as James Figueras, Elizabeth Debicki as Berenice Hollis, Mick Jagger as Joseph Cassidy Photo by Jose Haro
Left to Right: Claes Bang as James Figueras, Elizabeth Debicki as Berenice Hollis, Mick
Jagger as Joseph Cassidy
Photo by Jose Haro. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

Most of my acquaintances, over the age of 30, have heard of Donald Sutherland. He is an emotive actor, with his movies running the gamut from comedic to intense drama. As a lifelong fan, his acting in this movie did not disappoint. Sutherland plays Jerome Debney, an influential yet abstract icon of the art world. Music legend, Mick Jagger, delivered his sinister part as the wealthy art dealer, Joseph Cassidy, with finesse and spine-chilling aura in his first significant role since his 2001 The Man From Elysian Fields. 

Center: Mick Jagger as Joseph Cassidy Photo by Jose Haro. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.
Center: Mick Jagger as Joseph Cassidy
Photo by Jose Haro. Courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

The Burnt Orange Heresy is film director, Giuseppe Capotondi’s second feature film on the heels of more than 250 TV ads and music videos to date during his career. He won several international awards including the D&AD and Cannes, Lion. Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan) wrote the screenplay. David Zander (Spring Breakers), William Horberg (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain) and David Lancaster (Whiplash, Nightcrawler) produced the film. The Burnt Orange Heresy premiered at the 2019 Venice and Toronto Film Festivals and will open in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020.

The Burnt Orange Heresy paints its own conclusion that will surprise you in the most unexpected way. Be sure to pay close attention to the nuances in each scene.

The film is Rated R and parental discretion is advised.

Many thanks to Sony Pictures Classics and its entities for inviting me to screen The Burnt Orange Heresy.

Visit Sony Pictures Classics website to watch the trailer or read more about the film.

Read another celebrity companion story here.

No Comments

The Ultimate Content Planning Tool

Content Creators Planner is the ultimate content creation planner for 2020

Why you need a Content Creators Planner

What if you had an all-in-one tool in 2020?

If you’re a blogger, you know #EverythingIsContent. But how do you narrow your scope when your mind is brimming with ideas? 

You do what I did. 

In early January, I was frustrated with planning my 2020 content and I came across a Facebook ad for the Content Creators Planner. But how do you decipher the good from the bad when there are so many new products on the market to choose from?

Later that day, I contacted the creators, Kim Doyal and Jodi Hersh, both experienced and knowledgable online marketers, to request more information about their product. I quickly learned the planner is all you’ll need to get your 2020 marketing plan on track. The planner is a one-stop tool to help you map out your goals, plan and support your content strategy goals, and create and organize your content. Equally as important, it allows you to measure what’s working and what isn’t with plenty of room to make adjustments.

It’s all right under your nose. 

Planning your digital marketing strategy can be DAUNTING. And yes, technology allows us to use digital calendars and spreadsheets to brainstorm and arrange our content. But for many entrepreneurs, the “old-fashioned” way, with a pen and paper, will help you organize your thoughts into a cohesive plan. At least it does for me when I’m trying to visualize and make sense of outrageous amounts of content I want to share with my readers.  

Content Creators Planner
Give yourself the tools you need to strategy and optimize your content. Get started today with the Content Creators Planner.

That’s why I test products before I recommend them. If you see an offer here on, rest assured I’ve used it and gave it high grades. 

Disclosure: This is a professional, independent review blog and I receive a small commission by the company that produces the Content Creators Planner if you purchase the product using my affiliate link. 

Rest assured, Kim and Jodi did their homework when they designed this spiral-bound guide. Case in point, according to scientists from Princeton University and the University of California, typing on laptops or tablets is less effective than writing by hand. If you need to remember something, write it down with pen and paper. Not convinced? Kim and Jodi cite another study that was published in the Journal of Psychological Science. 

“Writing notes by hand is much better for long-term memory of ideas, or conceptual information,” Journal Psychological Science. 


Goals are crucial to your success. Learn how to prioritize them.

How do you get started?  I admit it’s a bit daunting to forecast what your needs will be 90 days in advance but the planner breaks down the process with a conversion-based focus as shown in this example. 

The Content Creators Planner the ultimate tool for 2020
Live up to your business goals with conversion-based goal setting each day. Record thought-starters and plan your blog posts, email broadcast, and micro/social content for the day.

