The bitter-sweet world of travel writing

When I realized that I could write well enough to score As in my grade 8 English assignments, and that The Amazing Race was the best show ever invented in the history of mankind, I decided that I was going to grow up to be a travel writer. Thanks to further pop culture influences by the 1996-TV show Travelers that I religiously watched every Sunday morning, I wanted to grow up to be like Michelle, Pearce and rest of the gang, globe-hopping with a camera following them as they experienced different cultures.

The first step towards achieving that lifelong goal was scoring my internship at Verge: Travel with Purpose magazine. I helped research several destination guides while sitting in my cozy bed, but day-dreaming of the gorgeous landscapes of Patagonia and Amazon. I did travel on my own during the two years of my association with the magazine but no matter how much I kept my eyes and ears open during my trips, none of the stories I brought back were good enough to meet the magazine’s mandate. Talking to my editor, I realized that you couldn’t land in a place and expect to find a story unfolding; I had to find a story, research it, set up everything, and then plan my trip according to the story requirements and not my desire to travel the place. But, then that’s work… not travel, right?

When I was at Daily Planet, Ziya Tong, former host of Island Escapes, told me how you stop enjoying travel when it’s considered work. I expressed my great interest in becoming a travel show host like herself, after which she presented me the realities of how that gig worked out for her: she flew for hours and once she got to the destination, she had to prep for the camera, show up at location and start shooting right away. What I took from that conversation was that she stopped enjoying travelling to these gorgeous places because she never got to experience the beaches, the culture and the scenery; she was always working to put the show on air for others to see these places. Continue reading

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