Travel and Lifestyle writer Dylan Grace Essertier is our definition of #travelgoals. Until recently, Dylan lived in Dubai for five years where she was the Features Editor for Savoir Flair, the Middle East’s largest English online fashion and lifestyle publication. She traveled the world to report on the latest hospitality and fashion trends, interviewing the likes of Carolina Herrera, Karlie Kloss, Mario Testino, Diane Von Fürstenberg, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Now back on home soil and based in Brooklyn, Dylan is the Editorial Director of curated lifestyle website The Select 7. Her writing has also been published in Vogue, Travel + Leisure, WSJ Magazine, InStyle and Coveteur among others.
I recently met Dylan in Dumbo on a chilly November morning, where we chatted about our favorite destinations and instantly bonded over our mutual love of travel. Fresh off the plane from her quick trip southwest to Arizona, we spoke with Dylan about the highs and lows of solo travel, her writing career, and her tips for making the most of any journey.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TRAVEL WRITER LOOK LIKE?
Ok, first the good parts. You get to travel the world, regularly, and you often don’t have to pay for it. You get paid to do what you love: write. Especially as a freelance writer there’s a ton of freedom to decide which stories you want to take on. Oh, and get to work with a ton of talented editors from a variety of publications minus any office politics. The less glamorous parts? Usually there are sweatpants involved. And pay becomes as irregular as your shower schedule. You have to be comfortable with extreme highs and lows and really learn to befriend yourself since you’re often traveling alone.
DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW THIS WAS THE CAREER PATH YOU WOULD CHOOSE?
I always knew I wanted to write but I was really uncertain how I could make a career out of it. While living in the Middle East, I got my start thanks to Haleh Nia, the Editor in Chief of Savoir Flair magazine. I applied to be the magazine’s Features Editor without any previously published writing. Instead, I submitted personal writing samples as part of my application. Luckily, Haleh took a chance on me and brought me under her wing to groom me. I started off covering fashion but naturally gravitated towards travel and hospitality which has become my beat to date.
YOUR PROUDEST CAREER MOMENT SO FAR...
Any time I get to take my mom with me on assignment. We’ve climbed sand dunes in Abu Dhabi and learned falconry in Ireland together! It’s also been amazing to write about Dubai, a place I called home for five years, for publications such as the WSJ, Vogue, and Conde Nast Traveler. I love being an unofficial ambassador for the Middle East since I have so many wonderful friends there. Interviewing Carolina Herrera was also a major milestone moment since I’m such a big fan of her designs.
YOU TRAVELED A LOT IN 2018, WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PLACES?
It’s so hard to choose! Some of my favorite moments include visiting the Taj Mahal at sunrise, eating Heinz Beck’s gluten-free cacio e pepe at the Waldorf Astoria in Rome, and bungee jumping in South Africa! But the year isn’t over quite yet so stay tuned!
IF YOU COULD GET ON A PLANE RIGHT NOW, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
Japan. When my dad was younger he worked in Japan for several years so I grew up hearing incredible stories about the time he spent there and it’s always made me want to visit myself. Plus, the food. I mean, c’mon!
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHILE TRAVELING?
Comparison. Travel should always be experienced with an open mind and an open heart. And of course always pack more snacks for the flight than you think you need.
THREE TIPS FOR TRAVELING THE RIGHT WAY?
1. Sometimes tourist attractions are worth it: This might be a controversial tip since we’re in the age of off-the-beaten-path travel, but one of my most memorable moments of 2018 was my visit to the Taj Mahal. I felt that the fact so many people visit the Taj made the energy off-the-charts incredible. With that said, I made sure to visit in the right way, which meant waking up at 4:45am to catch a peaceful glimpse of the monument at sunrise before the crowds got too crazy.
2. Phone a friend: I’m never shy about reaching out to friends, friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends before I visit a place. Plus of the best parts of traveling is not only seeing new places, but meeting new and incredible people!
3: Turn a page: Instead of grabbing guide books, I’m into reading memoirs before traveling to a new destination. It can be hard to absorb all of the history when it’s laid out in a timeline but when it’s the backdrop for a juicy book I find myself completely absorbed and fascinated by the history of whatever new place I’m off to explore. Maybe it’s the journalist in me but I think context in life and travel really is king!