Alex is a lead editor for Lonely Planet at the brand’s HQ office based in Franklin, TN, just outside of Nashville. We caught up with him recently to find out what it’s like working for one of the major voices in the travel industry (and one of the newest members of the RV brand portfolio!). In case you didn’t know, Lonely Planet produces guide books and online experiences to help the everyday traveler see the world like a pro. Caught wanderlust yet? Just wait until you hear Alex’s stories.
What are your mornings like?
It’s been almost a year since the LP office in Franklin started working remotely. In the “before times,” I’d start by brewing a quick pot of coffee for my wife and me, and then prepare for the 40-minute journey (on a good day) from my home in East Nashville to Franklin (podcasts are huge for that trip).
Cue a joke about the commute being much better now. These days, after helping my wife get our one-year-old out the door for daycare, plus a workout and a walk with the dog, I’m at my desk by about 8 or 8:30 a.m.
Tell us more about being an editor.
A typical day starts with meetings with the rest of the editorial team in Dublin and Franklin/Nashville to talk about new ideas or developing stories, as well as ongoing projects or campaigns. Through January we ran a slew of stories on digital nomadism, including advice on how to make friends and how to manage your money, as well as updates on the countries enticing remote workers with new digital nomad visas.
For the afternoon, I’ll work on the next day’s articles – revisions, copyediting, photo research or writing – or developing new story ideas for the weeks and months ahead.
A not-infrequent order of business is acting as a brand spokesperson – usually when there are big digital campaigns to promote. A few months ago we launched our annual Best in Travel campaign, and I had the opportunity to promote it on several radio shows and podcasts, CNN travel, and a few local news shows.
What’s your favorite part about the job?
My first experiences with Lonely Planet were as a backpacker in China. I spent a few years teaching English there, and I used the guides to explore the country and other trips around Asia.
I can still remember sitting in dingy hostels, dog-earing pages and circling the restaurants and sites I wanted to visit, marveling about the kind of job it must’ve been to visit every place and write about it. I still laugh about a rather ugly Hong Kong hotel being described as a “carbuncle on the end” of a beach but with great views of the surrounding islands and budget-friendly rates.
It’s a daily pleasure to contribute to that kind of authority and expertise. And to be a part of a company with a heritage like Lonely Planet.
I’m also hugely lucky to work with a team of passionate, smart and funny people. I love seeing my colleagues go all-in on projects like our incredibly thorough Holiday gift guides from last year (hat tip to Sarah Stocking), masterful book roundups (Meghan O’dea) or monthly Instagram Live interviews with makers and shakers in travel (Alicia Johnson).
Any memorable moments you’d like to share?
A few years ago I was in Seward, Alaska, on an assignment for LP, and I met a guy who ran standup paddleboarding tours around Bear Glacier. The following day, we went out to this huge lagoon dotted with hundreds of icebergs. Some were as small as basketballs, others the size of houses. Outfitted in an arctic drysuit, I wobbled aboard a paddleboard and we set out. The sight was incredible – unfathomable shades of blue, white and silver in the frozen ice, with the sawtooth horizon of the Kenai Mountains as a backdrop – but I’ll never forget the sound. As the icebergs melted around us, tiny pockets of ancient bubbles were released into the air, sizzling like Pop Rocks.
How have you been spending your time during the pandemic?
We have a one-year-old at home, and he’s kept my wife and I pretty busy. But while he’s asleep, we’ve (quietly) taken up cooking together. Not all of our creations are wins – a few weeks ago we made pasta from scratch, and it was… not good. But the urge to relive the memories of our babymoon to Italy means we’ll try again soon.
Beyond that, I’ve been on a sci-fi lit kick lately – I guess because things in real life just haven’t been weird enough. “Station Eleven” was an early pandemic read, and it felt very apropos (it’s about a pandemic), and I’ve recently decided that I just can’t get into “Dune” for probably the fourth time. Currently into “Neuromancer.” Recommendations welcome!