Left Brain Meets Right Brain: Behind the Scenes at Gallivance


We often joke that as a couple we’re “Left Brain” meets “Right Brain” – James being the scientist and Terri the creative type. Surprisingly, it works great – both on the blog and in real life.

This collaboration has encouraged us to look at things differently – whether it’s travel observations of fascinating architecture, or a home renovation project to build a cool bar top. We often come at a challenge from two diametrically opposed perspectives and devise a solution that surprises and delights both of us.

You’re probably wondering why we’re telling you this? Because we’ve been invited by the amazing and talented Kelly over at Compass & Camera to participate in a “Behind the Scenes” Blog Hop by answering 4 questions.

Although she was born in the US and loves the mountains, Kelly has been living in Singapore for the past 3 years. An inveterate traveler since 1998, her posts will take you off the beaten path to places like Bhutan, Morocco, and Borneo. She says,

“Amidst all the chaos and darkness, the world is full of beauty and good people. This is always my focus. There’s no sense in writing about the negative. That can be found anywhere.”

Kelly, you totally nailed it and we couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the honor! We’re thrilled to be invited by you.

So here’s your backstage pass to see what goes on behind the curtain at Gallivance.


Why do we write what we do?

James: Early in my career I was fortunate to land a job that took me all over the world, and almost immediately, these business trips had me yearning for personal travel. Terri and I have explored the globe together, completed two RTWs, lived and worked abroad for years, and I can’t imagine our lives without travel. It’s my hope that my writing will help, encourage, inform and entertain other travelers as well as armchair adventurers. Also, blogging motivates me to be a more observant traveler, which makes the experience even more rewarding.

Terri: Over all our years of travel and living abroad we’ve been the lucky recipients of valuable travel ideas, information, and advice from fellow expats, travelers, and writers. Blogging is our way of acknowledging this debt of gratitude and paying it forward to current and future travelers.


How does our blog differ from others of its genre?

There are tons of excellent travel blogs that provide travel journals or details of destinations and attractions, and because these areas are so well covered, we wanted to take a different approach. We work hard to look at cities, cultures, and sights from a different perspective. Anytime one or the other of us says, “I’m going to write a post on Medieval gables.” the other immediately asks, “What’s your angle?” For instance, we probably won’t write a post on the history of Rothenburg, Germany, but we will do a piece on the artistic Medieval shop signs which illustrate the history.

One of the biggest advantages we have as bloggers is each other. We’re a team and share all the blogging duties: writing, photography, editing, answering comments, and planning future posts. From the beginning our Prime Directive has been that our blog is about fun, and when it stops being fun, we’ll stop blogging. One of the huge advantages of having two contributors is that if one or the other isn’t particularly motivated to write, the other takes up the slack – kind of like tag-team wrestling.

Also, we have different interests and styles – giving us a wide range of topics – and that seems to appeal to our readers.

Bushwacked in Krakow

How does our writing process work?

We strive to make our posts entertaining, informative, concise, photo-rich, and if the topic lends itself to it, we throw in a splash of humor! We aim to write killer titles and enticing opening lines that will draw you in and and make you want to read more.

But we’re also not afraid to tackle the serious subjects we encounter.

Primarily we write about travel, culture, and simplicity, but we don’t restrict ourselves to that alone. We’re always on the lookout for interesting post topics, and if we write a good quality post, then others will find it interesting as well. Basically, we write what we would enjoy reading.

James: As to the writing process, if I’m traveling, I blog real-time; finding post topics wherever I happen to be. Many of my posts are photo driven. I really enjoy mining the photo files from previous trips and pulling together a post with a common thread and coherent theme. This process is fun because it usually forces me to look at things from a new perspective.

Terri: This is one area where we’re totally different. I usually start with the story and then choose the art to support it.

We both keep a file of post ideas on our computer desktops, and review it periodically. If we stumble into something interesting, a note gets added to the list, and if the idea is good enough, it will eventually bubble to the top and we’ll write a post about it.


What are we working on/writing?

James: Recently, I’ve been working on our “Weird and Wonderful” series, which was inspired by a year-end review and culling of our iPhoto library. We had lots of wacky, unique, and offbeat photos that were just begging to be published. It’s been a particularly fun series to write because W&W cuts a wide swath, and our comments have been entertaining, illuminating, and frequently surprising.

