I was out to dinner the other night as my last meal out in Lucca before heading to Rome and then New York, and I ended up chatting with some nearby Canadians. Inevitably, why I was living in Lucca came up in conversation, and I told them that I was a travel writer living abroad.
Whenever I mention that I do this for my career, everyone’s immediate response is always one of awe. “That’s the dream job, isn’t it?” Which is true, it isn’t a bad one. I love my work and what I do, and I am going to miss my long-term experiences abroad. However, travel and living as an expat for work is very different than choosing it for pleasure. There are some amazing perks to being able to say that’s what you do for work, but there are also times where it is exhausting, lonely, and frustrating.
Here are some myths debunked about being a travel writer.
You’re on a constant vacation—False.
Though you can certainly enjoy yourself when you are abroad, there’s a certain amount of professionalism that you need to have when traveling. I’ve traveled on both sides of that—there are times where I have not had to worry about work and have had a blast. But when you are traveling on someone else’s dime, it’s important to keep that in mind and act accordingly.
Not only does your conduct change, but you will not be doing the same activities that you would if you were traveling for pleasure. When I go to review a restaurant, I might end up in a tourist trap with terrible service and food. You also often have to stick to a budget since the company you are writing for is footing the bill.
You’re always working on the road—True.
At least for me, this is true. I’m usually writing on planes, trains, and on the move. You’re never not working. Even when you are enjoying some down time at a hostel, you’re also keeping in mind that it might be something you need to write about. It’s a lot of time and effort to take down names of places to stay, places to eat, etc.
You always get the luxury treatment—False.
It’s true that when you are on a press trip that most the time the company or establishment you are writing for will be trying to put their best foot forward and make sure you write good things about them. Sometimes, you’d be surprised at how little of the luxury treatment you might end up getting. This is especially true as a Generation-Y blogger. I’m blogging for those on a budget, so I usually have to a live and work a budgeted lifestyle too.
Have any questions about what it’s like to be a travel writer? Any other travel writers out there who want to debunk a myth?