20 Aug Interview: Damon Banks Discusses the World of Travel Journalism
Original Interview with NATJA: With a dynamic fifteen-year history of working alongside a diverse collection of travel editorial and media clients, Damon Banks is an award-winning writer providing writing and editing services to international publications; while also serving as an ambassador and influencer to worldwide travel and lifestyle brands. He is also editor-in-chief at LuxeGetaways Magazine, where he works with a team of writers to provide content to the website and biannual issues of the magazine.
Q: What got you into travel writing?
A: Always being an avid traveler, while also working with a number of travel media projects over the years, being a travel writer seemed inevitable. I have always loved to write, and I get excited about crafting the next story, so I was determined to overcome the many challenges that come with anyone breaking into the travel writing industry. After many years of freelance travel writing (along with media consulting and copywriting), I was fortunately able to bring together a great team while launching LuxeGetaways Magazine. Now, I am able to further develop travel editorials that I am truly passionate about, while also editing content from 20+ writers, which I think has combined to make me a more dynamic writer.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of travel writing for you?
A: I think the challenges continue to change as your travel writing career evolves. In the beginning, the biggest hurdle was simply having access to the photos and information needed when completing a story – especially since the harsh reality is that many writers and bloggers have NOT acted ethically and professionally over the years, and we all pay the price for these individuals who have abused the system. However, if you stay true to your work, you can earn a solid reputation in the industry. Now, the biggest challenge is balancing my time since there are fantastic editorial opportunities presented each week that I would love to pursue, but unfortunately, there are only a limited number that I can properly develop and publish.
Q: What one thing [equipment or a personal item] can’t you go without on the road?
A: While I know this is not an exciting answer to this question, but one item I always need to have when I travel is my laptop. It’s a sad truth, but my life revolves around my laptop, and having the ability to monitor emails and websites, while also being able to work on any writing projects easily is very important. I do try (especially when traveling with my friends and family) to avoid the laptop during a large portion of the days and evenings, but it’s still vital for me to have some time each day to stay up-to-date.
Q: What was your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
A: I’ve had a number of favorite memories in recent years… from Christmas Holidays skiing in Vail, Colorado to enjoying the poolside bungalows at The Breakers Palm Beach; and from golfing my way through Ireland to a winter BMW driving experience on the ice in Finland. However, I always go back to the point in my life that influenced my passion for travel in numerous ways. At age 16, I boarded a plane to be a Rotary exchange student in Germany for a year, where I had a mind-blowing adventure while getting to know an amazing group of International friends, exploring every corner of Europe and growing to further appreciate the diverse cultures of the world. All these years later, I still look forward to getting to know the destinations, people and culture every time that I travel.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel writer?
A: Be respectful to the industry. Your actions when traveling on assignment (and the way you treat the public relations and marketing professionals while developing features) is a direct reflection on the entire industry. I’m constantly amazed at what a “small world” it really is within the industry, which can work for you, or against you. Enjoy what you are doing, and take the time to also discover your own “voice” when writing.