I hate them, too.


[Edited later: If you can’t tell by the relatively high number of comments on this post, I got featured in the Freshly Pressed section of the WordPress homepage and I’m rather proud to say I received about 7,000 hits over about two days.

One of the great parts about that was all the feedback I got about this post, including one comment from Robin Esrock from Word Travels, who promoted my post on his Facebook page and Twitter. Check out his comment below, where he says travel writing isn’t always the dream job people think it is, and you’ll also find a link to his site.

After reading all the comments, I just want to add that, realistically, being a travel writer probably isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You’re always on the road, it’s a lot of hard work coordinating with different people in different countries all the time, and sometimes the locations are pretty remote. Even so, I’d probably choose that over data entry.]

If I were to rank the best jobs in the world, it would probably go something like this: Ian Somerhalder’s personal masseuse, roller coaster tester and then travel writer (or TV host). But until I can make all, or any one, of these a reality, I will have to be satisfied with reruns of The Vampire Diaries, trips to amusement parks and watching luckier bastards than me travel the world for the living. And in the meantime, I’ll watch my three favourite travel shows for pointers while I boil with envy.

Word Travels
Currently in its third season on OLN and CityTV (and Nat Geo Adventure internationally)
Hosted by Robin Esrock and Julia Dimon

This is a Canadian show that follows two travel writers as they, well, travel and write. It’s an interesting take on the traditional travel show, as it’s just as much about their personal experiences looking for stories and piecing together columns and articles as it is about the places they visit. Plus, having one writer – Robin – focus on the extreme side of traveling (like snowboarding down sand dunes in Dubai) and having another – Julia – write about the quirky, cultural side of travel (like training to be a gladiator in Rome) makes for a great diversity of content.

I also like reading about how the hosts of travel shows got those jobs. Robin, who’s based in Vancouver, used to work in music and marketing, but after being struck down by a car while on his bike he got a sweet $20,000 settlement and decided to run off and travel the world for a year. He wrote a column and a travel blog about it, and the rest is history. Julia, meanwhile, started her career writing a movie column for the Toronto Star at the age of 12 (yes, 12!) and after six years transitioned to travel writing. Someone needs to explain to me how she managed to get that gig.

Currently in its third season on OLN and CityTV
Hosted by Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach

Another Canadian production, Departures was initially supposed to follow two friends – Scott and Justin – as they leave their regular lives behind and travel around the world for a year. Luckily for them, the show was successful enough to extend their travels and they’re currently in their third season. The best part of this show is that neither of the hosts are experts in any sense of the word. At the risk of sounding patronizing, Scott and Justin are regular guys who interact with the places and people they meet from the same inquisitive perspective as their audience. Plus, they tend to shy away from the touristy, Travel + Leisure side of travel and stick to the less beaten paths. They even spent a whole episode on Ascension Island, a tiny island in the middle of the South Atlantic that hardly anyone has heard of. (Plus, they’re really cute.)

The show’s website doesn’t fully explain how the guys managed to secure this gig, but Scott has a film background (he met the camera dude Andre while in film school) and when they came up with the idea for Departures, he called up his old high school friend Justin and a show was born!

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Currently in its fifth season on the Discovery Channel in Canada (the Travel Channel and the Discovery Travel & Living channel in the States)
Hosted by Anthony Bourdain

This American show highlights one of the best – if not the best – parts of traveling: food. Not only is food one of the foremost expressions of a culture, but it’s also something everyone can enjoy and it differs in very interesting and revealing ways from one place to another. The great part about this particular show is that Anthony brings an enormously likable persona and infectious love for food to every dish and beachside tavern. He’s also a bit grumpy and has a bit of disdain for vegetarians, but that’s all part of the charm. His knowledge of food and international travel makes him a hugely entertaining guide.

Anthony has a culinary background and jump started his life as a famous writer and television personality by writing about his life working in restaurants “good, bad and horrible” in his book Kitchen Confidential. He later combined travel and food in A Cook’s Tour and now he has his own awesome show.

