My road into travel writing follows the usual convoluted path. By training, I’m a molecular biologist, but a backpacking trip between jobs and an unexpected encounter in an Iranian teahouse led to me being diverted into the travel industry. I’ve worked as a tour guide for adventure travel companies in Morocco, Turkey and Pakistan, and have been writing travel guides full-time since 2003.
In 2001 I travelled around Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and ended up having dinner with two Taliban ministers a fortnight before the 9/11 attacks. The following year I wrote the (now defunct) Afghanistan travel website Kabul Caravan, which led to me being approached by Lonely Planet, who asked me to write about the country for them – the first time they’d had an author research there since 1978. That work eventually evolved into their ground-breaking stand-alone guidebook Afghanistan, published in 2007.
I’ve contributed to over two dozen guidebooks for LP, including acting as the head author on their Morocco and Dominican Republic & Haiti guidebooks, as well as covering tougher destinations such as Pakistan, Nigeria and Mauritania for them.
My most recent large-scale book project was writing Haiti: The Bradt Travel Guide (2012). The first stand-alone guide in English to the country published since the mid-1980s, I based myself in Port-au-Prince for nine months to research and write it. Also for Bradt Guides, I previously wrote the first two editions of their Sudan guidebook.
I’m currently based in mostly England, and sometimes in Morocco.