Travel-writing attracts strong-willed people. To cut yourself off from familiar surroundings, to spend months on end in foreign settings, to encounter lifestyles, ideologies, and theologies that constantly challenge your most cherished beliefs, is not the kind of life that most people choose. Recently, I've met (or interviewed over the phone) travel writers and bloggers who inhabit a world of difference, and delight in the challenges of their chosen field.
Mariellen Ward is a highly-talented Toronto journalist who believes that women can, and should, travel safely alone. And guess what country she has chosen for her preferred journeys? Though she occasionally writes about England and Ireland, her main recommendation is solo travel in India, which she believes is a transformative experience, rich with culture found nowhere else in the world, and altogether memorable. And the recent, highly-publicized attacks on women in India? She believes they are no more frequent than in most other nations, and that there are obvious procedures to avoid them. Her blog, called BreatheDreamGo.com is exceptionally well-designed and written, and food for thought.
Christopher Elliott has, for many years, been a strong voice in travel journalism on behalf of the travel consumer. In countless articles, blogs and columns for National Geographic Traveler, USAToday, and the Washington Post, he has lashed out against improper practices on the part of travel companies, and he has now written a comprehensive book of his opinions and advice called "How to be the World's Smartest Traveler". I've taken issue with him on numerous matters, and especially on his constant criticism of the Transportation Security Administration, for which he has never suggested a realistic substitute. And it was therefore gratifying to find that, in his book, he had greatly softened his stance on the T.S.A., saying that (page 160) "The agents are polite, efficient and helpful"; and that their pat-downs and other intrusive searches are (page 168} "for your own safety". That capacity to grow is a sign that his future writings may avoid right-wing foolishness, and continue intelligently to expose the abuses of avaricious travel firms.
Finally, Darren Humphreys, founder and owner of Travelsommelier.com, left an 18-year career as a Wall Street bond salesman to pursue his first love: wine-tasting in many of the best known--but also little-known--wine regions of the world. And although his website advertises luxury tours and safaris to places where wine-tasting is equal in importance to other activities and themes, he never forgets to describe the less-expensive journeys available to persons who love to drink the fruit of the vine: Oregon, Argentina, South Africa, Portugal and Spain. Here's a person who turned his back on more lucrative doings, and decided to pursue his primary interest.