Travel Writing: An Intern’s Experiences

Hannah Ricketts in Thailand

A keen traveller – Hannah explores the delights of Khao San Road in Bangkok

It may not have been as thrilling as backpacking in Thailand, but Hannah Ricketts’ travel mag work experience was still eye-opening…

If you like to write and like to travel, you have probably asked yourself – will anyone pay me to take a holiday and write an exciting article about it?

I somehow managed to charm my way into getting a two-week placement at Rough Guides, one of the most renowned travel guide publishers (and by ‘charm’ I mean, repeatedly sent them e-mails until they realised that I wouldn’t go away). I will tell you right now, this work experience was worth my harassing.

Everyone was so quirky and interesting. The men all had full and bountiful beards and no one was wearing a suit. Everyone had been to Mumbai, Lima, Paris or Berlin. There was a table where people would just leave snacks for anyone to enjoy. This, I thought to myself, was the type of snacky/beardy/travelly vibe that I would love to be involved with.

Granted, it was mainly admin stuff that they let me do; there was an abundance of checking for spelling mistakes and sorting out filing cupboards, but I didn’t mind. I never expected to be sent to Zambia in the brief two weeks I was there.

I did however get the chance to go out and take a few photos for the London guide, as well as being able to sit in on a conference call with their American office to decide on the front cover for some of the new issues.

Despite how busy everyone seemed to be, the editors took the time to answer the sack-load of questions I had about how to get into travel writing.

I met a lovely guy called Bearded-Neil (to his face he was just Neil) whom I subjected to a barrage of countless e-mails beginning with “Hey Neil, I have another question”.

He was extremely helpful, telling me he had done a French degree and started out selling publishing rights of DK books (which owns Rough Guides) to French publishing houses. From there, he got a job as a writer, going on updating trips for their “budget series” in Europe, South America and Central america.

After several years of this, he heard of an opening as one of the Rough Guide editors. Since editing for the Guide, he’s had the chance to go on updating trips to the likes of Panama, Bolivia, Honduras, France and Turkey for the new editions. It was great to learn from Neil that there is really no set route into the travel writing business.

From my short but wonderful experience at Rough Guides I realised that, although it might be difficult, it is not impossible to make a career out of travel writing.

I understand now that it is important to remain open and have more than one career goal – as travel writing is viciously competitive as everyone wants to go on holiday for a living – but it isn’t too far fetched to dream of combining all of the wonderful things that you would love to do in life and make it into an actual career.

Do you have experiences of travel writing that you would like to share? Get in touch with us on Twitter @Journograds and ‘like’ us on Facebook if so!

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