In conclusion, knowing what you’ll publish on your website and social media channels every day allows you to take charge of your business. The Content Creators Planner is the ultimate content planning tool for 2020. 

Order your copy today and be diligent for 90 days. You’ll find more-than-adequate space to record content under the headings Monthly Campaigns; Content Strategy Map; Content Types Checklist; Monthly Content Calendar; Weekly Content Calendar; Track & Measure; Monthly Review; and Quarterly Recap. 

Get more information here

Want other tips to make 2020 the best year ever? Read a companion story I wrote for everyone who works from home. 


No Comments
Dubai Tourism Expo 2020 Dubai Lifestyle North American Travel Shows The New York Times Travel Show Travel Industry travel show travel shows

Travel 2020

Travel 2020 destinations are highlighted at the 17th Annual New York Times Travel Show Jan. 24 - 26 at the Javits Center.
Image Courtesy of The New York Times
Image Courtesy of The New York Times Travel Show

New York Times Travel Show Open to Public Jan. 25 – 26

Dubai Tourism Presenting Sponsor

Learn More About Your Next Travel Adventure

Discover your next travel adventure this weekend in New York City.

Where will your Travel 2020 take you? Will you find yourself at the Expo 2020 Dubai Show? Or book a flight to an exotic beach location? Your vacation of a lifetime awaits you at The 2020 New York Times Travel Show, home to more than 750 travel experts.

Now in its 17th year, the show is the largest travel industry trade show in North America with an anticipated attendance of more than 23,000 consumer travelers and media combined.

The Trade Day show opens on Fri., Jan. 24 to media professionals but on Sat., Jan. 25 and Sun., Jan. 26, consumers from around the world will get their chance to witness this annual globally-centric event. Expect cuisine tastings, ethnic performances, travel book signings and one-on-one discussions with travel experts. Visitors of all ages will also find special discounts and offers they might not find elsewhere.

This year’s show is supported by Presenting Sponsor Dubai Tourism, in association with Expo 2020 Dubai, a 173-day event that will showcase everything from mind-boggling architecture to outdoor performances and world-class cuisine. The quirky global partnership festival is designed “to fund, accelerate and promote creative solutions that improve lives while preserving the planet,” according to organizers.

Visit to learn more about this epic 173-day event.

Sponsors are Turkish Airlines, South African Tourism, MSC CRUISES, Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board, Greek National Tourism Organization and Puglia Promozione; I LOVE NY; Visit Abu Dhabi, and Costa Rica Tourism Board are Trade Day Sponsors.

Travel Industry Association sponsors include Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Africa Travel Association (ATA), American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), Association for the Promotion of Tourism to Africa (APTA), Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Education Foundation (CHTAEF), Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), Destination Wedding & Honeymoon, Specialists Association (DWHSA), European Travel Commission (ETA), Family Travel Association (FTA), International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), Millennials in Travel (MIT), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Professional Travel Bloggers Association (PTBA), Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), and U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA).

Travel Industry Media Sponsors are GoNomad, Destination I Do Magazine, Healthy Aging Magazine, Insider Travel Report, ManAboutWorld, Passport Magazine, TAConnect, TravAlliancemedia, Travel Market Report and We Blog The World.

Want to read more about the travel show? Check out these articles.

2019 Travel Show Highlights
Find out why the show is always a hit with travelers.
No Comments
coaching and teaching Everything, Everywhere, Travel Writer How to plan a social media trip Learn Travel Writing Lifestyle Online Journalism courses Travel Writer private group

Learn Travel Writing

  • By
  • January 5, 2020
  • Sticky


Get the Tips You Need to Grow Your Career in the Travel Industry

$10 Cheat Sheet You Need Today!

Mini-Course Available here
Plan Your Solo Media Trip Mini-Course
Plan Your Solo Media Trip is a high-value, low-cost mini-course cheat sheet created by a five-time award-winning journalist and travel writer, Joan Mead-Matsui.
I’ll teach you the essential tips you need to land exciting travel assignments.


Learn Travel Writing with value-packed courses and get the coaching support you need before, during, and afterward.

We’ll talk about the afterward below.

But first,

Know I’ve been there — at the point where I’d taken a full-blown travel course but truthfully didn’t know where to apply the information I learned. I was frustrated, to say the least.

“Plan Your Solo Media Trip (Like A Pro),” is one example of the mini-courses I created to help you dive into travel writing. They’re niche-specific and help you break down the barriers that hold you back from planning the solo media trip of your DREAMS.

