This is me on vacation (smiling)
This is me on work (smoking)
(The 1960’s version of me smokes. Judge away!)
I am here. In Quebec, four months after I moved. What am I doing at this exact moment? Sitting in a plush, King-sized bed, surrounded by pillows and chocolates like a Sultan.
Jealous? Don’t be.
This is the part of travel writing everyone knows: The food. The comps. The attractive, overly-attentive staff who hang on your every bite.
The power is exhilerating. I must tell you.
But before you quit your office job, remember this is actual work and takes a lot of patience, attention to detail, and very strong calves. And that the perks make up for a very significant lack in pay.
A few things I have learned:
Don’t Bring Your Friends
I know. It is so unfair! What fun is jumping on the bed at a hotel alone? Last night I sat alone at a restaurant and then a guy sat at the table next to mine (also alone) but on the other side. So we were diaganolly eating together. Awkward!
But you won’t look very serious to your editor or the restaurant owners if you start demanding meals for you AND your friends. People will catch onto you and you’ll become known as a “comp prostitute.”
Also friends distract in a situation like this. Eyes on the food! The food!
I struggle with this. I can’t tell you how to be organized, but when you’re dealing with hundreds of properties, it’s necessary. I made a pretty sweet spreadsheet of my contacts, along with a super-detailed itinerary.
Organization is imperative if you’re traveling for a short-time and working. I lost one whole day because of my stupidity and a stupid car.
I thought I could drive a FIAT. Turns out, the car not only looked like a roller-skate, it drives like one, especially in 3rd gear, when some magical FIAT force pushes you from behind and rolls you wildly into oncoming traffic. It took three panic attacks for me to realize it wasn’t in D it was in 3.
They should rename gear 3: “Death by FIAT” mode.
The thumbs up from over-tanned, middle-aged FIAT drivers ALMOST made the terrifying experience worth it.
I could see how travel writing could turn someone into a complaining douche. Constantly remind yourself that there’s a difference between you and Gordon Ramsey.
Always tip the staff. Always smile, say thank you, remember names, never belittle or you’ll never get sent anywhere again.
But not too nice
There is a certain hustle to this gig. Restaurant and hotel owners will try to schmooze you into writing a good review. Watch for it. Do not let them write your review for you.
Pay attention to the other customers – is the place busy? Are people smiling?
I like to read Trip Advisor reviews after I go to a place. Then I form my opinion and use the reviews to assess whether I am on the same page. Or whether I am the one off-base.
Believe me, travelers will call you out for recommending sub-par cuisine.
Would you spend your money on this ___,___, or___? Be discerning and honest. Defend your answers to yourself.