Why you need the right travel insurance

Photo by RAYMOND Wong on Unsplash

Lisa Kable presented this session at the Bangkok AGM in 2018.

Insurers want people to travel overseas with not just travel insurance but the right travel insurance.

To reduce the lethargy or confusion associated with researching travel insurance policies, insurers are designing their websites and policies to be straightforward, easy to understand and compare. Many comparison tables of policy inclusions are visual making it easier for travellers to choose the policy that best covers the important elements of the international trip being taken.

Let’s take a look at our globetrotting fellow Australians and how they insure or don’t insure themselves.
• 10.7 million travellers departed Australia in 2017/18
• 9,523,000 (89%) travellers had travel insurance
• 1,177,000 (11%) travellers didn’t have travel insurance
• 4,190,000 travellers with travel insurance took part in one or more risky activities not covered by travel insurance
• 153,000 (13%) of travellers without travel insurance expected the Australian Government to contribute to their medical expenses (it doesn’t)
• 2,033,000 travellers with a pre-existing medical condition didn’t check if their insurance covered the condition
• In 2015/16*, 168,658 Australians who travelled overseas experienced an insurable event but were left out of pocket as they didn’t have insurance.
Let’s look at the 1,177,000 uninsured travellers and ask why didn’t they buy travel insurance?
• 28% well they just didn’t think about it
• 21% were uncertain they needed it
• 14% just didn’t get around to it
• 20% said it was too expensive

Let’s now focus on the four million plus Australian travellers that engaged in what insurers consider a risky behaviour.
Risky behaviours include but are not limited to:
• Riding motorbikes, mopeds, scooters, quad bikes
• Skiing & snow sports
• Water sports
• Extreme sports including polo and hunting
• Consuming excessive amount of alcohol
• Taking illegal drugs
• Cosmetic surgery
• Some policies also consider sailing on a private vessel in international waters as risky.

Some of these risky behaviours can be covered as a policy add-on.
The 18-29 age group were mostly likely to engage in risky behaviour, the figure is about 82% did engage in one or more risky behaviours while travelling overseas.

Reasons a travel insurance claim may be declined:
• Excessive use of alcohol led to the claim
• Use of illegal drugs led to the claim
• Carelessness, leaving items unattended
• Undeclared pre-existing medical condition
• Undeclared pre-existing mental health condition
• Undertaking the already mentioned risky behaviours without the RIGHT cover
• Travelling to countries that have a current DFAT do not travel warning
• Lodging a claim for something not covered, a reminder to invest in the RIGHT travel
insurance policy for example stolen skis or golf clubs which count as specialty items
on some policies
• No accompanying paperwork; police reports, receipts
• No proof of ownership, keep receipts or take photos of items you have owned for a
• Claims not made within 30 days of returning from travels
• Not all destinations were included on the policy, always include stopovers
• Didn’t have a valid license to drive overseas
• Weren’t wearing the appropriate clothing or equipment, no helmet on a bike

How to choose the right travel Insurance;
1. Think about the activities and the style of holiday, invest in the right type of cover
2. Don’t be swayed by price, if the right policy isn’t purchased, if it doesn’t cover the traveller
for their specific trip needs, it’s the same as not having insurance but more expensive.

Travel Insurance and mental health
To assist Australians who may find themselves suffering from a mental health condition most
travel insurers have removed blanket exclusions and offer cover for first-instance episodes.
Many insurers will cover pre-existing mental health conditions on an individually underwritten
basis, similar to coverage available for pre-existing medical conditions.
The travel insurance industry is working with governments and other organisations to
improve travel insurance availability and options for mental health sufferers.
According to the Black Dog Institute about 45% of Australians are likely to suffer a mental
health condition in their lifetime.

Travel insurance and Terrorism
When it comes to terrorism-related events, travellers do need to check the PDS of their
policy, as the wording and cover varies. Look for cover for injury as a direct result of
terrorism, repatriation as a direct result of terrorism and cover for cancellation costs as a
direct result of terrorism, each item can be included or excluded depending on the policy.
When preparing your travel plans and before you leave, you should visit Smartraveller to
familiarise yourself with advice about your destinations.

Travel Insurance and natural disasters
Claims for losses due to natural disasters that are known events are never covered.
*Last time the survey was conducted. Travel Insurance Behaviour Survey

Meet our judges

Our judges for the ASTW Awards of Excellence 2019

Without judges, there are no awards. Every category in the ASTW Awards of Excellence has three independent judges. Many live overseas and are members of our sister writing associations in the USA, New Zealand, Canada or the UK. All are experts in their field and have considerable experience.

We thank them all.

Mark Andrews

Mark Andrews has been a travel writer and photographer for the last seventeen years. Over this time he has explored much of Asia and on the way lived in Japan, South Korea and now currently Shanghai, China. He feels that one of the best ways to get under the skin of a place is through the local food. Having experienced plenty of unusual dishes such as raw horsemeat and silkworm larvae, writing about his adopted city’s cuisine in this issue seemed positively tame. www.markandrews.com

Catherine Beattie

Catherine Beattie edits and publishes Spa Wellbeing – an online spa, travel and lifestyle magazine. She also blogs and reviews cruises, spas and hotels for travel websites and consumer magazines and writes tourism reports for Mintel. Catherine is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers.

Ewen Bell

Ewen Bell is a Melbourne based photographer and journalist. He currently shoots for UK editions of National Geographic Traveller, Lonely Planet Traveller and Food & Travel. He is the former Editor at Large for Digital Photography magazine in Australia and regular contributor to Digital Photography magazine in the UK. His focus is always on sharing what makes the world beautiful, and the inspiration to step outside your boundaries and experience it for yourself. “Travel is the most valuable gift you can give yourself.” photographyfortravellers.com

Jennifer Bain

Jennifer Bain is an award-winning Canadian journalist. She is now freelancing for a variety of publications after spending 18 years at Canada’s largest newspaper (the Toronto Star), first as food editor and then as travel editor. She has published two cookbooks and her next book, 111 Places in Calgary That You Must Not Miss, is due out in Spring 2020. She’s currently writing a fishing memoir/thesis for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction. @thesaucylady

Sue Bryant

Sue Bryant (@sjbryant) is an award-winning writer and editor specialising in travel. She is cruise editor of the Sunday Times, writes for Cruise Passenger and World of Cruising. Her work has also appeared in High Life, Food & Travel and TRVL magazine for iPad, among many others. Wearing a different hat, Sue is editor of Journeys magazine (@JourneysMagUK), the UK’s first glossy mag dedicated to experiential travel. She also edits Uno Stile di Vita, the guestroom magazine for Baglioni Hotels.

Sue has also written or edited more than 25 travel books, from guidebooks about the Costa del Sol, Barcelona, Ibiza, Cyprus and Tel Aviv to Insight Guides’ Great River Cruises (Europe and the Nile). She has edited coffee table books, writes all the destination content for CountryNavigator.com and has produced cross-cultural training guides to more than 70 countries for executives going to live and work abroad. She lives in west London with her two teenagers, two dogs and some chickens.

