We sit down for a one-on-one conversation with the world’s travel writers...
Imagine graduating college and being sent around the world on someone else’s dime and then being paid to review bars, restaurants, museums, and everything else that a city has to offer.
That’s the life that Andre Legaspi gets to brag about as a writer for MTV travel guides. “My family and friends were impressed and jealous,” said the New York native, who recently graduated from McGill University. “Travel writing is my dream job. But I have to keep reminding them, it’s not as glamorous as people think.”
Legaspi has written for MTV Europe, MTV Italy, and now, MTV Spain, which was released in May 2007. MTV extended its brand into travel in 2006 by partnering up with the long-established Frommers, churning out guidebooks geared toward fledgling jetsetters.
MTV Spain makes its target audience clear with its opening section: the ever-useful “Best Places to Drink.” In fact, nearly every city has its own “Partying” category (and even the occasional skateboarding section).
But don’t brush off the 640-page book as a Real World-generation’s guide to boozing it up, Euro-style. The books are written for the inexperienced traveler on a budget, so there are useful sections that even the savviest travelers can refer to: accommodations (cheap/doable/splurge), where to find free museums, cell phone service providers, and the basics on how traveling via rail and bus. The writing style is thankfully straightforward, with only a few attempts at youthful lingo (“Duh!”).
For the most recent book, Legaspi spent nearly two months traveling along the southern coast of Spain to Andalucía, Costa del Sol and Seville. So what were those non-glamorous moments of travel for him? “I was pretty much all by myself. That was the tough part, being alone for that amount of time. The hostels saved my butt; I got to meet people I normally wouldn’t approach if I stayed at a hotel.”
Traveling solo can be a lonely venture, for sure, but it’s exacerbated when your job is to pack in everything the city has to offer in a short amount of time. “The nightlife was probably the toughest for me. After a day walking around exploring, the last thing you want to do is drink and dance.”
But as you can imagine, for a young travel writer, the positives of traveling solo far outweigh any negatives. “There are too many of my favorite experiences to talk about. But the food stuck out in my mind. Not so much the dishes, although they were great, but it was the experience—like going on tapas crawls!”
Already at work on the second editions of MTV Europe and Italy, and Legaspi is breaking into freelance travel writing … and is realizing just how totally sweet his situation is for a 20-something travel writer.
“The best advice I have [for other writers] is to be persistent and don’t take a lot of feedback to heart. To get into the industry, you have to be prepared for a lot of rejection, a lot of heartache. I’m learning how hard it is as I’m finding other gigs and pitching ideas. I totally lucked out.”
Looking to travel to Spain?
Don’t miss Off the Brochure: Madrid.
Interested in travel writing? Check out other entries in our Travel Book Spotlight section: