Exactly What IS an Ambidextrous Travel Writer?

Ambidextrous Travel Writer
Updated: Oct 31st, 2010

I’ve had enough people ask me about the name of this column, so I think it’s time to define “ambidextrous travel writer”.

Before I explain what an ambidextrous travel writer is, I do need to take you back to what a travel writer used to be.

When I first started as an assistant travel editor at The Condé Nast Publications (Bride’s Magazine, to be specific), I was an editorial assistant, one of three travel editors for the significant honeymoon section.

In this brave new world of travel writing, you have to do it all or find a new career.

At this job, I was in the early stages of becoming a travel writer and was single, eager to work 24/7 to get ahead.

I was responsible for researching, writing, and editing many travel pieces.

At Condé Nast, we had staff in other positions and entire departments that made sure the articles we travel editors wrote (or edited) would read well and look nice in the magazine.

There were:

  • Fact-checkers
  • Proofreaders
  • Many levels of editors
  • An advertising department
  • An art department
  • An IT specialist
  • A fashion department for shoots
  • A promotion department
  • A marketing department
  • An accounting department
  • A circulation department, and so on…

Little did I know then, that years later, I would be all of these departments rolled up into one job description as well as a wife and a mom.

After seeing so many of my traditional media outlets dry up, I launched FarewellTravels.com at the end of 2009. I felt it was important to establish a digital presence that I could call my own.

So what do I do now, as a travel writer?

Ambidextrous Travel Writer
Elaine Clayton ©2010 Illuminara.com

Intrepid Travel Writer Susan Farewell and her daughter Justine in Athens, Greece.

  • I travel ( a lot).
  • I attend press events.
  • I write articles.
  • I edit articles.
  • I fact-check articles.
  • I proofread articles.
  • I do photo-research and handle copyrights when necessary.
  • I work with photographers.
  • I take photographs, some video and organize it all.
  • I PhotoShop images.
  • I work with artists.
  • I do layouts.
  • I upload stories.
  • I write headlines, captions.
  • I do on-camera work for videos.
  • I work with animators to create maps.
  • I do promotions, working with PR agencies to develop contests and other incentives to visit my site.
  • I do legal research.
  • I speak on many panels and at conferences.
  • I do the marketing, endeavoring to get the word out to everyone in cyberspace.
  • I meet with my web developer to discuss improvements.
  • I develop business plans and come up with creative ways to make money.
  • I do the accounting.
  • I supervise a small staff.

So what do you think, does that qualify as Ambidextrous?

As far as I’m concerned, in this brave new world of travel writing, you have to do it all or find a new career.


About Susan Farewell 27 Articles

Susan Farewell is the editor-in-chief of FarewellTravels.com, a travel information and planning site drawing on the experiences and insights of passionate travelers all over the world. It features animations, videos, photography, artwork and of course, words, to showcase travel destinations, experiences and products.

A former travel editor and staff writer at The Condé Nast Publications in New York City, Susan is a widely known digital, print and broadcast travel journalist. Her work has appeared in numerous publications (and sibling websites) including  Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue, Gourmet, Cooking Light, Travel and Leisure, Outside, Metropolitan Home, McCall’s, Child and Bride’s. She also writes for newspapers such as The New York Times and The New York Post, newsletters (BottomLine Personal) and numerous in-flight and regional magazines as well as various websites.

In addition to writing, Farewell has also developed countless products both in digital and traditional media from travel guides to online magazines.

She is the  author of several books including "How To Make A Living As A Travel Writer", "Hidden New England" and "Quick Escapes from New York City" (the latter two have had multiple editions). She has also co-authored many books.

Susan is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the New York Travel Writers, the North American Snowsports Journalists and the Eastern Ski Writers Association.


  1. Wow! Your job is huge. It definitely qualifies as Ambidextrous. I have a question, do you still enjoy your career as much as the early days? It is too bad that all of these jobs have been lost. But sadly that is the case in every company out there these days. Greater work load, less people and less profit:(
    .-= Dave and Deb´s last blog post: Everest Base Camp Adventure – Day 1 =-.

      • Susan you are a great example to all who aspire to become quality travel writers. I get quite a few guest travel posts of varying quality. I shall print out your bullet points and try to adhere to them. Would you mind if I send a link to this post to guest writers in the hope that they too up the Ante?

        Thank you.

        All the Best
        .-= Travel Blogger´s last blog post: Sydney Australia Only a Day Away =-.

  2. Hi Susan,
    I agree with everything you wrote, however, you omitted the most demanding, time-consuming task of all — answering emails and phone calls.
    From another harried travel writer,

  3. I loved this article, I was just explaining this to an aspiring writer yesterday and he said he thought he had left all that behind! On top of that you are also a mom! Fabulous

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