That’s why I created a high-value $10 mini-course cheat sheet that teaches you THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PLANNING AN EXTRAORDINARY SOLO MEDIA TRIP. You can buy it here, now, and get a jump on your plans today. 

Why is a solo trip so important to your career?

There’s safety in numbers and group trips can also be exciting for a few reasons.

  1. You get to check on your competition.
  2. Group trips shield you from the limelight.
  3. Most group trips are orchestrated and you travel together.

But what if, for example, you don’t want to visit a winery or brewery or you’re not interested in sports? Or hiking? Or fly fishing?

A solo media trip gives you more flexibility and a chance to conduct one-on-one interviews with key people in the lodging and tourism industries. In other words, in most cases, you can plan your own agenda, order the meals of your choice, schedule your day(s), and negotiate services and costs. Those are a few of the perks of taking charge of your destiny.


The Travel writing field is FLOODED with writers, journalists, retirees, and just about everyone else who loves to travel. In fact, there’s so much more to consider when you’re plotting your course.

  1. Protocol
  2. Transportation
  3. Cost
  4. Schedule

Theoretically, when you invest your time and money in a travel course, you should be able to come out of the gate and land a travel assignment. It’s as simple as that. Or is it?

Learn from a Pro

Before I branched out into travel writing, I spent most of my career in PR, advertising, event planning, and photojournalism. Make no mistake, those positions helped prepare me for every position I’ve held in 30 years. Clearly, I’ve discovered through trial and error, you need more skills than a love for travel and an ability to document your every move.

I’ll Guide You Through Your Journey

So how do you make your way through a densely populated forest of writers and get your name in front of the people in the travel industry who book travel writers?  

My cheat sheet focuses on the tips and techniques I’ve learned as a journalist and travel writer while covering a myriad of destinations and events on more than 50 media trips in five years.

How do you get your name in front of the key people who set up travel assignments?

Buy my Cheat Sheet and scroll down for more information about my coaching services and a phenomenal new platform I’ve created with coaching and additional courses.

Imagine the possibilities that await you in the travel world!

I’ll teach you how to break into the travel industry with step-by-step instruction and help you set goals.

Throughout my careers in journalism and travel writing, I learned we all need a coach now and them to help us achieve our dreams.   

The truth is my years as a print journalist were some of the best days of my life and winning five newspaper association press awards was the icing on the cake.

But I owe my success in travel writing to the mentors and coaches who guided me along.

That’s why I created the Everything, Everywhere, Travel Writer “Learn Travel Writing” private group. You’ll find the answers to your questions, guided support, weekly challenges, writing prompts, and so much more for $49 per month.

Give me a month and I’ll get you started in your travel writing journey.

Everything, Everywhere, Travel Writer Learn Travel Writing courses and coaching

You can grow into an Everything, Everywhere, Travel Writer and cover exciting assignments around the world. Join my private group today and soar to new heights.

No Comments
Examples of Southern Hospitality Lifestyle Southern Lodging

Charleston Christmas Fun

The Restoration Hotel Christmas package
The Restoration Hotel Christmas package
Creating new memories that will last a lifetime is how Chelsea Nightengale, The Restoration Hotel general manager, describes the “Christmas Tree Package.” You’ll find the details below in my interview with Chelsea.

Reserve Your “Restoration Christmas” in Charleston

Home for the Holidays at The Restoration Hotel

Charleston Christmas Fun awaits you, but of course, with the Southern hospitality tourists have come to relish.

If coastal and historic fit your vision of the perfect Christmas getaway, add The Restoration Hotel to your 2019 holiday itinerary. It’s not too late to book your hotel or residences’ suite at The Restoration Hotel, low-country, high-quality historic lodging at the heart of the New South.

A mild Charleston climate is the perfect home base to visit landmarks and connect with the outdoors but meanwhile, back in your guest room, The Restoration Hotel ‘s over-the-top Christmas Tree package epitomizes “home for the holidays.”

Scroll down to read my interview with Chelsea Nightengale, The Restoration Hotel general manager. She’ll fill you in with the package details.

“Guests feel truly at home in historic downtown Charleston,” Chelsea says. “We offer the tree placed in your room and decorated upon arrival or a DIY kit so our guests can recreate traditions and memories from home.”

