The Steilneset Memorial, Vardø, Norway, at Hyperallergic

Norway, Uncategorized


In 17th-century Finnmark a common practice for determining the guilt of an accused witch was to subject them to the “water ordeal.” With hands and feet tied, they would be thrown into the freezing Barents Sea to see whether they sank or floated. If they sank, they were innocent. Water was thought to repel evil, so the suspect’s rising to the surface and floating proved their guilt.

In 21st-century America, Senator Lindsey Graham regarded a woman who, protesting the Supreme Court nomination of a man accused of sexual assault, asked if Brett Kavanaugh should take a polygraph test. In response he sneered “why don’t we dunk him in water and see if he floats?”

The figure of the hunted witch was evoked often in 2018, the year I finally realized a long-held dream to make an art-pilgrimage to the Arctic island of Vardø, the extreme northeastern point of Norway, to see the Steilneset Memorial to the victims of the Finnmark witchcraft trials. Read about my trip in my essay for Hyperallergic.



Arbroath Smokies at Saveur

Scotland, Uncategorized

On Scotland’s northeast coast, Auchmithie sits atop a cliff —150 feet below, a dilapidated harbor belies the tiny village’s past life as a thriving fishing community. But a very specific type of smoked fish secures that legacy.

Auchmithie’s bay was once filled with boats and its stone cottages home to hundreds of fisherfolk. The women, known as “mucklebackit” (broad-backed) women, were renowned for their strength — carrying their men on their backs down to the boats so they’d begin their sea journey with dry feet. It was the women, too, who preserved the fish by smoking it in halved whisky barrels; a technique that would become known as the Arbroath Smokie.

Read the rest of my story about this smoking technique in the Spring issue of Saveur.

Art Escapes at Oak – The Nordic Journal

Denmark, Norway, sweden


The art offerings of the Nordics are well established: from the capitals’ gleaming national galleries to the scrappier artist-run spaces in their less-polished neighborhoods. But travel away from the established centres and you may stumble upon some of the region’s most visually arresting art sites. In each of the following three art escapes, in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, a unique alchemy fuses the site with the place in which it sits, and together they yield something almost magical.

For volume nine of Oak – The Nordic Journal, I wrote about the Steilneset Memorial (above) in Norway, Artipelag in Sweden, and Cisternerne in Denmark.

Photo: Karen Gardiner

Tbilisi at Fodor’s

Georgia, Uncategorized

At the crossroads of east and west, the Republic of Georgia is a place that has long absorbed opposing influences, and its charming capital, Tbilisi is no different. With its crumbling Neoclassical buildings and winding streets, Tbilisi is filled with history. But as it emerges as a hot travel destination, the city is also embracing modernity as it strives to move beyond the cultural stagnation of the Soviet era.

Read my recommendations for getting a taste of Tbilisi’s booming creative scene at Fodor’s

Papa Westray at BBC


A walk around Papa Westray – a four-square-mile island on the northern edge of the Orkney archipelago in Scotland – is a walk through history.
From the 5,600-year-old Knap of Howar, northern Europe’s oldest standing house, you can walk up the coast to St Boniface Kirk. One of the oldest Christian sites in the north of Scotland, the church’s graveyard is filled with lichen-covered headstones indicating generations of families and shipwrecked sailors. Further on at the wind-battered northernmost point, where the Atlantic crashes into the North Sea and daunting cliffs are deeply ridged from centuries of erosion, a stone cairn marks the site where Britain’s last great auk – the now extinct ‘northern penguin’ – was killed in 1813.

But Papay, as the island is locally known, is not lost in the past. Thanks to its forward-thinking residents, it is thriving.

Read the rest of my article about the Orkney island of Papa Westray at BBC Travel.

(All photos ©Karen Gardiner)

10 Publications for your Travel Writing


I’m writing this as an assignment for MatadorU. I am always looking for places to (hopefully) publish my writing and, although I didn’t come up with anything radically different, it was very useful to find out the details of how to go about approaching new markets.