Terri: I’m expanding on my “Global Cottage” series that looks at how people around the world live in modest dwellings. I’m also exploring how minimalists travel the world. And I’m having great fun with a follow-up to my “There Goes the Bride” post.

* * *

Our Blog Hop Nominations

We would like to invite two bloggers we enjoy immensely to participate in the Behind the Scenes Blog Hop. Their writing fascinates us and we would love to know how they go about it.

Curt at Wandering Through Time and Place – There are travelers and then there are Travelers. If you take some time to review Curt’s lengthy résumé you’ll see what we mean: Peace Corps in Liberia, year after year at Burning Man, kayaking with orcas, and backpacking with the grizzlies. He walks the walk and his blog documents all of it.

Martha at Therapeutic Misadventures – Martha, in her own words has “slowed down, cut down and committed to a life-long dream.” She’s a world traveler, published author, and a beekeeper with a fascinating expat history that she documented in her book Therapeutic Misadventures. If you’re looking for a woman of the world who knows her mind, Martha is your woman.

Curt and Martha, you’re under no obligation to participate. We think your blogs are wonderful, so please take this as our Thank You for all you do. To everyone else, thanks so much for reading!

Happy Trails,
James & TerriPut on those walking shoes

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

45 thoughts

  1. James and Terri, it’s really interesting to see how your two different styles complement each other to produce blog posts which are not only entertaining, but also informative. I wonder how having both right and left brains in one team helps you during your travels.

    1. What a great question, Bama! Although we’ve both traveled independently, it’s a joy to travel together and share the load. James has an enduring love of maps, so he’s the navigation guru for our trips. I specialize in finding great places to stay and foods to try. James makes sure our technology and finances are in order. And we’re both responsible for finding places off the beaten path. 🙂 ~Terri

  2. A delight to read and see behind the scenes of your fabulous blog. I have loved reading it from the first time I laid eyes on it. Your take on the different angles of a story or place is something I have learned a great deal from.
    It seems like a wonderful partnership and I continue to point out how the two of you share the blog to Dave. 🙂

    1. Thanks Sue. In the early days our blog was mostly about keeping our families and friends in the loop as to where we were and what was going on. And it took us a while to realize what we wanted our blog to be as well as what would be most interesting for us to write and for others to read. We’re both happy with how it’s turned out and with our body of work. As you know, it is a lot of work, but for us it’s a labor of love. ~James

    1. You totally nailed it, Amit! We are having the time of our lives. When we first started traveling (lo those many years ago) we worried about so many things: Do we speak the language? What’s the currency? etc. These days we’re so relaxed, knowing that we’ll get by just fine – it won’t be perfect, but it will be fun! 🙂 ~Terri

    1. Absolutely Andrew. When we look back at some of our early posts, it’s obvious that we were novice bloggers, and essentially all of these posts can benefit from editing. Both of us had done lots of business writing but neither had done any writing for pleasure, so it took some time to adjust. We feel that we’ve upped our game since then, and luckily there’s two of us to read and edit. For us, two sets of eyes always make for a better post. ~James

      1. Yes. Some posts I re-read and say: Ugh!. But others, I say: Hey, this was an interesting post! Some get edited, updated and usually a bit of tweaking of the photos, and we re-publish.

    1. Thanks Laura, we really enjoy hearing from you and all your great comments. How are things up there in the great white North? Did you get covered up by snow and when will you see the first hints of Spring? ~Terri

  3. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into how you work together and how your blogs come together – quite the partnership. Always enjoy your photos but the gargoyles above the door is such fun and the town in the blue bottle charming.

    1. From the beginning we’ve known that publishing a blog requires lots of work, and we never take for granted that there’s two of us to share the load. These gargoyles were on a building in Helsinki, and their Art Nouveau neighborhood was full of fun sculptures like this. ~James

  4. This was lovely to read, giving a deeper insight into who you are, and your creative process and quirky style. Your blog *is* fun. Thank you!
    I need to get on this. James nominated us, and I was going to nominate Curt but you beat me to it!

    1. That’s so funny Alison because we were going to nominate you and saw that James had beaten us to the punch! 🙂 Can’t wait to read how you and Don go about your process. ~Terri

  5. I love these peeks behind the scenes. I can definitely see your different motivations and perspectives in your posts. How fun! I hope Curt and Martha take the challenge. The writing process fascinates .

