Robert Reid at

This month at the Travel Writers page I interview guidebook writer Robert Reid, who has updated 21 Lonely Planet guidebooks, created his own experimental free guidebook to Vietnam, and written articles for the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, World Hum and Wanderlust.

Here some outtakes from our interview:

  • “Getting started is easy as looking around you — your home may be boring to you, but it doesn’t have to be to others. Or maybe create a guide on something that isn’t out there. Like ‘Visiting Bear Attack Sites of the Western Hemisphere’ using a free blog template. That might get some attention.”
  • “There is no end to what you can see, what you can ask, where you can go. You have to learn to not really trust everyone’s take — locals sometimes can’t see their homes from an outside perspective, and some ‘help’ can end up losing some precious time. Also you can’t always trust yourself always either. I may be feeling bad one day, maybe it’s wet and windy, and a Russian waiter might snap at me, and I’m suddenly thinking ‘Khabarovsk: crappy city.’ It isn’t though. So often secrets of the road may lurk in unexpected places. So I ask and ask and ask questions. Random things sometimes — about ghosts, soccer rivalries, sewage problems, great moustached heroes, fist fights at City Hall. Sometimes I ask questions for answers I already know. And try to write down everything locals say — you never know when a funny thing they say can be useful in an article way down the line. And time is so short.”
  • “Travel writing is work. So it’s important to know why you’re getting into it and what you want from it. I can’t count the numbers of times I’ve said of a place, ‘this is great — I really need to come back on vacation.’ Actually I generally prefer going to places I wouldn’t go on vacation — I once picked Nebraska over the Caribbean (and do not regret it), Siberia over India or Bhutan. I go to fulfill a job, and collect a wealth of experiences I can later use (hopefully) in some other writings.”

Full Robert Reid interview online here.

Posted by | Comments (2)  | August 3, 2009
Category: Travel News

2 Responses to “Robert Reid at”

  1. Justin Jones Says:

    Some wise words here from Mr. Reid — except maybe that bear attack bit 😉

    Travel writing certainly is work. Many people think that it’s a super-glamorous job, and sure, sometimes there is a bit of glam involved, but a big part of the gig is fact-checking and research. So what makes it worthwhile? For me, it’s a passion for travel that stems from a passion for meeting new people and understanding other cultures. It’s all about the experience, and about sharing that experience with others through your writing.

  2. Says:

    I really liked what was said about “Getting started is easy as looking around you — your home may be boring to you, but it doesn’t have to be to others.” This is so true. People visiting your area will be fascinated because it’s new to them. You may think that some of the sites are boring, but a person visiting the area may be fascinated with the site even if they may seem insignificant to the locals.