Hi there. I’m Alison J. Stein, and welcome to my bio. If you’d like to contact me, drop me a note at alisonstein at gmail.com.
My Published Work
I’ve written for American Archaeology, American Style, The Atlantic Monthly’s Food Channel, BBC Travel, Boston Magazine, Business Traveler, BusinessWeek, The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Continental, Fast Company, Glamour, Huffington Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, Luxist, Men’s Journal, The Millions, Money, Mother Jones, New York Magazine, Premier Traveler, Psychology Today, Reason, Robb Report, Sierra Magazine, The Smart Set, The Street.com, The Toronto Star, The Travel Channel’s World Hum, US Air magazine, USA Weekend, The Washington Post, Working Mother, Yankee, Yoga Journal, among other places.
In Leave the Lipstick, Take the Iguana: Funny Travel Stories and Strange Packing Tips, a Traveler’s Tales anthology you’ll find my essay, Naked with a Passport — on a visit to a spa that went awry.
I’ve been a a contributing editor at Inc. magazine, editor-at-large at American Demographics magazine, a New York Times Professional Fellow and a National Press Foundation Fellow. My articles have won awards from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the American Society of Business Press Editors. I’ve given presentations on travel writing (and writing generally) for conferences including AWP, TBEX , and ASJA.
I started my career writing books, and am the proud author of Americans at Play, which is about trends in outdoor recreation and travel (New Strategist 1997) and Best of Health, which is about trends in health. (New Strategist, 2000).
Some of this work was published under the name Alison Stein Wellner. I am her, she is me.
Looking for Clips?
If you’d like to see a selection of my clips, I’ve got a lot of them here on this site, just click on the Alison’s Portfolio category. Or, go to this page. If you’re curious about my take on writing, check out this “Successful Freelancer Spotlight” interview that I gave to The Golden Pencil, or this one on Travel Writing 2.0.
Where I Travel
I’ve tackled assignments that took me to Germany, China, Argentina, New Zealand, Poland, Scotland, Honduras, South Africa, England and India, and flitted around North America quite a bit in between. I’m interested in all sorts of destinations, from tiny rust belt towns to crazy big cities to luxurious tropical islands. My favorite place to travel to is the place I’m going next.
How I Got Started in Writing
This is a question I’m asked a lot, so I thought I’d just officially answer it here.
I was born and raised in Manhattan. Yes, people really do that! I started freelancing in December 1995, just after I graduated from college — that would be a semester early, not late, by the way. I had a degree in Political Science and the idea that I would go to law school.
Thank all that is holy, and my dear friend Wendy, for pointing out to me that I really was much more excited about the journalism internships I’d done in high school (especially the one I did with the Daily News during the Democratic Convention in 1992) than I was by the prospect of going to law school.
So there I was in Ithaca NY, out of school, without a plan, and in need of money. I started looking for work, and when I was offered a freelance job, I took it. And then I thought, hey, if I could get one freelance gig, maybe I could get another. And so it went. For a long time, I thought that there were maybe six freelancers in the entire country — so it was a huge shock when I attended the American Society of Journalist’s and Author’s conference, and saw all of those writers!
I still can’t believe how many of us there are out there.
I started out writing about demographics and agriculture, because American Demographics magazine and American Agriculturist magazine happened to be in the Ithaca, NY phone book. (Yup. An actual paper phone book.) I moved on to writing about business, and then I wrote for women’s magazines, and now, as you know, I’m writing a lot about culture, people, places and travel. Oh, and sometimes about art. And food. And other things that I like.
Contact me at alisonstein at gmail.com
How the Travel is Paid For
There is an awful lot of bullshit surrounding who pays for what for travel writers, with a don’t ask-don’t-tell policy in effect which I think works about as well as it does for the military. (Update: While I do hope that one day no one will understand that reference to the now-repealed policy, I like that line so I’m leaving it in.)
So here’s the deal: just as book reviewers routinely receive books from publishers, and theater critics routinely receive tickets, and gadget reviewers routinely receive gadgets, travel writers are routinely provided access to the places, service, and products that they’re writing about.
There’s simply no way to obtain and maintain the depth of experience that I bring to my writing without extensive travel, and my travels have been funded in many ways. Sometimes I cover my own costs, sometimes (and it must be said — incredibly rarely) a publication will pony up an expense budget, and often, a tourist organization, a hotel or a restaurant covers my costs.
My policy for sponsored travel is this: I do not enter into agreements to cover any destination, hotel or attraction in any particular way — or at all, for that matter. (Why do they foot the bill then? They obviously hope that they have something that I’ll want to write about.) There’s no quid pro quo, and I don’t worry about pissing people off with what I write — I am offered far more trips than I could ever possibly accept, and what’s more, if I didn’t like something, why would I care about preserving my access to it anyway?
Finally, I am paid only by media outlets. I do not receive payment for my professional services by any other entity in the travel industry.