9 Ways a Day in the Life of a Travel Writer is Similar to Any Other Job

9 Ways a Day in the Life of a Travel Writer is Similar to Any Other Job

From getting ready for work to funding retirement, you'll see that a day in the life of a writer is pretty much the same as every one else.

First of all, I just want to say that this article, written with a bit of sarcasm and a teeny weeny bit of wit (hey! that rhymes!), is meant to humour and entertain the reader. Therefore, please do NOT do the following:

1) Quit your stable job to pursue a career as a full time travel writer because of this article.

2) Take the points in this article as part of a serious social or global argument for the betterment of humanity.

But just in case I wasn’t clear about this article’s intentions, I would politely suggest those who have an ungodly lack of a sense of humour, those who can’t detect sarcasm and those yang mudah terkeliru (easily confused) to skip this article. Are we good? Okay!

Image credit: memesvault.com

So, one of the hardest things I have had to do since becoming a travel writer was to convince my third great aunt’s cousin’s nephew’s daughter’s husband’s mother that being a travel writer is a legit job.

“Wah, so syiok (enjoyable) ah? Travel here, travel there, what work?” …Sigh. Knowing that many people probably also have such views and because I’m a socially just person like Batman (just kidding, I was bored), I decided to write this article (with photos, yay!) to show you 9 ways the life of a travel writer at work is actually similar to any other person working a normal 9 to 5 job. Albeit with some differences. Let’s do this in chronological order.

Also read: 10 Professions that Will Allow You to Travel the World

1. Getting ready for work

What? You think travel writers just throw a random dart at a map, see where it lands on, and then just go to that place? Of course not! They have to pack first! The dart-throwing part is sometimes true though but whatever.

But yes, just like any other regular job, travel writers need to plan and prepare for work. You know, proper attire, adequate supplies and all that. There’s just a little difference. And that’s…you know what? I’ll just leave this picture here and you can figure it out yourself.

You see? It’s not that different. We don’t just randomly scoot off to some faraway place! Just like any other kind of employee, a good travel writer organises his stuff and gets ready early in the morning for work! And once everything is packed, it’s off to the office…and the most dreaded part of commuting to work. There’s also a lot of planning that goes on behind the scenes in order to get the best stories out from a trip. Like A LOT of research, possible story angles, equipment needed, other travel stuff needed etc. 

2. Getting stuck in traffic on the way to work

Image credit: Robert Jack 啸风 Will

You think I’m joking? Come on, man! It seems that traffic congestion is something you can never avoid no matter what your job is! Unless you work on Mount Everest, then I bet the phrase ‘traffic congestion’ means nothing to you.

But yes, the sad reality is this: even travel writers need to deal with being stuck in traffic while going to work. The only solution? The same as anyone else: leave early to make sure you beat the jam and arrive to work on time. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s a picture of travel writers who failed to beat the rush hour jam!

Image credit: Grant Wickles

Time management, people!

3. Clocking in at the office

So, after arriving to work (hopefully you made it on time!), you breathe a sigh of relief and you clock in with the machine. You know, one of those thingamajigs where you drop in an employee card and the machine stamps what time you arrive and leave the office? Well, travel writers have that too!

In fact, in this category, people working ordinary jobs have the advantage! I mean, you guys use automated machines! Our system is still stuck in the stone age apparently, because everything is done manually and by hand! And the guy who clocks us in sometimes doesn’t even do it properly! And they never smile! What’s up with that? Like seriously, look how messy our employee cards are!

Image credit: Magnus Mansake

4. View of the workplace

So, after clocking in, you take your seat at your desk and survey the surroundings. Well, that’s what we travel writers do as well. And again, this is where ordinary job workers have it better. Your workplaces usually come fully furnished with air conditioning! We have nothing! We don’t even have walls to protect us from the sun and rain! I mean, just look at the comparison between an ordinary office and the ones used by travel writers! It’s almost Palaeolithic!

Image credit: startupstockphotos.com (left)

5. Colleagues

Image credit: Chris Hunkeler

Without a doubt, humans are social creatures. We need companionship, we need friends and naturally, while at work, our social needs depend heavily on our relationship with our co-workers. You feel the need to gossip about your boss? Your best friend is the person sitting next to you. You need someone to get you something? Look at that helpful guy by the water dispenser.

