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  • Writer's pictureAcacia Gabriel

Travel Writing: The Good, the Bad, and the Honest

Travel writer in front of a sunset in Fiji

Five years ago I started my travel blog, and four years ago the world ended and I realized that I wanted to travel more than anything else. Despite this, I never really took my dream of being a travel writer seriously. It was more like my escape from the mundane. I read books on the topic, dutifully documented my stories, and daydreamed endlessly, but I always felt too scared to allow this fantasy to permeate my reality. 

I was plagued by the very real fears that are almost too obvious to be worth repeating. The travel industry is over-saturated and competitive. Writing does not pay very well. Journalism and media appear to be dying. TikTok and AI are taking all of our jobs. The world is going to end. Et cetera et cetera. 

I understand the dangers, but the truth is that I spent years trying to believe that I didn’t want this. I buried myself in political jobs. I wandered Europe for three months hoping to get the travel bug out of my system. I did the digital nomad thing in Australia and Bali. I hoped that something, anything, could be enough. It just wasn’t. 

When it comes down to it, this is what I want. It is beyond terrifying to declare that, because I understand the risk of failure and embarrassment. Maybe it is my lack of a prefrontal cortex, but I think I owe it to myself to try. 

And trying and caring are not always fun. My life is a constant whirlwind that is much duller than it looks on Instagram. My current fantasies include having a houseplant and being able to unpack my bags for more than a week. Most days I wonder if I’m good enough or worthy enough to “make it,” and the logical part of my brain isn’t sure how I ever convinced myself that this was a good idea. 

Travel writer interviewing Ash Barty

But there are other, better days when I get into that intense flow. Everything makes sense and the words rush out of me as quickly as I can type them. This pursuit has also opened so many doors for me. I get to speak with fascinating people like the drag queens in Bali, the unofficial mayor of Nimbin, and tennis legend Ash Barty. I have been lucky enough to be mentored, encouraged, and inspired by travel writers including a fellow Asian American SNL enthusiast, one of MuckRack’s top 10 journalists, the Editorial Director of Travel + Leisure, and the author of the first guidebook on Thailand

Now, when I think about starting my website in 2019, I have to stop myself from wondering what would have happened if I had just gone for it back then. I barely feel ready to do this now. I don’t know if 19-year-old Casey had enough delusion, grit, and pure stubbornness for this industry. 

What I do know is that this lifestyle is draining and difficult, but it also makes me fall in love with the world. I know that when it all feels confusing and impossible to bear (like it does this morning) that writing is the only way I can make sense of anything. And I know that, in the end, I am just so grateful to be out here going on adventures and telling stories that matter.

Girl in front of a waterfall. Why travel writing?



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