Chelsea Nightengale, The Restoration Hotel general manager
The Restoration Hotel Christmas Tree Package screams Southern Hospitality in Charleston, SC.
Spend your holidays in the Low Country at The Restoration Hotel, a posh historic hotel in the heart of iconic Charleston.

Chelsea, please elaborate on the Christmas Tree Package and why it’s so much fun?

Our over-sized, apartment-style suites allow our guests to live like a local in Historic Downtown Charleston. The idea for our Christmas Tree package was to make our guests truly feel like they are “home for the holidays”. We offer the tree placed in the room and decorated upon arrival or a DIY kit so our guests can recreate traditions and memories from home.

How did you create a one-of-a-kind experience for your guests?

We are always looking for a way to make our guests feel at home, and even more so during the holidays. We want to be able to share traditions and make new memories with them.

The Restoration Hotel Christmas Tree Package will light up your Charleston holiday getaway.
Brighten your holidays at The Restoration Hotel, Charleston, SC. Experience Southern hospitality at its finest.

What are some of the highlights of your Christmas tree package?

We always tuck a personalized ornament into the tree, either with the guest’s name or something that signifies their trip. We tie a small note to the ornament to let them know to take it with them upon leaving. Our hope is that our guests continue to place this ornament on their tree for years to come, reminding them of their memories of Charleston. Also, upon a requested time, we will deliver Eggnog and Sugar cookies to the guests’ room to get everyone in the Holiday Spirit.

What’s happening in the surrounding community that guests should explore?

There is nothing like Christmas in the Low Country. Our winters are mild so we love to spend time outside. We have our annual Downtown Christmas Parade, the Holiday Market at Marion Square, and my personal favorite is the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park.

See more photos of this magnificent hotel and book your Christmas getaway today.

Many thanks to The Restoration Hotel management for participating in our holiday showcase.


No Comments
freelance writer and entrepreneur tips home business skills Lifestyle Work from home

How to Stay Sane

How to stay sane when you work from home tips and techniques for writers and other entrepreneurs

When You Work From Home

Proven Tips and Techniques from a Stay-At-Home Entrepreneur

How can you stay sane when you work from home?

Friends and colleagues ask me time and time again, “How do you stay disciplined?” Their initial query is often followed by one or more bold statements like, “I could never do that,” or “You’re so lucky you can do that,” or “I’m not focused enough.”

Nonetheless, they all remind me of how fortunate I am to have the luxury to plan my day from the comfort of my dining room or wherever I choose to be. No commute continues to be one of the perks I enjoy most. In theory, when I travel on assignments and spend long hours on the road, I am commuting. However, I don’t travel every day and taking off on an assignment for a few days is also a freelancer’s benefit. Travel is a diversion and not a distraction.

Is Your Life A Pendulum?

What happens when you experience the seesaw days when your energy level and moods are up and down?

More than likely, you need to balance the time you spend at work and in front of your computer with exercise and mindfulness. When you take a daily walk or find a YouTube exercise video you can follow at home, you are giving yourself a much-needed break. Enroll in a class or learn a new hobby to find the optimal balance in your life.

TIP 1: When I’m home for weeks at a time, I sign up for a ballet class and I fly fish in the spring, summer, and fall. Planning my day is what I love most about being my own boss.

Get in the Groove

TIP 2: The truth is I’ve had 26 years, to be exact, to establish a schedule that allows me to devote time to my family and businesses. To be well-rounded, develop strategies that will allow you to stay connected to the world around you.

Scroll down to the guidelines I’ve mapped out for you.

Benefits of A Home Office


Regardless of where you work, you will have disruptions and ultimately, it’s your job to work around those situations before they throw you off-track. You won’t have the same type of distractions working from home as you would if your cubicle or office were surrounded by co-worker drama, endless cell phone conversations, chatter, and gossip. That spells mayhem for many employees. But make no mistake, it’s your choice whether you get back on task or flounder the rest of your day.

How Does Diligence Play a Role in Your Success?

Consider your current work ethic and habits. Take a moment to read the following questions and jot your answers in a notebook or leave a comment on my Facebook travel page.

The mere fact that you have a business plan on paper is a step in the right direction. If you don’t, it’s time to get your plan together, even if you’re already working from home.

Forge Your Own Path

  1. Do you have a clear business vision and a plan?
  2. Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?
  3. Why do you want to work from home?
  4. What skills do you have that will propel you and your business?
  5. What are your expectations?
  6. Does your product, service, or skill stand the test of time?

