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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

You're a travel writer? But that's not a real job!

I've lost count of how many times I've been told that my job as a travel writer is not a 'real' job. The most recent person to tell me was a British comedian during her stand-up show in Lemesos, Cyprus, where my husband and I are currently updating a guidebook. The audience laughed hysterically. Okay, they were already laughing hysterically - she was funny - so I couldn't tell if this 'joke' of hers, her joke on my profession, made them laugh any harder. I laughed too, of course, but was it really that funny, I wondered? I turned to look at my husband. He'd stopped laughing. Like him, I admit, I too am finding the 'joke' tiresome now. If what we do isn't a 'real' job, then why do we find ourselves working so hard? So far this year we've submitted a manuscript for a guidebook we spent a few months working on, updated an edition of a guidebook we wrote last year, and we're now in the process of updating another book. Add to that we've written online travel guides and blogs and gathered words and pictures for a dozen potential travel features. We work 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week when we're on the road, often longer during write-up. We can count on one hand the days 'off' we've had in the past two years. How is it that this is not considered to be a 'real' job? What is it that we're doing if we're not 'working'? Is this really some crazy person's idea of a holiday?


Prêt à Voyager said...

I think you have the coolest job in the world. In fact, I don't know how you keep up! Probably one of the tougher jobs out there.

Say hello to Cyprus for me!


p.s. bought my ticket to Cambodia/Thailand yesterday! :)

Anonymous said...

I do so sympathize!

I am not a full-time travel writer but any time I go to a business meeting in a 'juicy' location, I'm somehow not considered to be working. I'm just 'lucky' to be off to such a great destination.

Except that I made it to the Dominican Republic and to Rio without ever seeing the beach (not bad for 8 days in Rio), to Bangkok for a three-day meeting during which I never left the hotel, and from Europe to Durban for all of one half a day. Meantime, I have to cross time zones and not catch up with sleep, work throughout every flight to reach my destination prepared, forgo weekends - those international flights do take a long time, don't they - and battle with hotels, luggage and computer connections at indecent hours and during national holidays.

I love my work or I wouldn't be doing it, but it riles me when others consider that the location of my job somehow diminishes its validity.

When I do write about travel, I get the same response. It just doesn't seem like a real job to anyone.

Since most people travel for pleasure or see travel as a reward, I suspect that embedded deep in their subconscious is the equation travel = fun. And surely having fun can't mean you're working very hard, can it?

Anonymous said...

I agree with scribetrotter. Most people associate travel with pleasure and fun. So when you say you're a travel writer they don't get that it actually is tough work and not just a long trouble-free vacation.

Alexander Santillanes said...

A few weekends ago I spent three days reviewing hotels on Ko Samet for an Asian travel website. It was a lot of hours tramping from one place to the next, getting lost, remembering to ask all of the right questions, taking notes and searching out details; then spending days writing it up, editing, and rewriting. While that's in no way comparable to the scope and scale that you work, I can definitely agree that it's serious work!

Though it was a nice perk being able to relax on the beach after a day of work, and enjoy a strong cocktail. -X

Lara Dunston said...

Anne, thanks for that - I do have to remind myself that it's a pretty cool job every now and again. Hope you're liking the pictures I'm posting of Cyprus. Enjoy Cambodia/Thailand!

Scribetrotter and Erica, I'm so glad you relate. Scribetrotter, you're spot on! But, as hard as it can be, I'm going to take the job that involves travel over the one that doesn't any day. And I know you agree.

Xander, I'm guessing you're doing some writing for Travelfish? (I love that site.) I'm glad you got to experience the travel writing - just times that by 120 (because we did have a handful of days 'off' this year) and you can imagine how I'm feeling right now. But enough of my complaining! Nobody's going to feel sorry for a travel writer, right? ;)