When a travel writer goes on assignment, the goal is create a publishable piece for the public. But often, there’s a back-story to the journey, another travel story that goes unwritten.
Many of us have these tales.
A PR friend of mine told of two travel writers that she had hosted from New York City. They had come to the mountains on a dude ranch story, and had spent their time horseback riding along snow-covered trails, interviewing ranch hands and relaxing in their cozy cabin. All was going well.
Then they went on a horse-drawn sleigh ride.
The day had started off beautifully. The sky was blue, the snow crystal white. Then the horses caught the scent of a moose, unseen but somewhere nearby. They panicked and took off running, pulling the driver, my PR friend and our hapless New Yorkers behind.
When the driver couldn’t rein the horses in, he got a crazy idea. He would jump off and grab the reins near the halters, forcing the horses to stop.
You can imagine what happened. Off he jumped, while the sleigh went off without him, careening wildly along the forest trail. The writers’ eyes were wide with fear, while my friend imagined the headlines: “New York travel writers injured in horse-drawn sleigh crash.”
Fortunately for all involved, one of the reins dropped to the ground and the horses stepped on it, reining them in and stopping the sled. The driver caught up with the sleigh, and they all took a deep breath before continuing their ride in the forest.
Thankfully, the thoughtful writers left out this part of the adventure in their resulting article. It isn’t the kind of travel that appears in Travel + Leisure anyway.
For many travel writers, these true tales of the journey are personal souvenirs that we savor. Our private adventures belong only to us, stories of our own that we only share with friends and family.
These tales, in fact, are the ones I remember best. I never wrote about getting stuck in a bathroom in Switzerland, falling in love in Kansas with the man who now shares my life, or getting seasick during a terrible storm on the way to Ibiza, Spain. But they’re MY stories of travel, and therefore something to treasure.
I’m sure many other writers feel the same way.
Author: Janna Graber is a travel journalist, editor and video producer. She is the managing editor at Go World Travel Magazine.