    1. Thanks Juliann. We’re so glad that Kelly invited us to participate. We knew about our blogging process and motivations, but had never taken the time to write them down. I’ve always been a list person, so writing stuff down is always a good thing. ~James

    1. You’re welcome, Martha … and thanks for the kind words. You always amaze me that even after long days of work you manage to post so regularly. I’m really looking forward to your process if you decide to share. 🙂 Hope you will. ~Terri

  6. Thanks for the inside look. I think that all this blogging business is the new ‘magazine.’ Thank you most of all for the time and effort you two spend in keeping me entertained! And it is truly wonderful entertainment.

    1. Thanks very much Susan. The blog is a creative outlet for each of us, and it’s fun to have a project to work on as a couple. Also, entertainment is the raison d’être for our blog, and I’m pleased that you enjoy it. ~James

  7. Thanks for the look behind the curtain. I appreciate that your posts focus on the culture or history of the area and show off the beaten path items. The surfers in Munich is one of my favs of yours. This post is interesting in that you are co-bloggers so it is interesting to see the division of labor and ideas.

    1. Thanks very much Jeff. Coming from a blogger of your talents, these comments are high praise indeed. The surfers in Munich were a pot of gold for our blog. It’s exactly the kind of thing that we love discover when we travel and to include in our blog. Thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  8. What a FUN read! Loved learning more about how you work together and decide what to write about. You have such a rare and complementary partnership. Thanks for taking part, and also for the kind words. 🙂

    1. Thanks Kelly. We appreciate the invitation. Our blog as well as how and what we write has evolved over time. We appreciate the invitation because it inspired us to take the time to think the process through and write it down. As a blogging team we’ve settled into a comfortable routine, and that makes the whole process easier. A bit of introspection is always a good thing. ~James

  9. What a delight to get to know the two of you better! Your angles in each city are refreshing, and I love to see what your take on a place is. Thanks for pouring so much of your insight, humor, and reflections into your blog. It’s always a pleasure to read your posts. Best wishes for many more good blogs and travels to come.

    1. Thanks very much for your kind words Rusha. It’s gratifying to hear that you enjoy our posts and look forward to reading them. And we really appreciate your continuing to follow along. We’ll keep pluggin’ away here at Gallivance. ~James

  10. Thanks so much for the kind words, James and Terri. Sorry I am so late in responding but I got caught up in writing a newspaper article about seventh graders who are involved in a fascinating digital storytelling project. Each student is actually making a three minute movie on what he or she would like to change: either personally, in our community or in the world. One student shared a one page summary of a personal family issue she was addressing. It was powerful, certainly beyond anything I probably would have produced when I was that age.

    I will be very glad to take on the challenge and answer the four questions… but it may be a week or two before I break out the time to do so. My book just went up on Amazon and Apple plus I am planning out a book signing event in Sacramento. Lots to do.

    Thanks again, –Curt

    1. No problem Curt. It sounds like you’ve got lot (of interesting things) on your plate, so no rush. I’m sure that your loyal readers will be interested to hear what you have to say. Writing a newspaper article? Very impressive. Good luck with your book sales. ~James

  11. Loved reading this and getting to know more about you guys and your creative process! Gallivance is such fantastic blog and you both provide so much interesting information, passion and humor. You’re role models for the rest of us!

    1. Thanks for your kind words Steph. After over 3 years of blogging we seem to have gotten into a comfortable rhythm. This process enables us to spend more energy on what we write rather than how we write. Thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

    1. Marie, I think that most left/right couples (the successful ones anyway) play to each other’s strengths, which makes for a better life and relationship. It’s good to hear that it works well for you as well. BTW, are you left or right? ~James

  12. I love your collaberation as bloggers and the wonderful photos that accompany your stories. Always interesting, always entertaining. It’s a magic formula that works 🙂

    … btw, I love that blue bottle with the reflection in it. Simply a gorgeous photo.

    1. Thanks Joanne. As I said to Marie, Terri and I play to each other’s strengths, and it makes the entire process easier. And another important aspect for us is that we never force it. If a post just isn’t coming, or if we aren’t truly motivated, we just don’t do it. Luckily, we seem to trade off on being inspired, and this works well to keep posting on a regular basis. ~James

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