Paul Chai

Paul Chai has been a travel writer for over a decade, starting with the Australian launch of US travel magazine Travel + Leisure, a joint venture between Fairfax and American Express. He is a regular contributor to Fairfax Media’s Traveller website, as well as writing for inflight magazines for airlines from Singapore Airlines to Cebu Pacific. Pre-travel industry it was an eclectic journalistic ride from The Financial Times in London to working for the film industry bible Variety. He was editor of Tiger Air’s magazine Tiger Tales. @chai_paul

Isabel Conway

Isabel Conway is a multi-award winning Ireland based travel writer, based in Kinsale Co Cork..She writes regularly for the travel pages of the Sunday Business Post, Dublin, Irish Independent newspapers, The Irish Examiner, Sunday World and Evening ECho Newspapers. She also writes for the Sunday Times travel section and for the online travelezine www.tripreporter.co.uk. She co-founded www.traveltimes.ie earlier this year.

Isabel has been Irish Travel Writer of the Year twice and also took the  long haul award twice in recent years and since 2011 has been in the prizes every year at the Travel Extra journalist of the Year awards, Ireland’s travel writer Oscars. She has also been awarded the British Guild of Travel Writers prize in the Europe category (over 1,000 words) and was a prize winner in the 2018 ATOUT France, French Tourism board awards. Isabel’s background is that of news reporter/feature writer in Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium where she has also written many travel features over the past 30 years.

Sue Dobson

Sue Dobson is an award-winning travel writer and magazine editor based in the UK, whose life-long passion for discovery and experiencing different cultures has taken her to every continent and into countries less travelled.

Hilary Doling

Hilary Doling is Editor in Chief of one of the world’s largest independent luxury travel websites, The Luxury Travel Bible (operating out of the UK and Australia) and Executive Editor of the glossy Five Star Kids magazine (Signature Media), devoted to luxury family travel. She started her career on London’s Fleet Street where she worked for newspapers such as The Times and The Guardian and for England’s glossy magazines. In search of sun she moved to Australia as Travel Editor at Fairfax newspapers (The Sun Herald) a position she held for twelve years and then became Editor in Chief of Luxury Travel Magazine. She is an international speaker on luxury hotels and travel, appearing at such events as ILTM Cannes and has visited every continent and set foot in more than 92 countries.

Natasha Dragun

The former managing editor of MiNDFOOD and deputy editor of DestinAsian, Natasha Dragun has been roaming the globe on the hunt for gripping story angles for more than 15 years. A freelancer specialising in travel, wellness, food and wine writing, Natasha contributes to a diverse range of media today, from CNN and Conde Nast Traveller to Escape, The Australian, Voyeur, Signature Luxury Travel & Style, International Traveller, Delicious, Selector, Vacations & Travel and Broadsheet, among others. @ndragun

Guy Dundas

Making the move across from travel wholesale and touring to travel writing and editing 11 years ago, Dundas has his eyes on the latest developing travel and stories news around the world. As Managing Editor of LATTE, his niche is refined to the luxury segment, producing LATTE’s weekly EDM and regular social content. @guydundas

Paul Dymond

Paul has been a travel and nature photographer for nearly 16 years, was contracted to Lonely Planet Images (now Getty) for more than ten of those years and has been published in most of the big magazines that we love so much. He even won the ASTW Photographer of the Year back in the day when connecting to the Internet involved R2-D2-like sounds coming out of the modem. These days, as he balances the needs of a young family with being away with work, his business is moving more and more towards helping large organisations get a handle on their out-of-control image libraries, creating custom photographic and video databases so that they can more easily access and utilise these mostly untouched photographs. He is still represented by three major photo agencies and continues to do photographic work when it comes across his desk in Cairns.

Barry Eaton

Barry Eaton originally trained as an actor in Sydney, but then mainly worked in radio and television as a presenter and news & sports anchor at the ABC in Sydney and also at various commercial radio stations, including 2GB and 2CH. As a freelance writer Barry has had four books published as well as writing feature articles for leading newspapers and magazines in Australia and the US. He wrote travel features for The Sun Herald and other newspapers and also worked as a media consultant with Tourism Canada, The Tahiti Tourist Bureau, Lauda Air, et al. His corporate experience includes running his own video production company as well as teaching business writing and currently as a trainer in presentation and media skills. He also works as a freelance voice over artist, MC and conference presenter and hosts his own radio podcast. Barry is former Co-ordinator of Journalism and lecturer in radio at Macleay College in Sydney.

Toni Eatts

During her impressive career as a journalist, Toni spent 10 years editing cruise publications, including Cruise Passenger magazine, and writing cruise stories aimed at passengers and travel industry professionals. Her articles have been published in The Australian, the Australian Financial Review, Cruise Passenger magazine, on Cruise Critic and in various trade publications. She also wrote three substantial cruise guidebooks for a leading travel chain.

Kerri Elstub

Kerri Elstub is a broadcast journalist with more than 20 years of industry experience. She has worked at Radio 2UE and Channel 9, where she was Supervising Producer on A Current Affair. Kerri is now Editorial Director of Nine Digital.

Mary Anne Evans

Mary Anne Evans is a former magazine editor and now a freelance travel writer living in London. She was the France expert for tripsavvy.com for 8 years and edited the Gault Millau Guides to London for 4 years. She is the author of guide books to Brussels, Bruges and Stockholm, writes on Finland, contributes to Frommer’s Guides to London and France and blogs on Silver Travel Advisor and Everett Potter’s Travel Report. She has just launched her own website: maryannesfrance.com

Liz Fleming

As far as Liz Fleming is concerned, the only thing better than having a great adventure is sharing it. That’s why travel writing is her dream job. For more than 15 years, she’s been exploring the globe from Machu Picchu to the Arctic Circle and from the sultry beaches of Bora Bora to Botswana’s Okavango Delta – and writing about it all. Her work has appeared in major newspapers and magazines across North America, she’s the Editor-in-Chief of Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Magazine and is on the editorial mastheads of a couple of other travel magazines, makes regular radio talk show appearances and is always ready to jump into the next adventure.

Michelle Grima

Michelle Grima is an established media communications consultant based in the Blue Mountains. Having started her career at the Daily Telegraph in the late ‘80s, Michelle went on to manage national media for Tourism Tasmania, and now runs her own travel and lifestyle media business, Australia PR.

Catharine Hamm

Catharine Hamm is the Travel editor for the Los Angeles Times. She was born in Syracuse, N.Y., to a peripatetic family whose stops included Washington, D.C.; Honolulu; and Manila. Her varied media career has taken her from McPherson, Kan., to Kansas City, Mo., San Bernardino, Salinas and L.A. Hamm has twice received individual Lowell Thomas Awards, and the Travel section has been recognised seven times during her tenure as editor. Her favourite place? Always where she’s going next.

Alex Hayes

Alex has over a million followers on his social media feeds with over 600,000 on Instagram, 390,000 on YouTube, and 140,000 on Facebook. A former competitor on the junior pro-surfer circuit, Alex also loves throwing himself out of hot-air balloons, blimps and helicopters, is an in-demand DJ and is an ambassador for Instagram, and for Nickleodeon’s Junior Citizens of the Reef campaign. He is also involved in youth suicide awareness and working to improve mental health. @alexhayes

Nick Henderson

Nick Henderson is head of social media at Tourism Australia, the Australian Government agency responsible for attracting international visitors to Australia. Tourism Australia’s social media accounts are followed by more than 14 million people with the team creating up to ten pieces of content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, and Weibo each day. Nick started working in social media in 2009 in the United Kingdom and more recently was head of social media at Virgin Australia prior to joining Tourism Australia.

