Another year of travel highs and lows has gone by, so it’s time for a review of poppy-filled, sports-dominated, battle-scarred 2014. The stories below stood out for me as the most realistic insights into much-discussed destinations and travel habits.
Trouble in Paradise
Thailand suffered from the effects of harsh military rule and the aftershock of a tragic double murder, claiming the lives of two British holidaymakers. The country’s Tourism Authority is now trying to put a positive spin on martial law, claiming it offers greater safety for visitors, but the increased presence of the police and the army isn’t appealing to everyone. During the darkest times for Thailand, Russian tourists helped to boost the economy, but the falling value of the rouble has seen fewer Russian arrivals. Fortunately, high-spending Chinese visitors have helped Thailand get back on its feet again. This is all the more important as it’s now been 10 years since the devastating Boxing Day tsunami claimed 8,000 lives and affected 12,000 homes.
Think a fashion photographer has nothing to do with travel? Think again. A new exhibition at the V&A pays tribute to one of the best international photographers of the 20th century, known for his eye-catching fashion images such as Mainbocher Corset (1939), but with a wealth of travel experience under his belt too.
The German-born artist known as Horst P. Horst mainly split his time between the hectic cities of Paris and New York and managed to squeeze in quite a few breathtaking escapades during his 93 years. Here are some of the geographical highlights of Horst: Photographer of Style…
A London City Airport survey has found that the average Brit has only visited seven countries, and only 31% have made it to 10 or more of them, despite there being an incredible 193 countries in the entire world that could be explored. This data, which I was reading about in Wanderlust Magazine, really got me thinking about my own travelling past, as it’s only in the last few years that I’ve really started accumulating a respectable country count.
Rather than tally up where I’ve been, I’m going to admit why I haven’t been to as many places as you. It’s time to come to terms with my travel inadequacy and look back on those few countries with fond memories.
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.
So, here’s the thing (without trying to sound like Siobhan Sharpe from the spoof documentary 2012). I was going to do one of those Travel Wishlist posts, but it got so long that I started separating it into categories like Long Haul, then smaller categories, and things got a bit ridiculous. It seemed only right to kick things off by focusing on the one country that’s on everyone else’s mind right now, as well as my own, and that’s Peru. Land of Paddington Bear and his marmalade sandwiches, photographer Mario Testino and a snazzy new documentary on BBC4 with a presenter who fearlessly jumps on rafts in jeans… I’m intrigued – are you?