Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The truth about travel writing

When Writer Abroad used to dream about life as a travel writer, she imagined glamour. And more glamour. Oh, the free meals she would eat. Ah, the overnight stays she would enjoy. And yes, all those airline miles she’d acquire.

The reality is much different. Especially if you’re a travel writer who writes about Switzerland.

The Swiss laws of economics and commerce don’t really apply to the rest of the world. If you need evidence, go to a Swiss flea market and try to buy a garden gnome for less than $50. The seller won’t budge on the price—they seem to not care whether they sell the gnome or not.

Which brings Writer Abroad to life as a travel writer in Switzerland. Most Swiss establishments don’t appear to care that Writer Abroad is writing about them and therefore bringing them business. In their minds, they already have enough business and don’t see the point of more.

The first time Writer Abroad’s request for information was ignored by a Swiss establishment, she was pretty surprised. She is no longer surprised by these non-responses–or even by negative responses. Last week on a research outing she was pretty much told by one annoyed bakery owner that he didn’t have time for her even though he had agreed to meet with her. Swiss hotels consistently ignore Writer Abroad’s requests for images of their hotels even if they are going to be displayed on a website that gets a million eyeballs a day.

So. To those who search for the glamour in travel writing, let Writer Abroad be the first to tell you that there is none, except to say if you truly love travel and you truly love writing, then it is still the best job in the world.


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