Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?

25 03 2009

Thomas Konstamm is an ex-Lonely Planet author who dishes out the dirt on how lavish really a life of a travel journalist is. And as far as I can tell, he is right…it is far from lavish. Interviews gone wrong, going bankrupt, losing one’s sanity, bending moral ethics, endless research…it is anything but glamorous. Although to a lot of people, being a travel journalist is a dream job, Konstamm only shares his personal experience that a lot of travel journalist can agree, and hopes his readers understand the ups and downs of travel writing.

Travel writing really is a dream job, but at the end of the day, it is also just a job.

“Travel writing works in a cynical manner. We write about a place, people go there, and then we must continue to write about the place because it has become a tourist destination. Unfortunately, with succes and developement comes change, and the tourist-friendly places just get busier, pricier, and more touristy. They ofen become places where I would not want to spend my vacation time, but we have to acknowledge their popularity neverthless. Sometimes up-and-coming spots are because a writer, such as myself, finds them unique and squeezes them in, or because they have become hot spots as the result of overflow from other destinations in the book. Most cities and towns, clubs and restaurants beyond those are passed over or given a short mention in the guidebook. As such, although guidebooks give the illusion of open-ended adventure and posibility, and claim that they seek to serve the independent traveler, they are often little more than a paper arrow pointing you down an overhyped tourist route, or gringo trail, so to speak.”

Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? c. 2008 Thomas Konstamm

Notes: This book introduces you to a few places in Brazil (where the novel takes place) like Recife, Olinda and Fortaleza. This book also sparked contreversy on how accurate guide books are? What followers of guidebooks don’t realize that they really are…just guide books! The how-to’s of your destination, they’re not ‘guarantees’.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

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