Stuart Innes

Stuart Innes was Travel Writer-Editor of The Advertiser newspaper in South Australia in the 80s and 90s and, until retiring in 2012, it’s Tourism Writer. He was one of the longest-serving ASTW committee members, including four terms as president during which he introduced the annual travel writing awards. He is a former judge of the South Australian Tourism Awards.

Alan Kennedy

Alan has been a journalist for the past 40 years. He began his career with a cadetship on The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, and has worked throughout Australia and in London. After working on the development of Australian Business magazine in the early 1980s, he pursued a successful career as a freelance journalist, concentrating on the car industry. As motoring editor of both Australian Business and The Bulletin, he wrote extensively on industry policy. He spent 19 years at The Sydney Morning Herald – firstly, as motoring editor. He edited the Stay In Touch column for three years, before becoming deputy editor and then editor of the sports section. He returned to reporting for his last few years with the Herald, covering the America’s Cup and Olympic sailing, the AFL, Formula One and tennis. Alan has been a member of the Australian Journalists’ Association (AJA), now part of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), for 40 years and has been active in the union for most of that time. He chaired the Australian Consolidated Press House Committee, then, after joining the Herald, became chair of the Fairfax House Committee. He was president of the journalists’ section of the MEAA for eight years. He was on the Walkley Awards judging panel for nearly 10 years. He was a member of the Australian Press Council from 2005 until 2016. He left The Sydney Morning Herald at the end of 2005 and now works as a freelance journalist.

David Kirkland

David Kirkland is one of the most widely published tourism photographers and writers in the Asia Pacific region (though, more recently, his work has taken him to the Middle East and the African continent). He specialises in capturing memorable promotional photographs for national tourism authorities and producing world-class images for international resorts and boutique properties. David became a professional travel and tourism  photographer and author in 2000 after more than a decade of managing tourism authorities in Australia. His earlier background was in journalism and public relations. He has written and photographed 15 books, and he owns the largest on-line photo library dedicated specifically to travel and tourism in the Asia Pacific region. www.davidkirklandphotography.com

Matt Kirouac

A native of New Hampshire, Matt moved to Chicago in 2006 to attend culinary school. While cooking, he developed a love for food writing, and has written and edited for food- and travel-focused outlets like Culture Trip, TripExpert, Zagat, Plate Magazine, What Should We Do, and numerous others. He’s the author of Unique Eats & Eateries of Chicago, and the co-founder and co-host of the Parklandia podcast with iHeartRadio, talking all about travel and national parks. Check out his work at www.mattkrc.com.

Shirley LaPlanche  

Shirley LaPlanche joined the ASTW mid 1980s while editor of the Hospitality Section for The Australian. In 1990 she went freelance writing on a regular basis for the Australian Tourist Commission and travelling extensively on stories for magazines and newspapers in Australia and overseas. Her deep interest in eco-tourism led her to write her book Stepping Lightly on Australia which was published in 1995 by HarperCollins and sold worldwide. She says she is now semi-retired but is still travelling as often as time and money allow and still writing the occasional piece for her favourite magazines and newspapers.

Ben Lerwill

Ben Lerwill is an award-winning freelance travel writer based in England. His writing has appeared in more than 50 national and international titles, including National Geographic Traveller, BBC Travel, The Guardian and The Sunday Times.

Jules Lund

After 15 years hosting some of the biggest TV and radio shows in Australia, Jules Lund is now on a mission to unlock the world’s creativity through his tech company, TRIBE. With offices in five cities across the globe, TRIBE is a self-serve marketplace connecting 10,000+ brands with 50,000 everyday creators to generate premium content at scale, speed and a fraction of the cost. Known for his showmanship, Jules travels the world helping marketers get the jump on the next multi-billion dollar category. www.tribegroup.co; @juleslund

Ewan McDonald

Ewan McDonald has been Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and Features Editor with NZME, publishers of the NZ Herald and other print and online platforms. He is president of Travcom, the NZ Association of Travel Writers, Photographers and Communicators, and is a multi-award winning travel writer.

Denise McNabb

Denise McNabb has specialised in aviation, travel and business writing and editing on both sides of the Tasman for more years than she cares to remember. She came to Sydney in 2009 as the first Australia correspondent for the Fairfax New Zealand group of newspapers and was editor of Aviation Business magazine in Sydney before she returned to New Zealand last year where she is a freelance writer. Denise was the first New Zealand journalist to win the Airservices Australia Aviation Journalist of the Year in 2008. In 2007 she won the inaugural NZ Brook Asset Management Business Journalist of the Year award.  She was inaugural secretary of New Zealand Travel Communicators when it was formed in 1992 after returning from her first stint in Australia where she was a member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers when travel editor of the Sunday Mail and the now defunct News in Adelaide.  She co-founded the New Zealand Herald travel section and created for its publishers the tourism magazine arrival for inbound travellers at Auckland Airport. She has written for Vacations & Travel Magazine, the aviation and the business travel section for The Independent Business Weekly, The Press and The Dominion Post in New Zealand, and News Local, Platinum magazine, the US-based Global Business Travel magazine, and travel trade publications.

Aaron Millar

Aaron is an award-winning travel writer, journalist and author. He contributes regularly to The Times, The Guardian, National Geographic Traveller (UK), CNN and many other national and international publications. He is The Times of London’s North American travel specialist and National Geographic Traveller’s USA columnist. He is the host of the podcast Armchair Explorer, where the world’s greatest travel writers tell their best story from the road, and is the 2014 and 2017 British Guild of Travel Writers Travel Writer of the Year, the IPW Best Destination Writer 2017 and Visit USA’s Best National Newspaper Writer 2014, 2016, 2017 & 2018. Aaron grew up in Brighton, England but is currently hiding out in the Rocky Mountains of Louisville, Colorado.

Janyne Moore

Janyne has 15 years’ experience working as a journalist including her time as an on the road reporter and newsreader at Sydney Radio 2UE and Executive Producer of the Ray Hadley Morning show on Radio 2GB before moving into Public Relations. Janyne co-founded In The Media PR generating widespread media coverage for clients like Cancer Institute NSW, Nike Damn Am event, UbiCar, Garvan Institute and MooGoo. www.inthemediapr.com.au

Kayte Nunn

Kayte Nunn is a former book and magazine editor, and the author of four novels, the latest of which, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, was published in Australia in June, 2019, and will be published in the UK in 2020. Her previous book, The Botanist’s Daughter was a top ten bestseller when it was published in Australia in July 2018, and has been published in Italy, Germany, France, Serbia and Spain, as well as in the UK. She lives in the NSW Northern Rivers.

Alan Orbell

Alan Orbell’s travel writing career began on the now defunct Travel Agency Magazine published by Canadian company Maclean-Hunter.  He was appointed editor of St James Press’s Travel Bulletin in 1977 and in the 1980s purchased the magazine from the company when it was taken over by Reed International. After a brief period as a freelance he was appointed launch editor of new magazine Selling Long Haul – later Selling Travel – in 1989 and subsequently became publisher and then part-owner of the publishing company, BMI Publishing.  After selling the company in 1995 Alan remained with BMI Publishing as publisher/managing editor until April 2015 after which he continued to write on a freelance basis.

April Orcutt

April Orcutt writes a weekly travel column for the Los Angeles Times and has written for National Geographic Traveler, BBC Travel, Vacations & TravelHemispheres (United Airlines’ inflight), TravelandLeisure.com, Travel.AARP.orgNational Geographic Traveller India, San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, AAA (American Automobile Association) magazines, Alaska Air (Alaska Airlines’ inflight), and more. April has won top honours in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition (Gold), Visit California’s Eureka! Awards, and U.S. Travel Association’s IPW Awards.

