How did you get into Journalism?
I’ve always been a writer, though I started out with creative writing – short stories and so on. While in college I was commissioned to write articles on a freelance basis and I did that, quite enjoying the interviewing/reporting process. I’d originally planned to be a lawyer – but when I realized I needed more of a creative outlet, I went back to the idea of journalism. After a stint at a women’s luxury title in Mumbai, I returned to the States to do an MA in Journalism at NYU – and the rest is history!
You have a glamorous job title – Editor in Chief of Condé Nast Traveller, the pinnacle of luxury travel. How long have you been working with Condé Nast Traveller?
I actually started out at Condé Nast Traveler in New York, first as an intern when I was in journalism school and then I was hired back for paid projects. It was a magazine I always loved so getting a start there was amazing. I then moved to Mumbai, where I continued to work for Condé Nast but this time as part of the launch team at GQ. So as you can imagine it was a dream career move when I was then asked to launch Condé Nast Traveller Middle East in Dubai as the Editor in Chief. We launched in 2013, so I’ve been in my current role for 4 ½ years now.
Describe a typical workday?
Goodness, I don’t know if it’s ever typical! Which is one of the things I love, that it’s so fluid. In the past year, my role has really evolved – I spend nearly 50 percent of my time as a video presenter now for travel videos (both commercial and editorial). So my day could be coming into the office, answering emails, editing stories, commissioning writers, approving layouts, brainstorming with the advertising team for creative client solutions and client meetings. Or my day could be waking up at 5am for hair and makeup and then spending the next 8-10 hours filming on location. So you see what I mean, not so typical!
Do you get to travel a lot with your career?
Yes, I do, which is one of the things I most value and am grateful for. I have always traveled a lot because my parents are adventurous, so to be able to travel as part of my career is a real blessing. And now with the videos, even more so!
What is your favourite destination which you have featured and why?
Ah, that’s an impossible question to answer. I can’t say I have an absolute favourite, but one of the most memorable was Kyoto. I am a big Japanophile, so it was amazing to be in such a historic and wonderful city. I loved everything – the aesthetics, the temples, the food, the gorgeous landscapes, the geisha dancing… literally everything.
We saw a great video you filmed while on location in the Seychelles can you tell us more about your Island experience.
Thank you. It was a fantastic experience – one of my first experiences of a full travel video and I loved that it meant I could discover all the different aspects of the islands. I went zip-lining, island-hopping, hung out with giant turtles, snorkeled… it was a great way to discover a destination. It’s also the video that later resulted in being assigned my current project, which is that I’m filming destination guides as a presenter. Of course, the Seychelles was 14-hour shoot days, so the next time I go, it’ll be pure leisure.
What’s your greatest personal accomplishment to date?
I would say launching an international magazine in a new market and watching it grow into a successful brand, both editorially and commercially. That said, I don’t believe in standing on my past accomplishments, and so my newest pride is these videos I’m doing because they’re challenging me and I’m getting better at them with each one.
What advice do you have for aspiring travel writers?
Write a lot. All the time. The only way to master it is to keep practicing. Also, read a lot. Read great travel writers, read great travel pieces, learn what works. Take a piece and analyze why it worked so well. Don’t be arrogant – even gifted writers need to work at it and learn from others before them. Try to stray away from the obvious, give people something they didn’t know. Interact with locals, it’s the best way to get to know a place. Also, descriptions are key for travel writing, you’ve got to take people there.
What’s your favourite travel blog and Instagram account?
Again, so many. I’m a big fan of what the guys at Beautiful Destinations have done. It’s interesting actually that the ex-publisher of Conde Nast Traveler in the US has gone over to work there.
Name 5 things on your bucket list.
Just 5?! OK, let me try:
1. Spend a few weeks in South America – I desperately want to see Machu Picchu, but also Buenos Aires and Colombia.
2. See the Northern Lights
3. Scuba-dive in the Great Barrier Reef
4. Safari throughout Africa
5. Make it to Fiji
Quick Fire Round
Countryside or City: I’m a city girl
Beach Resort or Jungle Resort: Beach resort - I love the water
Pool or Beach: Pool – beach sand gets everywhere!
Window or aisle: Window – I’m also claustrophobic so it helps me to look out at the great beyond
Sunset or sunrise: Sunset every time.
Favourite travel book: Does Memoirs of a Geisha count? It made me fall further in love with Japan
Favourite European City: Lisbon – it still feels authentic.
Best Hotel you have ever stayed in: Impossible to answer – but one of them is the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. Their service – nothing like it.
Favourite country in the world and why: America, despite Trump. Its diversity of experiences appeals to me and the fact that I feel completely at home (perhaps because I lived there during some crucial years of my life).
Your number one travel tip: Get lost – it’s the best way to discover a place.