Life in Lockdown - Sophy Roberts, Award Winning Travel Writer

News

Life in lockdown


Each day we speak to a journalist about their new normal.


Today we hear from Sophy Roberts award winning travel writer focussing on remote parts of the world where she reports on wildlife conservation, threats to eco-systems and fragile cultures.


Where are you working from right now?
West Dorset, where I live


What’s your new morning routine?
Same as always -- I start work at 7am. I do consultancy work for a luxury hotel group based out of Singapore, so start early. I do articles/ book writing from 11am. I finish at 4pm, unless there are calls with US editors


What is your workwear looking like?
Put it this way: I don't ever do video calls.


How has your working week changed since Covid-19 hit?
No travel -- no London visits, no foreign trips -- but otherwise the same. I didn't realise I was running about 3 months behind my own inbox, so now clearing up a mess of unanswered messages accumulated over years. Finding my manners again, which the speed of life had removed pre-virus.


What are the current plans for filling your pages?
I am not a travel editor, but a writer -- so I am responding to the requirements of editors as they work it out. Most are asking for dream-scaping: where do you want to be? Where do you want to go to when this lifts? Only a few (the more serious) editors are conceding the fact that the dreamscape is exactly that -- a dreamscape — because when the lift happens, we will be looking at a completely new reality, which is one dominated by fear, suspicion, awareness, and lots of difficult human emotions in between. It is not going to be straightforward, and we are going to have to do more journalism than ever before (as opposed to taking free happy trips -- because life just got a lot more complicated than that). Truth telling is going to really matter...


What does a work lunch look like these days?
With my family. Kids are off school. I love it. Highlight of my day.


What’s the biggest challenge for your desk/publication right now?
The papers are fine as they aren't reliant on travel advertising. But I worry about the magazines...


Has anything positive come out of this?
Yes. People realising you can't screw the environment this hard, and not suffer the impact. Maybe that will change our relationship with the bubble we thought we were in, but are not.


What’s your top tip for PRs right now?
Work very, very candidly with clients who have value systems that will transcend the shifts taking place in the world order. Consumption and materialism for the sake of it (so blind luxury) will not survive this. We need ethics more than ever.... Tour ops that look after clients in a crisis... Hoteliers that look after their employees when furloughing isn't an option... Companies that do more than put in a towel-reuse policy for the environment...


What’s your comeback plan?
Books. I have been watching travel journalism fall away anyway over the last few years; it was becoming barely viable for freelancers even before this virus struck. One of the reasons (and an important one) behind my decision to switch to book writing in 2016.


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