TIP: Produce content, write articles, and interact on social media media every day. Not sure which social media platforms you should use? Get started with the Big Five: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. You’ll soon discover how different they are and which one will work best for your business. Contact me with your questions.

9 Tips to Stay on Track From the Get-Go

Strategies for the Entrepreneur

Once you leave your job, or after you’ve already transitioned,

  1. Stay in touch with friends in your former workplace.
  2. Establish a network of friends who work from home. Set up frequent masterminds. Don’t have time for a weekend getaway? Meet for coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner to discuss your successes and failures.
  3. Make it your business to stay in touch with key people in your community — virtually and locally. We tend to focus only on the bigger picture but remember there’s always something happening in your town.
  4. Take frequent breaks during your workday that might include a walk or lunch with a friend.
  5. Get outdoors. Fresh air IS INVIGORATING. Nature rules!
  6. Focus 80 percent of your efforts on marketing and 20 percent on content creation. Selling yourself is more important to your business than creating content.
  7. Take an online course often to refresh your approach and find out if you’re on the right track.
  8. Hire a virtual or marketing assistant to banish overwhelm and shed new light on your work. Working with someone who knows more than you about content creation, social media, website management, and digital marketing can be the best way to test the waters and your ideas.
  9. Resolve to give equal attention to the can-do ideas and the more challenging issues.


Create a goal today to stay motivated, happy, peaceful, and engaged with the world around you. To do that, surround yourself with the people and comforts that relax and motivate you.

What are your thoughts about a work-from-home life? Send your questions and comments to

Learn more about my travel writing courses and membership group here.

No Comments
Africa habitat degradation India Lifestyle

Ballerina & Her Family

What is their future? A photograph by Debashish Dutta, natural history photographer

Living Life in the Wilderness

Habitat Degradation and Its Threat to Wildlife

Publisher’s Note:

Debashish Dutta, a natural history photographer, returns to this month with a story of tranquility and peace. With sheer delight and awe-inspiring details and photographs, Debashish conveys the inherent beauty of biodiversity and why we are obligated to preserve and protect our planet. Join him on his expedition to Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. 
What is their future? A photograph by Debashish Dutta, natural history photographer
Wildlife and Natural History Photographer, Debashish Dutta, portrays the Indian Gazelle in his spectacular photos and detailed narrative from the Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, India. Dutta shares his expeditions with my readers every month on Photos by Debashish Dutta

I watched her intently as she moved around the undulating and at times rocky terrain with the subtle deftness of a ballerina. The lovely golden light of the early February morning glistened against her silky-smooth coat while her big dreamy eyes reflected the contentment she felt in her life.

For those who are tuned; the cradle of nature reminds them of the existence of God and the sheer greatness of his kingdom.  And the satisfaction visible on the faces of the denizens of the forest a reminder to mankind about how simple, beautiful and harmonious life can be on the same planet that also houses the humans whose destructive force knows no bounds.

The doe’s eyes were talking to the ones she loved – a small family that was happily munching on the fresh morning grass and a little fawn that was happily prancing around his mother. They were experiencing joy.

After my advent in Pune in 2015; I have been doing my bit of research on happy hunting grounds around town for passionate wildlife lovers and serious natural history photographers. That is how I discovered Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.

Debashish Dutta photography of Indian Gazelle, Chinkara, Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary India
The shy Chinkara gives a series of snorts if approached and prances away with a peculiar bounding gait.

Nestled in Baramati at a distance of 70km from Pune, it is arguably the smallest wildlife sanctuary in the country.  Officially that is – because in India we have enough and more delightful spots of nature still relatively or totally unknown to the marauding city crowds who would waste no time in destroying their peace and solitude. There is an unwritten but well-understood rule amongst nature lovers and that rule is to maintain the secrecy and sanctity of a natural hotspot.

Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is just about five sq. km in area. It has a big heart though and because it is relatively unknown; its peace and tranquility are still intact. The serenity has attracted a variety of mammals and bird species like the very rare Indian Grey Wolf, the Indian Fox, the Striped Hyena and the Indian Gazelle (Chinkara). The avian population on record has been the Indian Thick-Knee, White-bellied Minivet, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Laggar Falcon, Bonelli’s Eagle, Chestnut-Bellied Sandgrouse, the Indian Courser, and a few others.

