About Me

I’m a travel evangelist: A photographer, writer, blogger, and public speaker who loves exploring the world’s people and places and sharing that passion with others.

My ever-patient and helpful husband and I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but we’re often off checking out the rest of the world and trying to capture it in words and images. Over the years I’ve traveled extensively in the USA and have visited almost 70 countries across the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the South Pacific. And, of course, there are more on my must-see list!  (There aren’t too many places I’m not interested in.) My trips include a mix of independent travel, private guided trips, group tours, and travel with friends via private car, train, bus, plane, cruise ship, ferry, and sail boat. (There are lots of ways to see the world.)


I’ve been interested in photography as long as I can remember, starting with my mom’s old Brownie in the early years of primary school, then moving on to a Kodak 110 Pocket Instamatic before diving into the world of 35mm photography with my dad’s Zeiss Contaflex in Junior High. Today I usually shoot with my Nikon D610 or Olympus OMD-1, but I have a variety of other cameras that get used in certain circumstances.

I’m an active member of the Saint Paul Camera Club and compete in local (and a few regional) competitions.

  • You can purchase my photography at www.CindyCarlsson.com
  • My experiments with photography are posted at: PlayingWithPhotography
  • Contact me (thetravelgal at explorationvacation.net) if you would like me to take on a special assignments or if you would like a specific image from this blog


I became a writer in 5th grade, when I discovered that writing a short story or essay for extra credit was an easy way to maintain good grades. Later I discovered there were careers that paid people  just to write. I planned to take advantage of that by becoming a journalist, but life had other plans. Instead I’ve continued writing as an integral part of a variety of other jobs. (Writers can be anything!) I can’t imagine not writing and am expanding the range of my writing for publication in this blog and other media.


I began blogging in 2005 as The Travel Gal on Blogger. From the beginning it was both a way to share my travels with friends and provide information for other travelers. I’d always sent long multi-page Christmas letters (complete with photos) about my travels. To the on-going frustration of my high school English teacher, the blog largely replaced those letters. The idea of starting a blog actually came about a few years earlier while researching a trip to Montenegro. At that time (2004) there wasn’t much information on travel in Montenegro. In the end, the best information I found came from an English language blog by a Norwegian whose pictures and stories served as my guidebook on that trip. His blog was also the inspiration for what later became The Travel Gal.

Exploration Vacation is an expanded version of that earlier blog, with more destination content to supplement the travel stories,pictures, and journals.

Public speaking

Public speaking came about as a by-product of various jobs and volunteer activities. I discovered I enjoyed it and have been fortunate enough to conduct training and speak before groups ranging from co-workers to national (and a few international) leaders. I’ve always given informal travel talks, but now I am also developing a travel training course to help others make their travel dreams reality.

Other things

I do other things too, like garden and create jewelry. I’m also interested in indigenous art and culture, textiles, traditional clothing and jewelry, contemporary glass and ceramics, sustainability, historic preservation, and urban planning. You’ll see these topics show up occasionally in this blog and you can visit my on-again/off-again garden journal at www.cybergardening.blogspot.com.

These days I’m running my own business again after a varied career that included association management, land use and strategic planning, sustainability, and government relations. I spent the last dozen years working in transportation, which gave me the opportunity to do all sorts of interesting things at the state and national level, but I never intended to make transportation my life’s work. By June 2014 it was more than time to redirect my time and energy. I left my office job in order to spend more time with my husband and develop my own business . . . and I am loving every minute.

You can contact me at thetravelgal at explorationvacation.net

About me - ExplorationVacation.net




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