Text & Photo:
Julie Schwietert Collazo
I don’t know what to make of this month’s Condé Nast Traveler, which is billed as a special issue covering “The Greatest Journey in the World!,” a 12-country, 24-city, 40-hotel, 135-meal tour of Asia.
It’s fascinating, especially from the perspective of a writer; nearly the entire issue was written by one writer, Hanya Yanagihara. (Hard to know whether the assignment was enviable or punishing; I suspect both). This almost never happens; in fact, I can’t think of a single other example of an issue of any magazine being written by one writer.
On the other hand, the issue is totally puzzling. Despite the “Truth in Travel” tagline touted by this magazine, is the issue really just one big ad for GeoEx, the tour operator who packaged and (presumably) sold the trip to Traveler? In my opinion, it seems so, and not just because there’s a generously sized sidebar where readers are given a detailed explanation about how they can book this very trip–or a shorter variation–through GeoEx. The core feature article is written in such a way that it reads like a detailed trip itinerary, the kind you might read in, say, a tour operator’s marketing brochure: “Your driver will meet you today at 10 AM….” An epic trip with almost no real narrative in a magazine that often excels in this form of travel writing (as an example, see this incredible article about Oman, from the January 2013 issue of Condé Nast Traveler), at a length that is mind-boggling… well, I just don’t know what else to say about it.
I’m reading this issue from the perspective of an industry insider, as someone who understands how magazines get put together, as well as what kinds of considerations influence how they get put together– “truth in travel” aside. The average reader won’t be aware of these concerns, but I do wonder whether this kind of approach is interesting and useful to the reader, and I wonder whether the process of putting together this particular issue is quite as transparent as it appears.
Have you read this issue? If so, what are your thoughts?