Now Hiring for the Coolest Job in the World

One advantage of living in Europe is that cheap airfares make the rest of it so accessible. I’ve just got back home to Ireland  after an unofficial three-day jaunt to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. This tiny country holds the title for the highest per capita consumption of wine in the world, so there was a good reason to go bar-hopping. And as Luxembourg City is packed with medieval charm, art, and cultural treasures, I wasn’t short of things to do. But as I’m music mad, my real excuse for making the trip was to see a gig.

OK, dressing like a Goth in head-to-toe black to see the demonic Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds might not be your idea of fun. But the great thing about being a travel writer is that I can offset a good part—sometimes all—of the cost of my personal pleasures. You could too. Start looking at things with a trained eye and wherever you go on vacation, you’ll always find an untold story or a new angle.

In between writing up a story on Luxembourg and its quirky art bars, I’m also in the throes of planning an assignment trip to Spain. Two trips, actually. The first is to the Mediterranean island of Menorca—I’m hoping for a splash of winter sunshine. The second will be to the fabulous Moorish city of Granada, and the villages of the Alpujarras in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

But I’m not the only one whose job involves exploring the world. Two travel writer friends, Viv and Jill, are currently on a press trip through South East Asia. I keep up with their journeys on Facebook, and they’re now in Hue, in Vietnam.

As I’ve enjoyed more than my fair share of free pampering over the years, I shouldn’t be envious. But I am. The girls were indulging in an afternoon of spa treatments and massages in a boutique hotel (it looks thoroughly swanky) overlooking the fabled Perfume River. Plus, they were cruel enough to post the hotel’s dinner menu. The very first starter made me drool: Banana Blossom Salad, Smoked Duck Breast, and Foie Gras Ice Cream.

That’s typical of the kind of lavish lifestyle that travel writers enjoy. Sure, there’s research, planning, and the writing up of stories. But pleasure is a major part of the job description.

And if you have commitments, you don’t have to stray far from home to be indulged or receive special treatment. Terri, another travel writer friend based in New York, just got a preview and behind-the-scenes tour of where the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Floats and balloons get created. She gets to travel on overseas press trips too—her last one was to Norway.

Now in truth, I don’t always envy some of the specialist trips that another travel writer friend takes. Patti describes herself as an “adrenaline junkie”—and she is into the kind of white-knuckle adventures that I would pay good money to avoid.

I don’t do close-up encounters with sharks, or drive race cars, or tumble down white-water rivers on rafts. And I most definitely don’t do sky-diving. During a press trip to Hawaii, Patti got the chance to jump out of an airplane—and she did.

The writers I’m in contact with aren’t all female, by the way. The latest posting from my friend Jason is a photo of his “neighbors” across the street. He’s currently living on a jungle island called Ko Phangan, off the coast of Thailand. And the neighbors he mentions are a gang of monkeys.

The world is still a big place. And wherever you want to base yourself…whether you want to work full-time or part-time…there’s plenty of room in it for good travel writers.

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