Telling Inspiring Stories about Slow, Local and Experiential Travel since 2010
When the world’s largest holiday rental website HomeAwayUK hired us back in 2009 to embark on a year-long grand tour of the world, staying in apartments and holiday rentals, and blogging about our experiences on Grantourismo, we embarked on one of the most enviable sponsored travel projects, in what was then a young travel blogosphere, becoming two of the world’s first professional travel bloggers to work with a major travel brand.
During the four years prior to the 2010 twelve month project and the two years following it, we travelled the world, living out of our suitcases and working as travel and food writers, photographers and bloggers, now called ‘content creators’. In doing so, we not only changed the whole meaning of globetrotting, we redefined the way that storytellers work with brands.
How we established what became a new way to work with brands is best described in this piece Lara wrote for TNOOZ in 2011 on An Entrepreneurial Model for Travel Writers Working in an Evolving Media.
And we’re still at it all these years later…
We continue to work with food and travel brands, as we have always done since the start, to tell evocative stories and create tantalising images that inspire our readers to:
- travel more slowly, more sustainably and more responsibly
- interact and engage with local people they meet
- settle in for a while to immerse themselves in places
- undertake more authentic and enriching local experiences
For us, that means to travel slowly, locally and experientially, or to go SLOW, LOCAL, EXPERIENTIAL, which is to travel more meaningfully and more memorably.
Whereas once upon a time, our travel and food writing and photography assignments for major magazines, guidebook publishers and newspapers was punctuated by projects for major travel brands, tourism bodies, airlines, hotels, and tour companies, since the pandemic we’ve been focused full-time on developing cookbooks and on Grantourismo.
If you’d like to work with us, do get in touch, but please take a couple of minutes first to read more about how we work — and how we don’t work.
How We Work
We love a good project. We like planning something extraordinary, embarking on a meaningful journey, and chronicling that trip or experience in an engaging, evocative and inspiring way, here on Grantourismo and across our social media channels.
We’re open to hearing about your project idea — whether it’s a short or long trip, from a weekend to a week, a month to a year, or you need us to create inspiring travel content for Grantourismo or our social media accounts or for your website or social channels.
Whether we blog, take photos or make videos, run a giveaway or competition, or share our experiences on social media, our only requirement is that your proposal aligns with our passions and principles. In some way, it should encourage one or more of the following:
- slow travel, which we believe to be a more immersive and more sustainable way of travelling
- local travel, including exploring local neighbourhoods, undertaking local experiences, connecting with local people, and learning how to live like locals
- experiential travel, which simply involves doing and learning things, and being active rather than passive
- responsible travel, from travelling more ethically and environmentally-friendly to undertaking charitable deeds and ‘giving back’ to places
How We Do Not Work
- we only create editorial content — we do not produce advertorial, even when producing sponsored posts
- we only publish sponsored posts that we write — we do not ‘place’ your content so no ‘guest’ posts
- we maintain full creative control over all content — we do not submit drafts and nothing goes through an approval process before being posted or shared, as editorial then becomes advertorial
- all links on Grantourismo are placed because they’re helpful to readers — we do not place paid links and do not participate in link-building; do not contact us if this is your goal.
Browse our work on the links below and look at our publishing credits on our bio page and trust us that we are going to create inspiring words and images that engage readers and rank well on search engines.
If you have an idea for a project that you think we might be able to work on, do contact us.
Our Clients and Partners
In addition to HomeAway, during our 2010 grand tour we partnered with: Viator, Context Travel, Rail Europe, Our Explorer, Trourist, AFAR, Putumayo, and Luxe Guides.
Since our grand tour finished in February 2011, we’ve worked with countless travel and hospitality brands on everything from sponsored trips to promote their destinations, giveaways and competitions, social media consulting, content for their travel sites, to sharing on social media during trips and blogging post-trip on Grantourismo.
Some of our other partners and clients have included: BMI Airlines, AMEX, Mastercard, Etihad, Swarovski, Directline Holidays, iCrossing, Tenpedia, VTravelled, Vertu, Travel 42, Argus Car Rentals, Melbourne Private Tours, Roomorama, Espresso Apartments, Punt Hill Apartments, Grand Mercure, Citadines, South Australia Tourism, Grampians Tourism, Lord Howe Island Tourism, Hamilton Island, Great Barrier Feast, JetStar, Tiger Airways, Destination NSW, Urban Adventures, Vivid Sydney, Sydney Architecture Walks, Paddy Pallin, Taste Orange, Insure and Go, Sabah Tourism, Orion Expeditions, Selangor Tourism, Tourism Malaysia, Relais and Chateaux, Air New Zealand, Secret Retreats, Apple, Phare Cambodian Circus, Travel Indochina, Barcelona Apartments, Only-apartments, Wine Pleasures, Catalan Tourism, Tourism Costa Brava Girona, Aborigens, FlipKey, Backyard Travel, Grasshopper Adventures, Insider Journeys, BravoFly, Adina Apartments, Great Southern Rail, Visit Gold Coast, Penang Global Tourism and Georgetown Festival, and Skyscanner and Tourism Indonesia.