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie Pelling is a writer and journalist based in the North of England. She is Co-Director of The Family Adventure Project – a blog aimed at providing families with advice and inspiration for travelling and being in the outdoors. Together with her husband Stuart Wickes and three children she has biked, hiked and paddled in dozens of countries. The family’s latest adventure was an epic interrail trip from home to Istanbul with three teens and five folding bicycles. Kirstie won the British Guild of Travel Writers’ Travel Blogger of the Year Award in 2016 and 2018.

Oliver Pelling

Oliver Pelling is the Australia editor for Adventure.com and a freelance writer. He has written for the likes of Rolling Stone Australia, Smith Journal, New Zealand Herald, Huck magazine, and more besides, and works predominantly in the realms of travel, sustainability, music and (sub)culture. He’s happiest when he’s not writing bios.

Adrian Phillips

Adrian Phillips runs Bradt Travel Guides – the world’s largest independent guidebook publisher – and is also a leading UK travel writer and broadcaster for outlets including the BBC, ITV, Sky, The Telegraph and National Geographic. He currently holds the awards of Travel Writer of the Year (BGTW Awards), Consumer Writer of the Year (Travel Media Awards), Magazine Writer of the Year (LATA Awards) and Travel Writer of the Year (silver) (AITO Awards).

Diana Plater

Diana Plater was born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA but grew up in Sydney, Australia. Her journalism has appeared widely in newspapers, magazines and online. She has covered Indigenous and race issues since the beginning of her career and was based in Nicaragua in the mid-1980s during the Sandinista/Contra war. She has written several non-fiction books, including Taking Control: How to aim for a successful pregnancy after miscarriage, stillbirth or neo-natal loss, and the Cootamundra Girls Home chapter in Many Voices, Reflections on experiences of Indigenous child separation published by the National Library as well as a play, Havana, Harlem. Raging Partners, written with Ollie Smith, was short-listed for a 2001 NSW Premier’s Literary Award. Whale Rock, published in 2019, is her first novel.

Barbara Ramsay Orr

Barbara Ramsay Orr is a freelance journalist, author of the Frommer’s Guide to the Niagara Region, third and fourth edition, and Globe Pequot’s Day Trips From Toronto.  Barbara is the immediate past president of SATW, having also served as Vice President and Active At Large. She is the recipient of multiple writing and photography awards, including Lowell Thomas Awards for Excellence in Travel Journalism. Her work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Chatelaine, Canadian Living, NUVO, The Globe and Mail, American Express UK and Readers Digest. She’s also an accomplished award-winning photographer, as a well as an embarrassingly inept but enthusiastic artist. Follow her adventures at www.upperendtravel.com.

Christopher Reynolds

Christopher Reynolds has written about travel, the outdoors, arts and culture for the Los Angeles Times since 1990. Since 2009, he has climbed Mayan pyramids, roamed Red Square in a snowstorm, been shushed at the New York Public Library and jumped from the tallest building in Soweto (rope attached).

James Rushforth

James Rushforth is one of the world’s most awarded photographers with twelve international photography competition wins. His most recent achievement saw a double first place at the prestigious International Photography Awards, where he was also named Special Photographer of the Year. In 2018, he was named Photographer of the Year at the British Guild of Travel Writers awards. His work has been published in numerous magazines and national newspapers including National Geographic, The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. James also writes tutorials and blog posts for a number of popular media platforms such as Viewbug and 500px and has appeared as a judge in several global competitions. James is also an experienced and professional climber, mountaineer, skier and travel writer.

Jock Serong

Jock Serong has worked as a criminal lawyer and surf media feature story writer. He was founding editor of Great Ocean Quarterly. His four published novels, most recently Preservation, have won awards both in Australia and internationally. He lives on the coastline of southwest Victoria with his family.

Megan Singleton, Blogger at Large

Megan Singleton (@bloggeratlarge) is an Auckland based award-winning travel writer and blogger. She founded one of New Zealand’s largest travel and lifestyle blogs, Blogger at Large in 2009 after beginning her blogging career in 2006 for a nationwide travel agency where she cut her teeth blogging twice a day, five days a week for three years. Megan’s travel writing career started in 2000 and her work is published around the world on websites, magazines and newspapers. She is also a weekly travel correspondent on two radio stations in New Zealand.

Susan Skelly

Susan Skelly has held executive positions with mastheads including Qantas The Australian Way, The Bulletin, and Good Weekend. She is an author and an award-winning feature writer, specialising in travel, luxury, and design for newspaper and magazine titles in Australia and abroad and for her website, Excess All Areas.

Amanda Statham

Following a BA Hons degree in Politics from Newcastle University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from De Montford University, Amanda has enjoyed a successful career. Amanda is Travel Editor of Cosmopolitan and www.cosmopolitan.co.uk and was travel editor of You and Your Wedding magazine for eight years. She writes for national newspapers, magazines and guidebooks and has also presented films and university lectures on travel writing.

Eric Stoen

Eric Stoen is a writer and photographer specializing in family travel, based in California. His goal is to encourage everyone to take their kids to unique destinations, and he provides first-hand information through travelbabbo.com to make it easier to plan those trips. He’s travelled with his kids (ages 8, 10 and 12) to 49 countries on seven continents. He’s won Conde Nast Traveler’s Photo of the Year award and is a NATJA gold award winner for travel writing, and in 2017 Forbes named him the World’s #4 Travel Influencer. He’s an ambassador for Travelocity, AFAR Magazine and Universal Orlando. @travelbabbo

Ben Stubbs

Ben Stubbs is a lecturer at the University of South Australia. He has a PhD in travel writing. Ben has written numerous feature articles, essays and guidebooks for publications in Australia and overseas. His first book explored the ‘New Australia’ socialist utopian colony in the Paraguayan jungle. Ticket to Paradise: A Journey to Discover the Australian Colony in Paraguay Among Nazis, Mennonites and Japanese Beekeepers was published by HarperCollins in 2012. 18/07/2019His next book, After Dark: A Nocturnal Exploration of Madrid (2016) begins from the premise of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who once wrote that we are blind half our lives because of what we miss during the night. Ben was drawn to explore the Spanish capital at night like the flâneurs of the past. He set out when the sun went down to explore this often-maligned city and to experience Madrid as a trasnochador—one who lives After Dark.

David Swanson

David Swanson has been a freelance travel writer-photographer since 1995.  His stories and photos have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Way, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Miami Herald, Dallas Morning News, and San Francisco Chronicle, and he was a contributing editor at Caribbean Travel & Life magazine for 14 years, where he wrote the award-winning Affordable Caribbean column.  David is currently President of SATW, the Society of American Travel Writers, the world’s largest organization of travel communicators.

Richard Tulloch

Richard Tulloch began to travel extensively through his work as a writer of plays, books and television for young people, most famously writing the original Bananas in Pyjamas and recent plays adapted from The 13-Storey Treehouse series. He now divides his time between bases in Sydney and Amsterdam. Since 2009 he has been a regular contributor to Fairfax Media, particularly specialising in active travel stories.

