Read This: Escape Clauses — Getting Away With a Travel Writing Life

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Wonder what it's like to be a travel writer? Luckily for all of us, Bob Payne has a new memoir about just that, entitled Escape Clauses — Getting Away With a Travel Writing Life. He shows (and tells) what a life of travel—and sharing about it—is like. 

Bob Payne is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in publications that include Outside, Men's Journal, Islands, Bon Appetit, and Condé Nast Traveler. At Condé Nast Traveler, he was a long-time Contributing Editor and is believed to be their only writer ever to put the cost of a Polynesian tattoo on an expense report. His work has been called notable by the series The Best American Travel Writing. A passionate admirer of oceans and islands, he lives in the desert in Scottsdale Arizona.

Bob Payne. From Read This: Escape Clauses — Getting Away With a Travel Writing Life

We were lucky enough to chat with Bob about his new book, narrowing down a life of travel into just one book, surprises, inspiration, and more. Here's what he had to say...
Please tell us about your new book, Escape Clauses — Getting Away With a Travel Writing Life.
It’s a 142-country memoir in which I share how travel writing, while it can literally take you to the ends of the earth, is really about discovering how people in other places are different, and in what ways we are all, everywhere, the same.

Read This: Escape Clauses — Getting Away With a Travel Writing Life
What inspired you to write this book?
As I have gotten older, and my memory has begun to fade, close friends and family are always saying to me, “That’s not how you told the story the last time.” So, I figured that if I got everything down on paper (or whatever the correct term is for that in this digital age) there would be an official version we could all agree on.  

After a lifetime of writing, what were the challenges of narrowing down your experiences and stories to just one book?
The main challenge was that when I reached the end I was just getting started. For instance, there’s no mention of my visit to the Tuamotous, a scattered outcropping of remote Polynesian atolls where I was amazed to discover communities so unlike what I expected that thong-clad natives climbed palm trees with the aid of aluminum extension ladders. Or of my visit with an eight-year-old philosopher in Ecuador who pointed out to me that by rotating the globe I had drawn for him with a felt pen on an unpeeled orange it was plain to see that the village where he lived was at the center of the universe.
What might people be surprised to learn about your journeys?
When flying, I always ask for a middle seat. It doubles your chances of hearing a good story.
What's up next for you?
I am working on a world travel guide tentatively titled Without the Crowds, in which readers will learn, for instance, that the best way to keep crowds at a distance at the Grand Canyon is by hiking far enough along the trails, which can be steep and arduous, that almost everyone else will have thought of an excuse to turn back.
How can people find your work?
Escape Clauses is at in both paperback and e-book formats. For my general worldview, visit, a site that has been sharing accurate travel news and information since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock. 
My twitter handle is @bobcarrieson. 
At Facebook, it’s Bobpayne49. And on Instagram, bobcarrieson. 
E-mail me at Bob[at]

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
My fascination with people who are a little different. And sometimes more than a little.