Chaney Kwak

San Francisco-based Chaney Kwak is a freelance food and travel writer, who has written for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, Afar, Travel & Leisure, and others. He authored the critically acclaimed book The Passenger: How a Travel Writer Learned to Love Cruises & Other Lies From a Sinking Ship (2021).


Chaney lived in Berlin for six years, where he discovered a passion for seeking out unexplored attractions and sneaking into "forbidden" places like decommissioned Soviet military bases and a former Iraqi Embassy. His first foray into professional travel writing was a piece on an abandoned East German amusement park for The New York Times. He spent the next decade traveling, covering such subjects as a cranberry bog in Washington state, a pepper farm in Cambodia, a bakery in San Francisco, and nightlife in Rio for The National, Saveur, Bon Appetit, and others. In 2019, while on assignment to do what he thought would be a "fluff piece" about the Northern lights, Chaney had a life-altering experience aboard a Viking Sky cruise ship that suffered catastrophic engine failure during a violent storm. A year after surviving 27 harrowing hours on a battered vessel drifting straight towards the rocky Norwegian coast, he set about writing an essay about the ill-fated journey which ultimately became his debut book. Chaney is currently engaged in less perilous pursuits like teaching non-fiction writing at Stanford University.


Chaney has a master of fine arts in creative writing from Lesley University.

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