Jacinta Tynan

Jacinta Tynan is a News Presenter with Sky News, Columnist for Sunday Life Magazine, author and mother of two young boys. With more than 25 years’ experience as a journalist, she’s regarded as a commentator for her generation with her candid and heartfelt columns about life, love and motherhood. Jacinta has published four books including Mother Zen – described as a manifesto of modern motherhood – and manages a website motherzen.com

Jacinta also writes travel stories focusing on travelling with kids as a solo parent. Her work has been published in various publications including Escape, Sunday Life, Kidspot, Holidays With Kids and Mindfood Magazine.  She also produces and presents Change Makers on Sky News, interviews with inspirational people making a positive difference in the world.

She is the proud patron of SISTER2Sister, a mentor program for teenage girls, an Ambassador for Barnardo’s Mother of The Year, Monkey Baa kids theatre and is an official Australia Day Ambassador. @jacintatynan

Kathryn Webster

For the past 12 odd years Kathryn Webster has been the editor of AA Directions, the New Zealand magazine for AA Members, which has a significant proportion of travel in its editorial mix. She was President of TravCom New Zealand for three years and is still on its committee.

Annabelle White

Annabelle White is a New Zealand Food and travel media personality who has and does appear on Tv/ nationwide radio, magazines and newspapers. The author of 11 cookbooks and former food editor for NZ House & Garden and NZ Womens’ Weekly and the food columnist for the Sunday Star-Times for over 23 years – this former history teacher followed her love of communicating food and travel into a busy full time job. She has an MA Hons first class in history and geography and a few years ago was awarded a distinguished alumni award from the University of Waikato. www.annabellewhite.com.

Arnie Wilson

Arnie Wilson – former regional UK  TV reporter, former UK national newspaper reporter, deputy news editor and diary columnist, former Financial Times writer for 15 years (specialising in skiing but also writing regular non-skiing travel) former editor of the Ski Club of Great Britain’s magazine, Ski+board, and former regular columnist in  Australia’s Theskimag!) Now freelancing

Ruth Zukerman

Ruth Zukerman is a leading tourism and hospitality professional with a successful career spanning more than 25 years in Australia, USA and Asia.

Well respected in the areas of public relations, marketing, business development, communications and crisis management Ruth has worked with a range of high-end global brands including Four Seasons*Regent Hotels, Conrad and Intercontinental Hotels and Hyatt Corporation in the USA.

With a passion for hospitality her vast experience has included Regent International Hotels based in Australia responsible for global sales, marketing and public relations. She spent 10 years with the Conrad Bali, opening the resort as Director of Sales & Marketing and six years in the role of Director of Public Relations during the time when incidents such as terrorism greatly affected business to Bali. Ruth was part of a small team responsible for restoring tourism from Australia by means of PR campaigns and crisis management to expand develop and promote tourism to Bali.









Australian Society of Travel Writers Announce the Finalists for the 2019 Awards for Excellence

The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) is proud to announce the finalists for the 2019 Awards of Excellence.

“We had a record-breaking amount of entries this year”, said President of the ASTW, Helen Hayes. “Based on feedback from our members, we have also added a number of new categories to cater for the diversity of our members and the travel media industry.”

In announcing the finalists, Ms Hayes also acknowledged the support of sponsors and judges.

“We would like to thank each and every one of our sponsors – without them, we have no awards. In particular for those sponsors who continue to support us year on year.

“We would also like to thank the judges. We have three independent judges for each category, all of whom are industry leaders hailing from the USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore and Australia”, she said

The winners will be announced at the 2019 Awards for Excellence, to be held at the Tanks Art Centre, Cairns, on 19 October.

The full list of finalists is below.

For media information contact ASTW PR representatives:
Saskia Baker on 0407 752 813 or  saskia@smbcommunications.com.au
Mandy Dwyer on 0417 133 374 or Mandy.Dwyer@scenic.com.au

For more information on the ASTW or to become a member visit www.astw.org.au




Andrew Bain

River runs for a raft of reasons – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

The full Monte Rosa – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Top-end Tassie – Outback magazine


Catherine Marshall

On another planet with the apes – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Colour by numbers – Weekend Australian

You want to be transformed – Qantas


Louise Southerden

High hopes in the Himalayas – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

The call of the high – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Kyushu’s sacred mountain hike – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age



Dan Avila
Winter is coming – Signature Luxury Travel and Style magazine
In the belly of the glacier – Signature Luxury Travel and Style magazine
Greenland warmth – Vacations & Travel magazine
The lights are on – Vacations & Travel magazine
Beautiful Lech – Vacations & Travel magazine


Jocelyn Pride
Moose in the mist – Wellbeing
A grand view – The Finer Things in Travel
White thunder – The Road Ahead
Penguin party – Fodor’s Travel
Hidden beauty – Wellbeing


Fiona Harper
Humans of Amritsar, India ­­- KarryOn
Amritsar ­- KarryOn
Wagah border ceremonial parade – KarryOn
Street scene in Amritsar – KarryOn
The Golden Temple in Amritsar – KarryOn


Sponsored by TRAVMEDIA

Laura Speirs – Glasgow
Jodi Clark – TFE Hotels/Tourism NT
Kate Parker – Intrepid Travel
Shelley Winkel – Tourism and Events Queensland


Mary O’Brien – Smooth operator – Australian Financial Review
Danielle Lancaster – Shades of Thailand – Vacations & Travel magazine
Flip Byrnes – The Sanctuary – Fernwood magazine


Aleney de Winter – Sugar & spice and all things nice – Holidays with Kids magazine
Dani Wright – Snowshoe to fondueEscape/News Ltd
Flip Byrnes – Finding Aladdin – Holidays with Kids magazine


John Borthwick – Iron Horse Trek Is One Helluva Ride – The West Australian
Michelle Hespe – All Shook Up – True Blue magazine
Sarah Reid – What’s it like to swim into the world’s weirdest underwater orgy? – Adventure.com


Andrew Bain – Top-End TassieOutback magazine
John Borthwick – The Indian Pacific: An epic train journey across Australia, from Perth to Sydney – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Celeste Mitchell – Walking the Larapinta Trail, NT – Escape/News
Catherine Best – Walk on the dark side – Mahubay (Philippine Airlines)


Aleney de Winter – A taste of Cambodia – Escape
Catherine Marshall – Palate of Persia – MiNDFOOD magazine
Mark Daffey – Flavour of the Month – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Penny Watson – Sweet-toothed LondonTraveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age


Dan Avila – Sunset Polar Bear
Laura Waters – Mt Taranaki
Lynn Gail – Monkey face


Carolyn Beasley – Into the wild – Luxury Escapes magazine
Catherine Marshall – A naturally kinder future The Australian
Kerry van der Jagt – Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe safari: Seeing cheetahs in the wild – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Sponsored by G ADVENTURES

Craig Tansley      – Zimbabwe, Mana Pools: A game park where guests can walk among the wildlife – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Steve Madgwick – The things I learned taking public transport the entire length of Africa – Adventure.com
Tracey Croke      – There’s no war in the Wakhan – Adventure.com

Sponsored by ASTW

Brand USA
Intrepid Travel
Tourism New Zealand


Catherine Marshall – Troubled waters – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Kate Armstrong – Natural Selections – The Weekend Australian
Maggy Oehlbeck – Sea Dreaming – World Magazine
Susan Gough Henly – La Belle France – International Traveller magazine

