Traveling for a living has always been one of my main goals in life: even as a child, I was always fascinated by other cultures, the nuances of different people from around the world, and the shared values we have as a society that binds us together.
I grew up in 3 different countries and in 3 different continents because of my dad’s work as a diplomat and my mom’s work as a journalist (they meet in Paris, how romantic!). Growing up, I was surrounded by artifacts and knick-knacks from around the world: cloth weavings from mountain tribes in the Philippines, antique Turkish tea sets, Chinese porcelain, Hungarian liquor, spears from the Masai Mari tribe in Kenya, and my personal favorite, a didgeridoo gifted to my dad by Australian aborigines.
So it was natural for me to find ways to travel as much as possible. Even in college, I would forego the usual summer break trips in Cancun for immersive museum experiences in Europe, backpacking across Asia, or volunteering in the Peace Corps in Africa.
But as I grew older, and adult responsibilities caught up with me, I needed to find a job that would pay the bills. Although my job doesn’t exactly keep me chained behind a desk, it doesn’t afford me the same kind of freedoms I used to have.
Many people feel the same as I do, which is why travel blogging is one of those occupations that top lists of dream jobs. But what if you’re not that great with words? Or maybe you’re not familiar with cameras?
Enter Great Escape Publishing. In this review, I take a look at Great Escape Publishing and figure out what makes them different from their competitors, why people love them so much, and why some people think they’re scammers.
Who is Great Escape Publishing?
Great Escape Publishing is a travel-oriented publishing house that seeks out freelance writers and photographers and helps them get published. This help can take the form of publishing writers’ works, seminars and workshops about travel writing and photography, free informational podcasts, and instructional videos.
What’s Great About Them?
The company has been around for over 15 years and has held hundreds of events all geared towards teaching budding writers and photographers a way to monetize their travel via blogging and writing. They also hold “Photography Expeditions” where they take interested photographers on a trip to a foreign destination to learn about a specific kind of photography. For example, Great Escape has a Kenya trip that focuses on night photography, while their Bali trip focuses on teaching basic photography skills to newbies.
These trips are usually headed by a seasoned photographer who will teach attendees all they need to know about the particular photography subject of that trip. During the trip, there are also seminars on marketing and how to monetize on your photography skills.
But these travel trips aren’t just for people who want to make money out of photography; many attendees take it as an opportunity to travel and network and find people of the same interests. Some have even used it as a way to socialize outside their usual circles and have taken it as an opportunity to create lasting friendships and memories.
In fact, in the process of writing this review of Great Escape Publishing, most, if not all, the people I corresponded with gave glowing reviews of the company. As I dug deeper, Great Escape’s social media account was inundated with curious middle-aged people looking to shake up their semi-retired lives: some are widows trying to find peace after a tumultuous loss, while some are retirees looking to enjoy their retirement in adventure.
So why is it, when you type in “Great Escape Publishing” on Google, the first few results always ask the question: is Great Escape Publishing a scam?
Why Are People Calling Them a Scam?
In the course of writing this review, Great Escape Publishing’s biggest “scam” (and I use the word loosely) is telling people how their writing courses and photography classes, even their travel trips, are surefire ways to travel blogging success. Great Escape makes the whole concept of traveling, writing, and shooting for a living as one, big, easy adventure.
But in my mind: that’s just marketing. Maybe they don’t set expectations effectively, but this is far from false advertising or outright scamming.
Another point of contestation some people have is that the Director of Great Escape Publishing, Lori Allen, also appears in the American Writers and Artists Inc., or AWAI, website. The AWAI has also been flagged for suspicious marketing, selling people on the idea that they can help you produce publication-worthy travel books easily.
But at the end of the day, it seems to me that the claims of “scamming” against Great Escape Publishing don’t hold much water. In fact, one review claims that the lack of negative reviews makes the company suspicious. But what if they’re really just good at what they do and they have more satisfied customers than disgruntled ones?
Great Escape Publishing is not a scam. At worst, they set unrealistic expectations in people’s minds about travel blogging, making it seem like it’s the easiest thing in the world (as a travel writer myself, let me tell you, it’s not). But beyond this, they’re legit.
I checked out Great Escape Publishing’s numerous informational videos and podcasts, and I’m impressed by the level of research and production that goes into every single one. While I haven’t taken part in any of the travel trips, the response to these trips have been overwhelmingly positive, with many claiming that it “changed their life for the better”.
As to the practical application of their lessons, well, that’s kind of up to the individual writer, isn’t it? The lessons they provide are fairly comprehensive and can be supplemented by further research. At the end of the day, Great Escape Publishing gives people some of the tools they need to find success, but that success depends entirely on the individual’s work ethic, drive, and a measure of luck.
Blaming your lack of success on a company’s “false promises” not only belies a person’s inability to take charge of their own life, it also perpetuates a mindset of unaccountability. Yes, Great Escape Publishing does say that their courses will make it easy, but they didn’t say that their courses can assure you success. Now THAT would be false advertising.
All in all, I’ve been happy with the podcasts and videos I’ve been watching from Great Escape Publishing. When I have a little more free time this year, I might even join one of their Photo Trips. Who knows, my life might change for the better too!