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The Accidental Italy Travel Consultant

In the just-over-three years I’ve been working at BootsnAll, I’ve had three different titles and two sets of business cards, neither of which I’ve run out of. The current ones say I’m a “travel writer,” which covers just about everything I do – but lately I’m beginning to think I need to add “Italy travel consultant” to that as well.
To a certain extent, I started being a travel consultant for Italy as soon as I started writing this website. But the number of direct questions I’ve been getting via email or on Twitter has increased significantly in the last several months. I’m excited about that, because not only does it give me an opportunity to share information in a one-on-one way, it also gives me great fodder for future articles on the site. Because after all, if one person’s asking the question, that means there are plenty of other people out there who want to know the same thing.
Come to think of it, this – answering questions about visiting Italy – is the same thing I did for years before I started writing about it. Whenever anyone I knew told me they were planning an Italy trip, I’d sit down and write out a long email with my tips and suggestions based on my previous trips. I had fun doing it, but it was always time-consuming. I eventually got smart and created a document that I’d just have to tweak before sending to people, instead of always starting from scratch. But it still took time.
Now, when people ask me questions about traveling in Italy, I have not only all the stuff I’ve already written on WhyGo Italy to pull from, I also have the vast network of BootsnAll websites at my disposal, too. It’s like a treasure chest. Looking for a good deal on airfare to Venice? I can send you tips to find a cheaper ticket and then direct you to a site where you can book your flight. For when you’re actually there, I’ll happily fill you in on why I completely adore the city and give you my list of the 10 things everyone should do there – and although there aren’t many bona fide Venice hostels, I can help you find a budget hotel instead.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have yet to fall head-over-heels in love with Rome, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help you find an airline ticket to Rome and set you up to have a fantastic stay in the Italian capital. I’ve met enough people who love Rome now to know that there’s something magical there – and after my more recent trips I’m beginning to see the magic myself – so I really try to keep my opinions about the city from coloring yours. This is especially important as my opinions about the city change! I’ve changed my mind about the neighborhood to the southwest of Termini (where many of the Rome hostels are, and which I used to think was kind of creepy but where I stayed during both my trips to Rome in May and found it perfectly fine), for starters, although I do think for my next trip I’ll be looking at the hotels in Rome that are in the Monti area (which was new to me, though clearly quite old). Each time I visit a place in Italy or talk to a trusted resource who’s been there I’m better equipped to answer the questions I’m getting – and I also end up with a whole new list of articles to write.
In many ways, the Italy tips and suggestions I give out now to readers is the same sort of stuff I was sharing with my friends back when I was just a traveler and didn’t write about it. It’s just that now I can send out links and don’t have to create advice from whole cloth every single time.
The other day, I got an email from my college jazz choir instructor, who I’d recently reconnected with on Facebook. He and his wife are planning a trip to Italy, and he’d seen my recent Twitter (and therefore Facebook) updates from when I was in Italy. He asked if I’d be willing to help him with his travel plans, and of course I replied that I was more than happy to help. When I met up with him, I was surprised to learn that he’d asked me for help as someone who’d recently traveled to Italy – we’d been out of touch for so long that he had no idea that this is what I do for a living now! His request for assistance was like the ones I used to get from friends years ago, not like the email questions I get from WhyGo Italy readers now.
I made him jot down some notes during our lunchtime chat, but I can’t tell you how much easier even giving personal travel suggestions to a friend is now that I can pick from all the things I’ve written about Italy and all the Italy travel resources on BootsnAll and elsewhere on the web. His notes won’t make any sense to him, but one or two words will remind me of a certain page I need to send him. One or two words will translate into thousands of words from the articles I’ve written. And what makes me the happiest is that the advice I’d give to very close friends is the same advice I give out every day on the website and via email.
So, the way I approach my job as an “Italy travel writer” sort of makes me a an “Italy travel consultant” by default. All the same, I think I might need new business cards.