I’ve seen a few articles written recently outlining the realities of being a travel writer. You know, about how hard we work, the long flights we suffer, the long hours at the desk sorting photos and meeting deadlines, the hotel inspections we endure…
So I thought I’d look at the other side of this argument. The privileged lives we lead as a result of choosing this vocation for ourselves. And how much we moan about it.
I’m going to make a bold statement here; I think a fair few travel writers I’ve travelled with would not cope travelling on their own.
I think they’ve been so spoiled by the good care provided by tourism PRs that they’ve forgotten how. I wonder if I’ve forgotten myself.
I’d argue that if you plonked them in the middle of nowhere, with no transfer waiting at the airport, – no friendly driver carrying a sign with your name on it, and no detailed itinerary put together with meticulous care by some hard working PR, they’d have a little melt down.
I’ve travelled with a fair few Prima Donnas on famils, and I’ve had a few Prima Donna moments myself. I like to think of myself as fairly easy going, easy to please, but that’s possibly just my version of events.
In fact I’m moaning right now about the fruit juice and muffin I’ve just been served, posing as an inflight meal at 5:15pm (surely alcohol and peanuts are in order this time of day?)
I’ve rolled my eyes at fellow writers complaining about the lack of decent coffee in remote regions of Canada, the lack of wifi on an island off the coast of Sumatra, or having to endure hikes in the great outdoors when “I’m not interested in nature and all that crap”. Why are you here then?
I’m sure we’ve all got similar stories to share. But then, I’m fussy too. I’m such a fussy meat eater I quite often pretend to be vegetarian in order to avoid embarrassing scenes with fat and bones.
And as much as I love adventure, I’m not great with roughing it. Even glamping is marginal for me. I’ll happily climb Mt Gower or its Thai or Malaysian equivalent if I’ve got a big spa bath, (possibly a spa treatment), a gourmet meal and a glass of red to look forward to. And soft king size bed in an air conditioned room to sink into afterwards.
But I will endure it (listen to me – honestly I’m pathetic!) for the sake of a good story. Six days on a live aboard dive boat was about the limit for me. The cabin was big (ish), the food was great, the diving was fantastic, but I did long for a strong hot shower and the ability to wash my hair properly. (I also longed for a smoke-free environment being outnumbered about 10-2 by smoking passengers.)
But hey – I got to dive in the Similan Islands as a fully catered-for guest. And it was fantastic. I had a dive guide who took ridiculously good care of me, in fact, Simon and I had a dive guide to ourselves for the duration of the trip.
So I’m writing this as a reality check. I know we’ve all worked pretty hard to build a support network that enables us to follow this vocation, but we’re still privileged.
It is a lifestyle choice after all (it’s certainly not for the money!) We get to experience things we could probably never afford otherwise, so let’s not get too precious about it.