When I headed for Mayureshwar; my main focus was on the Indian Gazelle. Locally called the Chinkara; Gazelles have always been one of my favourite ungulates because of their grace, charm, beautiful lithe structure akin to a seasoned athlete, flawless coat, lovely big and expressive eyes and the two-tone colour scheme of their coat. India, unfortunately, has been blessed with only one species of Gazelle. Africa, on the other hand, has a wide variety. In fact, of the 91 antelope and gazelle species in the world, the African continent is home to 72 of them. The Indian Gazelle closely resembles the Tommies or Thomson’s Gazelles visible in large numbers on the African savannah.

Back to the doe and family, I was watching. I had been on the same spot for over an hour. There was an obvious chill in the air reinforced by a relatively stiff northeasterly wind. The ability to be still, quiet, patient and watchful are good virtuous to have in the wilderness. They allow you to become one with the surroundings and enable you to soak in the unspeakable joy that only wilderness can offer to a human. The stillness allows the animal to relax and prevents a breach of the animal’s circle of fear.

Given the open terrain of Mayureshwar; it was possible for me to stay put inside my vehicle. The firmly planted bean bag on the window sill afforded my Nikon D750 a firm foundation for when it is coupled with the Nikkor 200mm-400mm/F4 VR II. The combined weight becomes substantial and a firm foundation is mandatory to avoid camera shake. My goal was to compose some nice frames capturing the doe in action solo and with her family.

Unfortunately, Mayureshwar has received some negative feedback from people who are obviously not tuned to the rhythm of nature. A simple Google search will reveal uneducated and half-baked commentary from visitors whose exposure to natural habitats and the sheer vastness of their variety is minuscule. Now, these are visitors who want to quickly see a few big animals and leave. Their heart is not in nature and their understanding of jungle craft zero. Thus, those who understand that the Earth is blessed with a myriad of forest types and terrains are able to appreciate the diversity. They are also able to appreciate the fact that nature has blessed the planet with an astounding array of wildlife and not just the big cats and mammals. Sadly, we have lost a large number of them due to our own callousness, greed, and lack of respect for the planet we live in.

The human mind is boundless and unstoppable. Sitting still and at least some distance away from the daily humdrum of life underneath a vast and beautiful blue sky; my mind had wandered to distant shores and days gone by. This is another unique state of mind of a person deeply in love with nature and one who always finds solace in jungles. While soaking in the natural beauty around and marveling at another inimitable creation of God; my mind reminded me that my beloved jungles are being destroyed cruelly all around and my heart started to lament!

Habitat destruction, ecosystem pollution, deforestation, species vulnerability and extinction, and such horrendous thoughts kept flowing in and out of my mind. Gut-wrenching photos of the recent burning of the Amazonia filled my eyes. Has the decay of the human mind reached such a nadir that those hands which set the Amazonia on fire did not tremble and hesitate? Were they not deliberately oblivious to the fact that the Amazonia supplies 20 percent of the world’s supply of fresh Oxygen?

Just then my driver whispered. We noticed that the Chinkara family had moved a certain distance uphill. To ensure that we were correctly aligned with the angle of light; we had to circumvent a bit to catch up with the doe and her family again.

In Mayureshwar; one can easily alight from a vehicle and scan around, however, that is likely to scare the animal away. The Chinkara is shy of human beings; if approached, the animal gives a series of snorts and prances away with a peculiar bounding gait. When alarmed, the herd takes off at a frantic pace, then stops 100 to 200 m away to discover the cause of the alarm. Therefore, stay put in your vehicle. Always wear camouflage clothes in a jungle except in Africa where camouflage clothing is restricted to forest staff and the rangers. Avoid perfumes for they too will scare an animal. They are not used to strong synthetic smells. Dark glasses are a no-no, especially when dealing with big cats, apes, primates and large herbivores. They can trigger an alarm and a retaliation.

Indian Gazelles mating in Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary
Gazelles copulate often and Debashish was lucky to capture the couple in action.

I noticed that the doe and her little one had been joined by a male. How do you figure if the Chinkara is a male? Size apart, consider its horns. They appear straight when seen from the front. In profile, the horns of an adult male have an S-shape. The females have much slenderer and smaller horns compared to the males. Like other gazelles, adult Chinkara males are territorial and have a clear perimeter of operations. Other males are not tolerated but wandering females from other clans are always offered an opportunity to join the male’s harem. The male marks his territory by fecal mounds and uses these spots regularly. A Chinkara male is always around his lady in estrus and guards her aggressively. They copulate often and I was lucky to get some good shots while the couple was in action.

