About Lara Dunston
I’m an Australian-born, Asia-based travel and food writer who has written hundreds of stories and authored and updated dozens of guidebooks for the world’s best publishers, mostly in collaboration with my incredibly creative writer-photographer husband Terence Carter.
Terence and I run the popular travel site Grantourismo, produce websites and digital content, and are developing cookbooks. I’ve been editor-at-large for Lifestyle+Travel magazine, destination expert for numerous travel sites, and I consult on writing, digital storytelling, social media and content strategy. I also craft bespoke itineraries and plan trips, Terence and I host culinary-focused writing and photography tours, and in 2016 I will be holding a writing retreat in Siem Reap.
Middle East specialists after eight years living in the United Arab Emirates, and over 12 years writing on the MENA region and Europe, our home is now Siem Reap, Cambodia, and our work these days focuses largely, but not solely, on Asia and Australia.
Our words and pictures appear in magazines and newspapers and on websites and blogs around the world and I’ve written on subjects ranging from chefs, cuisines and restaurants to art, architecture and archaeology.
The long list of publications our stories have been published in includes The Guardian, CNN Travel, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Delicious, Feast, National Geographic Traveller (UK, US), The Independent, The Telegraph, Conde Nast Traveller China, DestinAsian, Travel+Leisure Asia, Get Lost, Wanderlust, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, International Traveller, AFAR, Lifestyle+Travel, Four Seasons magazine, Ritz-Carlton magazine, Hemispheres, Voyeur, Bangkok Airways’ Fah Thai, Emirates’ Open Skies, Gulf Air’s Gulf Life, Jazeera Airways’ J Magazine, Garuda’s Colours, Qatar Airway’s Oryx, Thai Airways’ Sawasdee, Silk Air magazine, Dusit Hotel’s Eight, Business Traveller, Executive Traveller, Paperplane, Fibers, Connect, Voyageur, M Lifestyle, Cape+Kantary, Ocean, Seabourn Cruises Club Herald magazine, Interval, Southeast Asian Globe, BBC History, The National, Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Age, Sunday Telegraph, USA Today, Phnom Penh Post Weekend, and dozens of US newspapers, from the Houston Chronicle to Chicago Tribune, where our stories have been syndicated.
I’ve written, updated and contributed to some 60 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Dorling Kindersley, Footprint, Rough Guides, AA Guides, Thomas Cook, Hedonist’s Guides, and Fodors, many co-authored with Terence, who has photographed countless guidebooks. The first editions we authored and photographed include half a dozen Lonely Planet guidebooks (Syria and Lebanon, Milan, Paris, Dubai, and Dubai Encounter and Buenos Aires Encounter), The Italian Lakes and Milan for Footprint, Calabria and Northern Italy for Thomas Cook, Cyprus and Mallorca for AA Guides, and Top 10 Dubai and Abu Dhabi and most of Backroads Australia for Dorling Kindersley. I’ve contributed stories to inspirational coffee-table books for Lonely Planet, including The Travel Book, The Asia Book, and Blue List, and Rough Guides Clean Breaks.
I’ve been writing professionally since 1987, after stints for my university newspapers, including Honi Soit at Sydney University, where I began an arts degree. When I shifted to the University of Technology, Sydney to start a BA Communications in screen studies, film production and writing, I began film reviewing and writing on low budget filmmaking for Film News and Independent Filmmaker.
Giving up glamorous work as a waitress/kitchen hand in cafes and casual eateries, I moved from full-time to part-time study for my first proper job as a media researcher for a member of parliament. Leaving seven years later as executive officer to the Speaker, I returned to freelancing and segued into travel and food writing (my first small piece was on dim sum) and Terence and I wrote The Sydneyside Guide for a Universal Press compact street directory in 1995.
Throughout the 1990s Terence and I spent most of our spare time making films, including our first feature film, a road movie called Come By Chance, which screened at film festivals. I continued to write on film; taught film history, scriptwriting, directing and producing at community colleges and the International Screen Academy; had a teen fiction novel published by HarperCollins; and worked as a publicist for a photography gallery.
In 1996, I commenced my first Masters degree in International Studies, travelling to South America for a year of in-country study in 1997 to research contemporary Latin American cinema using an itinerary based around film festivals. It was there that I developed an interest in the connections between film and travel and a passion for teaching that took us from Sydney to the United Arab Emirates in 1998 so I could accept a faculty job teaching film, media production and writing to young female Emirati college students.
During my time in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, I completed a second Master of Arts in Screenwriting through Bournemouth University in the UK and began a PhD at Nottingham Trent University on the links between film and travel, which I put on hold to, well, travel.
It was in Abu Dhabi that Terence and I serendipitously fell back into travel writing after complaining about a European guidebook we’d used. My detailed notes resulted in an invitation to write Lonely Planet Dubai and more commissions quickly followed, including guides to the UAE, Syria and Lebanon, Greece, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Belgium, Perth and Western Australia, and Australia among other destinations.
I’ve written and produced content for many digital forms, from writing interactive walking tours for the Sony PSP to presenting destination videos for Lonely Planet TV. Since then I’ve contributed to a long list of travel sites, writing accommodation reviews for the Lonely Planet site, i-escape, Mr and Mrs Smith, and Travel Intelligence, creating digital guides for Sherman’s Travel, World Travel Guide and Fodors, writing destination features for VTravelled, Directline Holidays, and Miss Citty Kitty, and blog posts for World Nomads, Viator, Bravofly, and more. Terence and I were NineMSN Travel’s Dubai Insiders and destination experts for Triporati and I have also been the Dubai Travel Expert for The Telegraph, and am the Dubai and Siem Reap expert for AFAR.
Countries I have experienced include Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel & Palestinian Territories, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, USA, Uruguay, and Vietnam.
For more about my education, employment and writing career, and to read testimonials from people I’ve worked with, see my LinkedIn page. For more information about my content strategy, social media, consulting, and trip planning work, see the relevant sections on this site.
If you’d like to commission me, hire me or collaborate on a project, please get in touch via my Contacts page.