I picked up Wanderlust last month when it featured new trails in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam-the three places I'm travelling to in 8 weeks times. Priced at £3.80, I thought it was a little steep, but it came with a free gift- a microfiber travel towel, which I thought would come in very handy on my travels, so I bought it. I'm so glad I did-this magazine is jam-packed of information for the serious traveller; those people who aren't afraid to go out on their own and branch out of their annual package holiday. The articles are real and in-depth, written by people who have gone to these places and really explored them.
I was so impressed with the magazine that I signed up with a special deal, which allows me to have 4 magazines delivered for £5- a great saving off the cover price! I have also signed up to their website (www.gowander.com) and as a subscriber; I now have access to multiple extra articles. Their website, like their magazine, is packed full of information for every destination you could imagine. There is also an active forum to help plan your next journey. You can become a member easily enough and can post of blog if you wish.
It's full of inspiration; you'll be booking a flight before you finish reading!
Wanderlust is a magazine for people who love to travel, not simply go on package holidays. If you like to, or simply dream of, exploring the path less travelled then this could be the magazine for you.
This bi-monthly magazine is available from good bookshops, like Borders, for £3.80. The latest issue Dec 2007/January 2008 includes travel information on Central America, Sri Lanka, Timbuktu, the Middle East, and New Zealand. In addition to articles in each issue can be found: a travel competition and photo competition; advice for family travels, advice and questions answered; as well as letters and photos from reader's travels. It is also one of the few magazines where I think the adverts actually can be helpful, providing details of useful travel agencies and equipment suppliers.
Traditionally I hate magazines. I am just not interested in almost-celebrity goings on, and even interest based magazines, like Empire, have me reading two articles and discarding them. However, with this magazine I find I read at least 90% every time.
The contents are as diverse as the destinations around the world that it features, with each issue covering places from every corner of the Earth. From long detailed articles to top ten overviews, the magazine contains an array of fascinating information on the world around us and how to explore it.
Unlike other travel magazines I have read, the articles do not simply feel like wish you were here adverts. The contributors are clearly people who love travel and have scratched well beneath the surface of the place they are reviewing. Articles are highly informative, but also full of personality. The writers are not afraid to address the negative aspects of a destination or their own travel blunders, which leads you to feel like you can trust what they are saying.
Following any article on a destination they have an essentials section, providing details on when to go, how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, what to do, cost, and links to further information. This makes for a very useful introductory travel guide to any destination they cover. It also makes the magazine well worth keeping to reference in the future.
What really adds to the appeal of Wanderlust for me though is its stunning travel photography of locations, events, and people around the globe. Every photo is worthy of framing and every page aesthetically pleasing. The combination of well written articles and captivating photography transports you to places you may never have before thought of, but suddenly desperately want to visit.
The disadvantage of this magazine is it makes me want to travel more. Although great in theory, I only have so much holiday time, which as a teacher is restricted to school holidays, and money each year. It can make you feel incredibly envious of all the contributors and potentially a little dissatisfied with your own comparatively meagre travels.
This, however, leads nicely on to one of the best recent additions to the magazine: Wanderlust Weekends. Acknowledging that we don't all have a few spare months to go travelling or the budget to fly half way round the world, this feature explores holiday destinations and trips that can be made over a weekend. Writers give you the lo down on the destination they visited, usually in Europe, their impressions of the place and what it has to offer, and lots of factual information. I think this section is a great addition as holidays are generally budgeted between £100-£250, and you can even get back for to the office ready for Monday morning. This helps to bring the travel contents of the magazine feel a little more within your grasp.
I really enjoy the magazine. The articles are generally well written, interesting, and informative; encouraging you to think a little more outside the box when it comes to travel. After all what's the harm in dreaming!
