Lee Foster is a travel writer/photographer with more than 500 worldwide coverages on his blog Foster Travel. He has also written many books, mainly on travel, literary, and self-publishing subjects. You can find 18 books on his Amazon Author Page. Lee especially enjoys covering California from his home base in Berkeley, across the Bay from San Francisco.
Lee has been recognized for his efforts over the years, including 8 Lowell Thomas Awards. He has been published in traditional media, including almost all the major U.S. travel magazines and newspapers, and he’s had travel photos in more than 300 Lonely Planet books.
Lee Foster was kind enough to answer some of our burning questions about travel below.
TA: Where are you from?
Lee: I grew up in Mankato, Minnesota, and went to a Jesuit high school in Minnesota. From there I studied in a Great Books undergraduate program at Notre Dame. Then I came west with a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to do graduate work in Literature at Stanford. While at Stanford, my mentor, Wallace Stegner, helped me get a novel and a memoir about growing up in Minnesota (called Minnesota Boy) published. From that time on, I decided to devote my life to my own writing and photography. For reasons of romance, I moved to Berkeley.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Lee: I’ve been traveling since about 1975. I had a VW camper and a young family, and enjoyed getting out to look at California, the West, and Mexico. For several years I was an editor of the Sunset Campsite Directory. Sunset magazine and the Campsite Directory used my writing and photography, especially from Mexico.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Lee: I like to do what I call “essence of the destination” articles. My emphasis is generally of the joy of nature and the wonder of human culture in a destination. I write for the average educated and curious person. Why might you want to go to London, or Easter Island, or Yellowstone? I try to gather as many insights as possible about a destination and put them into the article. My articles are not so much about “me” as about insights that might be useful to “you.”
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Lee: I’ve enjoyed Yosemite in all four seasons more than any other place. I’ve enjoyed it in so many ways, from a recent road trip across the High Country Highway 120 to my earlier backpacking the Tuolumne River and winter cross-country skiing to Glacier Point. Search “Yosemite” on Foster Travel and my various articles and book chapters on Yosemite will share my enthusiasm for this great national park.
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Lee: I’ve been able to visit the places I was most interested in. Perhaps highest on the list was the Pyramids of Egypt. Next tier included the terracotta warriors in Xian China, the great herds of animals in Kenya, and beautiful Denali mountain in Alaska. I have articles describing my joy in all these subjects on my website.
TA: What’s one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Lee: I’m always very attentive to packing my cameras, since about half of my income has been from travel photography and half from travel writing. It’s amazing how travel photography has changed. Now I carry one Nikon with a 35-140 lens and my iPhone 7+, and I’m careful not to forget the chargers.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Lee: Be open to the amazing beauty of nature and the endless diversity of human culture. These two subjects are inexhaustible. In one lifetime you will only begin to experience them. Be restless to experience more.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Lee: I participate energetically in three travel/journalism communities. They are the Society of American Travel Writers, the Bay Area Travel Writers, and our regional self-publishing group known as Bay Area Independent Publishers Assn. Two bloggers I admire are Gary Arndt, for his huge appetite for travel, such as all the UNESCO sites, and Evelyn Hannon, who has created a remarkable community of fellow (and gal) travelers.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Lee: Be open to the joy of nature and the diversity of human culture.
TA: What’s a travel scam travelers should be wary of?
Lee: If the price is too low, it’s probably a scam.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Lee: Yellowstone. It remains so resilient