An interview with Ollie Horne, Deputy Digital Editor at Roadbook.
It’s been five years since we published our Escapism Zine, the creative project that led us to reflect on what travel and “escaping” meant to us and where we asked some of our friends to share their creative interpretations of what it means to escape. A lot of what we felt in 2017 still rings true, but in 2022, of course, we have an entirely new relationship with travel, one that is rooted in gratitude and one that finds magic in the simplest, most humble of adventures.
Recently, we discovered ROADBOOK, a new digital space (it has just launched this year) for the world's creative travellers, with insider city guides, photo essays, think-pieces and more. They aim to look at travel with a new lens, asking, “how can we move around the world more consciously, with more purpose?”. They are taking a thoughtful, modern (and post-pandemic) approach to travel — which is what we’re interested in reading at the moment.
For the Journal this month, we spoke with ROADBOOK’s Deputy Digital Editor, Ollie Horne, to learn more about their approach to travel storytelling and how his relationship with travel has evolved over the last couple of years.
Image courtesy of ROADBOOK'S London City Guide
Ollie, what can you tell us about your work at ROADBOOK?
I write, commission, edit and publish opinion pieces on topics related to travel, city guides, interviews with creatives, and other features.
What are the kinds of stories ROADBOOK is interested in telling?
ROADBOOK is very much looking towards the future of travel. Habits are changing, and we want to tell stories that reflect these new styles of travel, like visiting destinations for a month at a time, and interspersing remote working with holidaying.
We’re very much interested in how hotels, travellers and other businesses are adapting to ensure their activities are as sustainable as possible.
Image Downtown LA Proper courtesy of ROADBOOK'S LA City Guide
We have an interview series called How Did I Get Here?, where we interview creatives from around the world about their practice and discuss how travelling informs their lives and work. We’ve spoken with chefs, artists, musicians, and designers.
The stories we tell are always told by people on the ground. Each time we launch a new city guide, we develop a pool of local writers in that city, who write the guide themselves, and pitch stories from their part of the world. So far we have networks in London, LA, Bangkok and Mumbai. We are adding Mexico City next.
We are also interested in alternative ways of experiencing a place, like active-based discoveries. A writer recently contributed a piece about how they explored Venice by running through its streets.
How would you describe ROADBOOK’s aesthetic?
Modern, graphic, lively, and honest.
We have just launched a project called Postcards from ROADBOOK, where we invited ten artists from around the world to each design a postcard and tell us what a journey means to them. There are illustrations, drawings, a poem, and street photography. I think the curation of this project is a good example of ROADBOOK’s aesthetic.
Is there a particularly memorable travel experience you’ve had that you could share with us?
At the end of 2017, my partner and I visited India for the first time. We flew to Delhi and had three weeks in Rajasthan planned. We got a taxi to take us from the airport to the Airbnb we were staying at in South Delhi. It was approaching midnight on Friday night. We had a really hard time working out where the apartment was, and our host wasn’t in. Eventually, we found it, and his friends let us in. We ended up partying with them for hours, visiting a black market along the way across some train tracks, taking a cab to another apartment, and finishing up back at the Airbnb roof garden to watch the sunrise. Definitely not what we were expecting for our first few hours in Delhi!
How has travel changed meaning for you since 2020?
I’m more focused on wilderness experiences since 2020. Travel has increasingly come to mean getting outside, experiencing natural landscapes, and having an adventure. In the summer of 2020, in that brief window when travel returned, I went for a month-long cycle tour of France and Switzerland, camping along the way with everything strapped to my bike. When you pack your tent up, strap everything to the bike, and set off in the morning, there’s a great feeling of freedom – you have everything you need, and you can go anywhere you want.
In 2021, I cycled the length of Wales with a friend. We did some very remote dirt roads and stayed in a bothy in the middle of nowhere in mid-Wales. These are normally a Scottish thing, but there’s a few in Wales too. They’re basically simple shelters that are usually built from stone, with a few wooden platforms attached to the walls for unrolling a mat and sleeping for the night. There’s a wood burner, maybe a running tap if you’re lucky. They’re always open, they don’t cost anything, and you just turn up. It was a bank holiday weekend when we rolled through, and about 10 people slept in both that night.
And how do you feel about the future of travel?
I feel hope that technological developments like biofuel could help ensure travel continues to have a place in our lives, although until those technologies are fully developed and adopted, I do think we all need to minimise the amount of flights we take. I’ve been exploring the UK a lot more recently. You can have real adventure and experience the joy of discovery by venturing not too far from your home. My friends and I got a train for an hour out of London to Oxfordshire just for a day’s ride around the Cotswolds last weekend, and it was lovely. We completely teleported. It felt like we could have been cycling through some rural French villages.
Where are you travelling to next, and where else would you like to visit in future years?
I’m going to Stockholm with my friends for the Midsommar celebrations. I’ve still not visited Copenhagen, so I really must sort that out soon, and other than that, I’d like to explore more around the Alps on my bike, but this time, taking back roads and dirt tracks rather than the famous mountain passes. A bigger, more ambitious dream trip of mine would be to go to Bhutan. A trek route opened this year that crosses through the country. I think that would be a great adventure. I did some writing on Bhutan for Cereal Magazine back in 2019, and I’ve wanted to visit ever since.
Ollie has kindly put together his top ten songs for travel; you can listen to his playlist here. And you can follow his adventures here.
Words and interview by Elisha Kennedy. Images courtesy of ROADBOOK.