Picture this – On a lazy summer afternoon, you are swaying on a lazy hammock, tied to the smooth trunks of two coconut trees. You have a fedora hat, sunscreen, a pair of togs, iPod and the latest issue of French Vogue stuffed in your beach tote. The sun is beautiful, the sound of waves are soothing and the tingling coolness of a fruity cocktail on your fingertips is refreshing. It is blissful, relaxing and just perfect.
This is not just the life of a vacationer, it is the life of a travel writer. Jealous? I have always been.
Every Sunday morning, I used to curl up in bed to watch Samantha Brown’s fabulously hosted getaway programs on the Travel channel. I still remember the Great Hotels episode, when she was in Rome. The hotels were spectacular, the men were gorgeous, the food looked delicious and Samantha was brilliant at her job. Ever since I was 13, and a Samantha Brown fan, I wanted to travel. Just pack my bag, a toothbrush and get out of the house.
Watching Discovery Travel and Living Channel, I was in awe with a travel writer’s lifestyle. All the credit of my knowledge of; the blue Greek islands, the fashionable Japan and the dry Vegas, goes to Lonely Planet and Ian Wright. The hosts had the perfect clothes, perfect hotel rooms and even the best haircuts. Just a random thought, why do most travel writers have bob cut hair? Is it easy to handle, or does it make them look serious? Why would a travel writer want to look serious though? They have such a fun job. Or do they?
Travelling for kicks and travelling for your living are not twin sisters. They are rivals of each other. When you are a vacationer, you return home with a tan and souvenir fridge magnets. When you are a travel writer, you return home with a bale of pamphlets, facts of the destination and a crammed, impossible-to-comprehend notepad. There is a constant urge to find a different and interesting story angle, discover unexplored spots and locate new restaurants and bars. The luxury of having “me-time” is thrown out of the window. There is not a moment in their “holiday” when they can get pampered at the hotel spa. Well unless, they are reviewing it or writing a story on it. They are always preoccupied with anecdotes, impressions and descriptions.
If you Google search, “How to become a travel writer”, you’d get some 29,200,000 search results within seconds. Google can’t teach me the fastest way to chop onions, leave aside it teaching me to write. Being a travel writer is not a child’s play. The perks of this job are often like shiny diamonds. They look appealing, beautiful and magnificent, and not everyone is aware of the hard work that goes into its birth. If you post up a zillion travel albums on Facebook, with photos of you taking a leak on the roadside or kissing a local hottie, then you don’t fall under the category of a travel writer. If you take six photos from your 5 mega pixel phone camera and try to sell it to a travel magazine – stop dreaming (I have seen an odd variety of them as well, no joke).
Travel writers have an unique eye. They will go in the kitchen of a restaurant to find out the recipe. You will find them going for morning walks, only to find out the local secrets. They will even look under the bed, of their hotel room, to discuss its design and type of wood used. You wont find a vacationer doing anything tragic.
As much as I love sitting in airport lounges, clicking perfect “i-am-a-tourist” photos and getting drunk amongst locals – I don’t know if I can ever be a professional travel writer. Maybe I am not ready for the good-natured jealousy from friends and the default reverie of “Woah! that’s a dream job”. Or maybe I just want to be a carefree traveller, who just wants her iPod on shuffle and her suitcase full of souvenirs.
Image Credit: Thomas Kohnstamm Official Website (http://www.thomaskohnstamm.com/)