(Stage direction -place tongue firmly in cheek)
I know, I know. You're all asking "Fiona, how is it you know just which really cool part of the world to visit next, without breaking the bank?" Well, if I told you that secret I wouldn't want to travel again; I don't want to spend my hard-earned holidays surrounded by deadbeat 'tourists' (whereas I am a 'traveller') calling the waiters "Rocky" (or some such), walking around looking like lobsters and bemoaning the lack of English breakfasts.
(Stage direction - remove tongue from cheek)
"Wanderlust", a bi-monthly travel magazine which has the tagline "Real travel for real travellers", focuses on the independent, but by no means the budget, traveller; priced at £3.80, a quick calculation works out that a really thrifty traveller could probably bag himself a budget flight to somewhere interesting for the price of a years worth of reading. Of course, the average Wanderlust reader would probably baulk at the environmental damage cause by such a frivolous action. That being the case, just why does the queen of the budget flight (that's me!, keep up) spend her money on this every two months?
Basically, Wanderlust manages to do what many of the monthly magazines fail to achieve. It keeps up with develops in the world of travel and passes this news on the its readership along with a good number of interesting and eye-opening articles about destinations as diverse as Vietnam, Lake Superior and Belize (using the October 2005 issue as an example). Not bad considering it has two months worth of news to keep up with!
Wanderlust is divided into three main sections.
This section comprises fairly short sections which appear each week. There is a world diary which outlines three or four events or festivals taking place somewhere in the world during the forthcoming months; a 'new air routes' section does exactly what you'd think and includes long haul and budget flights from the UK, as well as flights between other nations which may be of interest to travellers further afield; accompanying this is 'airline news' which tells readers who is expanding, who has special offers on and who is merging with whom.
A news section provides information on such diverse topics as where the British consulate in Nairobi has moved to or the news that the Simplon Tunnel will be closed for essential repairs next Tuesday and Wednesday (this is just an example, if you do intend to travel through the Simplon Tunnel next week, check beforehand). There is a small section on health issues for travellers (with a bigger section later on) and an article about independent travel companies who have new brochures coming out. Finally in this section is "Travel experience", a monthly piece in which Wanderlust readers describe their own experiences of doing voluntary work overseas.
The middle section of Wanderlust is the main travel section with longer articles, usually at least three pages, on specific destinations. In October 2005 these included an extensive article directed at climbers on the various possible routes to ascend Kilimanjaro, written by Sarah Baxter, a climbing novice. There were also articles on Vietnam, Belize and southern China. Travel articles always include a section on practicalities with such information as the currency that destination uses, type of accommodation available, vaccinations required (where appropriate) and more. Most helpfully, they always include a small bibliography and list websites useful for people wishing to know more.
Each month features a "Quick Fix" destination, here it was Lille. Wanderlust offer the quirky option of seeing the city's sites on a Segway and manage to suggest a weekends itinerary for only £141.80 per person (based on two sharing) including hotel, Segway hire, meals and museum admission.
The final section of the magazine proper agains features a series of items which appear each month; the fascinating (oh dear my tongue crept back) readers' tips (Debbie of Hereford recommends ' Get rid of bedbugs by skimming your bed/sheet/mattress with a tacky bar of soap'); health 'Questions and Answers' and a more general article on 'Ten travel lifesavers'. There's an interesting question and answer style interview with television presenter Nicholas Crane (presenter of 'Coast' and 'The Map Man'). There's an article on how to become an travel writer (I here you all stampede to get a back issue from October!), a job shop oage advertising all kinds of jobs in the travel industry and 'Connections' where travellers can find themselves travelling comapnions for forthcoming adventures.
A books section is devoted to reviewing either new guidebooks or books with a travel theme and an article called "A beginner's Guide to Music" this month featuers the music of Argentina. Water bottles and carry-on cases face consumer tests and 'Tat or Treasure' seeks out the tackiest souvenirs money can buy - this month a mosque shaped alarm clock from Amman. Finally there is a diary of festivals and events to do with travel (trade fairs, exhibitions, etc), lectures and meetings of travel clubs around the UK along with television and radio listings for travel programmes.
