Profile photo for Karen Torme Olson

Karen Torme Olson

I am a journalist whose love affair with travel writing started in a rural Missouri town. I didn't need to travel far, but capturing the essence of rural Berger, Mo. and its 226 residents was a challenge that resulted in the book: "Berger: Life in a Missouri Rivertown."
I also worked at "Stars and Stripes" in Darmstadt, Germany and pursued stories that reflected the country's culture and history, a bit of a challenge since I didn't know a word of German. But finding ways to connect with the people I met along the way, despite the language barrier, was the best training possible for a travel writer.
The bulk of my career--22 years--was spent as an editor at the Chicago Tribune, after which I branched out to freelance travel writing.
I am the author of the first three editions of Frommer’s “Croatia,” and a major contributing author and editor for two editions of Frommer’s “Eastern Europe.”
In addition, I have published articles and photographs from spots as diverse as Ukraine, Kansas, Scotland, Kosovo, and Texas.
I believe that my best travel stories are those that grew from interacting with the people who live in the places I visited. Anyone can snap a photo and describe what they see, but understanding and appreciating a place's soul and its people comes from making connections.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"Croatia, Eastern Europe, the Midwest, and wherever I happen to visit. I often focus on food and wine traditions wherever I am because I find that what happens around the table gives a great insight into the history and culture of people and place.


How did you get involved in travel?

"I always have been the kind of person who would go anywhere and try anything without thinking twice. Whether it is a trip to E3 in Los Angeles, an Outward Bound experience in Minnesota's Boundary Waters, or a weekend in London, I am game. My journalism skills have taught me to expect the unexpected and the importance of making connections with people. Being able to do that and to tell vivid stories about the places I've been make travel writing a natural outcome."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"My most moving experience involved a handshake in Kosovo. While walking with friends in downtown Pristina, a man heard us talking and asked if our accents were American. We said yes and with tears in his eyes, he shook hands with each of us saying, ‘Thank you for what you did for us. Your country saved our lives.’” That sentiment was repeated over and over as I traveled through Kosovo--even 10 years after President Bill Clinton sent military intervention to stop the ethnic cleansing that was happening there.

Hikers en route to Everest Base Camp in the Everest region, one of Nepal's most famous treks
Why Trek? An Inside Perspective on Trekking in Nepal

Twenty-five years ago, New Zealand native Jamie McGuinness followed his muse and took a break from university to travel the world. During that time, trekking became his passion, and he has been exploring the Himalaya ever since.

Sample wine from Hvar's Stari Grad Plain made from grapes planted over 24 centuries ago
Secrets of Croatia’s Wine Country

Istria, one of Croatia’s premier winemaking regions, was named one of the 2015 World Top 10 travel destinations by Wine Enthusiast magazine. But Istria is just one of the dozens of wine-producing locations in Croatia. Because of its small geographically-defined nature, the wine regions offer many tours and tastings, most of which are accessible by bike, a perfect way to sip your way through some of the country’s best wine.

The Cathedral of St. Euphemia towering over the town of Rovinj in Istria
Going Off the Beaten Path in Croatia

Dubrovnik is Croatia’s indisputable hotspot, but the rest of the country is rich with wonders waiting to be discovered. Here is a glimpse of Dubrovnik, as well as lesser known but still spectacular spots beyond its medieval walls.

Sailing on the Adriatic is one of the best ways to see Croatia
Southern Dalmatia: Croatia's Best Region for Sailing

Southern Dalmatia is a sailor's paradise, starting in Dubrovnik sailing past miles of secluded coastlines and several don’t-miss islands. Korcula, Mljet, Lopud, Hvar, Brac, and Vis just to name a few of the islands. You'll find some of the best kayaking and windsurfing in this region. We put together a list of Southern Dalmatia's most popular areas to sail to on your next trip.

Sailing boat anchored along the Dalmatian Coast
Best Water Activities in Croatia

Croatia’s coastline runs more than 1,100 miles. Add the shorelines of 1,185 islands, plus its inland lakes, rivers, lagoons, and waterfalls, and it’s clear that the country is a paradise for watersports enthusiasts. You can sail among the islands, kayak the inland rivers and lakes, snorkel or scuba off the Adriatic coastline or kitesurf, fish, or even bungee jump during a vacation in Croatia.

Waterfalls at Krka National Park
Top 10 Natural Wonders of Croatia

To visit Croatia is to become part of its landscape of natural wonders. Its national parks may be the country’s best known conservation areas, but even in the nation’s capital, Zagreb, visitors are surrounded by protected regional parks, forests and even a mountain.