44. Tom Hall; Lonely Planet’s Travel Ethos, Preconceived Images of Ethiopia, Ferrying Chilean Fjords and the Beauty of Syria - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 44
November 20 , 2018

44. Tom Hall; Lonely Planet’s Travel Ethos, Preconceived Images of Ethiopia, Ferrying Chilean Fjords and the Beauty of Syria

As Lonely Planet’s Editorial Director, travel is a rather fortunate occupational imperative for Tom Hall, who started off packing boxes in the warehouse 20 years ago and now has the top editorial job at the world’s favourite guidebook publishers. Tom tells us about breathtaking rock-carved churches in Ethiopia, exploring Chilean Fjords on a ferry, conquering crusader castles in Syria and we discuss the nomadic spirit in all of us that makes travel part of our very being.


On this episode we cover:

The Gap year that ignited his passion for travel guides

Starting off stacking shelves at Lonely Planet

Having 18 different jobs in 20 years

The good bits about working in travel

The World Travel Market in London  

His stand out trip to Ethiopia

The Church of St George in Lalibela

Churches carved from rock in the ground

The Proclaimers!

Preconceived ideas about Ethiopia

Ethiopia brief Italian colonisation
Its ancient Christianity and green hills and mountains

Indigenous Simian wolves and trekking

Ethiopia’s relationship with Eritrea and the Horn of Africa region

How Tanzania is one of the most beautiful countries he’s been to

Being hit by the heat at Dar Es Salaam airport

The ‘terrible’ job of updating the nightlife section of the Lisbon Guide

The fallacy that writing a guide book is a month of cocktails in the Maldives

Lonely Planet diligent research in making everything accurate

Feeling the weight of responsibility of LP’s influence in choosing what to recommend

Trying to control over-tourism

The most perfect beach that they can’t tell people about

How instagram and social media is changing the way people travel

Holding back information and encouraging exploration

How to select what to include and what to exclude

Giving vague guidelines

How people are travelling more responsibly than ever

Lonely Planet’s highlights map

Travel from China and other non-English speaking countries driving world travel growth

How travel is easier and cheaper than ever

The London – Beijing – Hong Kong Vienna fare for £350

Talinn in Estonia and its food and spa hotels, Helsinki, Prague…

His US visa getting cancelled as a result of his visit to Syria

The beauty of Syria – reminiscent of Tuscany, the desert…

Byzantine Empire, Crusader Castles, traditional Arabic hospitality

Wondering what happened to the people he met

The challenges of travelling with children

Taking greater risks when backpacking around South America, Morocco, South East Asia

A spectacularly bad tuk tuk ride in India

Worrying about being stuck in the middle of nowhere in the baking heat in Namibia

The advantages of travelling in the information age

How travel is safer than ever

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Lisa’s terrible car journey to Dorset

Instagrammers with kids who ditch school and travel the world

Taking regular trips to Nashville – British Airways new route

Lisa’s obsession with the series Nashville

Music on every corner –Broadway and more

The East Nashville food scene and its hot chicken

His defining ferry trip down the length of Chile

Patagonia, Tierra Del Fuego, Puerto Montt to the Torres del Paine park

Australia’s red centre, Uluru and the alien environment

The primeval nomadic spirit in all of us

Keeping the aspirational side of travel realistic

Travel being the best money you can spend for return

How the more you travel, the more you realise just how wonderful the world is

Finding traces of the 1970s underground music spirit in New York