Judging from the destinations covered and looking at the advertisers featured in Wanderlust, the magazine is directed at more than just your aveage backpacker despite the emphasis on independent travel and living like the locals you get from the advice sections and shorter articles. The longer artcles seem to me to heavily promote organised group travel (for the further away destinations) and the classified ads section at the back of the magazine does tend to focus most heavily on this kind of travel. In addition, there is quite a heavy leaning towards more active pursuits - especially ones which require a degree of training and/or specialist equipment. One has to question whether Wanderlust's claims to be a magazine for "real travellers" has much substance.
However, Wanderlust does feature some rather good writing and the depth of knowledge demonstrated by its journalists is consistently good. In an article on "Isle Royale" (a national park in the middle of Lake Superior) Piers Pickard writes "and it was wonderful. Tom and Laura set off on one trail, I walked into the forest on another. I soon realised that there was no Brysonesque monotony to the forests here. The woods had different personalities that made them a joy to hike in. One minute I'd be crunching along through dapple-lighted, peely-barked paper birch forest. The next I was padding, silent as a wolf, on a bed of pine-needles, under thick boughs that blocked out all sunlight. Or I'd come to a planked walkway over a vermillion swamp, sunlight reflecting off the still water. With every step I took, civilisation got further away".
Placed alongside quality photography, the result is a rather attractive magazine though it is one which can't quite decide whether it wants to embrace the whole cheap and cheerful weekend thing (with its regular updates on the new Easyjet and Ryannair routes) or just be more aloof and tell us about some of the more remote corners of the world which have been barely touched by tourists. I would say that this is a matter that the Wanderlust editiorial team really must decide on. Yes, the two could sit comfortably in one publication (as with the Sunday Times Travel Magazine) but here they don't.
I believe that this is down to the advertising featured in the magazine. Of one hundred and sixty pages, forty-eight are given over to advertising and promotion of the magazine's subscription offer. That's an incredible one third of the magazine given over to advertising! Oh yes, you can save 25% by subscribing, but you still lose a third of your pages to the ads. What's more the adverts have this magazine firmly tied to the organised group travel side of the industry, belying claims that this publication is for "real travellers". Wouldn't real travellers just cut out the middleman and do it themselves?
For quality of writing and photography Wanderlust stands out from other publications but it does not warrant its price tag. It needs to give equal coverage to different kinds of independent travel or improve its article to advertising ratio if it wishes to continue in an increasingly competitive market. Recommended for the serious traveller looking to research destinations or the armchair traveller who wants to read quality writing on any destination but not for the budget traveller or the average backpacker looking to do Europe, Australia or Indonesia on the cheap.
This magazine fronts itself as the essential independent traveler’s bible read for fleecy boys and girls and gingham shirt man. But in reality its priced for middle class thirty something’s that long to get out there and see the world after getting stuck in a dull career. These mags offer them the hope of copping off with sexy foreign girls and guys with everything but the Timberland wardrobe. Its selling a dream that most people need to have lived by the time they are shelling our nearly four quid for this glossy advert with a few travel articles and destinations thrown in. Saying that though it is informative and well set out and definitely the best of the bunch with that appropriate price tag. As a backpacker type of ten years standing with leathery skin and blue eyes to boot ladies if you interested!.,this is as near as you are going to get to the truth whilst being highly commercial. These publications are more for show though and you cant get all you need to know about exotic locations in the lunch hour reading the Lonely Planets in Smiths. These type of magazines have popped all over since the boom in independent traveler’s after they graduate from college or jobs and realize theres more to life than an American Studies degree. But the mag guys and girls also know that they are a lucrative demographic and will buy just about anything that gives them the surfer/backpacker labeled look before and after the adventure. The irony is that if you buy anything flash from these trade reads you will either die of exhaustion from the weight or get robbed the moment you get of the plane. We kick of with a general few pages about new websites on what’s new out there in the world of travel and adventure. Everything from walking the Auckland Bridge frame to tulip town in the Netherlands.The travel book top ten is stuffed neatly into the corner to make way for those shiny ads. I had to raise a chuckl
