Lonely Planet Writer

Meet a traveller: Paul Clammer, author of Afghanistan, Haiti and Pakistan guide books

Paul Clammer has worked as a molecular biologist, tour leader and travel writer. For Lonely Planet, Paul has covered countries from Afghanistan and Haiti to Nigeria and Pakistan. He keeps telling himself that he’s going to start writing about easier destinations, but he’s probably fooling himself.

In the great sand sea of the Sahara, near Chinguetti in Mauritania, researching LP's West Africa guidebook in 2012. Image c/o Paul Clammer.

Where was your last trip?

I was recently in Morocco, researching for the new edition of the LP guide. It'll be the 11th edition of the guide. I first went to Morocco in 1993 and used the very first edition, so I have a lot of history with the title. I travel to Morocco pretty much every year, most often to Fez.

Where is your next trip?

I'll be in Jamaica, again working for Lonely Planet. That said, I'm currently based in Amman, Jordan and haven't had much of a chance to get out of the city yet, so actually the next thing will be a weekend trip to the Dead Sea or Petra!

What is your first travel-related memory?

Family holidays in Scotland and France. For 'proper' travel, taking a safari overland truck trip from Nairobi to Harare when I was 19. It was a formative experience in many ways, and ten years later I ended up working for the same travel company.

Aisle or window seat?

Window for short daytime flights, the aisle for everything else. I like being able to get up and stretch my legs as much as I need to on a long flight.

Do you have any travel habits or rituals?

Wherever I am, I love going to the barber for a shave with a cut-throat razor.

Favourite city or country or region?

Seeing the New York skyline lit up at night certainly fills me with childish glee. If I can also get to spend time with New Yorker friends exploring their favourite neighbourhoods, all the better. Favourite country would probably be Haiti. It's beautiful and exciting – and way more than just where the big earthquake took place.

What is your best or worst travel souvenir?

Not sure about the best or worst, but thing I seem to collect a lot of are local SIM cards for my phone. Roaming fees are the devil's work.

What is the best or worst piece of travel advice you’ve received?

Taking a two-day minibus ride in Afghanistan after being told that a certain road was safe by a security consultant. It wasn't.

Taking a break in the Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan in 2006. Image c/o Paul Clammer.

What’s your biggest travel fail?

Arranging to meet my girlfriend when she flew into Casablanca and standing for an hour at the exit for the wrong terminal. Not my greatest moment.

Quick, an asteroid is going to hit the earth in one week! Which is the one travel dream you’d rush to fulfil?

As someone who travels for work, I'd be happy with friends and good food anywhere in the world that doesn't involve doing a dozen hotel reviews a day. I hear this interesting rumour that some people use guidebooks for holidays, and I quite fancy trying that for a change!

What advice would you give a first time travellers?

Take about half as much luggage as you think you'll need. And take your time – sometimes the best way to get off the beaten track is just to stop, even if you're on the beaten track. I'd much rather spend a week trying to get under the skin of one destination than rushing around trying to see half a dozen different places.

Find Paul Clammer on Twitter, LonelyPlanet.com and his website, www.paulclammer.com.