I’m Terry Ward, a Florida-based travel writer by profession and lover of world cultures, languages, souls, food, oceans, wild spaces and urban places by nature.
Freelancer, journalist, reporter, travel writer
I’ve been called a few things since I quit my job as a copywriter in an advertising agency in 2000 to travel the world and work as a freelance writer.
I’m a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a contributing editor for Travel+Leisure, The Points Guy, Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, Marriott Traveler, Southern Living, Thrillist, Fodor’s and Essentialist. And I co-founded the Florida travel blog, Florida Beyond.
I’ve paid the bills and funded the fun while chiming in on many topics, from experiencing true courage with a group of fearless local women in a remote Rajasthan village to joining a sailing adventure to the end of the icy earth aboard a boat better built for cruising the Caribbean.
I’ve pieced together an intrepid living writing online reviews, too, and even penning in-flight audio scripts. But I thrive on more rewarding gigs, like contributing feature articles on such diverse topics as an anti-sex tourism hotel in a red light Bangkok neighborhood and venturing outside the cage with great white sharks in Mexico.
In summary, I write. Mostly about travel, but other topics (food, parenting, lifestyle, art, home), too. It’s what I’ve always done. I don’t know what else I would do.
I live in Tampa, Florida with my Cuban husband and our two young children.
What my clients say about me
I love working with Terry because she is wonderfully present—and by that, I mean she both deeply explores the destinations she writes about and is quick to connect with me anytime I want to talk through an aspect of one of her stories. She tells authentic stories, meets her deadlines, cares about the reader, and seamlessly works with photographers and other members of creative teams. Simply put, she's a pro.
Terry is a standout writer and content creator; for more than 15 years, I've hired her to write for me across multiple travel publications, and with good reason. Terry's writing is reliably excellent, she's an absolute professional, and her attention to fact checking, details and deadlines makes my work as her editor an absolute pleasure.
I love working with Terry because she lives the stories she writes. She’s a world traveler — hitting the road solo and with her family — so she can provide targeted advice for a range of our readers. She’s got tremendous contacts in the industry, hits her deadline every time and is authentic. I love collaborating with her!
As an editor who has been pleased to give Terry Ward assignments for more than 10 years, I can attest that she is delightful to work with, has never let me down, and has more than once pulled my you-know-what from the fire. Whether she's filing short front-of-the-book pieces, a regular monthly column or a full-length feature, Terry is a consummate pro who always delivers.
When I was a kid growing up in Northern Virginia, my family rented a beach house every summer in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was just a six-hour drive from our home in the Washington DC suburbs, but the journey south along Interstate-95 felt epic. We’d arrive in the late afternoon to the scent of the Atlantic Ocean and sea oats baking on the dunes and run directly out onto the beach. Even today, the smell of a late-afternoon beach arrival comes with such a sense of place and nostalgia for me. I wrote about some of those formative travel memories in this ode to the summer vacation.
In 2015, I sailed thousands of miles to the Arctic from southern Norway with a multinational crew of five (I was the only woman and the only American) aboard a 37-foot fiberglass sailboat more fit for the Caribbean. The adventure of circumnavigating the Svalbard archipelago–diving under icebergs and even chasing a polar bear off the stern–is something I’ll be talking about until I’m senile (and perhaps afterward, too). Back on terra firma, one of my favorite adventures ever was the time my surfer ex-boyfriend (my co-pilot on a bunch of my early travels) and I drove a weathered van all the way from Florida through Mexico and Central America to the edge of the Panama Canal.
This is a question I get asked a lot (in addition to, “Can I be your sherpa?”). I think the most important thing, first and foremost, is to be a writer who travels and not necessarily a traveler who writes, if that makes sense. You have to hone the craft by being observant and also writing a lot–and reading a lot of good writing, too–before you’re going to really break through the masses of people who want to make it in this competitive profession. Another tip is to meet with as many people in the business as you can in person, where and when it makes sense. That’s worked well for me over the years, as editors and contacts are far more likely to respond to an email (and give you an assignment) if they’ve actually met you in real life. I also always point people to my friend’s excellent blog, “So you wanna be a travel writer?”, for tips on getting started as a travel writer.