56 thoughts on “I hate them, too.

  1. Speaking of travelling, I really enjoy to see country side by train from Frankfurt to Munchen/Munich particularly during October fest. Drink beer the whole day and enjoy the friendly crowd. Vienna also very interesting to visit Grindzing with typical Austrian restaurants and by surprised we were entertained by house music with Indonesian song. Going to Frisco with Saisalito it’s fantastic and created feeling you’re in peaceful garden on earth. But now I quit travelling due to so much secutiry formalities nearly in every airports which made me feel uneasy.

  2. Hi there, I love watching travel programs as well, particularly the ones that deal with the food in different countries. Pursue your dreams – the sky is the limit. To give you an idea, a friend of mine kept a very entertaining blog whilst working in the UK and travelling abroad, which upon his return home to South Africa, landed him a job as a travel writer.

  3. You have literally spoken my mind.

    I burn with evny whenever I see these people get paid for what they do and I always feel I can do a much better job for them for free!!!

  4. These look amazing – I would love to have those jobs too! Recently my sister has been watching Man Vs. Wild, with Bear Grylls, and she drags me into it sometimes if I’m over there with nothing to do. As far as I can tell, it’s this adventuresome guy who gets dropped off in the middle of the wilderness (glaciers, deserts, rainforests) and has to make his way out. The internet says he was the youngest Brit to climb Mt. Everest, so he’s got respect in my book. I would love his job too, EXCEPT the eating-whatever-you-find bit. In the Sahara, that turned out to be grubs. *shudder* I think he’s on the NatGeo channel, but I’m not sure – my sis is always the one with the remote!

    1. He ate bear poop once as well. Made a great show of how all the nuts and berries were still intact within the feces, just waiting for him to come along. Strong stomach!

  5. I’m also a recent fan of “Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmern” he is quirky, but the show is kind of fun…

  6. Great post!

    As a travel writer/television producer, let me tell you that it isn’t all roses. Working on the road is really tough — it’s about the furthest thing from a vacation that you can imagine. Especially TV production.

    That said, it beats life in a cubicle!



  7. Dear Miss Zalina,

    My, but that’s a pretty name.

    Yes, well, about the travel shows: I’ve always found them similar to makeover programs, interior design shows, and the cooking channel — they strike me as faintly disguised sales catalogues. There’s always a very attractive person, modestly yet somehow sexily attired, divulging bits of information about the locale which display a remarkable range of relevance and various capacities to garner one’s interest. There’s usually music playing low in the background, usually something one tends to hear in a store catering to young girls at the mall.

    “Every dish at Chez de Maitre has been served in the same traditional way for over fifty years, and comes from the same recipe book Filipe’s mother wrote — when did you say your mother wrote it?”

    “My mother she is writing this book in 1944 during this internment at Auschwitz.”

    “Really! So this is more than just a restaurant; it’s a piece of history. And at only forty American dollars a plate, it’s a must-taste necessity for anyone traveling through Dresden. Thank you for having us, Filipe! Now I’ve just got to have another of these stuffed mushrooms. Mmm!”

    Your point, Miss, remains unscathed, of course. I wouldn’t mind seeing the world for free, either, but if anyone ever sticks a microphone at me and makes me say insipid nonsense like some babbling auctioneer’s hand puppet, they’re going to get a piece of technology in a compromising spot to be sure. I’d backpack through Spain on a student’s budget and wash dishes from time to time any day, rather than predicate a worldly career on my best Martha Stewart impression.

    You write very well, Miss. It’s a delight to visit here. Thanks for providing us with your warm and optimistic perspectives.

    Yours Truly,


  8. I love Samantha Brown and Bourdain! Well, check out IndieWomanMag on here y’all! I’m a writer, traveler, and do-gooder with my partner in crime Beth who is a filmmaker and documents it all. We just shot in New Orleans as the spill was unraveling. The video will post on our website soon. Join us and let’s support our community of bloggers and adventure seekers!

