Friday, 27 August 2010


I love to travel, and it grieves me that the only real way to get started as a travel writer is to travel as much as you can and document your adventures. This is tricky as a would-be writer, because if you’re doing all you can do get into the industry - work experience, internships, further education - you probably can’t afford a constant stream of worldwide jaunts. You save for periods of unpaid work like others save for holidays, and while they’re often great fun and invaluable experience, on grey and drizzly weeks like this that have no place in August, the lack of vitamin D and new sights can really drag you down. This is the first year I can remember that I haven't been abroad, and I have felt it. I live vicariously through travel sections, friends’ tourist photos and travel blogs, visually cruising through New York, Brazil, Vietnam and Australia and mentally jotting down my ‘to go’ list. Those who trot the globe in style constantly inspire me and make me long to extend my travel knowledge further than my own (lovely) continent and the US.

It isn’t all bleak though; I really enjoy reading about someone’s connection with a place, and there are some excellent blogs out there, in particular. A friend recently went to Tokyo and wrote a street-style piece about her trip on her great fashion and pop culture blog. A girl on the same journalism course as me this autumn has a great account of her travels through Vietnam, as well as some fab film and music reviews, and for completely unrealistic travelporn, you can’t beat the luxe offerings of the Mr and Mrs Smith blog. It might sound a bit sad to muse about travel heaven when you have neither the time nor the funds, but one day I will and all this inspiration will be put to good use.

I think a lot of people that know me would laugh at the thought of me roughing it on a shoestring in foreign climes, but isn’t that the point of the Big Travel Experience? I didn’t do it at 18 and don’t regret that; I think I would have been overwhelmed, frizzy and subsequently diva-ish for most of it, not especially making me a better person. But while even a week in the med is unattainable travel heaven in my current lifestyle, it’s nice to think that a few years of hard graft and experience could lead to more of an adventure somewhere. I do think it’s important to do it, even if that means sacrificing a hot shower and fluffy white towels in favour of grubby sleeper trains and greasy locks once in a while… what else are dry shampoo and baby wipes for? Granted, I’m not usually a festival type, but I’d do it for the right destination. I also have a split in the places I’d want to hit with a bit of cash (Tokyo, New York, Cairo) and those I’d be happy jetting off to on a budget (Bangkok, Prague, Budapest).

I think if someone handed me the money right now - where’s that anonymous benefactor when you need them, eh? - I would probably head to Asia, as it’s somewhere that I’ve never been and has always fascinated me. Something like Thailand (travelling 101) – Vietnam (history & culture) – Hong Kong (shopping & skyscrapers) – Tokyo (style & sushi) – and then rounding it off with somewhere beachy and glorious like Bali would be heaven. I’ve never been that desperate to hit Australasia; it does look gorgeous but I’d want a more alien experience, but I can imagine it being perfect for a career gap or family trip later on in life. South Africa is a little daunting but also rich in sights and culture; I think I'd need to go with someone I felt safe with and later in my travel life. Another friend recently went to South America for a few months and has been posting endless stunning photos of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Belize and Guatemala amongst others. It helps that she’s as ridiculously photogenic as the scenery itself, but that was definitely my biggest pang of travel envy this year. So that corner of the world is firmly on the list as well. At this rate I’ll have to win the lottery and take a few years off to work through it, but one can and should dream.

Here are the top 10 I’d love to explore:

Hong Kong
Southern India (Kerala etc)

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