How I Became a Travel Writer: Richard McColl

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About Me:

working as an expedition guide in Brazil in 2006

I started off as a formal news journalist in the UK with a background in Latin America. You start to understand why I ended up falling into travel writing since news pieces from Central and South America were not in high demand. I still file for the news agencies here from Colombia and still contribute travel pieces here and there to various outlets, but I am careful about the subjects which I report on.

When I moved to Colombia full time in 2007, my father, who had spent time in Colombia in the 1970s, made me promise that I would not focus on any political articles and, therefore, stay out of trouble. I believe his exact words were, “if you want to end up headless in a ditch.” So, during his lifetime I kept to travel and cultural pieces from here. I have to admit that now I am reporting far more on the Colombian conflict, the potential post conflict and indeed the political situation.

My first job as a journeyman journalist, which I first started out way back in 2000, was for a now defunct newspaper in Costa Rica called Central America Weekly, and I was sent to interview the vice president. My next job was significantly more interesting, and I was sent to cover the finals of the Miss Costa Rica pageant. I was almost fired that day, as I was caught on live television laughing so hard at the answers being provided by the contestants.


I suppose, writing travel pieces that mixes in the realities of a country has always appealed to me. I would much rather investigate a story, hike to a far off place and write a long feature about it that people will – hopefully – want to read, rather than giving you a dozen hotel reviews and list the thread counts in the newest boutique creation.
Haciendo reportaje en Cano Cristales

Haciendo reportaje en Cano Cristales

How do you decide what to write about?


being recorded for TV in Colombia about my life

A lot of the time, the magazines and their editors come to me with an idea. Otherwise, I try and sculpt things around subjects which are of interest to me, and where I think I can certainly produce more than one piece.
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If You have any questions, Feel free to ask by leaving a comment


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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  • What an inspiring story. Love the fact that you live in bogota and have a hotel to run. I would stay in your place and it looks very nice. BTW, I see that you are still alive and you have listened to your dad. So tell me Richard, what were they saying for you to laugh like a madman? It would be fun to read about it.? . I know those contests are sometimes very entertaining.

    • Lee, thank you for your comment. If I remember rightly I was already laughing since the girls had to “freeze” on stage when the televised show would reach the commercial breaks. Then, the first advert was one for condoms. Then, the girls were asked about their role models and some of the responses were too much!

  • Bogota huh, is it still a dangerous place to be? What was toughest time you had in the beginning? And how did you manage to stay out of trouble? Kudos to you for being there. Cheers, Dan

  • Nice article about you and love the fact that you live in Colombia and doing well. Live the fact that your dad is a wise man and you are also wise to follow his lead.what was your most interesting travel assignment and how many countries have you traveled so far?

    • Hi Christina, Colombia is great, my travelling is really limited to Latin America. Now, as a father myself I have decided to remain closer to home making shorter trips.

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