Sponsored by ACCORHOTELS

Catherine Marshall – On another planet with the apesTraveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Craig Tansley – Ladakh, India Himalayas hiking: Sublime loneliness – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Roderick Eime – Find your rhythm in CubaVacations & Travel magazine


Catherine Marshall – Sound of silence – Australian Financial Review
Dan Avila – Going to extremes – Signature Luxury Travel and Lifestyle
John Borthwick – Five pleasures of Patagonia – My Discoveries
Rob McFarland – The chorus from the canopy – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age


DC&A Worldwide – Destination Canada PR Content Campaign

Intrepid Travel – Adventure Travel Index Campaign

Tourism New Zealand – #GETNZONTHEMAP campaign

PEPR – Hilton Destination Marketing Campaign – Australia and NZ


Sponsored by SCENIC

Christine Retschlag – Beautiful one day, bitcoin the next – Queensland Uncovered
Helen Hayes – The rise of the family safari in Africa – Holidays with Kids magazine
Julie Miller – Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Kerry van der Jagt – Zimbabwe wildlife safari: Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe signals a new era of wildlife tourismTraveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age


Aleney de Winter – BoyEatsWorld
Christine Retschlag – The Global Goddess
Fiona Harper – Travel Boating Lifestyle

Sponsored by TFE HOTELS

Aleney de Winter – Minneriya National Park – Ethical Elephant Attractions in Sri Lanka
Carrie Hutchinson – What it’s like spending the night in a Qashqai homestay on a women’s expedition in Iran – Intrepid Travel blog
Helen Hayes – Aspen guide: Everything you need to know about Colorado’s glitziest ski town – 9Honey

Sponsored by THAI AIRWAYS

Dan Avila – Greenland warmth – Vacations & Travel
Mark Daffey – Dolphin delight – Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Tracey Croke – The Afghanistan You Never See: Game of “Buzkashi” – Adventure.com


Lee Atkinson – Australia’s Best Nature Escapes
Melanie Ball – Top Walks in Tasmania
Ben Groundwater – Go Your Own Way: Hacks, Tips and Tricks to Travel the World Solo


Travel Corporation
Intrepid Travel
World Expeditions


TravMedia adds to over a decade’s ASTW support


THE Australian Society of Travel Writers (astw.org.au) is delighted to announce that TravMedia, recognised as the travel industry’s primary online network for public relations managers to connect with journalists, editors and content creators worldwide has increased its sponsorship support of the ASTW for 2020.

Helen Hayes, President of the ASTW, said that the ongoing support of TravMedia is integral to the operation of the association and its ability to best serve its member database.

“The continued support of TravMedia is a vital support not only to the ASTW but also to the continued development of travel journalism and travel photography, and the encouragement it gives to a continued drive for excellence,” she said.

TravMedia already sponsor the Communicator of the Year, The ASTW Membership Cards, donate Their Appointment Scheduler to the AGM and this year will contribute ASTW writer member’s airfares, as part of their commitment to the success and growth of the ASTW AGM.

Nick Wayland, CEO of TravMedia reconfirmed their financial support of the Association saying, “The ASTW is an invaluable network of editors and journalists who are producing and sharing great content across TravMedia every day.  We are pleased to continue our thriving partnership into next year to foster great relationships within the travel industry.  The partnership between TravMedia and the ASTW continues to be a great resource for year-round support for some of Australian’s most prolific journalists”.

For more information about sponsoring awards, lunches or events; or for membership enquiries, please visit our website for more information or contact secretariat Justine White on secretariat@astw.org.au

About the ASTW

The ASTW is a 300-strong group of travel writers, editors, radio and television broadcasters and producers, bloggers, guide book authors and photographers (as well as travel industry public relations and marketing professionals) whose work appears regularly in major newspapers, magazines, airwaves and websites across Australia and the world.

All ASTW members must satisfy strict criteria to join and are obligated to substantiate their membership annually by providing details of their published output or industry participation. They must also adhere to a Code of Ethics. By ensuring that only bona fide applicants are admitted, the ASTW maintains its integrity and the professionalism of the travel industry.

About TravMedia:

Established in 1999, TravMedia is recognised as the travel industry’s network for public relations managers to connect with journalists, editors and content creators worldwide. TravMedia enables industry professionals in the travel space to share content, collaborate on campaigns and connect like never before. Providing digital solutions for the travel industry, TravMedia is evolving to become the must-have for public relations, trade and media experts. TravMedia currently operates in 10 countries Australia, United Kingdom, United States, China, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Canada, India, New Zealand, and South Africa – with a community of over 40,000 media and PR members.

Rising Star Award 2019

HKTB and ASTW annual “Rising Star” award

22 July 2019 – Following last year’s hugely successful launch of the Rising Star Award the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) have decided to collaborate again on this exciting initiative, aimed at enticing a new era of travel writers in Australia.

The ASTW, introduced the award to their Awards for Excellence programme last year to bolster writers looking to expand their expertise into the often daunting but aspirational travel writing industry.

The award is open to writers and digital influencers who have had their first paid travel story published in the past two years.

Entries will be reviewed by three judges, including ASTW committee member and former editor Jeremy Bourke, HKTB’s Regional Director – Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific, Andrew Clark, and award-winning freelance journalist and media industry academic, Lee Mylne. The travel editor for Australian media organisation, Nine, will review a shortlist of finalists to select the final winner.

The winner will receive a trip to Hong Kong, including return economy airfares; four nights’ accommodation; return airport MTR passes; MTR Octopus pass with HK$200 credit; dinner at Happy Paradise to the value of HK$830; Good Evening Kowloon walking tour; Tea House Theatre Experience at the newly opened Xiqu Centre; a HK$2,000 Klook voucher. The winner’s subsequent Hong Kong story will be published online by the Nine Traveller editorial team and will be considered for print.

Lastly, the winner will also receive a one-year Rising Star membership to the ASTW and will be invited to attend an ASTW Christmas lunch where they will be presented with their award.

ASTW President, Helen Hayes said “last year’s inaugural Rising Star garnered a great response and the winner’s story on Traveller.com.au was very well received. Justin Meneguzzi has since proven to be a valuable member.”

“With more than 300 members, the organisation holds a wealth of information, advice and talent which we want to share with those eager to craft a career in the travel writing industry,” Ms Hayes said.

HKTB’s Regional Director – Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Andrew Clark said “last year I was extremely impressed by the high calibre of entries. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the ASTW to support emerging talent.”

“The destination content created by the 2018 Rising Star Award winner really captured the spirit of Hong Kong and I’m excited to see what this year’s winner will produce.”

“Its many microcosms of culture, East meets West atmosphere and buzzing neighbourhoods make   Hong Kong the perfect destination for a travel writer with endless story opportunities.”

Last year’s winner, travel writer and photographer, Justin Meneguzzi said “Winning last year’s Rising Star Award was an incredible experience and learning opportunity. It gave me the chance to meet and learn from some of Australia’s top PR, editors and fellow travel writers at ASTW events, and then there was the prize famil to one of my bucket list destinations – Hong Kong. Having my article published on Traveller.com.au was hugely rewarding and a great addition to my professional portfolio. If you’re a budding travel writer and thinking of applying, I can’t recommend it enough. Take the plunge and enter.”

Award criteria

Award entrants are Australian writers or digital influencers who have had their first paid travel story published in the past two years. The award submission must be a travel-related article published between 31 October 2018 and 30 October 2019. The article must be a paid commission and judges will need to see evidence of story payment, upon request. The article will have featured in a print publication with a minimum circulation of 20,000 or online publication with a minimum of 10,000 unique visitors per month.

