As a travel writer you spend lots of time giving people travel tips on destinations, but also dispensing advice on how to make the whole experience run more smoothly. From a life working on the road you learn many lessons – lessons that everyone can benefit from. So join us now as we take you through nine crucial things you learn about travel as a travel writer.
1. To prepare, prepare and then prepare some more
Yes, part of the beauty of travel is being spontaneous, but the more planning you do in advance will help make sure things like travel health, money and your own safety will all take care of themselves. So many ‘travel nightmares’ come out of a lack of basic trip planning.
2. To always stay calm
This is both obvious and hard to do. The clichéd travel writer who bellows “do you know who I am?” is not going to win over hard pressed staff at airline check in who have seen all the histrionics before. Be polite (firm is ok) and calm, smile when you can and you might just find you do get given a better room, or that taxi driver might actually understand why you don’t want to pay double as you can read Greek and it isn’t a bank holiday, and that policeman may let you off with just a word of warning.
3. The world changes fast
While it's nice to hark back to the old days, "oh, Goa was so much cooler before the backpackers moved in", this is actually a great thing. It means there is always a reason to go back to places rather than just say you have ‘done’ them. Most European cities have new attractions every year, but destinations like Dubai seem to transform themselves every month.
4. Free wi-fi is like gold dust
When you get the chance to get on wi-fi, whether it’s on a short bus journey or in a café, snatch it – you never know when you will next get online. Many hotels still charge for wi-fi so checking your emails coming in from the airport for free saves you racking up a steep hotel bill or mobile roaming charges.
5. A notepad and pen are essential
Free wifi and a strong phone battery are always welcome, but don’t ever totally rely on technology. Every writer knows always to have a pen and paper handy as often you cannot fire up devices on a plane and batteries tend to die just when you are taking a note of something really important.
© Patiwat Sariya/Shutterstock
6. Take photographs and then take some more
You may well only visit a place once in your life, so snap away. In this era of quality smart phones and digital cameras there is no excuse for not taking photo after photo. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a great photographer to start with, your images will get better and will be enough to help keep your own memories warm and show friends.
7. Don’t be a stranger
It is easy to walk around in a cocoon chatting with your mates or thinking about home on the road. Yes, you will still come back with memories of Paris, but you will also have missed the great chat you could have had with the guy at the crêpe stand, or that ultra-friendly student in the Left Bank who could have told you about that cool pop-up bar. Apply the usual sensible precautions you would at home and meeting people really can make a trip.
8. The world is an incredible place
It really is. Hardened hacks can get, er, a little cynical about travel given the sheer volume of places they visit. While travel writing isn't always the dream job people often think it is (there's an awful lot of hard work involve, we promise!), we are still lucky. It is important to remember – and you will always enjoy a trip more if you do – that most people will just never get to visit the places you see.
9. To always take a guidebook
We might be biased, but hear us out: a physical guidebook will stand by you when you have no power or signal on your mobile devices. It is also great for dipping into in the bath (and you won’t get an electric shock if you get it wet) or on a plane. Truth be told, many travel writers themselves would struggle without one.