As entries roll in for the 2016 Travel Media Awards, we catch up with Hannah Summers, winner of Young Travel Writer of the Year 2015, and find out what corners of the world she’s been exploring lately, the tips she’d give to a budding travel writer, and what winning the Awards’ inaugural prize for writing excellence in the under-30s category has meant to her
Image, above: Hannah (right) is presented her trophy by Georgina Oakley of Lotus PR, on behalf of category sponsor Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife
What did winning Young Travel Writer of Year 2015 mean to you?
It was a big shock, to be honest! But it meant a huge amount to me. I always wanted to be a travel writer but I got stuck in the wrong job in my early 20s. During my days there, I often thought about travel writing as a career, but also spent a long time convincing myself I wouldn’t be good enough and worrying that I didn’t have traditional journalism training. But I still felt like I needed some sort of creative outlet, and I wanted to write about something fun that I genuinely cared about.That’s why I started the blog Burgers and Bruce — to share some words with fellow Springsteen-lovers and ultimately give travel and food advice, which is something I love to do. The thought of someone eating a bad meal on holiday is mega depressing for me!It’s amazing to think that having that blog got me writing, and has helped get me into a position to be doing it professionally now.
What was the reaction of your friends and colleagues?
My friends were really happy for me, as were my colleagues. I think (although I don’t want to speak on his behalf) that Escapism’s and Foodism’s editor, Jon Hawkins, was pretty chuffed for me, seeing as he’s the one who took a punt and offered me a writing role at Escapism, teaching me various bits of grammar along the way. Dangling participles — what are they again?!
What did you most enjoy about last year’s ceremony?
Seeing lots of friendly faces, and the venue was pretty impressive, too. Simon Reeve wasn’t so bad to look at either, and I think he has an inspiring story — who knew he started out in the post room of a newspaper?
What have you been working on since we saw you last?
My main project was issue number 25 of Escapism. For that issue, our CEO decided to strip out all our normal advertising and editorial content, and tasked me with the job of creating an issue of the magazine dedicated entirely to raising awareness about the refugee crisis. I edited the issue and travelled to Lesbos and Calais to research my own features. Although it was unspeakably difficult, it was hugely rewarding to have the opportunity to work on something so important, and hopefully help Londoners understand the situation and feel encouraged to help.
Over the past few months, I’ve travelled to some great places: Quebec for ice canoeing and ice climbing, Puerto Rico for rum and beaches, and Albany, the capital of New York state, for a Springsteen concert. It’s not somewhere I’d necessarily recommend visiting, but Springsteen does put on a good show there!
What advice would you give to someone looking to start travel writing or get a foothold in the industry?
I think one of the most important things is to show enthusiasm. Travel is an incredible industry to work in, but you have to show a real passion for it — it’s so obvious when someone is blagging their way through an interview and just likes travel as opposed to loves it.I also think that people assume it’s an easy ride, but you really have to put in the hard graft. Not just researching, but writing — it’s not easy, and it can be really frustrating and demoralising if you can’t get decent words down. I’d say that writing a blog is a good way to get your writing seen without having to rely on being commissioned by editors. Bloggers can get a bad rep, but if you’re writing about something you genuinely adore then people will recognise and respect that.
What destinations have you got your eye on this year?
Well, in a non-work capacity, Springsteen is touring Europe this summer so the next few months are largely made up of weekend trips to Rome, Milan, Gothenburg and, er, Coventry. I haven’t made many more plans for later in the year yet, but I’m the person that always wants to go everywhere and I panic that I don’t have enough time in my life to see all the different places I want to visit! Work-wise, I have a few possible trips in the pipeline.
Who are your heroes, professionally or otherwise?
There are loads of travel writers I love — they know who they are! My dad has taught me a lot about work ethic, communication and loyalty to people. And yes, you guessed it, Springsteen’s music has encouraged me in various ways. I realise I sound like an obsessed hippy!
And finally, have you got your entry in for the 2016 Travel Media Awards?
It’s top of my list of things to do this week!
Hannah is the associate editor at Escapism Magazine, a contributing editor at Foodism and Square Mile, and the author of the popular blog Burgers and Bruce, which chronicles her trips to see Bruce Springsteen in concert and the food she eats along the way.
Notes for Editors
The Travel Media Awards was launched in 2015, celebrating the very best of the travel media sector. The Awards was created in recognition of the hugely influential role that today’s travel media plays in the holiday or business travel decision-making process. Open to all travel writers, broadcasters and photographers, the Awards is a true barometer of the travel media sector. The Travel Media Awards is owned and operated under a joint venture agreement between Travega and APL Media Limited. travelmediaawards.com
APL Media Limited works across the travel and lifestyle sectors in a number of media, from print through to events. APL Media produces the award-winning National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine, ABTA Magazine, Destination Vacation, ASTA Network and a series of lifestyle newspaper supplements, apps and websites. aplmedia.co.uk
Travega offers a wide range of travel marketing and sales solutions for both the leisure and business travel sectors. These include delivering sponsorship revenues for some of the leading events in the UK travel industry, alongside third party management of events for other leading travel brands. travega.co.uk[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]