Forgive me travel gods, for I have sinned. I’m a travel writer and it’s been an eternity since my last confession. Perhaps after these 10 confessions, absolution will be granted.
1. Press trips are really hard work. Press trips, also known as famils or familiarisations, aren’t holidays. I think of them as boot camp for travellers, except I’m expected to produce engaging copy on top of a gruelling itinerary. Throw in a foreign language, strange food, a distinct lack of good coffee on tap, long hours and living in close quarters with other writers (many who were strangers at the beginning of the trip) all vying for the scoop, and it’s usually a hotbed of temperaments. It’s also often the makings of wonderful long-lasting friendships.
2. I don’t really live the life I write about. It’s just not my reality, certainly not on a writer’s salary. While you might think I’m permanently sprawled out on the massage table or exotic beach, or taking selfies at amazing destinations around the world, I’m paid to show you the highlights.
3. It’s a life full of extremes. One minute I’m receiving the royal treatment with personal concierges, extravagant accommodation and indulgent feasts and the next I’m living off boiled eggs and nostalgia, while trying to re-live the experience to deliver all those stories I promised.
4. I’m addicted to travel. I’m always looking for my next hit even though most of the time it makes no economic sense, time is limited, I’m still selling stories from several trips ago and it clashes with my real-life responsibilities. It’s hard to resist an all-expenses paid trip to some far flung destination I’d never normally have the opportunity to visit.
5. Ego is a dirty word. I find trip invitations and editors seeking me out for work extremely flattering. And I’m not going to lie, I love seeing my name in print. If I ever make the cover, interviewed for a feature or win an award, I truly become intolerable; until reality thankfully brings me crashing back to earth.
6. Small talk is excruciating. I’m often singled out at social events and subjected to stupid questions like “How do you make a living from something like that?” or “Is that an actual job?” or “Are you published?” It pays to have a list of stock-standard answers ready.
7. Promiscuity all part of the deal. At least on the publishing front, I’ll whore myself out to almost any publication willing to pay. Exclusivity? It’s a rare beast saved only for guaranteed well paid coverage.
8. Honesty is in the eye of the beholder. There I said it. Sometimes a press trip isn’t great or not to my personal taste or doesn’t match the commissioned story. On the rare occasion I have written about something I didn’t even do to keep an editor happy or overcompensate for an experience which didn’t live up to the hype. I’m torn between pandering to my hosts, editors and conscience. But I know which side my bread is buttered.
9. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t party hard and for the most part, my soul isn’t tortured. In order to work long hours, meet deadlines and physically take the trips, I’m mostly healthy in body, mind and soul; apart from an addiction to coffee and travel.
10. I’m not intrepid. I’m a writer not a mountaineer or triathlete or enjoy backpacking. If an itinerary doesn’t feel right, I’m happy to pass it on to a more suitable writer for the good of the industry. After all, no-one has any sympathy for a travel writer complaining about their dream job.