With the ease and low cost of travel nowadays, it seems like everyone I know travels very frequently and could easily branch into travel writing.
Of course, if you are someone who enjoys writing and travelling, travel writing seems like the best job on earth where you get to experience life and culture in different cities and still get paid!
In the past, whenever I read travel articles, I will be very sure that the writer did go to these destinations that he or she was gushing about. However it is no longer the case in today’s context whereby creating “shareable viral content” is the key. Sometimes I check out those articles with attention-grabbing headlines like ” 10 Must-go Attractions in Paris”, “5 Cutest Cafes In Japan” etc, and I read them with interest. Then I start to check out other posts by the same writer and realised that he or she had been proclaiming must-go attractions in all over the world, and obviously this person couldn’t have gone to so many places within such a short span of time.
Naturally such writers did their due research before publishing all these attractions that they are gushing about, however how can they write with such certainty and such authority when THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN TO THESE PLACES? I mean, wouldn’t you feel embarrassed about it? What if the online content you found wasn’t updated and the attraction had already closed down? If you just check these attractions’ websites, of course they will be tooting their horn wouldn’t they?
And then these people proclaim to be travel writers. Isn’t travel writing all about sharing genuine experiences so that readers can gauge for themselves if they want to go? Isn’t the whole point about sharing new undiscovered gems so that readers can have more places to check out? By rehashing material already in the online sphere and rewriting them, how can there possibly be new content? At the end of the day isn’t it just following the crowd? All those hidden gems that you are introducing are in actual fact not at all hidden because if they are, you wouldn’t have found it online, copied it and rewritten it for your travel story.
Recently I managed to get a regular freelance writing gig where I am supposed to come up with regular Singapore travel articles. The pay was pretty ok and it means I can have regular income while enjoying my sabbatical/part-time studies in Chicago. Yet it also means that I will be doing armchair travel writing because all these travel articles are for Singapore while I will be in Chicago.
I really wanted to do it so that I can get regular income with flexibility in time. It means I can write travel stories while in the comfort of my home! But I just can’t bring myself to do it. I tried one, and I ended up feeling really paranoid, and ended up travelling to that attraction that I was writing about just so that I can confirm the information. And the thing is, when I reached the attraction, I realised that the ticket price online is wrong! If I did not head down to that attraction, I would have given a wrong ticket pricing for the travel article in which I wrote like I was such an expert on it.
Therefore, the conclusion is, even though I love money, I hate bluffing people. So it is bye bye to regular income for me. Also, while I really appreciate good writing, I also appreciate people who write stuff that they mean. Sometimes I read blogs where the blogger has really bad writing skills, but I can tell that she is really writing about her personal experiences in her blog. At least she really did try the food she was recommending and visit the country that she was writing about. And this matters. I can’t bring myself to respect people who call themselves travel writers when they don’t visit the places. I also disrespect websites that call themselves travel websites but publish such content even if it means it will get high readership and all. Haix… guess I’m getting obsolete in this era where being viral is everything.