Image: Pablo Strong

Freelance writer Lauren won the Young Travel Writer at the Travel Media Awards 2018. We grab five minutes to talk to her

How did you first get into travel writing?
Only relatively recently. I’ve written about food for many years and was lucky enough to go on a few press trips; they gave me my first taste of travel writing. However, it was only last year that I started writing for easyJet Traveller magazine. My first piece was a column about getting naked in a Berlin spa. Everything since then has been a picnic by comparison.

What makes a destination a great place to write about?
People. You can write as vividly as you like about the most spectacular destinations in the world, but it’s the voices that bring it alive. All my favourite travel commissions have centred around human stories — whether they’re starting something new, keeping old traditions alive or giving visitors new ways to experience a place. Those killer quotes and anecdotes are the making of a great feature.

What’s your favourite destination in the whole world and why?
Would it be terribly boring if I said Scotland? Edinburgh is one of my all-time favourite cities and I’m lucky enough to visit it a few times a year. There’s nothing like stepping out of Waverley station with the castle looming ahead of you, Arthur’s Seat brooding to the left, Calton Hill behind you and the sea beyond that. My very first work trip as a rookie writer was a blissful food tour around Perthshire, and last year I had a glorious summer holiday in the Highlands and on the Isle of Mull. It rained almost all the time. When you can love a place in the rain, that’s the real test.

If you could travel back in time to anywhere, when and where would you choose to go?
David Bowie singing Heroes at the fall of the Berlin Wall would do nicely. But then I’d go back to present day Berlin, for the best kebab I’ve ever eaten.

What’s on your travel wish list for 2019?
Despite being a travel writer, I still feel as though I haven’t seen very much of the world! I’m a relative newbie to the industry and so my to-visit list is still huge. I’m a sucker for a city break, so Ljubljana, Tbilisi and Tel Aviv are all on my list — and having recently discovered I’m part Lithuanian, I’m keen to explore Vilnius before the hipster influx inevitably takes hold. Japan has also been on my wish list forever, and my boyfriend and I are planning a trip from LA to Seattle via San Francisco and Portland. I ate so well in Seattle the last time I was there, I’m already salivating at the thought.

Do you have any advice for other young aspiring travel writers?
Think small, to begin with. I started off writing short, desk-based features before I actually got to travel anywhere, so don’t be disheartened if you’re not immediately being sent off to glamorous far-flung destinations. And look for the small stories too — the quirky details and fledgling trends that you can shape a story around, rather than trying to capture a huge panoramic vision of a place. Oh, and make it funny. There’s room for a lot more humour in travel writing (and all writing, to be honest).

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Tel Aviv. Jerusalem. Two Cities. One Break