In this issue Voyagers Voice has interviewed Shebs Alom. Alom is the Founder and Director of Shebs the Wanderer LTD and he is the host of a travel podcast, ‘Take a Wanderer with Shebs’ which can be seen on his YouTube channel and all major podcast platform.
What meaning does travelling have for you?
Travel, for me, is a way of connecting with diverse cultures and bringing a different perspective into your life. Travel has matured me in so many ways and has given me so many cherished memories and new friends worldwide. Without travel, I would not be the man I am today. It has definitely changed my life. Travel means everything to me.
How did you get involved in travel writing?
I got involved in travel writing after I started my podcast, Take a Wander with Shebs. I intended to write blogs, but I quickly realised, with the help of a friend, that I could be more than just a blogger—no disrespect to bloggers.
Travel Magazine allowed me to write for them, leading to other opportunities. Now I love getting stuck in a piece.
I’ve also been blessed with having so much support, and I intend to improve and get even better.
Which was your first article?
My first published article was about my time in Mardin, Turkey, during the height of the covid pandemic in 2020.
Sulphur mountian in Canada
A dream job
We imagine that you have several set phrases about travel. If you had to choose the one you like the most, which one would it be and why?
I would have to go with ‘Take a Wander.’ I choose this because it’s part of the title for my podcast, but I also believe travelling should be about taking a wander and discovering and exploring new landmarks and places.
Each job has its pros and cons? Do you find that the job of a travel writer is a dream job, or is it not all that glitters gold?
The job of a Travel Writer is definitely a dream job! I can’t think of a better job out there where you can travel the world and write about it. The only thing that could be better perhaps is the pay. However, I can’t complain, as it is pretty amazing.
The view of Madrid
British Guild of Travel Writers
Starting small with all the difficulties that entail, being recognised as a member of the prestigious institution of the British Guild of Travel Writers, where there are just over 200 elite members for their work in travel media, is an enormous achievement. What advice would you give to a person who wants to be a travel writer and wants to deal with it professionally?
The advice I would give anyone starting is to find a mentor who can guide them if they haven’t had the luxury of going to writing or journalism school. It’s so important to get feedback on your writing; otherwise, you will not know if you are improving or not. It’s also good to have a wonderful editor as well.
One of the best things to do when you start is to write for your local newspaper or magazine. Or find a smaller firm that will be happy to take you on. The important thing is to start writing and building up a portfolio of work. You may have to write for very little as you begin, but then it’s knowing your worth as you build that portfolio of yours.
Networking is vital as well. It might just get you connected to an editor. Most importantly, you have to commit to working hard. Nothing substitutes hard work. I’ve had to grind and work such long hours to get to this position. And I still feel I could do better.
Do you take notes during the trip, or do you write an article based on your memories and experiences?
I usually try to get some quotes from people, which I will write down. I also take a lot of photos which help me with my articles. Definitely, I have a photographic memory which enables me to remember things.
Shebs Alom's' adventure in Costa Rica
It would be nice to see a story being told from a diverse narrative
Now that you have established yourself as a respected professional, what is great about being in the travel industry, and what can be improved?
That’s such a hard question to answer, and I would look at it from the point of view of being in travel media. Technology has made people wanting to work in travel media far greater. The days of working in a traditional format, such as writing or broadcasting, are no longer the be-all or end-all. Social media, still a relatively new form of media that has been around for many a year now, has created many life-changing opportunities for people. I have benefited from social media, as that’s how I first got noticed.
Social media and traditional media now go hand in hand, reaching and continuing to do so with a new audience. There is enough slice of the pie going around for anyone willing to work hard to make a living in the sector.
Being surrounded by so many talented and creative people in the media is a blessing. It’s only a small group of people, and everyone knows one another. But I get inspired by what they are doing, making me want to do better. We will all have to continue to be innovative, as the audience expects to see new vibrant stories being told in a way never before.
What can be improved is by having more diverse storytellers in all media formats. That’s one area that definitely needs improving. With the great work going around, it would be nice to see a story being told from a diverse narrative, which will help resonate with people from diverse backgrounds.
Shebs Alom in Peyto lake, Banff, Canada
Working for Gallivant Radio
Apart from being a writer and podcaster, you are also a successful radio presenter. How did you start working in radio?
It was all to do with my podcast. I interviewed a guest known to my boss, Miriro Matema, at Gallivant Radio, where I work. She then interviewed me and said she loved how I told my story, got people to tell their stories, and whether I would be interested in doing it on the radio. It was a no-brainer as I quickly said yes! And that’s how it all started. It’s given me so much credibility and respect in the industry, and I thank her for the opportunity.
Can you share any behind the scenes tips on your day-to-day at the station?
There is a lot of prep that people don’t see that goes into it. I would speak to my boss and discuss what angle we should cover a topic and whether the story can be expanded.
Of course, I’ve got to make sure that the mic and headphones are all working for broadcasting and the audio is loud and clear. Also, making sure I present it naturally. I try not to be over the top with my style, as many people are different in real life from when they are on air. What you see is what you get with me.
The view of New York's skyscrapers
Focus on the historical and cultural part of a destination
In terms of travel, how many countries have you travelled to, and which would you consider your top three?
I am not a big fan of this question as I stopped counting, but I counted 50 countries since I’ve been asked. Maybe I missed one out. I have been to some countries many times, and for me, it’s not about counting down a country and more about the experience. It’s so difficult to choose a top 3 as I feel as though every place I’ve been adds meaning. For the sake of answering this question, Cambodia, India and Brazil come in the top three.
When you visit a place, what aspects of your visit do you focus on?
I am mainly focused on the historical aspect of travel, and I try to learn the cultural part of a destination. Food is a big focus on my travels as I love to try out new cuisines.
What are the criteria you choose to visit a destination?
Usually, I choose a place where it’s hot and sunny. I’m not too fond of the cold. I can tolerate heat up to 40 degrees Celsius or even more. I just love the heat!
Shebs Alom in Santorini
The Seven Wonders
Without a doubt, it is an extraordinary experience to have visited all the New Seven Wonders of the World. According to you, which of all the wonders impressed you the most and why?
This is such a tricky question which I don’t like to answer, as all the Seven Wonders were impressive. But, if I had to choose, I would have to say Petra in Jordan was such an incredible landmark because of the design and architecture. The Great Wall of China, I still cannot believe it was built. That felt like aliens from another planet came over and built it, as it’s extraordinary. But that is not to take anything away from the other five, as they were all exceptional.
Have you been to any other place that you would define the Eighth Wonder of the World for Shebs?
There are so many I could choose from. I would say Mount Nemrut, in Turkey. The story behind it and the history of that landmark are breathtaking.
To conclude, what dreams do you have related to the world of travel?
To inspire others to travel and do better in life. That’s my dream related to the world of travel.