Work Abroad

Writing Travel Guides

Many travelers dream about writing for the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide. No longer an insignificant backpacker, those surly guesthouse owners would snap to attention when they realised they were dealing with a guidebook reporter. You’d see travelers everywhere holding up your work between them and their destination like a shield and have the pride of knowing that your words echo in their heads.

Right. Your contribution to the world of travel will have been to check bus routes, clarify hotel prices, describe restaurant menus and inquire about student discounts in museums. The fact is that compiling a guidebook is 97% pure and tedious fact checking and hard work. You need to have a meticulous eye for detail and the patience of a saint as you check out a dozen places to stay in each god-forsaken place on the map.

And what do you get at the end? Money for life? World recognition? Well, no, most likely that for about 6 months fact checking and listing of statistics you’ll be lucky to see much more than $5000, with more in royalties a few years later with the reprints.

It does look cool on your resume, though, as most employers have about as much idea of what goes into writing a guide book as you did when you took the job.

The fact is, however, that with web 2.0 guidebooks are rapidly losing their appeal as people would rather consult the experiences and references of the thousands of travellers who have been there before them rather than information supplied by a single author. The likes ot Yelp and TripAdvisor leave traditional guide books in the dust.