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I’m Writing a Guidebook

I’m writing a travel guidebook, specifically, a guidebook for visitors to American Samoa.

Last week, I told you about half of the equation that’s been keeping me so busy- training for the Pacific Games this summer.

I have a few hours per day, while the kids are at school, when I have uninterrupted time to get work done. Half of that time has been spent training (plus some evenings after the kids are in bed) and the other half has been spent working on the guidebook.

View of Coral Heads in American Samoa
View of Coral Heads at Camel Rock

Why Am I Writing a Guidebook?

As we were looking into moving to American Samoa, I realized there was a serious lack of information on life in the territory. The amount of info was definitely underwhelming, while the idea of moving, without a lot of the info I was looking for, was overwhelming.

If you’ve been following Traveling Outside-the-Box at all, you’ll know that I’ve basically made it my mission to explore every inch of our tropical paradise and learn everything about the people and culture we’ve come to love so much.

I share bits and pieces of what we’ve experienced and learned, but I realized how helpful it would be to have a comprehensive guide for anyone coming to the islands of American Samoa, whether for a one-day stopover or moving for an immersive, new-life experience.

View of Utulei, American Samoa
View of Utulei and Pago Harbor from the World War II Heritage Trail

What Does It Take to Write a Guidebook?

When I first started working on the guidebook, my plans were pretty simple. I thought it would take me a couple months to write and edit the manuscript, snap a dozen or so pics around the islands, and then… off to the publishers.


I thought, “Our territory isn’t that big. Really, how much will there be to write?

But as I got writing, I found more and more things that I just couldn’t leave out. I hope that my love and fascination comes through in my writing.

A couple months turned into a couple more. A couple more turned into six months. Now, I’m getting awfully close to that one-year mark.

Stone Steps on Hiking Trail, American Samoa
Stone Steps on Hiking Trail

Writing the guidebook has turned out to be so much more than just writing.

I’ve spent hours researching. Sometimes, getting lost down rabbit holes of information, that I’ll probably never include in the guidebook, but that are just too interesting to ignore.

I’ve driven every inch of road, with my notebook in hand, looking for the things that inspire me and that I know I definitely will include.

I’ve written and rewritten, and edited and rewritten again.

Nate’s been awesome through it all. At nights, I’ll read sections of the book aloud to him, so he can give me his impressions and criticisms.

And Kip has been my little driving buddy. On Friday mornings, he doesn’t have school, so there’s no half-day schedule to work around. We jump in the car with snacks and plenty of water. Then, drive to the far ends of the island and down each side street. Sometimes we talk or listen to kid podcasts. Other times, I tell him I need to focus and he quietly plays with toys he’s brought along.

View of Aunu'u Beach, American Samoa
View of the Beach on Aunu’u

When Can You Expect to See the Finished Guidebook?

The kids’ last day of school is June 7. I’ve given myself until then to see if I can finish the main writing parts.

Then, I can spend the summer with them, getting out and exploring some more with my camera in hand.

We also need to plan a trip to the Manu’a Islands. I can’t imagine writing about that part of the territory without actually having seen it or experienced it for myself.

Old Tramway, American Samoa
Old Tramway, World War II Heritage Trail

So when?

I wish I had a concrete answer for you.

I wish I had any kind of answer for myself!

What I do have is a plan. I’ve mapped out every step I have left to be able to complete this project.

However much longer it takes, just know that once this guidebook is finished, it will have everything that one might need to come to American Samoa, equipped to experience the territory to it’s fullest.

Pinnable Guidebook Image
Pin Me!

Stay tuned for more updates on the guidebook, more of our adventures around the South Pacific, and more useful and helpful travel tips.

5 thoughts on “I’m Writing a Guidebook”

  1. Hi there, I just discovered your blog and am glad to see that you are writing about the American Samoa from an international resident’s perspective. I am wondering if your kids attend the public school and what your experiences have been. Also, I’m wondering about the hiking trails near Pago Pago and how many miles one could go for a hike or run. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Kelly. Those are some great questions! As far as the public schools- yes, we have our kids there. I can give you the short answer or the long answer as to our experience. The short answer is that the academic side is wanting, as in, below Mainland standards. But we feel, with a little extra work provided by us to supplement, the kids are (hopefully) staying up with where they should be. The teachers are under payed and under trained/educated. They mean well and with parental oversight (helping them understand what’s expected and appropriate) they do an adequate job with what they’ve been given. The public school system does leave quite a bit to be desired, but the experience our kids have had being the only palagi (white) kids, is something they’ll remember forever and hopefully be better for.
      The hiking is great! The trails are never crowded. They could use some extra care, but they show a genuine, raw and natural beauty of the island. Most of them are shorter, 3 miles at most, but there are a couple longer ones. The Mount Alava Trail is 7.5 miles round trip and if you continue on to the Adventure Trail, it adds, I think, another 3 or 4 miles.
      I hope you get the chance to visit at some point, to try out the trails for yourself. And please feel free to email me with any other questions you might have. I’m happy to share everything I’ve learned.

  2. Pingback: Travel to Manu'a Made Easy - Traveling Outside-the-Box

    1. Thanks for asking! The book is coming along and will hopefully be available before too long. 🤞 I’ve been through a couple different formatters, just trying to find someone who can bring my vision to life. I’ll let you know when I have a release date. I’m aiming for the weekend of Flag Day, here in American Samoa- April April 17. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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