Inside Travel Writing: An interview with Lea Lane

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Lea Lane is a travel writer based out of Miami, Florida, and the first US-based writer to be interviewed for MannedUp’s Inside Travel Writing series.

Lea is regular contributor to Forbes and has also authored books.

Disclosure: Some of the links below — marked with (£) — are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

What kind of travel related niche do you specialise in? 

At this point I write mostly about destinations and general info, as I have travelled to over 130 countries.  I used to be managing editor of a publication called Travel Smart, so I learned lots of  good tips along the way.

Shadow of a palm tree on a tropical beach.
Shadow of a palm tree on a tropical beach.

What recent examples of your work do you want to point people to?

My most recent book is called Travel Tales I Couldn’t Put in the Guidebooks (£):

It has 33 tales, some funny, some moving and personal – and it’s charmingly illustrated by an excellent artist. It’s on Kindle and in paperback, and you can get it on Amazon.

After working for publishers including Random House and St. Martin’s Press for other books, I decided to try doing it myself. At this point, that works best for me because it’s fast and simpler.

Which piece of writing are you most proud of and why?

I think my book that was published in 2005, Solo Traveler: Tales and Tips for Great Trips (£) was my most influential piece of writing because it encouraged and helped facilitate people travelling on their own. It was pretty personal, as well (£):

What do you enjoy most about travel writing?

My curiosity remains insatiable, and when I travel I experience life with all my senses alert. I enjoy conveying that excitement, and encouraging others to open themselves up to the world.

Do you have a favourite destination?

I live in Miami now but I return to New York or Paris whenever possible. Some of my favourite places — because they have just about everything a traveler could want — include Morocco, New Zealand, Italy.

I love the animals and the wild beauty of Africa.  When I travelled to Antarctica, I felt I was visiting the realm of other species. That was humbling.

What would be a typical working day for you, if there is such a thing?

I write after I have read about what’s happening in the world. I work at home and try to intersperse sitting with housework/exercise, often until late at night. I tend to multitask, and rarely sit in front of the TV without a keyboard in front of me.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? 

A deadline works best for me, whether it’s my own or even better, from outside. Without it I am in pretty constant writer’s block.

What tip or tips would you offer to anyone entering the industry?

I would create a niche travel blog and develop loyal viewership through social media. Start writing about where you live or what are familiar with and/or your interests. Eventually I would self-publish a book.

I would learn to take good photos, and take a course if necessary. I would network at travel conferences, and join a professional society as soon as I could qualify.

travel, holidays, accomodation, Agoda

Which writers inspire you and why? 

My all-time favourite travel writer is Jan Morris (£):

I read her earliest books about Oxford (£) and Spain (£) (when she was James) and was inspired to write about the places I loved. I was thrilled to have met her about 20 years ago in Wales (£):

What do you aspire to achieve as a writer? 

To keep opening people’s eyes and touching their hearts. I have been writing travel pieces for almost 50 years now. I still get a thrill seeing someplace new, or returning to places I love, and letting others know about my experiences.

I used to write guidebooks, and always enjoy seeing people read my words and maybe make better travel choices than they otherwise would have.

It’s a tough industry, what do you see as its biggest challenges? 

Everybody seems to write about their trips on social media, usually for free. You have to find a way to get noticed, and do things better than most. And keep your day job. Making a good living, aside from the travel ops, is difficult.

What about its opportunities? 

I have seen the world, places I’m sure I never otherwise would have, often without having to pay for the trips. I have met and become friends with people from many countries, and have become a more broad-minded and interesting person because of my travels. Plus I have found lots of well-priced tchotckes to decorate my home.

Are there destinations you are particularly keen to visit and write about?

My bucket list is pretty much crossed off. I would still like to visit Iran because of the beautiful architecture, the food and the people, who are known to be friendly; the gorilla reserves in Rwanda, because I love interacting with animals; and New Guinea, mostly because of the photos I could take. Whether I will be able to do all that is another story.

Face of a mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) living wild on the Virunga Mountain Range in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.
Face of a mountain gorilla in Rwanda.

Do you have a website where people can find out more about you?

I post five times a month at Forbes.

If you weren’t a travel writer what would you like to be? 

Over the years I’ve fantasised about doing varied things, including city planner, architect, interior designer, chef, screenwriter. I daydream like Walter Mitty. But aside from the pay, I already have the best profession I can think of, and I’m so grateful that I have been able to continue doing it for so long.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to Manned Up readers?

Do what you love, if you can. Don’t wait. Appreciate all the world, and different cultures. Travel is humbling.

Worried about your carbon footprint? Tenerife is less than four hours by air from the UK.
Footprint on a beach.

Got any questions for travel writers? If so, send an email to MannedUp.

The travel photographs illustrating this article are the work of Why Eye Photography.

If you enjoyed this edition of Inside Travel Writing, why not check out interviews with the likes of Geoff Moore, Olivia Greenway and Solange Hando..

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