The World’s First Professional Travel Bloggers

During almost eight years on the road living out of our suitcases, we not only changed the whole meaning of globetrotting, we redefined the way that travel writers work.

When the world’s largest holiday rental website HomeAwayUK hired us in December 2009 to embark on a year-long grand tour of the world, staying in apartments and holiday rentals, and blogging about our experiences here on Grantourismo, we became the world’s first professional travel bloggers to work with a major travel brand.

How we established a new way for a writer and photographer to work with brands is best described in this piece Lara wrote for TNOOZ on An Entrepreneurial Model for Travel Writers Working in an Evolving Media.

And we’re still at it. We’ve had seven years experience partnering with brands to tell evocative stories and create tantalising images that inspire people to seek out more authentic and enriching experiences, to travel more meaningfully and more memorably, which to us means to go SLOW, LOCAL, EXPERIENTIAL.

These days, our travel and food writing and photography assignments for magazines and newspapers around the world, occasional travel guidebooks, and cookbook projects that are under development, are punctuated by our social media and content projects for travel brands, tourism bodies, airlines, hotels, and tour companies.

Our Partners and Collaborators

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 promoted 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 partners, collaborators 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 WalksPaddy 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 TourismTourism 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.

The 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 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.

These links lead to stories, galleries and videos we’ve produced from our travels, both on assignments for magazines and newspapers, and for social media projects, and are good examples of the kind of content we can create for you:

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 with our editorial work.

No matter what those 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 ‘hosted/sponsored’ declaration at the end of a post then you can assume we produced the story on an editorial assignment, and we paid our own way or our publication paid.

Click through to read our Editorial Policy.

Why Work With Us

Our authority on travel and food and our destination expertise in Asia, Australia and the Middle East is typically attributed to our work as professional travel and food writers, particularly to the scores of travel guidebooks we’ve authored and hundreds of stories we’ve had published in magazines, in newspapers and on websites around the world. See Lara’s portfolio of clippings and links and Terence’s photography site for examples of that work.

We are also recognised as persuasive social media influencers in the areas of travel and food.

We are currently #66 of 1,000 on the influential Rise Top 1000 Travel Blogs list as at 26 August 2016.

NOTE: Blog and social media 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 it’s always best to contact us for the latest, most accurate data from Google Analytics. We update these figures below as often as we can, but it’s challenging when we are travelling, so please email us.

Social media stats as at October 2017:

We have 60,816 social media followers across our main social media channels.
Twitter 44,260 followers on three accounts:
@gran_tourismo 28,700 followers
@laradunston 14,500 followers
Instagram 5,291 followers on two accounts:
@grantourismo 4,275 and @laradunston 1,016
Facebook 5,547 friends/followers across two accounts:
Lara Dunston/Grantourismo Travels 3,058 friends Grantourismo 2,489
Google+ 1,297 followers
LinkedIn 4,421 followers

Grantourismo is the #2 travel blog in Australia according to the Top 50 Australian and New Zealand Travel Bloggers, the only complete list of Australian travel bloggers.

While our main audience is Australian and Asian-based, a large number of readers come from the USA, UK, and New Zealand, and our reach remains global, as our readers and followers come from all over the world.

The geographical location of our Grantourismo readers can vary dramatically from day to day depending upon the season, 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). As we’re often travelling, this constantly changes. Generally, our greatest numbers are from Australia, Asia and the USA, followed by the UK and Europe, then New Zealand and South Africa.

Globally, Grantourismo can place anywhere from #2 to #102 on lists, depending upon the list and the combination of metrics or subjective measures used. Grantourismo has been included on myriad top travel blog lists including 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 do not seem to be aware of this, as we still get asked for our Google Page Rank on a daily basis, however, Google scrapped Page Rank some years ago.

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 an exciting trip, from a weekend to a week, a month to a year, or you need us to create some inspiring travel content for your blog or social media accounts.

Whether we blog, take photos or make videos, run a giveaway or competition, or share our experiences on social media channels, such as Twitter and Instagram, our only requirement is that your proposal aligns with our principles and passions. In some way it should encourage one or more of the following:

  • slow travel, which we believe to be a more sustainable way of travelling
  • local travel, from connecting with local people to learning how to live like locals
  • experiential travel, which simply involves learning and doing things, being active rather than passive
  • responsible travel, from charitable deeds to the notion of ‘giving back’ to places we travel.

It’s also important to understand that we only create editorial content. We do not produce advertorial. All ideas are our own and we maintain full creative control over all content.

Nothing goes through any drafts or approval processes before being posted or shared. Browse our work on the links above and look at our publishing credits on our bio page and trust us that we are going to create inspiring words and images.

If you have an idea for a project that you think we might be able to collaborate on together, do contact us.

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.

Click through to the links above or browse our archives from January 2010 until March 2011 for a better idea as to the kind of content we created on our grand tour.

The image above was taken in New Zealand on a social media project with Relais and Chateaux and Air New Zealand that resulted in both social media and print coverage on New Zealand’s luxury lodges and how easy it is to fly between them on Air New Zealand.