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Halloween Parties in Dubai

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Dubai is home to some of the most prestigious nightclubs in the world where A-list celebrities and other famous faces flock to hit the dance floor and enjoy a drink with friends. Come October, these nightclubs are more than just places to see and be seen – they transform into houses of horror to host the very best Halloween parties you’ll find in the United Arab Emirates.

Halloween Clowns taken by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/31112252@N00/">Gaudencio Garcinuño</a>

Halloween Clowns taken by Gaudencio Garcinuño

Here is just a small selection of some of the nightclubs in Dubai which are converting their illustrious venues to bring you a truly terrifying night.

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Solo but Not Alone: Janice Waugh on the Traveler’s Handbooks

Filed under Curiosities, general, Travel Tips, travel writing
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Janice Waugh is a successful travel writer, blogger, and now publisher. Three years ago, Janice began writing her personal travel blog, and from her important learning experiences the blog formed into an instruction manual for solo travelers.   Her expert advice and pointed endeavors have developed her blog into a solo traveler’s empire, including a Solo Travel Society, The Traveler’s Handbook Series, and her book, the Solo Traveler’s Handbook.

In the following interview, I get to ask Janice about the new Traveler’s Handbook series, and asked that she share a few things about herself none of her many readers already know.

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5 Misconceptions about Guidebook Writing

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When I tell people I write guidebooks for a living, they usually tell me that I have a dream job. I’ll admit that in many ways, I have to agree. Guidebook writing is fun, fulfilling, and gives me opportunities to see things I’d never otherwise be exposed to. However, it’s certainly not all it’s cracked up to be. Here are a few common misconceptions about guidebook writing, debunked.

1. It’s well-paid

The golden rule of guidebook writing is to never try to calculate your hourly wages. Contrary to popular belief, guidebook writing is not a lucrative career path, especially if you are living or working in a developed country. Most guidebook writers either get an advance from their publisher or are paid a flat fee for their work. Writers then use part of their advances or fees to cover the costs of their research, leaving them with very little, if any, profit.

2. It’s easy work

Let me be upfront that I don’t believe there’s such a thing as easy work. Sorting kidney beans looks easy, but ask someone who is blind and hunchbacked from a life of doing such work and she’ll likely tell you the opposite. The same goes for guidebook writing. Guidebook writers spend months on their feet visiting sites, hotels and eateries, often for 12+ hours/day, 7 days/week. This is followed by months of writing, fact-checking and editing. While it’s definitely rewarding to see the fruits of your labor in book form, it takes a lot more energy than most people realise to get it there.

 3. It’s glamorous

Guidebook writing is about as glamorous as a dank, bed-bug infested hotel room with rotting carpet and no room service. Sure, you might get an occasional junket from a 5-star hotel, but there’s a lot more to guidebook writing than sipping pina coladas at beachfront resorts. Unless you are working for a series whose main target audience is the elusive 1%, then you’ll probably need to suss out the full gamut of accommodation options, including ultra-cheap backpacker digs.

 4. Hotels and restaurants bribe writers for coverage

Depending on who you’re writing for, you may or may not be allowed to accept (or solicit) offers of free room and board from hotels and restaurants. However, guidebook writers who accept freebies generally make it very clear that they will not trade a free stay or meal for publicity. If you stay in a sub-par hotel that you would never recommend to your friends and family, then it’s completely reasonable to keep it out of your book, even if they gave you a free stay. Doing otherwise defeats the entire point of reviewing.

 5. You get paid to go on vacation

I wish. Guidebook writers don’t get paid to travel, they get paid to produce a book. Anyone who has been on a business trip knows that it’s not at all the same thing as a vacation. Guidebook writing is no different. Although seeing the sites is part of your job, you’ll usually end up spending much more time checking out hotels (this gets monotonous after a while) and collecting material from tourist offices. This leaves very little time for relaxing.
Indeed, guidebook writing is not all it’s cracked up to be, but there are still few things I find rewarding. If you love writing, enjoy meeting people from all walks of life, and thrive off of being constantly on the go, then it may very well be your dream job. Just don’t expect it to be lucrative–or easy. For me, the most rewarding aspects of being a guidebook writer have been the opportunity to learn about the travel industry, spend lots of time getting to know cities intimately. I’ve also been fortunate to work with incredibly talented editors, cartographers, photographers and publishers. Plus, it’s always a kick to see your name in print. So as long as you are willing to put in lots of hard hours, and don’t expect to earn a fortune or spend your life on vacation, then it may very well be the job for you!

