We are Michael Hodgson and Therese Iknoian, the husband-and-wife team behind HITravelTales.com – and, yes, despite travel’s occasional travails, we remain happily married and always look forward to the next trip together. We are veteran journalists and award-winning writers. We have taken our lifetimes of globetrotting, leveraged our journalists’ chops and innate people skills, and added a dash of humor and playfulness.
About HI Travel Tales
HI Travel Tales offers its readers insider looks at uncommon places, plus insights into the more well-traveled. We find adventures to share everywhere, from mountain trails and remote islands to urban neighborhoods or small villages. Our personal stories paired with concrete advice, outstanding photography and compelling videos blend to create a travel blog that brings readers back again and again.
We love sharing stories from other travelers, too, and have a growing slate of wonderful contributors. We are also surrogate parents to a rather large and still growing family of stuffed animals who all have names and invariably fight over who gets to go on the next trip (Michael sometimes insists two go, hiding one in Therese’s carry-on.)
We are travelers. Always have been. We engage. We explore. We immerse ourselves everywhere we go. We are both uber-curious and enthusiastic about sharing our experiences. Thank you for joining us on our adventures.
P.S. Where did the name HI Travel Tales come from? Hodgson is Michael’s last name and Iknoian is Therese’s. Thus, H and I are … HI!
Born to British parents in Canada but spending most of my formative years in the United States, I schlepped back and forth across the Atlantic frequently with my mum and dad until heading off to college. While there, I had the opportunity to spend a few months in Kenya – and I found myself hooked on discovering cultures, new places, and taking on adventures. My biology major somehow led me into a writing career (hey, this makes sense to me). As a writer, I specialized in outdoor endeavors, from camping, hiking and mountaineering, to adventure racing, paddling and gear testing. Of course, all that meant travel and adventure! While I consider myself more of a travel writer and artist these days, I remain drawn to wild spaces and places around the world. My travels have taken me to all seven continents.
As an artist, I have always enjoyed sketching and painting in my journals, but recently started creating artwork exclusively on my iPad. My art is inspired by my travels around the world and, like drawings in my travel journal, provide snapshots of the world through my eyes. I am honored that some of my artwork has been sold exclusively to raise funds for philanthropic causes and non-profits, such as Big City Mountaineers. As writer/journalist, I have authored more than 16 books and penned many hundreds of feature articles over the years. Now, I am focused exclusively on travel writing for HITravelTales.com, a website/travel blog I launched in partnership with my wife, Therese Iknoian.
My articles have appeared in Outside, Backpacker, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, The Christian Science Monitor and others. My published books (some of which are actually still in print) include No Shit There I Was, Compass & Map Navigator, Facing The Extreme, and Camping For Dummies.
Little did my parents know that a short trip to Europe in high school would launch a lifetime love of travel, languages, exploration and cultures. Since that short trip, I have been to nearly 30 countries and once had friends complain that I filled too many pages in their address books (yes, old-style paper books).
Trained as a news journalist, I first spent a decade as a daily newspaper journalist also earning a Pulitzer Prize as a member of a news team. Ah, but the independent life called and I launched a freelance writing career, writing articles and authoring several books (and getting my master’s in exercise physiology). All the while trotting the globe on news-gathering and reporting trips, that age-old light bulb finally went on with a thunk of my palm against my thick head: Travel! Why aren’t I writing about travel since everybody always wants to hear my tips and stories?
My writing focus finally turned to travel with the launch of HI Travel Tales with my husband, Michael Hodgson. Today, I combine writing with photography – an art I honed as a college student when photos were still developed in a dark room (Google it) and processing meant chemicals, not Photoshop. I returned to photography in recent years, gravitating to street scenes, people’s face, and shapes, shadows and light that tell stories and “paint” a picture.
Fluent in German, I also run a translation business (ThereseTranslates), working primarily with outdoor and sports companies. A bit of a French speaker, too, I love to learn some of the language wherever I go — gdje je kupaonica? Мне нужна помощь! — often embarrassing myself (not to mention my husband) in the quest for cross-cultural communication.
As a writer, I have authored non-fiction books, including two editions of Fitness Walking, as well as Tai Chi For Dummies and Mind-Body Fitness for Dummies. I have also written for Fitness, Health, Backpacker, Women’s Day, Men’s Health, Parenting, and Shape, to mention a few, and was the “Ask the Coach” columnist for Trail Runner from 2003 to 2010.
My mantra on travel exploration stems from my father: “I’ve been kicked out of better places than this.”
CHARLES BATY — Born in Alabama, Charles Baty started as a mathematician but ended up a blues guitarist. Baty and Rick Estrin formed Little Charlie and the Nightcats, which went on to tour and release numerous albums, including Night Vision (1993) with guest musician and producer Joe Louis Walker. “Lil’ Charlie” drove more than a million miles during this era, traversing the continental United States dozens of times prior to the GPS era. Maps and memories with a good dash of diner food steered him right. Although “softly” retired in 2008, he can’t help but join a tour now and then, penning a journal as he stares out the van window. Check out out “Lil’ Charlie” on occasional tours at http://www.markhummel.com/calendar.html.
DIANE BENTON — Diane Benton, who grew up roaming the world, and Jerry van Heeringen, who started later in life, now live for the adventure of being travelers as a couple. Local food is a given and working hard to blend in too. (OK, so it’s not as if Jerry at 6-5 can truly blend in…). Mastering a few phrases in the local language is usually at the top of their list too. Bonjour, Madame? Still, that’s not to say that travel mishaps don’t happen. But, hey, isn’t that part of the adventure?
CHRIS CHESAK — Chris ‘Chez’ Chesak is a longtime veteran of the outdoor and travel industries, with some 20 years experience in both. He recently spent nine years working for an adventure travel trade association and is now the Executive Director of the Family Travel Association. He’s traveled to more than 25 countries and once spent three months driving across the U.S. in a sweet, but battered, VW Golf. While he loves to travel, he loves even more when he can do it with his young daughters and provide them experiences that truly ‘blow their minds’.
KEN LEE — Realizing that life is too short not to travel, Ken Lee created Mountain Adventures to avoid a regular job so he could keep traveling. Smart man. As a tour operator for more than 25 years now, he ventures all around the globe. With a foundation in mountaineering, Mountain Adventures itineraries have grown to include Asia, South America and Africa. Tours range from jungle journeys in the Bolivian Amazon, photography jaunts across China, to wine-tasting expeditions at some of Chile’s finest wine-making establishments.
GEOFF O’KEEFFE — Geoff O’Keeffe loves the West, his wife and kids and his home in the Rockies. Until recently, he spent a significant amount of his year in China. His number one objective is to be able to do just one thing at one time in one place.
RICK SAEZ — Rick Saez is a California-based international travel, landscape and adventure photographer. He’s led expeditions and photo trips to Alaska, Nepal, Mexico, Africa and has photographed in 25 different countries on six different continents. Rick recently launched The Outdoor Biz Podcast where he interviews outdoor professionals to learn their stories, tips, strategies, and ideas about outdoor business, careers and lifestyle. Rick has been published in magazines such as Austrian Ocean 7 magazine, Runner’s World, Alameda magazine and more. His clients include Eagle Creek, Mountain Khakis, Sea to Summit, Orvis, WETA Trimarans, Lowepro, Montbell and Sage to Summit.