Leffel, Tim

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Leffel, Tim

PERSONAL:

Married; wife's name Donna; children: one daughter.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Nashville, TN; Yucatan, Mexico. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and editor. Has worked in marketing at RCA Records, as a travel writer, and as corporate communications writer for American Sentinel University. Guest on local and syndicated radio programs.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune: The Contrarian Traveler's Guide to Getting More for Less, Travelers' Tales (Palo Alto, CA), 2006.

(With Richard Oliver) Hip-Hop, Inc.: Success Strategies of the Rap Moguls, Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY), 2006.

(With Rob Sangster) Traveler's Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America: Everything You Need to Know to Become a Very Smart Traveler, Menasha Ridge Press (Birmingham, AL), 2008.

Also author of The World's Cheapest Destinations. Columnist for Transitions Abroad and Tripso.com. Editor, Perceptive Travel (Web site). Publisher of two blogs, The Cheapest Destinations blog and Practical Travel Gear. Contributor to periodicals, including Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, St. Petersburg Times, Every Day with Rachel Ray, Travel Smart, International Living, and International Travel News.

SIDELIGHTS:

Tim Leffel was working as a writer in the marketing department of RCA Records during the mid-1990s when he and his future wife decided to take some time off from their jobs and travel the world. After buying their first plane tickets, the two of them used just 4,500 dollars and kept traveling for seven months. Their money covered their lodging, meals, transportation, and other adventures along the way. Realizing that they were living their dream life for less than they might pay for monthly rent in the United States, they decided to keep up this lifestyle. Over the next sixteen years, Leffel went around the world three times. He now owns a house in Nashville and a small beach house in Mexico, but for most of the year, he, his wife, and his daughter are on the road, moving from one destination to the next. Along the way, Leffel has become well established as a travel writer, particularly as a travel writer offering advice on getting the best value from a small budget. His articles have been dispatched from five continents. In his book Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune: The Contrarian Traveler's Guide to Getting More for Less, the author discusses how travel costs vary depending on the time of year, provides helpful information on using the Internet to reduce travel costs, and explains how alternative travel options can help to save money. His belief is that by making the right choices, anyone can pursue enjoyable travels on any type of budget. His recommendations include avoiding tours and popular tourist spots, using public transit, and patronizing locally owned restaurants and lodgings rather than those run by large corporations.

Leffel and coauthor Richard Oliver explore financial success within the hip-hop culture in their book Hip-Hop, Inc.: Success Strategies of the Rap Moguls, published in 2006. Hip-Hop, Inc. shows that while music is an essential element in the hip-hop/rap industry's success, good business practices have also contributed as much or more than music to the rise of this subculture. The top hip-hop entrepreneurs have used proven business strategies and tactics such as being aware of trends, building brand identity, partnering, and empowerment. Oliver and Leffel give a recap of the development of rap and the hip-hop industry, including stories of some of its most accomplished businessmen, including Sean Combs and Russell Simmons. The authors' intention of revealing the strategies behind hip-hop's rise is "handily accomplished," according to reviewer Peter R. Latusek in Library Journal. Mike Tribby, a reviewer for Booklist, described the book as "engrossing and vital."

Asked by a contributor to Write to Travel for advice for those who would like to get into travel writing, Leffel noted that new opportunities have opened up for writers thanks to the possibilities of Internet publishing. He recalled that his first real financial break came when he was assigned to write hotel reviews in Turkey. He further stated that it was important to "write like crazy, read a lot, learn how to edit well, and remember who your real customer is—the editor. Start small and then think big instead of trying to do it the other way. Most of the work comes from doing short and focused service pieces (how-to stuff). And keep your day job until you get wildly successful, of course." Discussing the field of travel writing with Tim Patterson for the Brave New Traveler, Leffel advised that the job is "just as competitive" as being a famous singer or movie star, "but with less potential payoff. Almost every travel writer I know is either doing something else to make a real living or they wrote part-time for years before making the big plunge once they had enough solid recurring assignments or royalties…. Like any ‘cool job,’ you have to pay your dues for a while before earning real money. It's great fun much of the time, and an enviable position, which is why the competition is so strong and the pay so weak."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 2006, Mike Tribby, review of Hip-Hop, Inc.: Success Strategies of the Rap Moguls, p. 53.

Library Journal, March 15, 2006, Peter R. Latusek, review of Hip-Hop, Inc., p. 80.

ONLINE

About.com,http://seniortravel.about.com/ (April 15, 2008), Nancy Parode, review of Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune: The Contrarian Traveler's Guide to Getting More for Less.

Brave New Traveler,http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/ (November 8, 2007), Tim Patterson, author interview.

World's Cheapest Destinations, http://www.worldscheatpestdestinations.com/ (April 14, 2008), author profile.

Write to Travel,http://writetotravel.blogspot.com/ (March 5, 2008), author interview.