Here are a few tips on how to get started, if you’re still interested:
1. Get to know a destination really well. This could be a place you’ve lived in, a place you travel to regularly, or your own home town. Many guidebook publishers look for local experts for both first editions and updates.
2. Build a portfolio to build your credibility. Pitch stories to magazines and newspapers. Take up reviewing and mystery shopper gigs. Start a travel blog or online city guide. Show the world how well you know your destination.
3. Make a list of all the major guidebook publishers and check their acquisitions processes. If this information is not on their websites, then send a brief introduction email and take it from there. Don’t despair if you don’t hear back; follow up once and then wait, but don’t barrage editors and publishers with long emails.
4. Keep travelling and keep writing!
All photos by Rajat Deep Rana

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Kicking Off The First Travel Massive in Vienna

Filed under general, Inside Tripwolf, Join the Party, travel writing
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Last night TourRadar and tripwolf hosted the first Travel Massive Vienna event.  It was a great night and a success worth repeating soon!

When we started announcing the event a few weeks ago people where often surprised by the lack of any set schedule or organized talks.  But with a drink in your hand and lots of interesting people from the industry to talk to, the night turned into a great networking get together.

Drinks, a great place and fun people.

The Travel Massive Vienna crowd chatting away over a few drinks.

Old and new faces

One of the best things about networking events is putting faces and names together.  Twitter handles and facebook profile pictures coming together in a live person in front of you!  For me personally it was great to have such a wide mixtures of bloggers, journalists, pr people, and other travel startups in one place. There where even hotel guests who joined us for a bit, after hearing we where doing an event in the tourism industry – they turned out to be working in the same industry in Spain!  I found myself talking about the use of Twitter hash tags one minute and about mobile apps the next. Some of the most creative in the crowd even came up with a revolutionary idea: the Spondola. (You’ll need to join us for the next Travel Massive Vienna if you’d like to fine out more about this…) Read More »

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Review: Brand new travel mag – WildJunket

Filed under Adventure, Body and Mind, Travel Apps, travel writing
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Launched yesterday, WildJunket is a brand new travel magazine…for the digital age. Released only in digital format, WildJunket can be downloaded on iPad or other tablet devices, or just to your computer.

WildJunket magazine cover

Courtesy image

The brainchild of fantastic travel writer and generally awesome person, Nellie Huang, WildJunket covers adventure travel and exotic locales with the aim of:

“Inspiring readers to travel light and travel far.  As an advocate of active travel and environmental awareness, we encourage readers to travel beyond the conventional trail and seek out extraordinary experiences – while keeping our environmental impact to a minimum. “

A worthy goal to be sure, and one that – if Issue #1 is to be any indication – WildJunket achieves very well. Read More »

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World Travel Market – Tips and Tricks for Next Year

Filed under Inside Tripwolf, London, Travel Apps, travel writing
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World Travel Market has come to a close here in London and I have heaved a huge sigh of relief. As I told you two weeks ago, I attended the 4-day conference-cum-fair-cum-travel-wonderland for the first time this past week, and wow. It was a real eye-opener, in some good ways and some bad. First, and perhaps best, it was a wonderful reminder about how big and incredible our world is and how much of it there is to see. It was also a great reminder that the travel industry is alive and well and doing all it can (as far as I can see) to help people travel better, greener and more aware.

World Travel Market 2011

The WTM Floor. Photo by Megan Eaves

For me as a writer, it was also a tad frustrating. I come from a writer’s background, meaning I can be a little bit shy, reserved and, just generally fare better with the written word than the spoken one. And World Travel Market is all about networking, meeting people and generally being a gutsy good talker. Try sticking a timid, better-on-paper writer in a room with thousands upon thousands of easy-talking PRs and travel agents, and, well, the results can be mixed.