The little fawn was around all the time making merry. Chinkara females like most living beings make for doting mothers. I saw many tender moments between mother and baby and those scenes were heartwarming, to say the least. The fawn is with the mother for about a year and then ventures out on its own. Chinkara families are like humans with a size typically not more than five to six individuals.

The corrupt human mind looks at development as an opportunity to make money and makes development a bad word. Unfortunately, this is a global truth and as a result of the warped sense of development; our planet has lost a multitude of species and innumerable biodiversity hotspots. Extinct species will never return and damaged natural ecosystems are almost impossible to reinstate because forest ecosystems develop over millions of years. They cannot be replaced ever by plantations.


Maybe there is still some time left. Therefore, people should look around. Nurture a natural spot that you chance upon or happens to be in your neighbourhood. Mobilise sensible people and ensure peace and tranquility of that little Garden of Eden. Debashish Dutta, Natural History Photographer

Startled Indian Gazelle and her family
Do your part to preserve the ecosystems that support our forests and the wildlife that call the habitats home. Debashish takes on the task of reporting on the challenges he has encountered while documenting wild species through his magnificent camera lens and narratives.

Getting There

Getting to Mayureshwar is simple once you are in Pune. Hire an SUV or MPV or drive down yourself. If you start at about 7 a.m.; you will be able to cover the 70 km distance in 1.5 hours. Google Maps is all you need for guidance. The entrance is at 8 AM and the fee is basic. Carry your own water bottle, tuck in a few sandwiches and munchies.

Please do not litter. Once inside; figure a tree by the side of the road where you can park your vehicle. Set up your equipment if you are a photographer or videographer. Settle down. Let the jungle take over.

Debashish Dutta is a BBC Earth and Nikon Asia recognized professional Natural History Photographer. Visit his website for a detailed insight into his wildlife portfolios. He is also Global Director & Head – Operational Risk for a major financial services firm.

Read a companion story by Debashish Dutta, Wild Girls Uninterrupted.


No Comments
Lifestyle Resources Web Hosting Reviews

SiteGround Web-Hosting Review

SiteGround Web-Hosting Review

SiteGround Web-Hosting review highlights several reasons why I switched to this platform and the features I love. First and foremost, five years after launching my three blogs, I was fed up with recurring issues that wreaked havoc on my ability to consistently create content.

For example, I encountered constant upselling, malware, slow website speed, and a lack of customer service with my previous host. Moreover, the support team at the other company addressed most of the issues with a pitch about a service they sell that would eliminate the problem. Eight out of 10 times they offered me help to the tune of multiple service tickets for $80-plus.

Without fail, the issues I encountered after automatic WordPress updates often caused downtime that required me to get my web developer to resolve the issue. Similarly, there were many times when I spent hours researching issues in forums. A recent issue with autosaving was one of the most annoying problems I’ve had so far. If my web developer wasn’t available, I looked to my web-host for support and diagnostic help.

Plugins, WordPress, and other non-server issues are rarely covered by hosting tech support. However, security and malware fell under my coverage plan.

Choose the Hosting Plan That Best Suits Your Needs

Now that you have a general idea about why I switched, I’ll tell you about my positive experiences with SiteGround. I chose the GrowBig plan because I have multiple websites and this plan suited my style. SiteGround also offers free professional migration for one website and a free plugin to migrate the content for my other websites. My move was seamless and the team was quick to reply and guide my developers and me along. The best part of the deal is my monthly expenses have significantly decreased with the GrowBig hosting plan. SSL certificates, security, site backups, and hosting are covered under my plan.

SiteGround Web-Hosting Review
You can sign up for a SiteGround plan when you click on the banner below.

Better yet, my websites are reaping the rewards of faster load time and more traffic since the move to SiteGround and anytime I’ve had a question or concern, the support team promptly responded to the ticket. This is the type of service that makes me smile and I look forward to blogging. The SiteGround support team often reply within minutes, depending on their service call volume.

Rejoice and Spread the Word

Immediately after I switched to SiteGround, I knew I had to tell my readers about this awe-inspiring company. As a result, I’m now an affiliate and rejoice the move EVERY DAY. Keep in mind, I only recommend products and services I use and trust. Likewise, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about my experience.

Explore More Articles on

Read one of my recent blog posts that features wildlife photography and a compelling narrative about Debashish Dutta’s search for five Royal Bengal Tigers.

No Comments