BestTrip.tv’s Philosophy of Travel and Travel Journalism
By: Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip.tv Founder and Executive Producer
I’m a travel TV producer, host, and writer, and I’ve had the amazing job of seeing the world through a really unique lens – cameras have given me the opportunity to meet passionate people doing amazing things, and have experiences no amount of money could buy.
Lately, in travel journalism, it seems that ‘tourist’ has become a bad word. Especially in the blogosphere, travelers are trying to disassociate themselves from the word ‘tourist’, like it’s evil, or they’re somehow better than people who may only have 2 weeks to travel every year, and could never aspire to their level of some kind of holier-than-thou state of travel zen. They talk about ‘real people’ and ‘authentic experiences’ like they’re holy grails inaccessible to average travelers.
Well, I have news for you: living in a tent eating grubs for a few months doesn’t mean you are no longer a tourist. It doesn’t purify you from being exactly who you are, and coming from your own background of lifestyle and experiences.
You are never ‘one of them’ – believe me, I know! I lived for 5 years in a foreign country, with virtually zero outside contact except on my trips home – no international TV, no internet, periods with no other foreigners in town, for a while, even no way to make an international phone call unless I traveled to another city! … and guess what? I was still – basically a tourist.
But that isn’t a bad thing! I loved that experience!
In other realms of life, we talk about how being an outsider is a benefit: that you can have great insight simply by not being too close to something. That’s the real beauty of being an outsider when we travel. The novelty of a new and wonderful view, flavour, experience, or lifestyle opens our minds and gives us a sense of wonder and unique opportunity for insight. And it is authentic to you.
In my world of travel, ‘authentic’ experiences are accessible to anyone with open-minded curiosity, an outlook of optimistic adventure, the ability to see and appreciate beauty in all its forms: human, natural, architectural, cultural… and to see the magic of an experience that is outside your normal life or tastes and gives you something to take home that even in a small way changes your outlook or enriches your life.
‘Real people’ are everyone you meet, if you take time to talk and find out what they’re passionate about, and listen and ask more than directions.
In addition to exclusive claims to ‘authenticity’, the other, related, trend in travel journalism today I reject is negativity disguised as ‘reality’.
People who concentrate on bad experiences or go out of their way to sensationalize the negative are missing the entire reason we travel: to bring some magic and inspiration into our lives.
Being critical doesn’t make you more worldly or sophisticated or give you a unique voice – trust me, I could pick up a poison pen any day and let it spew out biting and witty criticism! Travel is about wonder, about celebrating the moment, about escaping your usual life to live, even for a short time, a more beautiful life, and to have those memories to escape to in your mind from mundane everyday reality.
I hope I can bring some of the magic and wonder and celebration of travel into your life. Watch this video for more about my approach to travel and some of the kinds of stories I tell.