Kathryn Flett’s searingly honest piece of travel journalism, By Waterloo Station I Sat Down and Wept, was published in the Observer Life magazine in 1997. I was eight at the time, preoccupied with buying Girl Talk magazine, so this wasn’t exactly on my radar. Thankfully she’s reproduced the whole feature on her blog, which you can read here. Quick, go and read it now, and you’ll see why it’s so legendary.
When Flett got the assignment, it was a straightforward one: review this romantic Belgian hotel package with your husband. However, life got in the way (the small matter of the marriage lying in tatters in the world’s most romantic city). This led to one of the most unflinching features ever to grace the pages of a Sunday magazine supplement. Flett basically wrote a stream of consciousness and, unusually, ‘I didn’t change a single word after I’d written it’. The feature was pure catharsis.
We’ve had ‘babymoon’, ‘baecation’, ‘minimoon’, ‘spacation’ and ‘staycation’. We’ve cringed at ‘glamping’, ‘greycation’ and countless other portmanteau travel terms invented to target certain audiences.
Here are some equally terrible potential buzzwords, not yet in common usage, that you might want to prepare for…
Holiday taken in the rainy season, because it’s cheaper. Pack your anorak and make sure that map is laminated, or live to regret it. Wonder why your glasses don’t have mini windscreen wipers. Drop your phone in a puddle and weep. Realise your shoes are nowhere near waterproof. Die a little inside.
Whereas 2012 was all about home-grown Olympic pride and cities of culture in Slovenia (Maribor) and Portugal (Guimarães), 2013 was an altogether more complex and crazy year in the world of travel. I’ve picked out some of the highlights, from misguided tweets to far-flung Boris bikes…
PR was Bigger and Bolder
It’s safe to say that 2013 raised the bar in terms of travel PR stunts, with companies increasing their budgets and teaming up to create even better incentives for their competitions, aimed at bloggers or Joe Public. This was the year we saw My Destination’s BBB (Biggest Baddest Bucket List) winners crowned; we also witnessed BA’s Race The Plane challenge on Twitter, Lastminute.com’s search for a spontaneity champion, and Saga’s 50 day challenge for a 50-year-old travel writer. As for what 2014 holds, we’ll just have to wait and see, but I’m sure there will be some really creative ideas coming from competing PRs, possibly crossing into SEO as well as social media. These guys are at the top of their game right now.
This week’s #TTOT (The Travel Talk on Twitter) chat topic is one that is very close to my heart: ‘Dark Tourism’. Regular readers will know that, not only does my blog name relate to all things deadly, but much of my content does too – in fact, I’ve only just enjoyed a Death and Debauchery tour of London, which opened my eyes to some of the tragic and traumatic stories that the city has to tell. Less recent exploits have included exploring Boston’s Granary Burial Ground, the wreck of the Mary Rose in Portsmouth and the Memorial to the German Resistance in Berlin.
Spoiler alert: if you hadn’t guessed it from the title, here comes the first of my media-related posts on the blog to tackle writing and pitching head-on. In my author bio I had promised to give you some tactics about pitching, but I have actually been a bit busy writing smug posts about where I’ve travelled to in the past, or where I’d like to go next (sorry). Well, now’s the time to start redressing the balance.
Whether you’re looking to guest post on a blog or you’re tackling big-gun newspaper supplement/magazine editors or legendary website creators, the challenges ahead are the same – how do you get them to believe in your idea? Why are you the one person who can write it? What on earth is going to make you stand out in their inbox? Instead of giving you a step-by-step guide, which can feel too prescriptive, I thought I’d turn the whole thing on its head. Let’s get out the wrecking ball and screw up some pitches.
We all know that travel writing is ridiculously competitive (hey, who wouldn’t want to tell the world about their adventures or, indeed, be paid to go on them in the first place?), but something I’ve noticed in the past year or so is how many lifestyle websites don’t even have an outlet for travel at all, despite it being just the thing that their readers would respond to.
Many that do offer holiday inspiration manage to drip-feed it through lengthy advertorials or commercial ventures that mean there’s no room for freelancers or bloggers to get a word in edge-ways The questions I’m left asking – how did this become okay? At what point did readers stop wanting genuine insight and travelogues and start wanting advertorial tied to competitions instead? I’d love to know, really I would.
Calavera (Span. feminine noun) = skull. A travel blog with a love of culture, dark tourism and the unconventional.