Hughes’s circular journey on the road less travelled

As travel magazine ‘Wanderlust’ celebrates its 100th issue, Lyn Hughes tells Sophie Morris about its beginnings

Lyn Hughes is an old hand at turning a journey into an adventure. To get to London’s Excel Centre for the World Travel Market on the morning we meet she passed on the train to sail down the river from Windsor on a boat laid on by tourism representatives from the Canary Islands.

The group were forced to disembark some distance away from the exhibition hall and join the crowds pushing their way towards Excel by bus and tram, but she arrives unflustered. No doubt she has endured far worse in her capacity as the editor-in-chief of Wanderlust magazine, the glossy handbook for independent travellers.

The idea of going to a package destination fills Hughes with dread. She is being gently persuaded that Tenerife boasts amazing wildlife and natural terrain, but is adamant she won’t be pushed into staying in a resort hotel, as she once had to for a meeting in Gran Canaria. Nor will she be rushing to board an organised tour bus, as happened in Gambia, a sun package destination. Once she escaped upriver to see the chimps, though, she met brethren in the shape of Wanderlust readers – an occupational hazard wherever she goes in the world, and in the past year she has been away at least once a month.

Gran Canaria and Gambia are the only two travel experiences where Hughes has followed the crowd rather than struck out on her own.

She sets a fine example to loyal Wanderlust devotees, many of whom have read the magazine since its journey began 15 years ago; this month the Wanderlust team are celebrating 100 issues. From an initial print run of 5,000 its circulation is now 38,000, and 23,000 of these are subscribers.

Hughes began her career in marketing, falling for a colleague, Paul Morisson, when they discovered a mutual love of travel. Instead of sitting out the last recession, in 1992 the pair headed for South America. They packed so lightly they found themselves with nothing to read on the plane out to Ecuador, and began to brainstorm their perfect travel magazine.

When the couple returned from their South American adventure they dedicated themselves to the plan. “Wanderlust is not about any type of person or demographic,” says Hughes. “It’s more about an attitude.”

Hughes’s husband Morisson, who lost his battle with cancer in 2004, wrote about 40 per cent of that first issue, but freelance writers and photographers found them very quickly.

Hughes kept the magazine together while mourning Morisson, but a new threat has appeared in the shape of Lonely Planet magazine, which planned to launch last week, on exactly the same day Wanderlust’s 100th issue was to hit the newsstands. Hughes says the other big travel magazines, Condé Nast Traveller and The Sunday Times Travel magazine, attract very different markets to her explorers and backpackers, and she objects to the fact it is being launched by BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s consumer arm.

This, she says, gives it an unfair advantage because it can benefit from the BBC brand and they can run the magazine at a loss, though her complaint has not been upheld by the Office of Fair Trading. When BBC Worldwide bought a 75 per cent stake in the Lonely Planet publishing company last year it drew criticism that the move was far wide of the BBC’s public service remit. Earlier this month Hughes told a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, “BBC Worldwide used to argue that its magazines were in support |of TV programming. They do not have a Lonely Planet TV programme, so why are they launching a Lonely Planet magazine?”

Hughes claims the BBC has been trying to undercut her by offering her advertisers cut-price rates. The BBC denies there have been aggressive advertising techniques, and told the Select Committee, “We have many relationships with other publishers… and we made clear to Wanderlust we would be open to working with them in the same way: we like their title, and want it to succeed.”

For a long time Wanderlust was as fiercely independent as the brand of travel it espoused, and its permanent staff of 24 works from a Windsor office. Hughes still owns 50 per cent of the business, publishers John Brown and Mark Ellingham of Rough Guides also each own stakes, and Haymarket recently bought 25 per cent. Hughes doesn’t feel her integrity is compromised, and says she is benefiting from Haymarket’s publishing experience.

In the 100th issue, Hughes comes full circle on her adventures in travel and travel writing by returning to Quito in Ecuador, 15 years after she first set foot there with Morisson, and devised Wanderlust.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing / PR / Social Media Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A thriving online media busines...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower