What makes a Wan­der­lust cover?

Editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes re­calls the start of Wan­der­lust, and pays trib­ute to her hus­band and mag­a­zine co-founder Paul Mor­ri­son

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - 25 YEARS OF WANDERLUST -

When Wan­der­lust was first launched, a lot of peo­ple asked why any­one would buy a travel mag­a­zine when they could get a hol­i­day brochure for free. Now, 25 years later, with ad­ven­ture travel jour­nal­ism firmly a part of main­stream me­dia, that isn’t even an is­sue. But from the start, it was im­por­tant to us that our cov­ers were about real, off-the-beaten-track travel, not ‘hol­i­days’.

With so many more peo­ple into the Wan­der­lust style of travel these days, we re­ally only have to look for one thing in a cover: does it make us want to be there?

We’ve def­i­nitely had cer­tain peren­nial cov­ers over the years that we know are pop­u­lar. Peo­ple tend to like monks and they also like clas­sic icons, es­pe­cially Angkor Wat, Machu Pic­chu and the Taj Ma­hal, hence its re­turn as our 25th an­niver­sary cover.

Imet Paul in 1987 when we were both work­ing for the Mars cor­po­ra­tion. Travel was our joint pas­sion, and we gave up our ca­reers to free­lance as con­sul­tants, al­low­ing us the flex­i­bil­ity to travel. But each time we came back from a trip, we found it harder and harder to re­turn to cor­po­rate life. “You’re back to the real world,” peo­ple would say. “No, travel is my real world,” Paul would re­tort.

The idea for Wan­der­lust came about in Novem­ber 1992 when Paul and I were on a flight to Ecuador, plan­ning to spend six months ex­plor­ing South Amer­ica. We were trav­el­ling light, had noth­ing to read, and there was cer­tainly no in­flight en­ter­tain­ment on Vi­asa, an air­line that has long since bit­ten the dust.

We started talk­ing about how nice it would be to have a mag­a­zine all about travel, bor­row­ing a pen to jot our ideas down on a sick bag. Paul im­me­di­ately came up with the name of our dream mag­a­zine; as he of­ten said, “Once you’ve got wan­der­lust in your blood, you’ve got it for life.” Even­tu­ally we said to each other: “We could do this.” So, we bought a notebook in Quito and started schem­ing in earnest.

First steps

When we got back to the UK, the only prob­lem was that we knew noth­ing about pub­lish­ing – un­less you counted the fact that, as a child, Paul had proudly pro­duced a sin­gle mag­a­zine called ‘Su­per Budgie’. But, de­spite many in­dus­try ‘ex­perts’ telling us a travel mag­a­zine would never suc­ceed, we threw our­selves into learn­ing ev­ery­thing we could. We bought an Ap­ple Mac, turned the spare bed­room into an of­fice and

re­cruited neigh­bours to proof­read, copy-type and set ads. We found our first con­trib­u­tors, in­clud­ing leg­endary book pub­lisher Hilary Bradt and Dr Jane Wil­son-howarth (who has featured in ev­ery is­sue) at an in­de­pen­dent travel event at the Royal Ge­o­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety.

We launched at the end of Novem­ber 1993. Whsmith wouldn’t stock us, but we weren’t daunted. The print run was 5,000. Sev­eral book­shops were go­ing to sell us, and we al­ready had 2,000 sub­scribers signed up. We were away.

We had de­cided that Paul, as pub­lisher, would be re­spon­si­ble for the busi­ness side of the mag­a­zine, while I would be in charge of the con­tent. How­ever, our roles in­evitably over­lapped, and Paul was phe­nom­e­nal at what he took on. Look­ing at the first is­sue, not only did Paul sell all the ad­ver­tis­ing, but he did all the de­sign and wrote and pho­tographed four of the ar­ti­cles.

Paul was mod­est about his writ­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy skills, of­ten claim­ing he only did his bit to save money. But he was do­ing him­self a dis­ser­vice. As well as be­ing short­listed four times for pub­lisher of the year awards, he was short­listed for many writ­ing prizes. Not that the ku­dos meant much to him. Travel was his big pas­sion, and the words and photos were his way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing that.

Paul’s legacy

For many years we worked from home, with help from part-time staff and neigh­bours. It was a hard slog, with Paul and I work­ing crazy hours for lit­tle money. Paul al­ways found the stamina to keep go­ing, some­times work­ing through the night. Never ma­te­ri­al­is­tic, it was more im­por­tant to him to suc­ceed with the mag­a­zine than to live a com­fort­able life­style. In 2003, de­spite his ill­ness, we cheer­fully turned down a seven-fig­ure sum for Wan­der­lust, feel­ing there was still so much more we wanted to achieve with the mag­a­zine our­selves.

Paul had so much en­ergy, and was so full of life that it was a com­plete shock when he was first di­ag­nosed with can­cer in early 2001. But be­ing Paul, he picked him­self up and showed the same de­ter­mi­na­tion, blood­y­mind­ed­ness and op­ti­mism as when we launched Wan­der­lust. He re­fused to let the can­cer dom­i­nate his life, and never com­plained of pain or side-ef­fects. Most of his con­tacts had lit­tle inkling that any­thing was wrong. If willpower alone could have licked the can­cer, he’d still be with us now.

I was in­un­dated with mes­sages af­ter his death in 2004. Time and again peo­ple high­lighted his hon­esty, in­tel­li­gence, lack of pre­ten­sion and sense of fun. In busi­ness he was a tough ne­go­tia­tor, and ex­pected high stan­dards, but he was al­ways eth­i­cal, with no time for bull­shit­ters or bul­lies. Many peo­ple also com­mented on what a gen­tle and kind per­son he was – gen­er­ous with his time, ad­vice and what money he had. He was witty and loved life, al­ways look­ing for­ward.

Most of all, he was the per­fect travel com­pan­ion, with bound­less en­thu­si­asm and cu­rios­ity. In cities, he would re­sent go­ing to bed, of­ten be­ing the last to leave a restau­rant or bar, while in the coun­try­side he would jump out of bed be­fore dawn to go look­ing for wildlife. Of­ten a lit­tle shy in so­cial sit­u­a­tions at home, when he was away he would talk to any­one and ev­ery­one, mak­ing life­long friends in the process. As he would say, “I al­ways come alive when I travel.”

Clock­wise from top left Lyn and Paul in the Galá­pa­gos Is­lands on the trip where the idea forWan­der­lust was born; when life gives you lemons, make lemon­ade or go to a cit­rus or­chard; Paul takes a break on ‘Snoozy Suzie’, the VW Bug that the pair drove across New Zealand un­til the head gas­ket blew; Lyn in her spir­i­tual home – the vine­yards of Aus­tralia

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