Where Travel Writing Is Headed?

16 10 2009

Can a satellite view of the world change the world? It may just be able to change the travel publishing industry. Today MediaBistro published this post about John Higham, whose recent book 360 Degrees Longitude—which chronicles his family’s year-long adventure traveling the world—includes Google Earth links to some of the places visited. A wave of the travel future? It looks that way.

Though I am definitely an old-fashioned gal when it comes to my love of underlining and curled up pages of traditional books (though terribly outdated, my very shabby and much loved copy of Let’s Go Western Europe still inhabits a place of honor on the book shelf) the traveler in me thrills at the prospect of seeing a satellite view of some wondrous place I’m visiting while I’m visiting…

New York Times Travel Show

10 02 2009

On Saturday afternoon, at a travel writing workshop in a stale (but relatively packed) subterranean room in the terrible Javits Center, Max Hartshorne and Kent St. John, editors from GoNOMAD.com, both mentioned that travel writers are some of the worst complainers out there. It was funny, but as I sat there, tired and a little grumpy from a long day of wandering the show floor carting increasingly heavier bags of pamphlets and materials on sundry places and cursing the Q train that would inevitably be as slow getting me home as it was delivering me that morning, I realized they were certainly correct. I mean I was, after all, at a TRAVEL SHOW, and despite the throngs wandering aimlessly through the crowded booths, I had seen some good dancing, sipped the Peruvian corn drink Chicha, and entered countless drawings, one of which I am bound (please, please?) to win.

And so, despite my griping, as, according to Max and Kent, only a good travel writer can do, I’d say, overall, the show was a success. I missed, alas, the trade day on Friday, so had to face the crowds of people actually planning trips, but I collected some great information and cultivated some new wanderlust. Top of the list now, in addition to the longstanding Petra and Russia, are Brescia, Guatemala, and(random, I know) Maine. I met a few people in the industry and ran into a few from the World Hum party and I came home with perhaps more information than I will ever need.

Some standout booths were: the Mesoamerican Ecotourism Alliance, GoPhilanthropic, and Intrepid Travel. In addition to GoNOMAD.com’s very popular and informative wrokshop, I also attended “What’s New for Solo and Women Travelers” (answer: women are traveling sans males more often and are getting gustier about it all the time) and Travel Through the Eyes of Travel Writers, a panel talking about travel and travel writing tips from some of the best established in the business.

Perhaps the most entertaining moments of the day, however, were spent gawking at all the costumed enthusiasts at the nearby Comic Con (yikes) and then discovering the little known “booth” occupied by “Brooklyn Rugby.” Read: two Brooklyn boys who were turned away from Comic Con and managed to find themselves a table on the show floor, which they decorated with pamphlets from an interesting (and totally without rhyme or reason) array of destinations. I think I may have been the only one to stumble dazedly into their booth after a long day of gazing at tables overflowing with literature. At least they said I was the honorary winner of their drawing (a “front row” seat at the next Brooklyn rugby match), and had the pleasure of poking fun at their rumpled, “just rolled out of bed to attend Comic Con” attire.

All in all, a successful day, and I did my best not to complain about the crowded subway car that took the local route home. (When I say “did my best” I mean “failed miserably.”)

The Small World of Travel Writers

6 02 2009

It’s a huge world out there. And no one knows that better than travel writers.  And yet, in the travel writing world one learns quickly (as I did at a party last night for World Hum) that the world of travel writing is rather a small one. There, crammed into the tiny basement of the fantastic Lolita Bar, were countless writers and lovers of travel from all  publications and areas. The fascinating thing is that most know each other, and the even better thing is that, in the world of travel writing, even if we don’t know each other, there is that common bond of world exploration that is a constant and inexhaustible topic of conversation.

But the small world gets even smaller as so: First, I finally met Mr. David Farley, curator of the Restless Legs Reading Series, with whom I had only before emailed since he was a part of the first Lit Crawl (and very popular, I might add). But second, there I was, meeting new people, when I spotted a familiar face and yet could not place how it was familiar. It was driving me crazy trying to figure out how I knew this guy at the party, until I finally approached and he recognized me, though also did not know from where. Finally after a few moments we realized: we had been in the same travel writing class last year in Buenos Aires! Now if that isn’t a small world, I’m not sure what is. And then, of course, we both got to swapping travel stories and then pining over how much more there is to explore in that bright big world out there.

Tomorrow it’s off to the NY Times Travel Show for more of the big (small) world of travel.