In addition to directing people to follow the blog I co-founded about unique Florida experiences and travel tips, FloridaBeyond.com, I always recommend seeking out the places between when you come to the Sunshine State. We’re known for our big cities, famous beaches and, of course, Orlando’s theme parks. But Florida’s wild places and still-pristine nature is where you’ll find the real rewards here–and where you can do truly unique things on vacation like kayaking through bioluminescence where rockets launch overhead, watching nesting sea turtles and scuba diving alongside car-sized fish.
Ever since my first trip to Europe with my parents when I was 11 years old, I’ve been fascinated by all things foreign and kept diaries to record life’s highlights and hard times. My earliest cultural awakenings were basic but made an impression nonetheless–that they eat snails in France and there was a brand of gummy bears in Germany shaped just like little Coca-Cola bottles. The world opened right up for me at a very young age, thanks to travel, and I went on expanding my horizons from there.
I speak passable French, Spanish, German and Dutch. It’s a cliché, but I’ve learned way more through my travels and the people I’ve met all over this awesome planet than anything they ever tried to teach me at university (where I managed to get an advertising degree when I wasn’t helping friends of the non-writerly variety pen their finals papers). I studied French in Toulouse, tried to learn Arabic while living with the warmest host family in Fes, took a jewelry-making class in Bali and donned a skirt that looked like a lampshade to work as a cocktail waitress in a casino during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. And I owe it all to the freedom of the freelance life. I don’t have the insurance benefits that come with a stable job or an employer contributing to my 401K, but I wouldn’t trade this gig for all the frequent flier miles in the world. I have time to spend with friends and family, I dive everywhere I can, I ski and snowboard, I wander purposefully and sometimes aimlessly and, like most writers, drink coffee wherever it’s brewing. I’ve sailed under the midnight sun through the glacial waters of Greenland with my hero during a father-daughter trip of a lifetime, sailed with four gorgeous and adventurous Norwegians from Norway to the Faroe Islands, camped in the wilds of Northern Norway and finned among thousands of schooling barracuda under the shadow of Indonesia’s Spice Islands. And I love taking photos, too, many of which have been published with my work. Follow me on Instagram here to see more of those. I currently live in Florida with my husband and two young children.
Some places have pulled me in more deeply than others, namely Indonesia, Norway, Morocco and France. But I’ve hardly scratched the surface of where I want to go and what I want to do, and chances are I’m going to be writing about most of it. I travel on a monthly basis and I’ve called many places home over the years including New Zealand, Bali and France. Home for me, until recently, was southwest France. Lately, I’ve been back based in Florida. But anyone who knows me knows they’ll rarely find me kicking it on a beautiful Florida beach. I’ve tried to stop moving, but it’s against my nature—along with other things I don’t write about but probably should, and just might in the future thanks to my blog here . For professional writing, a sample of my clips can be viewed via my online portfolio. And if you’re interested in hiring me to write for you—features, opinions, blogs, ghost writing, reviews, travel advice, profiles, tourism copy and videos, I am open to it all—you can contact me here. I’ve covered home design and profiled cult interior designers for lifestyle magazines. And I’ve even gone tête-à-tête with an American vertigo-suffering famous French philosopher, one Bernard-Henri Levy, as part of my day-to-day. So when it comes to writing, it’s all fair game for me. I’ve heard “Can you pack me in your luggage?” more times than I remember–and more often, I’ve wished I could. So many places would have been that much better shared. And that’s where writing has saved me. Getting it all out on paper isn’t always easy, but it’s rewarding because it lets me bring you along for the ride.
Let’s talk about your project.
Whether you wish to see more of my work or just want to talk travel, I look forward to hearing from you.