Years ago, I thought of writing a book called, “I left Paradise a Day Early” on the many hardships travel writers have to endure while on the road.
I “shelved” the idea back then because a colleague/friend said to me, “Susan, normal people won’t get this.”
Of course, how can staying in a pristine villa at the edge of the Caribbean Sea, sand outside your door, be seen as a hardship? How can riding horses through the cacti of Arizona be all that bad? How can having to go to Australia one week and Norway the next elicit pity?
While I love the actual act of traveling (even flying these days) and I never get enough of exploring new places, travel for me is my job, my profession, and it’s a demanding one.
It’s not easy juggling deadlines when you’re on the road. And this peripatetic life does come with a price. Travel often takes me away from my family, and friends. It can be a challenge, especially if you’ve got someone or something back home that needs your attention (a child, an ill relative, even an old cat).
But as a travel writer, there’s no cutting corners. You can’t write about travel without traveling. Whether it’s checking out a little known corner of Barcelona, or an isolated beach in Maui, you’ve got to see it for yourself.
Professional travel writers take this responsibility seriously, which is why, at the recent TBEX conference in New York, I found myself distressed over the attitude shown by many of the newer members of our profession.
During one of the panels, several people were talking about “getting the free stuff, the free trips.” It was as if this was the only reason they had become travel bloggers, so they could get to travel
I am not the only one that felt extreme agita over this attitude. During the Q&A time at the end, another writer spoke up stating emphatically that when we take subsidized trips, we are entering into a business agreement. The PR people are just offering us the opportunity to do our jobs.
I couldn’t agree more. For me, travel writing is never as easy as saying “Yes” to a press invitation. It’s a well-researched strategic choice, one that is first and foremost dictated by my readers.
The first question I ask myself is “Where do they want to go?”
The trip that follows keeps in step with that. What would they do in this destination? I find myself doing many things—and all things—so I can tell my readers about them. I know that chances are they’ll just pick a couple of my recommendations and very likely spend a huge chunk of time relaxing (whether it’s on a sandy beach or in a Parisian cafe).
It doesn’t matter what travelers decide to do. They are here to vacation. I’m the one who can’t relax. After all, I am here to work.