Robin McKelvie: I’m a travel writer. Is it really the best job in the world?

IF I gained a pound every time someone told me I had the best job in the world, I really would have done it. A travel writer: the dream job. Going around the world in first class in the hot tub, Cristal in hand, occasionally wetting my quill pen, before sticking a pin on the map for my next “holiday”. Unfortunately, this life as a travel writer is just a dream.

I’m not saying I don’t like my job; indeed I often like it. Travel writing has taken me, over more than two decades, to over 100 countries. It gave me a world of memories and rewarded me with game drives, epic train rides and too many unique experiences to detail in a lifetime. But that’s the problem – my work didn’t “take”, “give” or “reward” me with anything.

Everything came old fashioned. Hours of work that would make a young doctor blush – although, of course, I don’t claim my work is vital to society. From running an entire business to doing things everyone hates like cold calling and debt collection. To always be on call. Think Friday dinner canceled at the last minute to correct errors introduced by a submarine. Think about constantly picking up the pieces of nine to five PRs and tourist boards that don’t do the simple things on time, while always expecting me to.

Travel writing is a spinning wheel, a modern (admittedly nicer) Dickensian workhouse. If you stop for a second, so does any semblance of money. And the money is constantly decreasing. And I’m not just talking about inflation, as some outlets no longer pay for travel items. If you have the best job in the world, who has to feed the children? Increasingly, you have to work seven days a week, unless you are a landed gentry or have a wealthy spouse. Some of my co-workers are or do, but not the profit-making ones – if you don’t treat them like a business, you just won’t pay your mortgage.

My job has changed tremendously with the pandemic, of course, as have many of our jobs. During confinement, he simply did not exist. I had a hard time after 9/11 and during the crash of 2009, but not like this. But as with any freelance position, you have to adapt. So – although you probably hate the word too – I went for more than a year only to “staycations”. I did not leave Scotland from February 2020 to October 2021.

I have come to appreciate Scotland even more. I’ve always been a passionate advocate, but now I understand that it offers many experiences I previously needed to travel abroad for. Can’t dig for clams in the Rio Formosa? Dig them up on Harris. No snorkeling in the Mediterranean? Check out Arran’s new snorkeling trails. I like the idea of ​​helping in a small way to alert readers to what we have here.

Covid made me think about what my job is and why I do it. Yes, I appreciate a little hot tub and a glass of champagne, but the best part about travel writing is being able to share experiences with readers. And that I can give the people I love and those I love experiences that I just couldn’t when working at Sky TV on phones. I write this on Eigg as my children enjoy a window into a different way of life on a community-owned island. We have just returned from a week long boat trip along the Great Glen with some good friends. Through that prism, I guess I might have the best job in the world.