e at the new flight service between the UK and Albania.Asylum seeker air would be appropriate. Not exactly the best thing to control immigration. Still if you make it here than fairplay to you sir!.Oh and the magazine cat has died. Talking of the home office they have a great gov.uk site where one can keep up with the latest jabs required and trouble spots warnings at www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. It’s very good and worth a look if you are planning that trip for he sexy ascents. The inevitable cartoon strip is put in and is equally inevitably unfunny. Why do every magazine that’s ever printed feel obliged to suffer the reader with such inane crap. Travel tips us inform that you can now get knicked back in Britain for those US speeding fines you incurred showing off in the hire car or being chased by car jackers. It hints that the police will come over here and arrest you personally. Now correct me if im wrong but weren’t they humbled by a man with a camel on Sep 11th and their leader was downed by a recreational snack. Im not worried about my 1995violation in a rather seedy area LAPD. Or that Italian police will still shoot you on sight for good driving and splashing in the fountains. Visa news has this startling revelation that embassies have tightened their regulations since that black September.Its conveniently right next to a Emirates Air full page ad. Bit like those aimless air quality reports after the weather that are only on to plug something. Theres a five page article on Louisiana and New Orleans to get the readers underway. No mention of the fact that’s it’s the third most dangerous American city and Bourbon street is the most tacky one in the world behind Orlando’s Church street. Bill Bryson yet again is judging the entrants for the travel competition that I entered last year and did really badly. The winner was some trendy fleecy type who got lost on a Nepalese moun
tain range. Don’t they usually text the lifeboat station in Norfolk or something these days to be rescued. Then we get an article that about a place where perhaps only three people, not including David Attenborough have ever been to. Sabah-Tical sounds like a dodgy Indian to me. Tons of Borneo ads next door to tease you into a grossly expensive expedition or overland. The more assessable Papua New Guinea is next up with pics and write followed by a chunk on anachronistic foreign enclaves were foreign nationals live as communities.An extremely tedious looking bit to be honest.Well they have 136 pages to fill and adverts to encase. A pretty readable page of book reviews and then the top fifty wish list of places to go in the world to celebrate the magazines fiftieth edition. I have been to seven of them so I have along way to go to be travel kewl. The fifty theme continues with the nest half century of articles from issue past and the top 50 perils awaiting the world traveler. Fifty things to do in New Zealand and 50 health tips to. Apparently there are twenty-five sexually transmitted diseases you catch in exotic places and Liverpool and also tips on how to avoid catching Ebola when walking in Central Africa. Oh the top fifty traveler’s tips completes the set with yet more obvious advice for WWF fans. A useful website mentioned here is www.lateroom.scom that can help beat that shameful mark up of the single room. How many times have you wanted a city break or a cheap deal to only find theres that annoying expensive single room supplement.40%of people are apparently living alone these days and therefore should be treated with the correct supply and demand that modern economies of scale demand. Stop ripping us off you tarts. There are some excellent travel tips on airlines in this section that us pros know about. Companies tend to deliberately over book their planes to make sure of a full aircraft and hig
her profit margain. If you are bumped because of that overbooking you can get free accommodation if theres no further flight available that given day. Something I do when im flying on a lose schedule is to offer to give up my seat in return for a favor. You can usually bag a decent reduction or nice hotel if you play ball. If you are really smooth you can go to the same hotel as the stewardesses, but im not at liberty to partake in giving out this considerable ruse. You will be surprised how accommodating an over worked check in girl or boy (for the ladies) will be after a sweaty day on the desk. Oh and if you buy one of those press type waistcoats you can some times bag an upgrade with a little charm. A travel quiz to test your mates, or not as the case maybe if you do regularly try and test people with travel quizzes. Question 49.In which island group does Lonesome George live?.You will be if you get