The NYTimes has a piece which discusses what being a travel writer is like, and while there’s a bit of a beat up on the “roughs” of travelling in Asia, it does bring up the issue of poor pay for lots and lots of bloody hard work.
Amusingly one section reads like an advert for why you shouldn’t buy a Let’s Go guide:
That’s when things go well. A colleague of Ms. Atlas’s at Let’s Go, Margaux McDonald, wasn’t having such luck. After a bumpy two-day journey from Ko Chang, Thailand, to Siem Reap, Cambodia, in late June, Ms. McDonald, a 27-year-old graduate student in theology and public policy at Harvard, opened her backpack to find her laptop was broken. She has since been in what Let’s Go editors call “dead tree mode,” taking down information about guest houses, restaurants, national parks and bus schedules, in an old-fashioned spiral notebook. Ms. McDonald gave her current location as “somewhere between the middle of nowhere and my own private hell.”
Let’s Go editors were planning to send a new computer to a post office in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, on the hope that Ms. McDonald could pick it up. If she could find the place.
“Have I gotten lost?” Ms. McDonald asked rhetorically. “I’m virtually always lost.”
What is more of a worry? That Ms McDonald (no relation!) may not be able to find one of the largest cities in Northeast Thailand, or that she is virtually always lost?
The story also continues to trot out the old myth that LP writers don’t take freebies — they do — far more often than you may think. Travelfish writers don’t take freebies — ever. So the question begs, why does a company with a considerably bigger wallet than me, pay its staff so little they have to take freebies to make the work viable?