Hi, I’m Sandra Friend. For more than 30 years, I’ve shared my love of travel, hiking, and the outdoors with people like yourself through my articles, books, and photography. I started by writing for local newspapers and soon picked up assignments for magazines across the USA. An early adopter of the web, I launched my first travel website in 1997, and now manage three major websites and three minor ones for which I write and wrangle the technical magic behind the scenes.
While walking around Lake Okeechobee on the annual Big O Hike in 2011, I met my soulmate, John Keatley. I didn’t know it at the time. But that spring, we headed to the Appalachian Trail together to take on our lifelong dreams of a thru-hike. While we didn’t make it as far as we planned, our time together cemented our relationship. We’ve been traveling, hiking, and writing together ever since.
After years of going solo as a freelancer, it’s a delight to be part of a team. In addition to researching and writing more than a half-dozen books and a handful of articles together, John and I write for and publish the award-winning website FloridaHikes.com, Florida’s top resource for the outdoors. In 2013, we started our own publishing company, Watula Press. We’ve also taken on projects to help tourism bureaus showcase their outdoors. And in 2018, we spun off our travel section of Florida Hikes into its own brand, Trails & Travel.
It’s always been my mission to inspire you to get outdoors, no matter how you like to do it: a scenic drive, a picnic in a park, an easy walk, a lengthy backpacking trip, a cross-state bike ride, or a paddle down a winding waterway.
- Past Executive Director, Florida Trail Hikers Alliance (FTthruHike)
- Past Chair, Freelance Council, Society of American Travel Writers
- Past Director, SATW Institute, Society of American Travel Writers
- Past Vice Chair, Atlantic-Caribbean Chapter, Society of American Travel Writers
- Past Secretary, Florida Outdoor Writers Association
- Past Board Member at Large, Florida Trail Hikers Alliance
- Past Board Member, Friends of Florida State Parks
- Member, Authors Coalition
- Life Member, Florida Trail Association
- Life Member, Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association
- Life Member, Appalachian Trail Museum
- Life Member, Trail Dames
Over the past 30 years, I’ve traveled through most of the United States with the intent of travel research. I have eight states to go: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, North and South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Ironically, I saw the Pacific Ocean in South America before I saw it in my own country.
As for world travel, the fact that my sisters lived in Greece for some time got me there before I’d seen any other country but Canada. Since then, I’ve hiked on four continents – in Chile, Nepal, Germany, and U.S./Canada – and also traveled to the Caribbean, India, and Israel. After John and I met, we’ve been to Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, England, Iceland, Ireland, Panama, Scotland, and Wales together as well.