Meet The National’s new travel writer, Robin McKelvie
AS A travel writer, the questions I get asked most often are “Where are your favorite places?” and “Where should I go on my vacation?” Well, I’m here in this new weekly travel section for the Sunday National to answer those questions as I share with you a suitcase full of brilliant places and seek to inspire your vacation choices, whether at home or abroad, an explosive trip or a budget break.
This week, I’m here to introduce myself rather than jump straight into the first destination. We are going to be fellow travelers after all. I’ve been a travel writer since 1997 and I’ve seen a lot of changes; my fair share of ups and downs in travel too. But what has remained constant is my own love of travel and the enduring passion of the people I write for to explore and enjoy. Tough economic times can hit – and it’s happening now – but people still like to get away from it all.
Over the years, I have had the incredible chance to experience life in over 100 countries, from Albania to Zambia. Along the way, I’ve written thousands of articles for magazines and newspapers on five continents, as well as over 30 travel books. I also talked about travel on radio and television. There is nothing I enjoy more than sharing my countless experiences with my friends and family – when they can join me – and then with my readers.
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I was first inspired to explore by my parents. They didn’t take us on glitzy overseas trips, but they did ensure that we had adventurous times in Scotland while vacationing in towns like Bute, Arran and the Borders. My father built his own yacht, Sisu, and burned with a deep love for the mountains. He is unfortunately no longer with us, and neither is my mother, but they stay with me on my travels. Once while climbing a mountain in Spain, I asked the eldest of my two daughters, Tara, if I had passed on to her my father’s love for the mountains. She said, “No, but you gave me the love of travel.” If I can inspire you with the same joy, I will be a happy writer.
You don’t have to go far to travel. I’ve had some amazing times in hotels for a family weekend in my native Edinburgh with my wife and kids, and would consider it a trip. As Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “I don’t travel to get anywhere, but to get there. I travel for the pleasure of traveling. There is something special, rejuvenating in even the shortest of breaks, and I will cover short trips to Scotland with you.
When people ask me what is my favorite country in the world, I answer Scotland and get teased that I might be a bit biased. But hand on tartan heart, we really have something special. Do you know that we have over 800 islands, and even without these our coastline is longer than that of England? Or the Spanish and French coasts, for that matter? To be honest, I didn’t until I worked on a Scottish book for National Geographic a few years ago.
In Scotland we have remarkable diversity. So, as well as covering our towns – now eight, after Dunfermline recently joined the fold – I’ll be off to explore the wilder parts of the Hebrides. I’ll tell you about some of those Scottish adventures, including crossing the deep North Atlantic to the holy grail of St Kilda. I will also take you to the northern ends of Shetland. But we’ll also dive deep into the less explored parts of the Borders, as well as Dumfries and Galloway. Scotland have real strength in depth.
I won’t ignore the rest of the UK either, so I’ll dive into the surrounding countries. And then, of course, abroad too in some of my favorite countries. Looking at what’s to come this year, I’ll take you to Lanzarote by motorhome (yes, it’s possible!) and on an off-season cruise that reveals some of the Europethe most famous cities without the crowds.
The trip can be a great church, and my writings will be. You’ll hear all the reasons why you should visit a destination and about the best places to eat, from little tapas bars to Michelin food temples. In short, I will give you so much colorful and insider information about the destinations so that you can make an informed choice on the tour.
Also pay attention to my hotel of the week. This box will be my choice of a great place to stay, separate from my main room. So if you don’t feel like going to the main destination that week, I might suggest you take a short break at the hotel.
READ MORE: Highlands is on National Geographic’s prestigious “Best in the World” list
The focus will be on places to indulge, but I’ll also include budget options in these difficult times.
If you are passionate about travel, feel free to share your own ideas of places to visit. The Sunday National staff are always happy to hear from readers.
I’m leaving to pack my suitcase now because I have a trip to Portugal to prepare.
Did you know that Scotland played an important role in the creation of the port industry and that our folk cultures share a common sense of saudade? Or that it has some of the best family hotels on the planet? Read next week, and I’ll share more with you.