• Must-Have Travel Tool: An Old Contact Lens Case Filled with Tea Tree Oil and Vaseline
  • The Most Photogenic Island in the World: Here’s How to Get There for Less
  • Never Been Published?  Try This…

Dear Reader,

I’m in Kauai unprepared.

There are certain travel must-haves I almost always remember to pack.  My old contact lens case is one of them.

Years ago when my mom’s lipstick got too low to rub across her lips, she’d scoop out the last of it into an old lens case.  She never wanted to waste anything, bless her heart, so before she bought another tube, she’d go as long as she could by applying the lipstick like a lip balm with her finger.

I’m not much for lipstick, myself. But Mom was onto something with that old contact lens case. You can fill it with dabs of lotions or a squirt of liquid. Those cases are easy to carry, they don’t leak, and if you lose one, you can replace it at the dollar store or pharmacy for about a buck.

These days, I usually use mine to carry tea tree oil and Vaseline.

Tea tree oil is a great antiseptic for cuts… it’ll clear up a zit in a pinch… and in my case today, I could have used it to swab on my mosquito bites to stop them from itching.  (Note to self: The next time you hike to Wailua Falls, don’t go barefoot.)

Vaseline is another travel must-have I usually add to one side of an old lens case.  Not only is it a good lip balm and a relief for dry skin, but it can also help free a stuck zipper and prevent further rubbing on a sore spot before a blister appears (something I’m doomed to get after our day of hiking tomorrow).

What else can you pack in a contact lens case?  How about hair gel, fingernail polish remover, shoe polish, toothpaste (if you’re on a short trip), lotion, witch hazel (it’s good for sunburns if you’re headed to the beach), or anything else that requires only a dab of substance.

Give it some thought before your next trip.  And speaking of your next trip (and perhaps your next travel article) a question came to me by email this week that I’ve seen several times before…

If the writer’s guidelines at a particular publication say the editors only work with previously published writers… BUT you’ve read carefully through back issues (and the guidelines) and you have an idea for an article you think the editor would snatch up… CAN YOU send a query even though you don’t have published clips to wave about?

We’ve answered this before, but the advice is worth repeating.  Read on below for Jennifer Stevens’ take on the situation.  (Jen, by the way, sat for many years behind an editor’s desk at various publications before becoming a full-time freelance writer and editor – so her advice is worth a read.)

Oh, and remember — let me know about your travel-writing or photography successes. If you have a story to share, send me a quick note at

Have a great holiday weekend,

— Lori

Lori Appling
Director, Great Escape Publishing

P.S. Know a friend or two who’d enjoy the freedom and independence of a writer’s or photographer’s life? They, too, can sign up to receive this free e-letter twice weekly at:


If you’re sure your article is perfect for a publication, then you should send it — the full article, not just a query. Don’t be deterred by the need for credentials. If your article clearly fits a publication’s readership, and the editor loves it, then she isn’t going to bat an eye at your lack of experience.

More specifically, here’s how I’d handle it:

*** Write a two- or three-sentence e-mail note introducing your article. If you have any special expertise that gives you added credibility as the author, mention that.

*** Then paste your article into the body of that e-mail just under your short note. (Of course, be absolutely sure your article meets all the requirements of the writer’s guidelines. And make sure you’ve got a strong title that clearly illustrates the benefit in your piece.)

*** Make no mention of your lack of credentials. Don’t refer to the fact that you’re a novice writer. If the editor likes your piece, she most likely won’t ask where you’ve been published before. If she does ask where you’ve been published, then of course you’ve got to come clean. But chances are your article will have already won her over.

Most likely, this policy of working only with published writers is a way the editors hope to filter out untargeted, sloppy article ideas from inexperienced writers.

If your article is, really, right for a publication’s readership… and if your lead is strong enough to catch that editor’s attention in the five seconds she’ll give it… then you’re in the door.

Having said all that, if you’re still a bit wary about going ahead and writing the piece and pasting it into an e-mail… then hold off. Keep this publication and story idea on the back-burner.

Try getting by-lines in some other places first. Once you have a few published articles under your belt, you’ll feel more confident sending a query.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]

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