Dubai, UAE.

The Future of Grantourismo — Where To Next?

So, what now for us, now that our yearlong grand tour is over? Where are we? What are we doing? And what’s the future hold for Grantourismo? These are some of the questions you’ve been asking us here, in emails and on Twitter.

Well, we’re in Bangkok — a steamy, sultry, wet Bangkok at the moment — and we’re busy working, doing exactly what we were doing before our 12-month Grantourismo partnership with HomeAwayUK, only there seems to be a lot more of it!

After a year focused on blogging we very easily fell back into the work we were doing before our grand tour, writing and photographing for magazine stories. Terence has been busy making beautiful photographs, including plenty of stunning portraits of people, and I have been frantically writing, writing more stories than I can keep track of.

We’re also doing a first edition Hedonist’s Guide to Bangkok, a book that we researched in late 2009 but had to put on the backburner when Grantourismo went from dream to reality. The political crisis in Bangkok in May 2010 forced many businesses to shut down, we had to take Thailand off the Grantourismo calendar, and our book went on hold. Unexpectedly, scores of new restaurants, bars and hotels opened in the wake of those that had closed, so while we came here to update an unpublished book, in actual fact we ended up researching and writing a new one. And it’s been hard to leave.

When we arrived in Bangkok we did what we have always done and got in touch with Asian-based editors we’ve worked with before to let them know that we were here. And it has been a few of those editors responsible for a handful of travel, hotel and in-flight magazines, who have been keeping us so busy here. And making our bank manager sigh with relief.

We have literally done dozens of stories, the first three of which — on Slow Venice, Top 10 Slow Travel Destinations, and Hip Ho Chi Minh City — have just appeared in the May issue of Lifestyle+Travel magazine. We’ve interviewed and taken photos of everyone from chefs to fashion designers and furniture designers to jewellery designers, we’ve done cooking courses and foodie walks, and we have written feature stories on places as diverse as Jordan and Istanbul. Print might be hurting, but it’s far from dead…

We’ve been on trips especially for stories, from a cruise down the Mekong for an in-flight magazine, to a road trip through the Isaan for a hotel glossy. We’ve written about Luang Prabang and Saigon, about Khmer ruins and Buddhist temples. And on Saturday we’re heading to Cambodia, to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and back to Laos, to Pakse for the Mekong Tourism Forum and New Media Boot Camp, where we’ll be speaking – and live-tweeting! (Follow us here: #MTF11)

So what’s next after that and what’s going on with the Grantourismo blog? Well, now that the research and photography for our Hedonist’s Guide is almost done, we’ll soon be heading back to Australia, to finish writing up that guide, and — hopefully; fingers crossed — write our book on Grantourismo. But most of all, we’re looking forward to catching up with family and friends, and the dozen dogs and cats waiting for us in a haven of a house that is my uncle and aunt’s home in Bendigo.

We’ll still be blogging at Grantourismo and while we’ll be writing about places we visit on our travels, we’re going to pick and choose our ‘big’ Grantourismo projects carefully. We’re considering a number of offers, from tourism bodies and travel companies — all sorts of things, from writers-in-residence projects to covering specific events — projects that would last from a week to a month. And we’re open to more ideas, as long as they align with our interests and the spirit of the blog.

And until we decide exactly what trip is next for Grantourismo, we’ll continue to blog about the things that are important to us: local travel, slow and sustainable travel, experiential travel, and the idea of ‘giving back’ to the places we visit. Because while our yearlong grand tour might have been a marketing project for our partners HomeAwayUK, one we were very happy to be a part of, it was a project of passion for us, a personal travel experiment that we haven’t finished testing out yet.

So stick around. We’ve got loads of exciting trips planned. And we’re hoping you’re going to join us!

There are 27 comments

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  1. Bluegreen Kirk

    When one adventure ends a new one begins. Sounds like Grantourismo was something great and now that book is waiting to be completed. Look forward to the new adventure.

  2. Brett Atkinson

    Hi Lara

    Busy days indeed – when is the Luangsay story coming out? Carol and I were meant to do it Feb last year, but the boat sank while we were in Bangkok – still did the Vat Phou further south ending in Pakse. Busy at present with LP Vietnam Hanoi & the North writeup and then a few looming magazine deadlines – Rangoon, Belgrade and Hanoi Street Food 101 – part of my Axis of Evil series maybe..


    Brett Atkinson

  3. Lara Dunston

    Thanks, Mariel! Well, more of Asia for now. We’ve been so busy writing stories for other people, wbut soon we’ll start to share our Bangkok tales here.

  4. Lara Dunston

    Hi Brett – nice to hear from you! The Luangsay story will be out in Fah Thai magazine in a couple of months, but we’ll probably post something on it here before then. Yeah, we heard about the sinking! Think they’re taking extra care now. We’re doing Vat Phou next week actually. Heading to Pakse in 5 days for the Mekong Tourism Forum & will do it after that. Looking forward to your Rangoon & Hanoi writing in particular, though always wanted to go to Belgrade. Let me know when they’re out. Take care & thanks for coming to see us here.

  5. Angela

    Your projects are always very inspiring, I’m still in China, not sure where I’ll be after July, but for sure still Asia, hopefully we’ll meet somewhere 🙂

  6. Spencer Spellman

    Have absolutely loved following this and really think it raised the bar as more travel companies tap into opportunities like this. Look forward to seeing what’s next for you guys.

