Rowena Carr-Allinson: Freelance Journalist Focus

Rowena Carr-Allinson is a freelance travel journalist who also writes on home and interiors, health and beauty, weddings, and food and drink. Her work has appeared in many women’s titles and magazines abroad.

This week, FeaturesExec caught up with Rowena to discuss her work, how PRs can be helpful to her, and what she’d do with £1,000.

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
I specialise in travel writing but also dabble in homes & interiors, health & beauty, weddings, food & drink as well as profiles & interviews.

Where are we likely to see your work?
I’ve worked for women’s mags like OK!, Harpers, Now, Elle – but also travel specific publications like ABTA, Real Travel, Florida, France etc and in-flights like Easyjet’s, BMI’s and most recently BThere for Brussels Airline. I also work with local publications like The Resident, Limited Edition, Ladies First – and the odd newspaper like Metro and the Toronto Star as well as a handful of international publications like Nuvo in Canada, Viva in Dubai, Holidays for Couples Australia. As for bridals, I regularly contribute to Wedding Ideas, Scottish Wedding Directory, Wedding Venues and a few more every now and then.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
I contributed to a 1001 escapes book which was pretty time consuming and therefore memorable… Otherwise each trip brings up exciting new opportunities meeting fascinating people. Interviews are always good – whether it’s Istanbul’s hottest young chef, Beirut’s hip young things, Kelly Hoppen or Bear Grylls. Taking the Eastern & Oriental Express from Bangkok to Singapore was rather wonderful too – as was touring Texas in a huge RV.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
Travel wise there is so much on my list – it’s endless. I’d love to get a chance to go to Australia & NZ, to return to Tanzania and spend more time in Asia too.

Although it’s a sideline I really enjoy doing interview & profiles. I suppose my teen idols would be good fun – Depeche Mode or John Cusack?

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
Everywhere and anywhere – it’s a blend of timing and opportunity.

How can PRs be useful to you?
By sending relevant – and short – material over!

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Since I’m often on the move – email is the only way.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
I live for press trips – but my own. I find group trips often have irrelevant schedules – the problem is they have to cater for all – and I don’t think you really experience a place properly when you are being ferried around. I like my independence – driving in places, finding my own way around – it’s all part of the experience of travel and will give (I think) a better story. Having said that, they are great to meet people, but we all have so little time we have to choose what we do carefully.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
The one thing that drives me crazy is when PRs send ridiculously high res pics of a kitchen sink through whereas I’m on some slow connection in Oman or somewhere and never asked for it. That is very frustrating.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I don’t think I’d go for a desk job. After leaving college I worked in Tanzania for a while in a ‘Fawlty Towers’ style hotel. They asked me to stay. Sometimes I wonder ‘what if’? So perhaps I’d be doing something like working in the hospitality industry somewhere exotic or running my own lodge with my other half?

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
I’m saving up for my wedding, and since there is not much to save at the moment I’d probably put it towards that. Or perhaps a ‘real’ holiday/honeymoon?

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Tricky question. Probably that in life you can’t do it all so choose wisely and don’t feel guilty about saying no.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I’ve just finished Isabelle Allende’s Zorro which was fantastic. I love all her stuff. I have a few more pages left of McCall Smith’s ‘In the company of cheerful ladies’ which I find lovely, and really relaxing. Next up something I can leave behind on a plane as I’m off to Greece soon. Magazine-wise my guilty pleasure is a yearly subscription to Grazia. I also rate Red and Elle. I follow a few travel bloggers on Twitter – but if I were to read them all I’d have no time for anything else! I check the UK news online daily – it’s an addiction and have FB down to once a day – thankfully!
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