Don George: Leading Travel Writer, Editor and Travel Writers Conference Founder

Don George

Don George

“The more we travel, the bigger we become,” says Don George in our Travel Fun interview below. This leading travel writer and editor is certainly not referring to added poundage. Instead, in our half-hour chat, Don talks about how travel can expand one’s view of the world, whether you’re actually on the road or reading about a journey in a book or a story.

I met this influential force in travel writing about seven years ago when I attended the Travel Writers & Photographers Conference at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California. Don founded this now-renowned conference twenty-two years ago with Elaine Petrocelli, the owner of this fine independent bookstore, when he was travel editor at the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle. I felt drawn to him by his passion for travel and his keen desire to share his knowledge and expertise of the travel writer trade with others. When I learned that Don George was a major Francophile, I became even more of a fan.

Rhino in the Bush

Rhino in the Bush

In his November 2012 story from National Geographic Traveler, entitled La Bonne Vie in Paris, Don eloquently describes how he came to embrace the City of Light and how his time there resulted in his decision to become a travel writer. “There was that moment in Paris that truly transformed me,” Don says in our interview. And he admits that the magic of Paris “still does it” to him every time he returns.

Also for National Geographic Traveler, Don writes Trip Lit, a column devoted to highlighting books, including fiction and nonfiction, that evoke a vivid sense of place. “You start maybe with guidebooks, then quietly move to other books that transport us,” Don says in our discussion about the proliferation of travel literature. Listen to the interview to hear two of Don’s reading recommendations for the summer including what he feels is “The best travel book ever written.”

True lovers of travel literature will enjoy the stories at Recce:  Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler where Don is Editor in Chief. In our interview, he graces me with the reading of The Magic of Travel:  Bringing Namibia Home, a delicious little piece filled with lots of snap, crackle and pop as well as the lingering effects of a week in the bush.

Those in search of once-in-a-lifetime adventures—both soft and extreme—will want to consult The Adventurous Traveler Blog that Don also edits. Ten top adventure travel companies make up the Adventure Collection, a website that showcases some of the most exciting and interesting forms of travel in the world from heli-skiing to bicycling to monument gazing. It’s certainly helpful to have a blog that highlights some of these memorable trips and the joys and travails of travel in general. Here, you might want to check out Don’s story entitled Seven Tips for Choosing Summer Trips.

If all this makes you want to become a travel writer or photographer, then consider signing up for the Travel Writers & Photographers Conference at Book Passage that’s taking place this year August 8-11. They also offer many wonderful programs for people that just like to read or learn about travel. “It’s the highlight of my year,” Don George says. It was transformative for me as well and I hope it—or just one small travel story— has the same effect on you. I agree with Don in that travel does make us bigger.

Don George is also the author of “Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing,” now in its second edition.

Thank you to Don for the use of the above photos.

In my interview with Don, I also mention travel writer Tim Cahill, another frequent contributor to the Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference. Read my story Tim Cahill:  The Godfather of Travel Writing for some of his excellent travel writing tips. 

Click the play button below to listen to my interview with Don George.

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