By. Susanna Starr
Mayan fresco recently discovered – behind glass – Becan Ruins, Mexico ©Susanna Starr
Becoming a travel writer is certainly a personal decision and, although there may be some common denominators, we each hope to satisfy something within ourselves that calls to us. Some of the advantages in being a travel writer are obvious ones — seeing new places, FAM (familiarization) trips and discounts on travel and lodging and just the sheer enjoyment of travel. Just as important as these general motivations, it might be worth your time to ponder on a few more abstract benefits of being a travel writer. For one thing, it provides a practice of connection. No longer will you be a tourist, passing through, but someone who is genuinely interested in new places and people. The mindfulness that you embrace becomes a necessity, because it´s the only way to really ¨be there¨ in a meaningful way. Along with this is the awareness and attention which are part of the whole idea of being mindful in all that you do. Being a travel writer heightens your sense of awareness as a good condiment heightens your sense of taste and smell. The attention you pay to what people are saying and doing, as well as the attention to your surroundings are something that is part of a travel writer´s way of making that important, personal connection.
So much of travel writing is in the details. Once you start writing, you´ll find yourself noticing so many more of the details that might escape just an ordinary visitor (can I say ¨tourist¨without being condescending?). Tuning into people you might have simply passed by can yield the fruit of a rich, personal exchange. Hearing other people´s stories connects you in the most authentic way possible. Being able to convey that to others is the gift of the travel writer that transcends mere reporting.
Last, but not least……..minimizing what you carry as a travel writer can be a metaphor for life. By eliminating all the excess baggage and superfluous clothing and miscellaneous extras that are not really needed, it allows you the opportunity to lighten your load. At the airport, next time, notice how much baggage the ordinary traveler carries and what you, as a travel writer, has stripped down to. Unless there´s a real reason to carry something, you´ll find yourself pared down to only the bare essentials.
So, if you have a flair for or a love of writing coupled with the interest and desire to travel and explore new places and cultures, travel writing can be for you. It´s work, to be sure, and possibly not the kind that will be financially rewarding, but the reward you receive will be on an altogether different level that will often exceed any expectation you might have. Have fun!!