Four takes on 'travel'

  • 4 min read

Trying to categorise indie mags is tough. Unlike the ‘biggies,’ they don’t have to be diluted to appeal to as many people as possible so each one is unique, created only out of a need to share a particular passion with the world, be that rescue dogs or Italian renaissance interiors.

This is why indie mags are so exciting. They give you a glimpse into the original, authentic, sometimes eccentric lives of others – instead of just a homogenised catalogue of what advertisers say we should all be.  Ok rant over.

Let’s celebrate the breadth of inspiration, content and design out there, starting with four magazines you could loosely file under ‘travel.’


  1. Sidetracked

Sidetracked Vol 27


Sidetracked has been in print since 2014, a pretty big feat in indie publishing. Each issue is a collection of stories of people’s adventures in some of the most extreme places on earth. As well as immersive action shots and awesome landscapes, Sidetracked also captures the in between bits, the hours-and-hours-in-a-freezing-tent bits. Narrative storytelling reveals the endeavour and the emotion on these expeditions. These are real people and not everything always goes to plan.

While it could fall into the trap of ‘look how cool my adventures are’ journalism, they manage to avoid it. There’s a reverence for nature and focus on how we interact with it whether that’s swimming through the melting ice floes of the Arctic to draw attention to climate change (issue 26) or the awesome photo series in the latest issue – using a very slow shutter speed and a snowboarder with a head torch, to highlight man’s lasting impact on the natural world.

In a nutshell: A gallery of some of the most awe-inspiring places on earth, with writing and photography that is so good you can almost hear the crunch of snow and feel the vertigo.

B-e-a-utifully produced, with heavy weight matte pages. Plus, the foreword by Gilly McArthur in the latest issue brought a tear to our eye. Nature is for everyone. Hear, hear.


  1. Direction of Travel

Direction of Travel No. 2


And now for something completely different… 

Yes, it’s sort of travel, but this mag is also historical, cultural, incredibly niche and yet picked up by everyone in the office. It’s Direction of Travel, ‘a newspaper about airline maps and the culture of flying.’

Started from one man’s collection of vintage airline maps, all the maps you see in this issue are from 1946-1973, and have been scanned in. The front cover proudly states that there is ‘nothing from the internet’ and actually the fact that you can see the crease lines and slightly scuffed or grubby edges is pretty cool  - you start imagine them when they were first printed - sticking out of the handbag of a 1960s sunseeker, or in a businessman’s pin-striped pocket. We really like the little annotations next to the maps and it’s interesting to see how the designs changed as attitudes to flying did. 

For anyone who saw Volume 1, Volume 2 is a bit different - tabloid sized instead of broadsheet, the paper is thicker so it’s a bit sturdier and harder wearing. While Vol. 1 was largely given over to galleries of the maps themselves, Vol. 2 has several written features: profiles of the airlines before BA, a potted history of the fight over Heathrow’s third runway and a lovely nostalgic piece on the history of printed materials in aviation.                                                                                       

Completely unique, DoT’s passion for its subject is infectious and it’s surprisingly interesting. Nowadays, we take flying for granted, (or rather since the pandemic, we’re less good at it, and we feel guilty about the emissions) but back in the forties and fifties, imagine how exciting this was...

Quirky, nostalgic and completely unique. There is nothing else like this on the shelves.


  1. JRNY

JRNY magazine Issue 5 

Now, JRNY’s more of your classic travel mag with an indie twist. A lot of mags like Lonely Planet closed down in the pandemic, leaving travel writers and photographers with a bit of a gap to fill. A few freelancers decided to fill the gap themselves by starting their own indie titles. One was the fantastic Good Place mag which sadly only did two issues, and another was JRNY.

Created by two photographers, Kav Dadfar and Jordan Banks, each issue of JRNY takes you all around the globe - a festival in Thailand, diving off the coast of Cape Town, or retracing the ‘Frankincense Trail’ in Oman. There’s always a story discovering the magic of a place close to home too (for issue 5, it’s Dungeness – home to both Europe’s largest expanse of shingle and late filmmaker, Derek Jarman).

There’s Lonely Planet-style travel tips and stories have an interesting angle. We loved the piece about accidently ending up on a trip with TikTok travel influencers in issue 4, and even though it’s a sponsored story, we loved the idea of bird-watching as a way to get to know Alabama in issue 5.

And coming from two photographers, the main draw here is the images. Beautiful and cinematic.


  1. Monocle

 Monocle Magazine Issue 165

You’ll also find Monocle filed under that equally vast category ‘lifestyle,’ but Monocle definitely fits into ‘travel’ too. It’s got a business-y following, so the places you’ll see in Monocle are generally ones where you get movers and shakers – think Zürich, Singapore, Milan…and the focus is more on things like infrastructure, culture, architecture and hotels rather than soul-enriching journeys of discovery.

The summer issue is their annual quality of life survey, ranking the top 20 cities to live in around the world, so you get a neat little insight into what it’s like to live in Seoul or how much a glass of wine will cost you in Berlin. Plus, there are features on Mexico City’s dance scene, dining out in Marseilles and road tripping in Salento.

So, that’s four very different ways of exploring the world. You can find more under ‘Travel & Adventure’ on the homepage.

Happy Travels.




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