Whatever my personal experience, though, I certainly learned a few tips and tricks that I’d like to pass on to any bloggers or writers out there thinking of going to next year’s WTM. Read More »

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tripwolfing it at World Travel Market

Filed under Inside Tripwolf, London, Travel Apps, travel writing
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World Travel Market is one of the biggest travel industry events in the world. Held each year in London, the market is one huge conference where travel agents, journalists, tourism boards, websites and governments come together to discuss, debate and connect on all things travel. I am rather ashamed to say that, prior to this year and my recent move to London, I had never heard of World Travel Market before, but I am so excited to be going this year!

World Travel Market logo

Photo: World Travel Market

I’ll be attending this year’s World Travel Market, which is held November 7-10 at ExCeL London, as a jogger (journalist-blogger) on all four days. The first couple of days, I’ll be taking the chance to meet with as many tourism boards, travel agencies and PRs as I possibly can, as well as attending several tweetups, such as the lovely Visit Florida tweetup (@VFWTM #VFWTM) at stand number NA300 on Tuesday from 12-3pm. They’re going to have free wifi and outlets at their stand, as well as the chance to meet the people from Visit Florida and learn about potential blogging trips and other interesting things about the Sunshine State.

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Blog Trips – Reinventing the Journalist at TBU Innsbruck

Filed under Austria, Curiosities, travel writing
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Shoes strapped with 6-inch iron spikes are a necessity to make the trek to church on Sunday mornings.  Most meals consist of home-made cheese, cured meats, and crusty bread. Years ago, before I’d traveled much at all, I’d read these facts about the region called Tirol, and I knew I had to see this intriguing culture.  The region of Tirol originally spread across four countries – Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland – now it’s a small chunk of the most mountainous areas of these four, and belongs solely to Austria.  Here “Ciao” is not  just and Italian word, and though the iron shoe-spikes may have been replaced by funiculars and ski lifts, the mountains will forever melt the hearts of the most callous of visitors - though the plethora of bacon may stop them.

Last weekend I was lucky to be a part of the second installment of the international travel blogger meet-up,  Travel Bloggers Unite – otherwise known by the twitter hash tag, #TBUIBK.

Ana and I

Ana, @tripwolf_es and I

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An Interview with Oliver – Founder of Travel Bloggers Unite

Filed under Join the Party, TBUIBK, travel writing
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Oliver Gradwell is the ambitious founder and creator of the travel bloggers’ network and conference aptly named Travel Bloggers Unite (TBU). The next conference will be held in Innsbruck, Austria, this August 25-27th.  tripwolf is proud to be the official media sponsor of the event, and excited to be providing every attendee with a free mobile travel guide to Innsbruck to help them navigate!  We got to ask him some pointed questions about the upcoming conference and TBU in general.  Follow updates about the conference on twitter under the tag #TBUIBK.

Let’s get to know you a bit better:
Black or milk and sugar?: Neither, I’m a Red Bull fan! :-)

iPhone or Anroid?: iPhone

Half empty or half full?: Half full, but soon to be fully empty!

Steak or Sushi?: STEAK! Preferably Sirloin, cooked medium

Electric or Acoustic? (Guitar): Listen to “Highway To Hell” with Bon Scott singing and tell me there is a place in the world for acoustic guitar? :-)

Alright, let’s get down to business.

For all the work TBU Manchester must have been, what makes you want to hold another conference?
I don’t doubt I’ll ask that again and again during Innsbruck! :-) I love what I do. I have never worked so hard in my life, but I wouldn’t change what I do. Even before Manchester we had planned to hold other conferences in different destinations, that is part of our plan for TBU.

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Hey, Recent Grads: Don’t Worry, Just Travel

Filed under Adventure, Join the Party, Travel Tips, travel writing
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“So, what will you do now?” The second most dreaded question next to “Do you have a job lined up?”

I remember this bombardment well. I mean, WTF are you doing to me people, trying to give me a heart attack? These are the worst questions to ask a recent college graduate, especially in the past few years.  As college tuition climbs, the employment rate falls…or well, levels off at an unsatisfactory level, don’t worry about getting a job, take flight, it’s the mature thing to do.

Photo by author - Thar Desert, India

What you don’t learn in career services is that you don’t have to have it all figured out now. Take advantage of this limbo and buy a plane ticket, that’s what I did.  This will solve (almost) all of your problems, at least give you an acceptable answer and a lot more to talk about; “I’m going to [surf, teach, volunteer, trek] in [insert radical country here].”

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