Shocker: Lonely Planet Writers Accept Schwag

by MADDY MADISON · April 10, 2008

    travel writersIt is something of a universal truth that most humans with even the slightest hedonistic streak would like to dabble in travel writing. No other job allows for extensive travel to lesser-known corners of the world while hotel-hopping on someone else's dime. In our mind, this is probably less of a job than it is a well-pampered excursion wherein, upon your return, you're expected to construct oversimplified generalizations of places you barely know for thousands of readers who will tattoo your words on their brains like it was gospel rather than the margarita-lubricated speculation that it is.

    Well, Thomas Kohnstamm is here to debunk these myths. At least the ones about the fancy accommodations. The margaritas are the gospel truth. His new book, Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?, has left his former bosses at Lonely Planet, the faux-offbeat travel empire, none too pleased. Here's the Aussie CEO sounding distinctly not laid back:

    "For those who don't know," Ms. Slatyer wrote, "Thomas Kohnstamm has written a book … about his somewhat self-indulgent experience working on the previous edition of our Brazil guide. The book's press release highlights his sexual encounters with a waitress (allegedly resulting in a good review for the restaurant) and his need to deal drugs to supplement his author fee, as well as less titillating complaints against us on unrealistic deadlines, lack of money and lack of support when he was on the road. "Thomas also claims that due to lack of time and money, information in his titles is fictitious or plagiarized, and that he acted against our stated policies and accepted freebies, which compromised his recommendations. …"

    So there you have it. News to no one but Midwestern tourists and white kids trampling through their European summers with North Face backpacks full of Red Bull, Lonely Planet is perhaps not the most unbiased look at foreign cultures. Especially ones that haven't already been colonized by McDonald's.


    Confessions of a Travel Writer [Observer]