that far. Now the next article is quite funny and its about Brits in Benidorm that has as much in common (being the operative word) with this mag as Kevin Keegan does with tactical awareness in football management. Apparently there another side to Benidorm where in sure that old leathery bird who used to do the ITV wish you were here show has patronized equally. I would rather find the other side of Madrid thankyou very much. The career break traveler that I was going on about earlier gets a double page expose with the predictable brief case to rucksack diagram. These are the punters most likely to take notice of the managerie of glossy ads and tours so they have to pamper that grouping. A nice gentle article on Naples titled the uncomfortably over used “Pizzas & Piazzas followed by an equally informative look at an area of South Africa.The great Karoo is a place I have been to in the Republic and would recommend it to all. The PR department have been working overtime as Dame Jody Dench gets a column inter
view on her latest film shooting on location in Canada.No not Iris, this busy old bird is up a glacier now. How dare Minnnie brain Driver have a pop at out coolest actress. What decent films has she done that required glaciers and acting skills. Another page on books and a price list to go with it.A world music section is perhaps for the purist who wants to get in the swing before and after a trip with some mood music man.If I hear one more Peruvian pan pipe busker in Northampton I will have to get Granddads shotgun out. The listing s lurk at the back as usual with events and lecturers awaiting the above fanatics. Travelers clubs are not ideal for getting off with birds as also advertised here and they really do discuss world music and Clannad. The travel radio listings along with TV show how hard this mag is working to make more advertising space. Lots of pages on the cool not so essential travel gear (see muggings and back pain). You do still see nobly kneed oldies with pans and pots clanging away with sweat racing down their brows. Tons of ads for overland adventures that are good al if you shop around although guys beware as the girls all fancy the guides. But when you have physically shat in the woods everyday on one of them and share the same space with twenty people you now hate always consult before coughing up two grand. For the true he man or she girl the job page is crying out for adventure guides to shag the thirtysomething girls pining for a good ……adventure. Portoloo duties are not optional though potential safari leaders. Last years photo competition prizes are awarded that says little really as anyone can take a decent pic with a modern digital camera. One hundred pound first prize though if you are up to it, or didn’t get your photo equipment stolen on route. Connection personals are next with two pages of people looking for those rugged travel types or wine sipping girly girls. ItR
17;s a five to advertise and you can view the lonely ones on www, wanderlust.co.uk. Travel recommendation and tips page when punters can right in with advice and stuff from on the ground. The letters page is last with horror stories and romance, which is what this polished magazine, is really all about. Travel and adventure is not about the gear and the locations but the people you meet and the experience and camaraderie you share with people of al creeds and class. Nowhere else can an English doctor and fork lift driver share a beer round the camp fire. Or a Colombian doctor and a production line girl from Newcaste.It’s a really wonderful thing to do if you are still sipping the Chardonnay and thinking about it. It wont be magazines like this who change your life but if you get out there and sit on a volcano to see the sun come up then you are a different sole from that day on.
Even though the current (October) edition appears to have been written by about four people, Wanderlust covers a large sector of the travel market virtually single handed. Though quite a number of the destinations featured in Conde Nast Traveller are exotic, the articles are written for people with money coming out of their ears. Wanderlust covers the most farflung destinations for travellers, backpackers, people who want to get in and get their hands dirty. The standard of writing is generally very high, the photography is excellent, and there are few areas of the world which are ignored. Obviously, you won't find a nice piece on how to have a nice romantic weekend in Paris (although you might get one about doing that in Dakar), but they certainly don't exclude places you've heard of. They just look at familiar places from a new angle. There's a good book review section, absolutely invaluable coverage of travel TV shows, radio and events, a photo competition every issue, and decent attention to travel gadgets (usually tested in the field). My only real criticism? Sadly, there's only an issue every two months.
Wanderlust is the award-winning UK based magazine for people with a passion for travel.