1. Travelers’ Tales

Travelers’ Tales has over 100 titles in print and publishes 6-8 books a year, including Best Women’s Travel Writing. Travelers’ Tales also runs the annual Solas Award for travel writing.

Publisher: James O’Reilly

Executive Editor: Larry Habegger

Editor-at-large: Sean O’Reilly

Submissions policy: Travelers’ Tales accepts finished manuscripts for its anthologies and for the Solas Award year-round. Previously published work is OK, as long as you retain the rights. If you wish to enter the Solas competition, you have to pay $10 for each category (with a two category minimum.)

—–Note: I submitted to the next best Women’s Travel Writing and received a message from Sean the next day telling me that they “quite enjoyed” my story and advising me to submit to the Solas Award.

2. World Hum

World hum is part of the Travel Channel network. This site has featured articles from authors both new and renowned, including Pico Iyer. Many articles published originally on World Hum have gone on to be included in The Best American Travel Writing series.

Co-editors-in-chief: Jim Benning and Michael Yessis

Senior editor: Eva Holland

Submissions policy: As of mid-June 2010 submissions were closed, but look likely to re-open.

—–Note: I have submitted here before and received a (very nice) personal rejection note six months later.

3. The Expeditioner

The Expeditioner is a Brooklyn-based online travel magazine featuring articles and videos for the avid traveler.

Editor-in-chief: Matt Stabile

Managing editor: Jon Wick

Submissions policy: The Expeditioner welcomes unsolicited submissions from travel writers at all stages in their career. Articles tend to be first-person narratives in the range of 1,000 to 1,300 words. Send finished manuscripts to matt.stabile @

—–Note: I submitted a piece to their upcoming anthology. Response pending.

4. Galavanting

Galavanting is an online women’s tavel magazine and community. From the site: “We know that not every female is in search of the world’s perfect facial. And that people without trust funds travel too.”

Editor-in-chief: Kim Mance

Submissions policy: Send a pitch or finished manuscript no longer that 1,200 words to submissions @ with SUBMISSIONS as the subject. Also provide a short bio and links to previously published writing. If you have not had a response within three weeks, assume your piece has been rejected.

—Note: I have submitted here twice and never received a response.

5. GoNomad

From the website: “ is a comprehensive resource center, designed to provide independent and alternative travelers with all the information and inspiration they need to plan their travels in the U.S. and abroad.” This website features unusual articles and off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Editor: Max Hartshorne

Submissions policy: Send one page email to editorial @ with pitch, dates of trip, writer’s background, intended department and whether or not it has been published before.  Also send a file with headshot, one sentence bio and information on the availability of photographs. GoNomad also accepts unsolicited manuscripts.

6. The Guardian

Publishes an 18-20 page travel supplement on Saturdays.

Submissions: Contact Does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, but you can contact them with ideas.

7. San Francisco

Publishes a six to eight page travel supplement on Sundays. New freelancers have the best chance with California related pieces.

Editor: Spud Hilton

Submissions: Contact Spud Hilton:

Note: I actually had found more detailed submission information, but since lost it. Anyone?

8. Islands

Published eight times a year and dedicated to travel on worldwide islands.

Features editor: Matthew Miller

Editors-at-large: Dave Herndon and Ty Sawyer

Submissions: New contributors have the best chance with the front-of-the-book Discover section–features are assigned to regular writers. Contact

9. Budget Travel

Published 10 times a year. Focuses on budget travel in worldwide destinations.

Editor in Chief: Nina Willdorf

Features editor: Valerie Rains

Submissions: Send published pieces as a sample, your pitch (not a completed article) and a cover letter to

10. In The Know Traveler

In The Know Traveler publishes stories that inspire travel of 450-600 words in length. The pay is low though: $10 per article.

Editor: Devin Galaudet

Submissions: Send completed story, with photographs if you have them, to


Some of the publications I have listed are still far, far out of my reach, but certainly half are achievable. I will update if I hear back from any.