  7. Lara Dunston

    Hi Angela – thanks! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts on China, and your occasional UAE tale. Hopefully we will get to meet up in Asia somewhere 🙂

  8. Lara Dunston

    Thanks, Spencer! We hope so, though when it comes down to it, for us Grantourismo is more about being able to focus on the things that are important to us – slow and sustainable travel, local travel, experiential travel, and the idea of ‘giving back’ when we travel – they’re the things that really drive what will be an ongoing project. We can pay the bills with our magazine assignments, so with Grantourismo what’s important is that we pick and choose our projects/clients carefully and act ethically. Thanks for dropping by!

  9. Hal Peat

    Are there other reasons at this point in time that you avoid the middle east and focus on S.E. Asia? I just find that…odd. The only genuine reason I can see in being there in places like Bangkok is that you can stretch your money further. But, you have such a wealth of experience in the Middle East, that sticking your head in the sand thing when enormous history and change is being made there is strange to me.

  10. Antonio

    I’ll be your first reader queuing at the nearest bookstore to stock up on copies of “Grantourismo Book”! (Hopefully will see our own Casa Teulada in there too…)

  11. Antonio

    I am breathless at this yearlong amazing experience! I am bit sad too, now that “Grantourismo” as we know it comes to an end and I was used to see a new home and a new place on a regular basis…
    However, as you and Terry know your unparalleled tips inspired us so much that we recently started our own little blog, willing to give back our own little knowledge of ‘sustainable’ travel related specifically to authentic holiday homes. Nothing to compare nor compete with “Grantourismo”, for the concept of competition would be indeed silly 😉

    We’ll definitely follow your advice and will stick around. We loved getting involved in “Grantoursimo” and we’re honoured we had the privilege to be part of your Italian leg of your Grand Tour. Our home in Sardinia is always there for you and for all the readers who’ll want to sample a genuine, local life in a wonderful Italian island.

    Please, if you ever get a break between an assignment in Asia and a photoshooting in Europe, make sure you follow us and leave your comments on our blog as well. We’d be once again happy to read what you think.

    Take care and keep going!

    Antonio & Cristina

  12. Lara Dunston

    Hi Hal – us working in a region we love and have been travelling to for 12 years isn’t odd at all. We’ve been writing for Bangkok-based ‘Lifestyle+Travel’ magazine for 6 years, and writing for INK Singapore’s magazines on and off for 5 years. We actually spent my 40th birthday a few years ago driving the length and breadth of Thailand updating the DK Eyewitness guide.

    But the main reason we returned immediately after the Grantourismo-HomeAwayUK trip ended was because we had a commitment to complete a 1st ed. guidebook to Bangkok for Hedonist’s Guides which we were working on in late 2009 but couldn’t finish when Grantourismo took over our lives. Despite being unpublished, that needed to be ‘updated’ due to all the changes that have taken place here in the last year, so we’ve essentially been here researching and shooting a new book. As our publisher waited patiently for us that was our first priority.

    We are returning to Dubai on Tuesday and were meant to spend a few weeks there working on stories, but my Mum has been ill, so we have to return straight to Australia.

    Our heads certainly aren’t in the sand as far as the MidEast goes – we have a lot of friends all over the region and are in touch with what’s going on but our income primarily comes from travel writing and photography, not news content, so while the freelance news guys and foreign correspondents are making a tonne of money there right now, there aren’t too many travel editors commissioning features on MidEast destinations. While we’ve published widely on the MidEast, we’ve actually published as many books/stories on European destinations, and have written on everywhere from Australia to Argentina. We essentially go to wherever the work is.

  13. Lara Dunston

    Hi Antonio – thanks for your kind comments. Much appreciated. Our time at Casa Teulada was very memorable.

    We’re frantically finishing our last few days of research on our Hedonist’s Bangkok book but we’ll be in Australia next week and things will be a bit quieter, so we’ll definitely drop by then and catch up on your blog. And I’m sure our readers who visit this page will go check it out also. 🙂

  14. Hal Peat

    Thanks for responding, I didn’t know you were quite that global in your range of geographic interest. I hope you can find new territory in old territory still – meaning, that your interest in sustainable tourism finds new opportunity within the Gulf and Middle East. It would be fantastic if the changes sweeping through the region also produce in the tourism dimension that added opportunity for small to mid-size local entrepreneurs to offer new experiences, new destinations, new types of engagement for the traveler there – and who better than yourself and Terry to tell about it!

  15. Lara Dunston

    Thanks for the kind words, Hal. There has been some terrific stuff happening in sustainable travel in the MidEast, especially in Jordan, but also in Lebanon, and there are some projects underway in Syria. I’m not so optimistic about the change sweeping the region at the moment to be honest. The interim military govt in Egypt doesn’t seem to want to let go of power, and I don’t like the way things seem to be heading in Syria, one of my favourite countries, but let’s see what happens… Thanks again for dropping by.

  16. Mike Towers

    I love the tones in your pics, did you use any Photoshop plugin or just played around with the adjustments?

  17. Terence Carter

    Thanks Mike. I grew up using and developing film so basically now that I shoot digital (mostly) I can still recall the characteristics of the different stocks I used to use as well as the effects of cross-processing. In this case I went for a cross-processed look. I use various Photoshop plug-ins to achieve this, I just use the one that ‘feels’ right for the mood I’m after and what best suits the colours of the original RAW image.

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