Travel writers have no such privilege. It’s not that those who walk the path of a travel writer have no friends at the office (that is NOT true, okay?), it’s just that, you either work from some remote location or your colleagues are almost never IN the office. In fact, sometimes when you really need their help and you decide to have a video conference with them, you see this:

Image credit: John Kopiski


Also read: How to Become a Digital Nomad

6. Lunch Break

Image credit: ProjectManhattan

Ah, the one thing about working that almost nobody complains about: (except when it’s too short!) lunch. The one time you can escape the glowering eyes of your superior and just fill your tummy. A hungry person is an angry person after all. Well, travel writers need lunch breaks too! And we cherish every minute of it.

The only difference is choice. While most people working a 9 to 5 would prefer meals that can be prepared and eaten quickly (such as packed lunches and sandwiches from the pantry) so they can get straight back to work (yeah right), travel writers have to search for their lunch because they never know where they might end up at, or when their next meal will be (oh the horror!). So, we end up eating anything we can…like…anything…it’s really not that great.

Who am I kidding? It’s the best part of working as a travel writer!

7. Working overtime…ugh!

So it’s 5 p.m., the time when you’re finally done for the day. Just as you’re about to back out of the office driveway however, your boss calls you and informs you that you have to work some extra hours today. Sometimes, it’s even unpaid overtime. The worst, right?

And you find yourself working late into the night, way past dinner time and you start questioning yourself: do I really need this job? Well, I feel you! As a travel writer, I work overtime almost every day! It’s rare for me to be done with work before the sky turns pitch black and the moon starts shining. Oh those long nights…

…those torturously long nights…whoa whoa! Put that tomato down! Don’t throw it! No, don’t!

8. Finally, some down time

After being hard at work for what seems like an eternity, it finally arrives: the weekend. Your day off. Your down time. The time when you finally don’t have to see that scouring face of your boss (I’m not implying anything but I just want to say that my editors are awesome! Ahem) and you just want to kick back and relax. Maybe the beach…or a short weekend road trip. Or maybe, you decided to take an extended break and go on a holiday. Regardless, this is probably what your downtime looks like:

Yep, relaxing and tranquil. This is what a travel writer’s down time is like:

Image credit: Alan Cleaver

You see, the thing about travel writers is, we spend a lot of our time at the ‘office’, sometimes maybe for weeks on end! And you thought your working hours were unreasonable. When we get home, we have to deal with everything that has piled up: unpaid bills, subscription notices, loan payments, the eviction notice we receive for forgetting to pay rent again (what?)…the only time we can sort these out is when we’re not ‘working’.

And also, we have to write up reports of our job progress (read: articles), so we don’t really have the time to chillax, not even during our days off! Sigh…such a pity.

9. Retirement fund

And finally, the end of a career. After working for years in a particular field, you finally find that it is time to retire and spend the rest of your life with your family. You’ve done the work, you’ve done the job, it’s finally time to sit back and reap the rewards.

And to ensure that you can live the rest of your life with financial security, you often rely on your retirement fund: savings and bonuses you’ve put into your bank account since you started working.

Image credit: Steven Depolo

Well, travel writers have a retirement fund too. It’s just that, it’s not exactly what you think it is. In fact, our retirement fund isn’t even always in the bank, it’s usually in a box or a container, like this:

Image credit: Kaboompics.com

Yep, it’s not money, our retirement fund comes in the form of precious memories and experiences money can’t buy. Most of us who work as travel writers don’t do it as a full time gig. Some of us do it for extra income to complement what we already make, or as a part time job, or simply as a hobby. When we ‘retire’, some of us will probably only be in our mid 30s and looking for a fresh venture into a new field.

Of course, there are also those who have already retired from their day job and writing to past time and earn some additional income too. But one thing is for sure for travel writers: once we’ve had a career in the field, we always leave it with a wealth of lifetime experiences.

So you see? We’re not so different, you and I. We’re all just trying to make a living! I said don’t throw that tomato! Sheesh, tough crowd. But there you have it, 9 ways that the life of a travel writer is similar and different to that of any other job!

I end this article with this inspirational Conan O’Brien quote about life: If you can laugh at yourself, loud and hard every time you fall…people will think you’re drunk.  

WOW = Words of Wisdom.

Also read: Why It’s Always Worth Revisiting A Country After Some Time

About Author

Darren Yeoh
Darren Yeoh

Darren enjoys the finer things in life and loves exploring unfamiliar places on foot, guided with nothing but instinct and a good-old fashioned map. He enjoys cultural experiences and exciting adventures and is not a stranger to travelling alone. When he's not putting his travel experiences into words, he's probably sitting behind his laptop, planning his upcoming adventure.


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