The links above and below will take you to work produced as part of those partnerships.
Inspiring Content We Can Create For You
Everything you see and read on Grantourismo is 100% our work. We do not accept ‘guest posts’ or publish other people’s content. If you read about us and our long experience as a professional travel and food writer and photographer team, it should be obvious why.
The links below will take you to some examples of the inspiring content we’ve created for clients, from short-term projects, such as a weekend getaway, to long-term partnerships, such as the year-long HomeAwayUK grand tour project.
- 386 blog posts over 12 months in 2010 for a year-long round-the-world grand tour project in partnership with HomeAwayUK including detailed accommodation reviews with stunning image galleries, inspirational stories, neighbourhood walks and tales about cooking and eating among other stories
- 25 Sydney stories and a time-lapse for a DestinationNSW campaign
- evocative narrative and comprehensive guide for Rottnest Island Tourism
- food and wine guide to Orange, NSW, Australia for Taste Orange
- guide to visiting the Royal Mail, Dunkeld and Grampians for Grampians Tourism
- stories and time-lapse at Great Barrier Feast for Hamilton Island and qualia
- post on Hudsons Meats home-delivered meals at Adina Apartments
- reflections on train travel for Rail Europe
- reader giveaway to promote Siem Reap tourism businesses
- inspirational post and beautiful photo gallery on a Backyard Travel tour
- 8-day Cambodia culinary travel writing and photography tour hosted with Backyard Travel
- destination posts for a 5-day Perth project for TFE Hotels/Adina Apartments
- social media shares during three rail journeys and post-trip stories for Great Southern Rail
- stories and social media for a weekend Gold Coast trip for Visit Gold Coast
- social sharing and stories on Penang and Georgetown Festival for the Festival and Penang Global Tourism (more to come)
- social media during a 10-day trip and post-trip stories on Indonesia for Skyscanner and Tourism Indonesia.
These links lead to just some of the stories, galleries and videos we’ve produced from our travels, both on assignments for magazines and newspapers, and for social media projects, and are examples of the kind of content we can create for you:
- culinary guides, foodie bucket lists, food and wine drives, and stories on food and wine festivals to promote gourmet destinations, culinary events and food festivals
- reviews of market walks, cooking classes and street food tours to promote culinary experiences
- recipe posts to promote chefs, restaurants, cooking schools, culinary products or ingredients (our posts on Pierre Gagnaire’s côte de bœuf and lamb tajine have received hundreds of thousands of visitors)
- breathtaking videos like this Mouthwatering Melbourne time-lapse
- inspirational stories, guides and itineraries to motivate travellers
- captivating image galleries, atmospheric videos, inspiring stories, and helpful reviews, interviews, insights, and tips to persuade travellers to book your accommodation
- evocative first-hand narrative accounts of tours like this for Gagudju Dreaming
- road trips, tips and stories to promote driving routes and vehicle rental companies
- photography ‘how to’ guides on light, depth-of-field and lenses to promote camera gear
- advice posts sharing the wisdom and tips of local experts
Editorial Control and Our Editorial Policy
Often projects develop and partnerships form after we’ve experienced a destination or tested out an airline, hotel, car rental company, or travel and tour company while on assignment for a magazine or newspaper, simply because we’ve liked what we’ve experienced and our travel philosophies aligned.
In those cases, we are careful to ensure there are no conflicts of interest between sponsored projects and our editorial work.
No matter what the circumstances under which the content was created may be, whether we paid our own way, the publication covered expenses, the trip was hosted, or a combination of all three, we write honestly and critically and maintain full editorial control over everything we write.
If there is no ‘in partnership with’, ‘presented by’ or ‘sponsored by’ declaration at the end of a post then you can assume we paid our own way and produced the story for Grantourismo or on an editorial assignment for which the publication paid or we paid.
Click through to read our Editorial Policy.
Why Work With Us
We Are Trusted Authorities with Destination Expertise and Considerable Experience
- We are authorities on travel and food with decades experience as professional travel and food writers, having authored scores of travel guidebooks and hundreds of stories published in the best magazines and newspapers and on websites around the world.
- We have destination expertise in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, honed over several decades living and working in those regions, with additional experience travelling in Mexico, South America and the USA.
- We are recognised as persuasive influencers in travel and food and have over 12 years experience working with travel brands to create inspiring travel and food content that engages readers.
Our Reach is Global
Our reach is global: our readers are in the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Asia, Europe, South Africa, and New Zealand.
Although note that the geographical location of our readers varies depending upon our location, the topics we’re blogging and sharing on, and the location and time zone we’re posting from and sharing in (when we travel to the US, it will largely be Americans reading; when we’re in the UK/Europe, it’s predominantly Europeans), and the season. As we’re often travelling, this constantly changes. Contact us for the latest audience.
