Travel Writing Bullshit
Major newspapers these days are quickly losing their relevance to the internet. Notably are the travel sections. I’ve had a few travel articles published in newspapers and a few more on websites. News papers are tough nuts to crack. Here’s what an Edmonton Journal newspaper editor said: In fact, the Postmedia policy is that any freelancer who publishes work that’s bought by the chain (as opposed to picked up from one of our other wire services, such as CP or AP), is credited as a Postmedia writer for that piece. So, short answer: yes, we still publish freelancers. Longer answer: I have an extremely limited budget for buying freelance travel pieces, yet it’s the section that gets the most queries.
The large majority of travel articles are written by full-time writers of wire services who have large budgets. Major newspaper subscribe to these and pick and choose which ones they want to appear in their travel sections. Heard of Queen’s song ‘Radio Gaga’ Same thing, in return they get travel writing bullshit, gaga, kaka, where the tame writer takes the hand-holding tour and offers little insight. If you don’t have a similar budget you’ll get little pertinent info from those.
Staying in $200 a night hotels? Come on, few people I know can afford this. Taking hundred dollar tours that can be done on a city bus? You won’t get the free drink but its a money saver. In Lisbon, Portugal I saw several people with Lonely Planet books and it made me smile. That is a budget guide. Smart people.
Cruises may be fun, but please don’t tell me you’ve gained some insight into the local life. Five hours on a snap visit doesn’t count. My limited experience with cruises is being on land when three ships dock and the island is flooded with tourists. I try to catch a cab there and discover the fares have skyrocketed. Obviously, every local in the port is looking for your wallet.
And all-inclusive resorts? I stayed at one–once. They are curiosity-crippling places where they warn you venturing outside will be your death and the local food ‘out there’ is bad. Yeah, like the locals are going to poison the cabbies and their friends and neighbors. Yet many people returning from these resorts catch intestinal bugs, wrongly blaming it on airline ventilation.
I’ve read articles that are obviously dialed in. This is not hard to do especially with all the info available on line and Google Earth. Another article, just recently, told of a couple who were so stupid they were ripped off at the Cancun airport for a $195 USD cab ride and at a public beach paid for a snorkeling ‘guide’. One writer was on some dialed in bogus bike tour of Vietnam and didn’t even know most of the Ho Chi Minh trail is in Laos. They obviously didn’t ask around or do their research. Stupid is as stupid does. The picture here is an example of pertinent info. Fado in Portugal is traditional folk music, mournful and soulful, mostly on acoustic guitar. Some places charge you to hear a musician in small venues.
Why not some Fado music with dinner? No cover charge.
Why not listen to Portugal’s Fado music while having dinner? No cover charge. A few restaurants in the old town offer this. Follow the tram line east, stay right and keep your eyes open.