  9. Ah, to be a travel writer, can you imagine a better job?

    OH OH here’s one: those Conde Naste travel writers who get sent to the best spas in the world, to review. Oh my stars.

    And being a food reviewer columnist is a close runner-up.

  10. Anthony Bourdain is the man. He eats just about anything. Haven’t seen the other two shows but Departures looks pretty sweet.

  11. No Reservations is on my regularly watched list. I haven’t heard of the others – I must find out if they’re available down here.

  12. Travel is fun – but not for work! I’m off to Egypt tomorrow. I wish I could spend my weekend at home. Nice post. These travel shows look good.

  13. I spent a year in Italy and travelled to 50 European cities. We spent a week with British cousins at a villa in the South of France, took an overnight train across Poland to visit my husband’s relatives in Gdansk, spent a weekend in the resort in Wales where the 60s tv show “The Prisoner” was filmed. My favorite memory of that year was hearing the wheels of our small rolling suitcases as we took off for another adventure.

    Living there – leaving and coming home to a country other than your own – adds a deeper dimension to travelling. Living in another language makes the most mundane experiences – buying groceries, taking a bus, setting up a bank account – a fascinating challenge, but maybe that was because I lived in Italy, where culture meets chaos over cappucinno. I loved writing about it all – at 4initalia.

    A year of travel can happen for you – but you have to make it happen. Dream, plan, and go for it.


  14. Seriously?!?! Is that job for Ian Somerhalder’s personal masseuse still open? I really could do that job… I would LOVE IT! AWESOME to find another Vampire Diaries fan! My friends HATE it and I LOVE IT!!! Thanks for the post!!!

  15. No Reservations is a great show. Anthony has a great personality for visiting different countries. He often gets into interesting cultural situations I find quite amusing. Seems like he can usually drink his way out of any language barrier, great skill to have.

  16. I traveled a lot to asia and Europe in my 20s. Now that I’m home with a wife and kid in my 30s I envy folks that travel even to another state. I guess at least I have my past to reflect on.

  17. Love this post! Good job. I watch word travels all the time. Great show. Glad to see it get its props! I am working up to my dream job, going to travel to India to build a health center/orphanage for those in need. Thanks for some inspiration to help along the way!! thecrazylady.wordpress.com

  18. There’s a book entitled “N Places to See Before You Die” (sorry I forgot how many places). I think that is cool if you can visit even a little percent out of it the number.

  19. I’m so broke it’s hardly worth keeping the fridge on – seriously thinking about starting a website called Hobo Holidays – a bedroll, ten bucks in my pocket, and a quart of Thunderbird!

    Five-star park benches and hitch-hike friendly turnpikes!

  20. What about that show Three Sheets? Those guys who go around drinking in random places, recently were in Croatia and seemed to have a great time!

  21. Thanks for the post Zalina, we’re honored that Word Travels topped your list!

    I often find myself wondering how I landed the “dream job” hosting a travel TV show, but as Doug noted above, it’s far from a holiday. Jetlag, crazy schedules, deadlines – when being on the move becomes a job, the dynamics tend to shift. That being said, we filmed in 36 countries on 6 continents, and I got to do everything I’ve ever dreamed of doing, sometimes twice! So definitely no complaints.

    If anyone wants to find out how I became a travel writer and a TV host, they’re welcome to check out my blog – http://www.moderngonzo.com. There’s stories, pictures, video and tons more from the 90+ countries I’ve visited. And you can watch Word Travels on National Geographic, and soon Travel Channel International worldwide too.

    Travel safe,

    Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/robinesrock
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/robin.esrock
    Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/moderngonzo/

  22. I love travel shows!! As much as I would like to, I do not have the opportunity to visit all the far corners of the world, and these shows are a great way to explore our great planet! :o)

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