Our Reach is Considerable
Grantourismo has had millions of visitors in its lifetime.
Site stats obviously change on a daily basis, depending on a long list of factors, ranging from how often we happen to be blogging or engaging on social media that week to where we happen to be in the world, so if you are serious about working together, contact us for the latest, most accurate data from Google Analytics.
We do not update the figures often below, so please email us for the latest social media stats.
We have 45,835 social media followers across our main social media channels.
Twitter 31,723 followers on two accounts:
@gran_tourismo 19,123 followers
@laradunston 12,600 followers
Instagram 6,944 followers on two accounts:
Facebook 5,547 friends/followers across two accounts:
Lara Dunston/Grantourismo Travels 3,058 friends Grantourismo 2,489
Pinterest 1,621 followers
Back in the day, when people still kept top travel blog lists, Grantourismo was #2 travel blog in Australia according to the Top 50 Australian and New Zealand Travel Bloggers, and included on Queensland Tourism’s 24 Travel Blogs to Follow in 2016; The Big Smoke, Australia’s Travel Blogs You Should Be Reading in 2016 (top of the list); City Guide Guru’s Best 30 Travel Blogs for 2016; Top 50 Australian and New Zealand Travel Bloggers 2014 (#2); Australia’s Top 9 Travel Blogs 2015 on Hotel Club; Australia’s Top 10 Travel Blogs 2014 on Hotel Club; 24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites on Fathom; 20 Best Travel Blogs on NineMSN Travel; 25 Favourite Travel Blogs by 101 Holidays (#2); Top Travel Blogs for Luxury Travel from Inspirato by American Express; Top 25 Travel Blogs on StyleCaster (#12); Top 100 Travel Blogs; Top 100 Indy Travel Sites (#54); Top 100 Travel Blogs (#59-64); 100 Inspired Travel Blogs; and Top 50 Couples Travel Blogs 2015 (#23).
This is what 101 Holidays said about Grantourismo when they included our site on their Top 25 list:
“Why we like it: Lara and Terence might be the ultimate globe-trotting couple, having set foot on a year’s trip in 2006, and still travelling 5 years on. This is their Contemporary Grand Tour of the World, setting out in 2010 to slow their pace of life and live like locals for a year. Swapping hotels for 36 holiday rentals, they travelled sustainably, lapped up local skills and knowledge, enriching their experiences with an authenticity that is passed on to readers with passion and dedication. Each post features beautiful photography, first-hand experience and need-to-know facts.”
Google Page Rank: many PRs don’t seem to be aware of this but Google scrapped Page Rank some years ago.
A Grantourismo Project: a Case Study
Our First Project: a Global Grand Tour for HomeAwayUK
In 2010, in partnership with HomeAwayUK we swapped hotel rooms for holiday homes and embarked on a contemporary grand tour of the world which we called Grantourismo. It was that project that enabled us to fulfil a dream of starting this site.
Our mission was to explore more authentic and enriching ways of travelling by slowing down, living like locals, learning and doing things, and, wherever possible, giving something back to the places we visited. By promoting the things that are possible when travellers stay in holiday rentals, we made a persuasive case for holiday rentals as an alternative to hotels.
Beginning with a pre-launch soiree in Dubai, and kicking off with a proper launch party in London, we took to the road, staying in 36 holiday rentals over the course of a year. We wrote about the properties we experienced, how to live like locals in the places we visited, the neighbourhoods we explored through walks and tours, the cooking lessons and other classes we did, from drumming to jewellery making, and the locals we met who shared their insider knowledge and local recommendations.
At each place we stayed, Terence learnt to make a quintessential dish of that destination and created a weekend eggs recipes based on local ingredients, which he shared on Grantourismo. We shopped the local markets, did culinary tours and street food walks, and ate widely. We sought out local producers and products we could promote, as well as opportunities for visitors to give back to the places we visited.
We interviewed local experts on everything from food and wine to film and pop culture, and in some places sought out music experts to create destination inspired playlists. We created eating and drinking guides, walking tours, and itineraries to the places we settled into.
While people clicked through and that translated to queries and bookings for HomeAwayUK, we believe Grantourismo and our grand tour project had a far great impact than that.
When we first began to develop the site in late 2009, the people who chose holiday rentals over hotels when they travelled were in the minority. Almost six years later, it’s gone mainstream. These days people browse booking sites for houses, apartments and rooms as they once did looking for hotels.
Travellers are also signing up for market walks, street food tours and cooking classes in the same one they once booked city tours, visited museums and zoos, and browsed galleries. They’ll rent a local as easily as they used to hire a professional guide. And they are thinking nothing of reserving a table at a restaurant one night and paying to eat a meal in a local home the next.
The world of travel is a very different place now to what it was six years ago and we like to think we had something to do with that.