Dear Travel Channel –
I normally love your programming and even blog about some of your shows, such as No Reservations and Samantha Brown. I applaud you for airing the pilot of “Confessions of a Travel Writer”. The concept is fantastic, and many of us in the travel industry have been discussing the idea of Press Trip: The Reality Show for years. We just didn’t know how to go about making it. I do have to commend your bravery for airing this show, because you had to realize the controversial nature of the subject, especially with all the new FTC rules on the table.
Charles Runnette, in his whining wisdom, does make it known that a press trip is not a free vacation. It is work. But, as my grandmother says, “Pick a flavor of s*#% you like. You’ll be eating it the rest of your life.” Judging by the comments on World Hum, Charles needs to pick another flavor.
Press trips are not free trips. They are, however, pretty darn good perks of the job, considering the paltry pay. For me, being a travel writer is amazing and wondrous. I have had experiences and moments in my life that I otherwise would never be able to afford. I didn’t grow up as a socialite from New Hampshire, nor do I live in a 1.2 million dollar home in the Smoky Mountains. I wasn’t raised by college professors, nor do I reside in Boca Raton.
I was raised by a firefighter and a draftperson in south Louisiana. I am a government worker, a mom, and a wife to a government worker. I’m someone who has been a writer since I was 17, but for almost a decade I have had a strong focus on travel. The closest thing I had ever come to a press trip was watching “America’s Sweethearts”. I had no idea travel writers took these types of trips and was under the impression that junkets were reserved for movie critics until I became a travel writer myself.
When I did get invited on my first press trip, I was in utter shock. I wanted to know what the catch was and how much I would end up paying for it all. That’s when I learned what being a travel writer really was. It isn’t about free trips and it isn’t about finding things to complain about. Sure, as with any consumer travel, you’re going to experience a dud of a trip every now and again. You need to travel each time as if it is your first experience and also find the beauty of the moment. Yes, you should travel objectively and tell the truth, but is every trip really that bad? I am so thankful to have had the opportunities that have come my way from travel writing, and when I return each time to my other life (my super-stressful, not really a lot of pay, benefits providing job where people die on me everyday) I sit down at my computer and share my travel experiences (the good and bad) with my readers, in hopes that they might find inspiration and information to make their travels that much more enjoyable. It is a responsibility to give your readers the real story, and for me, observing the other travel writers in their natural habitat is an added bonus!
Travel Channel, when you are ready for a reality show about travel writers, with a pinch of inspiration and comedy, and a host who is what your viewers are (average consumers with realistic budgets and day jobs that they want to escape, plus a bit too healthy of a body to be wearing a bikini on television, ahem) give me a call, and we can talk about Press Trip: The Reality Show.
What do you think about press trips or “Confessions of a Travel Writer” which aired last night on The Travel Channel?