In the interests of full disclosure, let me set out upfront that I am partial to travel magazines, for all the obvious reasons. The key among them being the promise of a brief escape, carrying you to a foreign world with tantalising images and content that weaves together the story of a place with its history, culture and lifestyle, in a rich tapestry – all too sanguine and serene at the same time; albeit it ends with a longing sigh!
But I am afraid not many of these magazines hold true to their promise to sweep you away; well, at least not with enough levity. In fact most just end up being a quick flip through for killing time at a salon or worst as you wait your turn at a dentist’s clinic desperately hoping to avert your mind from the palace of horrors/dungeon of doom, that a dentist’s chair and the un-welcome spotlight can be. Anyway, most of these travel zines fail you miserably – there is no engaging with the content or getting lost in a different world (for the sheer lack of any).
So while I am partial to travel magazines, I am also wary of them. It was in this context that The Travel Almanac was a pleasant surprise. This one is likely to add one new perspective to your understanding of travel writing and give you one more reason to enjoy a travel magazine though not in the most in-your-face manner. Founded in 2010, The Travel Almanac, a Berlin and New York based magazine, is conceived as a post-tourism publication, ‘focusing on traveling & temporary habitation, addressing an increasingly mobilized creative community’.
To elaborate, based on the idea that movement and location permeates all aspects of life, the magazine chooses to focus not only on the traditional notion of physical travel and instead engage with a select community of creative professionals, and share their travel experiences reflected in their work or everyday selves.
The latest issue of the magazine covers conversations with leading creative minds in their respective fields. Music producer SOPHIE (Samuel Long) talks about the excitement of meeting people outside of their familiar habitat and his approach to navigating new cities by following people and going where the crowd forms. Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, Paris based writer and editor (of Vestoj) shares her insight into the intimate relationship between fashion and travel. American photographer Collier Schorr discusses her relationship with identity politics “…every person you photograph takes you someplace and every person you shoot makes you slightly more interesting than you would be on your own” in addition to sharing her thoughts on an oddly empty gaze of selfies and her fantasy of cruise travels. Amongst other guests’ interviewed, graphic designer Scott King (also editor of erstwhile magazine Sleazenation) visits the north of England and talks about motorbikes and scooterboys.
This issue also features Charlotte Gainsbourg (star of Las Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac) and a special series of self-portraits created by her for the magazine.
The second half of the magazine is more akin to the obvious part of a travel magazine that I hinted at in my introduction, one sure to carry you away into a maze of foreign culture and terrain. The ‘Excursions’ section of the magazine is a mix of features on varied topics appealing to the nomadic soul with Tart Fishing in England, Philosophy schools in Athens or a brief write up on select hotels in different cities.
Paul Kominek is the editor-in-chief of this biannual light and small format magazine, making it a perfect travel mate.The Travel Almanac