But not, I'm afraid, when it comes to travel.
Am I the only one who's noticed how completely superficial travel writing is these days? It seems impossible for a trip planner or armchair traveler to learn much about any destination beyond the rah-rah of the tourism board. Airline mags, travel sections, niche publications and destination guides are all filled with the same shallow boosterism and cliches that render them worthless. The delicious soup of New Orleans is skimmed for only the jazz and food; Paris is all about romance; Nassau consists of Paradise Island and Bay Street; don't miss the wax museum in Niagara Falls.
It's just as bad on the other end of the pen, too. I've done a bit of travel writing and found that attempts to go beneath the surface are quickly censored. "Don't mention that place. They're not advertisers." "We can't send people outside of the tourist district." "No side trips - you have a 300-word limit." It's frustrating to write about a place you love and not be able to mention its most offbeat, endearing attractions.
Because I both write and spend a lot of time in the Turks and Caicos, people often ask me why I'm not doing travel articles about the islands. My response is to comment that first, most publications want to feature only Provo, not any of the other islands. Second, travelers to Provo are funneled into the big resorts, which fiercely try to keep the tourists within their compounds. Woe to the writer who suggests a local bar or restaurant. Even when an out island is mentioned, one must keep it short and touristy - the more superficial, the better.
So, no thanks. When I read about a destination, I want to know more than what the Chamber of Commerce tells me. And when I write about one, I want to share more than the pretty-picture come-on. I may not be deep, but I'd rather take a swim instead of a wade.