Travel Writers As Firefighters


With the U.S. State Department issuing an alert on Sunday “urging Americans traveling to Europe to be vigilant about possible terrorist attacks,” I am wondering how many of the editors I know are canceling assignments, “holding stories” and in general, choosing NOT to write about Britain, France and Germany until this storm passes.

When is this GOING to stop?

I am not talking about the threats themselves. I am talking about our role (“the media’s” role) in spreading fear and perpetuating the problem.

I believe we need to take a look, a very serious look at what we are doing in our simple role as travel writers versus what we need to do. We almost have to be like firefighters these days.

If we choose to jump on the fear wagon, we are not serious travel writers.

We have to run into the building to put the fire out, not cower in the corner and hope it dies out on its own.

We have to stand up and educate our editors and for those of us who run our own sites or blogs, we need to take our own chances in what we write about.

Over they years, I’ve canceled several trips because of bombs, natural disasters, and man-made disasters. Almost always it had to do with a nervous editor or “pulled ads.”

I am not suggesting that any of us put ourselves in harm’s way and certainly, I love to travel comfortably.

But I also know that anything can happen anywhere at any time. And if we choose to jump on the fear wagon, we are not serious travel writers. We are fair-weather travel writers.

I just wrote a piece about a recent return trip to Egypt which you’ll find at If Egypt is on your bucket list, but you keep putting it off because of the uncertain times we are in, I encourage you to read it.

~ Susan

Where do you stand on this issue? Share your opinion!

About Susan Farewell 27 Articles

Susan Farewell is the editor-in-chief of, 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. Interesting post Susan! I know that the media has a responsibility to report facts and warn travelers when there is an increased safety risk for any particular destination (and I want to emphasize *an increased risk*, since there is always some risk pretty much everywhere), but I do think that at times – okay, frequently – the media tends to blow things out of proportion and engage in fear-mongering, as we saw last year with the H1N1 virus in Mexico……it was a limited outbreak relatively speaking when compared to average worldwide numbers each flu season, with little to no reports from tourist areas, yet the big media had travelers petrified to travel to Mexico, which hurt the travel industry and devastated the Mexican tourism trade.

    So I’m in favor of balanced and responsible reporting, which I doubt we’ll see from big media anytime soon….

  2. Back when an al Qaeda-trained terrorist tried to destroy an airliner with a bomb hidden in his underwear, I wrote this on my blog. In light of the recent travel alert across Europe, I went back to it to see if my feelings have changed since then.

    They haven’t.

    Greg Gross, editor
    I’m Black & I Travel

    • Wow – very well written post, Greg – thanks for sharing it with us. I agree with your position, but don’t see things changing anytime soon, if at all. I don’t let fear keep me at home, but I do allow an extra hour or so for the security hassle….I mean process….when I do travel.

  3. you wont find any fear-based writing from me … quite the opposite. Remember we have nothing to fear but fear its elf … (who said that?)

    As a solo, nomadic, slow writer – and usually (99%)travel with no reservations – I know the world is full of great people.
    .-= Heather Hapeta´s last blog post: Mad About Tulips =-.

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