It's no secret that I dislike most mainline travel writing as precious, formulaic, boring, repetitive, pointless and, worse, devoid of humor and a sense of the absurd that is built into many trips (come on, Sharkey, tell us what you really think!). This, by the way, is how I introduce myself to students in an online travel-writing class that I am routinely a guest editor on. Trust me, the students get it.
So I'm glad to say (and hope) that a new approach could be on the way. BBC.com today launched its new travel site in partnership with Lonely Planet. BBC.com/travel is the first in a series of factual and lifestyle sites, announced last month alongside BBC.com’s new U.S. edition.
[I had a quick look this morning, and will evaluate further once I get organized, having just returned from a four-day trip to the National Business Travel Association convention in Houston, a city that has a major league baseball stadium with a roof they close during summer day-games, which strikes me as sissy-baseball). Anyway, I should say that the first thing that caught my eye on the new BBC site was a reference to Las Vegas, one of my absolutely favorite cities, as "Sin City." Come on, BBC -- nobody has used that creaky term (except the usual travel writers) since Johnny Carson in the 90s.]
The editorial director of BBC.com/travel is David G. Allan, formerly NYTimes.com Travel & Styles Editor. Emirates, one of the real class acts in travel supply, is one of the key initial sponsors.
In a statement, Miranda Cresswell, a senior vice president of BBC.com. says: "We know the people who come to BBC.com are curious about the world and look to us to feed that curiosity. BBC Travel will deliver insight, know-how and adventure that connects you to the world. With first person accounts from on the road we will dig into local culture, history and architecture."
David G. Allan: "Our audience already loves the smart, sophisticated and well researched stories from the BBC. BBC Travel builds on our news and documentary heritage with outstanding travel journalism, and key insights from Lonely Planet’s authors, to inspire you to leave your desk and have an adventure whatever the destination."
I'll follow this with some interest, hoping the delivery is there. And hey, guys, maybe you'll lose the "Sin City" tropes and even generate a few laughs along the way? Travel is many things, but even in the grimmest of times (as Mr. Chaucer, to invoke one noted travel writer, knew), it's got an element of humor.