How to enter

Entries are open from 1 August 2019 to 2 November 2019 via astw.org.au.

The winner will be announced on 28 November 2019 on www.astw.org.au/news; www.facebook.com/AustralianSocietyofTravelWriters and will also be notified via phone.

For more information on the award visit www.astw.org.au or for information about Hong Kong, visit www.DiscoverHongKong.com/au.

Notes to editors:

The Australian Society of Travel Writers Incorporated (ASTW) is the most highly respected travel media body in Australia. Founded in 1975 and incorporated in 2011, it is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting ethical and honest travel, and the unbiased reporting of it. On a day-to-day basis, the ASTW is run by an elected committee and a salaried Secretariat. The ASTW has more than 340 members who are freelancers and staff writers, travel editors, radio and television broadcasters, bloggers, guidebook authors, photographers and public relations (PR), social media and marketing professionals. www.astw.org.au

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is a government-subvented organisation with the principal responsibilities of marketing and promoting Hong Kong as a preferred destination worldwide, as well as enhancing visitors’ experience once they arrive. www.discoverhongkong.com

For more information contact:

Sarah McCarthy – sarah.mccarthy@hktb.com / 02 8262 6810

Saskia Baker – saskia@smbcommunications.com.au / 0407 752 813

Mandy Dwyer – Mandy.Dwyer@scenic.com.au / 0417 133 374  

Writing and pitching – what do editors want?

“The story is what creates beautiful writing…not the other way around.” Lisa Cron

Writing and pitching – what do editors want?

By Kerry van der Jagt

What do editors want? –  It may sound simple, but in my opinion, editors want the same thing – a great story. The human brain craves story, in fact, we are wired for story. Read the book by Lisa Cron called Wired for story: The writer’s guide to using brain science to hook readers from the very first sentence. It explains the science behind this, and how story has been necessary for human survival for thousands of years.

Days after the December 26 2004 tsunami, members of the ancient Jarawa tribe living in the Andaman islands emerged unscathed from their forest habitat. Drawing on 60, 000 years of culture, handed down through generations of storytellers, they knew how to react when the “sea monster” came. The take-home lesson is that storytelling is crucial to our evolution, not just for pleasure (that’s the sweetener) but for survival. The key is that the story must be irresistible.

Five steps to creating irresistible stories

1- Research like a pro

It all starts with an idea, something I’m curious about, such as Mexico’s Day of the Dead. I figure if I want to know more, perhaps my readers and editors might be interested as well. I then ask myself three questions. Where is the BEST place to see the festival? Can it be done alone or do I need to go with a tour group? Who offers the BEST tour, which will match my ethics and interests?

2- Do the maths

Your editor needs fresh, timely and dynamic ideas, your PRs appreciate multiple returns on their investment, and you need to make a good living. By applying these three variables I’ve come up with the magic ratio of 1:2. That is, I need one story for every two days I’m on the road (or seven stories for 14 days on the road). I’m not being arrogant or over ambitious, it’s what I need to make the dollars add up over a year of travel writing.

3- Build your babushka

Continuing with my Oaxaca example, once I had my dates locked in I built everything else around it. I asked: Are there any new flights to the US? Yes, United Airlines was set to launch a Sydney to Houston leg. Are there any major events happening in Houston? Yes, the 50-year anniversary of the moon landing. A chat with the PR for Texas gave me Mafa in favour of Austin, San Antonio in favour of Dallas, and Big Bend National Park, because heck, who’s been there? The PR for Amtrak told me about the Sunset Limited train from Los Angeles to Houston, a speed-dating event at the Cape Town AGM added a Tequila twist (the town and the drink), and Trump, with his ludicrous plans for a wall, brought me to numerous border towns.  Eventually, I worked with seven PRs to bring home more than a dozen stories. I could not have done this without their support.

4- Get to the point

When it comes to pitching, if you can’t explain your point in one sentence, you don’t have one. Travelling to Poland and visiting the Auschwitz Memorial is not a story, it’s just a series of events. Answering the question – Why I visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp? – provided the angle I was looking for. If you’re struggling to find your focus have a go at writing the standfirst for your story, then use that in your pitch.

5- Make it personal

You may not be the first person to swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef (insert any wild creature in a remote location) yet, just because it’s been written about doesn’t mean you can’t bring something new to the experience. I brought science to my story, spending days in the water with a researcher, others have tied in new accommodation, or focused on other species such as manta rays or whales. The trick is to draw on your strengths and bring something of yourself to the encounter (but there is a Catch 22 – don’t mistake your interests with the interests of your reader).

Three of the most original stories I’ve read lately include a self-drive trip through southern Japan in a tiny “camping car”, a horse riding safari through Patagonia and tackling the Trans-Siberian railway in WINTER (bonus points if you can match these stories to their writers).

Whatever you choose, know your editor wants you to mine your experience for gold. Nothing less.

 I’ll finish with a quote by Lisa Cron – “The more meaning you have to convey, the more beautiful the writing becomes.”

My mottos are:

Write the story that only I can write.

Make the editor’s job easy (source/provide images, ensure accuracy, meet deadlines).

Ask myself – Does this story serve the reader?

Keep up to date with travel trends.

Be generous – pass on trips you can’t do, share and brainstorm ideas with others.

Be grateful. A bad day in the travel industry is still a better day than many others are having.

And finally, recognise that editors want their writers to succeed. Yes, they really do.

* This is a summary of my contribution to the panel talk at the 2018 Bangkok AGM 

Kerry van der Jagt is a multi award-winning freelance travel writer and photographer based in Sydney. Specialising in nature-based, adventure and indigenous travel, Kerry’s work focuses on promoting tourism that encourages others to explore the planet in a sustainable and responsible way.

Travel Memoir Writing

Have you got a book in you?  With the exciting lives ASTW members lead, the answer is quite likely ‘yes’ but writing a book requires a whole different approach to that which we use for blogs or articles.

Here I share the lessons learned while developing my own memoir, and the long and winding process from concept through to publishing.

Travel Memoir Writing

By Laura Waters

Start with a story

We all know the value of an engaging story but nowhere is it more critical than in a book. It’s not enough to have a random bunch of interesting/quirky/funny moments; there needs to be a strong narrative arc that links it all together and makes the reader care about the protagonist.

Lisa Cron (author of ‘Wired For Story’) describes a story as: how what happens affects someone who is trying to achieve a difficult goal, and how he or she changes as a result. It’s about how the plot affects the protagonist.

This might strike you as more relevant to a novel but it applies just as strongly to memoir. Here’s an example:

Plot:  A woman walks from one end of New Zealand to the other and has a whole bunch of challenges, tears and laughter along the way.

Story:  A woman suffering from anxiety (and various other issues!) walks in the wilds for five months, during which time she learns to overcome her fears, loses her identity, reconnects with nature and emerges a new woman.

It’s all about developing a character that people will care about and ensure they keep turning the pages to find out what happens next, and it requires revealing the inner journey as well as the outer one.

 “Storytelling trumps beautiful writing every time” – Lisa Cron

Developing a structure

It can be overwhelming to know where to begin when writing a book.  I found it useful to create an excel spreadsheet to plot the key events that I’d need to cover to tell the story. Then I divvied those events up into chapters and set an allocated word count to cover each one.  Seeing the whole story like this allowed me to get a clear picture of what I was trying to achieve and how it would all pan out.


Only include the events that are critical to your narrative arc. You may have some favourite moments that you’d really like to include but if they don’t lead anywhere on the journey of your protagonist then they’re just a distraction.

  • Build strong characters and only introduce them if they add value to the story or help paint a picture or set the mood of a scene.
  • Use foreshadowing to build intrigue
  • Use backstory and flashbacks to fill in the gaps and paint a deeper picture.
  • Leave out the parts that readers tend to skip. Go light on the scenery, setting, weather, etc. Because stories are about people, the things that happen to them and how they react to them.
  • You’ll get many more excellent tips from Wired For Story.


It’s really important to get a professional book editor to review your drafts. I had a best-selling author friend read one of my early drafts. He thought it was good to go and probably only needed a “light copy edit”, but once he’d referred me to his excellent editor I discovered that all I had was a “very good base to work from”! Needless to say, I was a little devastated to hear that I wasn’t in fact finished but in the following two edits I did with her, the manuscript developed into a far richer and more engaging tale. The moral of the story is: work someone who really understands book editing.

A good editor is like a sports coach. They’ll tell you what you need to do but they won’t do it for you. You’ll retain your style and voice while developing your story to be the best it can be.

Self-publishing or traditional

There are pro’s and con’s to each. Self publish and you can get your book out there tomorrow, have full creative control and reap 100% of the profits. You’ll also have to fund all the editing yourself, get a cover design, do all your own marketing, distribution, sales, etc.

Traditional publishing will only give you a fraction of the profits, you will have varying degrees of control over the final product (I have full say on the contents of my book – some publishers aren’t so generous – but the publisher gets to choose cover and title), and it’s a far longer process to publication – generally around a year.

There are many tales of best-selling authors who started out self-publishing their books only to have the rights purchased by traditional publishers once the success of the book had been demonstrated (Fifty Shades of Grey anyone?), so don’t discard this option if you have trouble finding a traditional publisher.

Having said that, there is still a little stigma around self-publishing and it appears easier to get mainstream publicity and support if you have a traditionally published book.

The traditional publishing process

  • Polish your manuscript as brightly as you can before approaching publishers. Apparently, most don’t have the time or money to invest in developing your idea into something publishable, so make sure it’s sparkling so that when you do get their attention you can seal the deal.
  • Find a publisher: It’s hard to get your manuscript in front of the right people so watch for literary speed-dating events where you get to sit face to face with publishers and agents to pitch your idea. This is how I secured my deal.
  • It will generally take a year from signing to release date. During that time the following steps take place:
    • Structural edit: to make sure the bones of the story are there and the general timeline and contents are all solid.
    • Copy edit: This is where an editor will go over your manuscript line by line and make minor amendments, fix grammar, point out any remaining gaps in your story that need explaining, or challenge any bits they think aren’t quite right. You will then be required to review and make changes as required.
    • Pages will then be typeset into book format
    • Proofreading takes place to make sure everything is squared away
    • Cover artwork is done, photos selected, etc
    • The manuscript will generally go to the printer around 6-8 weeks prior to the release date.
    • Distribution to sales outlets
    • The release of your book!
    • Fame, fortune, etc…

The process is lengthy but it’s hugely rewarding.

Good luck!

Laura’s book “Bewildered – leaving everything behind for 3,000km in the wild” is due for release 27 Aug, through Affirm Press.

Laura Waters is a freelance travel writer, author and speaker. A 3000km hike from one end of New Zealand in 2014 inspired her to quit her corporate job to pursue a long-held passion for writing and adventure.

Abercrombie and Kent support ASTW with sponsorship for 2019 convention awards

THE Australian Society of Travel Writers (astw.org.au) is pleased to announce that travel company Abercrombie and Kent has once come on board as platinum level sponsor for the Photographer of the Year category in the Awards for Excellence, to be announced at the 2019 ASTW Convention in Cairns this October.

The Photographer of the Year is awarded to the member with the best portfolio of five published travel images for the judging period. It is one of the most highly coveted awards of the awards presented at the ASTW’s Awards for Excellence, won by renowned photographer Dan Avila in 2018 and 2017

Helen Hayes, President of the ASTW, said that the ongoing support of such prestigious travel companies is a testament to the credibility of the awards, the success of the Association and the development of the industry as a whole.

“The continued support of such high calibre tourism operators as Abercrombie & Kent is a vital support not only to the ASTW and the awards process, but also to the continued development of travel journalism and travel photography, and the encouragement it gives to a continued drive for excellence,” she said.

The 2019 Awards for Excellence are an annual celebration of outstanding travel writing, photography, and tourism communication, and will be presented at a Gala Dinner, hosted by Tourism Tropical North Queensland. There are 21 categories, open to either writers, digital influencers or public relations members.  New this year is an award for the Best Travel Book – reintroduced after a hiatus of several years.

For more information about sponsoring awards, lunches or events; or for membership enquiries, please visit our website for more information or contact secretariat Justine White on secretariat@astw.org.au

About the ASTW

The ASTW is a 300-strong group of travel writers, editors, radio and television broadcasters and producers, bloggers, guide book authors and photographers (as well as travel industry public relations and marketing professionals) whose work appears regularly in major newspapers, magazines, airwaves and websites across Australia and the world.

All ASTW members must satisfy strict criteria to join and are obligated to substantiate their membership annually by providing details of their published output or industry participation. They must also adhere to a Code of Ethics. By ensuring that only bona fide applicants are admitted, the ASTW maintains its integrity and the professionalism of the travel industry.

Tourism Australia and Tourism New Zealand support ASTW with sponsorship for 2019 convention awards

THE Australian Society of Travel Writers (astw.org.au) is pleased to announce that Tourism Australia and Tourism New Zealand have come on board as sponsors for key writing awards, to be announced at the 2019 ASTW Convention held in Cairns in October.

Helen Hayes, President of the ASTW said that the support of such prestigious tourism authorities is a massive boost for the Society and awards process.

“The support of two of the world’s leading tourism authorities is testament to the credibility of the ASTW Awards for Excellence, and to the high calibre of our members,” she said.

Tourism Australia is sponsoring two categories – Best Australian Story Over 1000 Words and Best Australian Story Under 1000 Words. Tourism New Zealand is sponsoring the Best Food Travel Story.

The 2019 Awards for Excellence are an annual celebration of outstanding travel writing, photography, and tourism communication, and will be presented at the annual ASTW Convention in Cairns, hosted by Tourism Tropical North Queensland. There are 21 categories, open to either writers, digital influencers or public relations members.  New this year is an award for the Best Travel Book – reintroduced after a hiatus of several years.

For more information about sponsoring awards, lunches or events; or for membership enquiries, please visit our website for more information or contact secretariat Justine White on secretariat@astw.org.au

About the ASTW

The ASTW is a 300-strong group of travel writers, editors, radio and television broadcasters and producers, bloggers, guide book authors and photographers (as well as travel industry public relations and marketing professionals) whose work appears regularly in major newspapers, magazines, airwaves and websites across Australia and the world.

All ASTW members must satisfy strict criteria to join and are obligated to substantiate their membership annually by providing details of their published output or industry participation. They must also adhere to a Code of Ethics. By ensuring that only bona fide applicants are admitted, the ASTW maintains its integrity and the professionalism of the travel industry.

Business Basics