Welcome to the New Cool Travel Guide

Hamilton Island, Australia.

The re-launch of Cool Travel Guide has been a long time coming. And while this is a soft launch of sorts, we still have a few tweaks to make, loads of archival posts to re-tag, and some text to finish. But something has motivated me to re-launch today, and I’ll tell you about that in a minute.

After fairly regular posting from the time I started Cool Travel Guide in 2007, I reluctantly put my little blog on hold when we went on our 2010 HomeAway UK sponsored grand tour of the world, as I was simply far too busy travelling and blogging about that trip on Grantourismo. When we settled in Bangkok in 2011 following the grand tour, I had all intentions of blogging here again, but our travel writing work – the stuff that pays the bills and allows us to travel perpetually – left me with little time to write anything else and Grantourismo still remains a priority.

Cool Travel Guide always seemed to slip to the bottom of the to-do list despite my intentions, and yet barely a day went by without me thinking “I should blog about that on Cool Travel Guide…” and add a topic to an ever-growing list. Sometimes, there were other reminders, like my writer friend Paul Castle (aka @DaddyBird) in Dubai who DM’ed me on Twitter the other day: “Poking around some of your and Terence’s old posts Has it really been almost 2 years since your last post on the Cool Travel Guide?? 8-O” Two years? Oh my god, it almost has been 24 months since I posted here! That was a shock. (Thank you, Paul.)

Then there are other surprising reminders, like the occasional advertiser (“Are you sure you want to advertise on Cool Travel Guide?”) or the PR company representing a national tourism body that contacted me the other day to say they wanted to nominate Cool Travel Guide for an award (“Really? But I haven’t posted in a very long time…”). And then there are the reader stats, increasing all the time, that arrive in my In Box each week. Terence re-designed the blog for me late last year (the plan was to re-launch in January) and shifted my old content over here from Blogspot and from the moment it went live more and more readers (and a fair amount of spammers too of course) have been visiting. Embarrassing.

But I haven’t really needed external reminders. There have been enough internal nudges. There have been countless moments when I would have killed for 20 spare minutes to blog a rant about some aspect of the travel industry, about the stagnation in writing fees, about some mad editor or dim-witted PR I’ve had to deal with, about the challenges of juggling writing projects, about some misplaced tourism campaign, about the difficulty of meeting deadlines on the road, about the ethics of travel blogging, and so on.

And then there are the moments when there’s been something wonderful that I wanted to tell you about, something magical – a place we’ve been, a person we’ve met, a meal we’ve eaten, a landscape we’ve seen – something that reminds me of the reasons why I travel, why I persist with this mad life as a travel writer, this crazy life on the road, and why I think travel is cool. Which is one of the reasons why I first started Cool Travel Guide.

I didn’t begin the blog to document my ‘escape from the cubicle’, my round-the-world adventures, or my path to becoming a travel writer. I’ve never worked in one of those claustrophobic work environments you see in American movies, and I’ve loved every full-time job I’ve ever had. My husband Terence and I had already been living out of our suitcases for two years when I began blogging, and we’d already been living overseas in the United Arab Emirates since 1998. I’ve always been a writer of some sort – on the arts, culture, film, fiction, and travel – since I started writing for the Sydney Uni newspaper Honi Soit in 1986.

And yet Cool Travel Guide still has a place in my life. For me, Cool Travel Guide represents a space where I can write about the things I can’t write about anywhere else, a place for me to rant and a place for me to rave – which was the main point of starting the thing in the first place, to write about the things that are cool (and not so cool) about travel. So, fasten your seat belts… and join me for the ride again.