After 11 years as managing editor of Leisure Group Travel, I am stepping aside from my day-to-day desk duties with this issue of the magazine. Not that I don’t like editing travel stories, writing travel stories and gathering photos—or working with the wonderful people in our office and baking banana bread, cookies and other treats for them. I simply want more time to travel and see parts of the world I’ve missed.

In my time here I have traveled on assignment to India, Jordan and Israel. There have been cruises to Iceland, Patagonia and Eastern Europe. I’ve enjoyed poking around offbeat towns in states like Nebraska and Minnesota, Vermont and Rhode Island. But I’ve never stepped foot in the Carolinas, Arkansas and several Western states. The Grand Canyon and Las Vegas? Nope. Maybe now I will have a chance to spread my wings in different directions.

That said, I will miss dealing with the deadlines and long days juggling the responsibilities of being managing editor of not only Leisure Group Travel but Premier Travel Media’s annual publications, including Religious Travel Planning Guide and the increasing number of group planners we do in partnership with state tourism organizations. Indeed, our company, under the guidance of publisher Jeff Gayduk, has grown steadily since I joined in 2008 as the sole editorial employee. I’m happy to say it continues to prosper as the leader in group travel publishing, and, with all these titles, things here will never get boring.

I’m also happy that Leisure Group Travel will be in good hands as associate editor Jason Paha takes the helm. He is a first-rate journalist and, like me, has a passion for travel. It’s not unusual for him to fly from Chicago to Seattle or Mexico City—just for the weekend. While I’m relieved to be passing off some of
the headaches to Jason, I have to say that I’m not totally comfortable giving up the desk I’ve grown accustomed to. It’s like checking out of your cabin the last day of the cruise and knowing someone else will be enjoying it for the next week, not you.

Being a travel writer/editor, while not as glamorous as it might seem, certainly beats most other jobs. After doing this work for 40-some years, I still can’t believe it when I find myself waking up in Turkey or having a whole day to poke around New York or London. Just as satisfying is driving through the rolling hills of Southern Indiana on a crisp fall day, footloose and fancy-free, stopping to take notes, take pictures and meet tourism folks. Everywhere I go, I feel like a gawking, green-eyed tourist and sometimes have to pinch myself that all this is real. Feeling compelled to take advantage of every minute in a destination, I usually get up early and stay up as late as I can, knowing I may never visit again. To squeeze in every second of time in port, I am often one of the stragglers reporting back to the cruise ship just before the gangway closes.

Since I still want to be part of this dynamic organization and report on all the great group travel opportunities out there, I will continue to contribute to the pages of Leisure Group Travel and our other publications. More travel adventures await as a new chapter in my career unfolds. Next on the calendar: cruising down Illinois Route 66.

Let’s admit it, we’re in the best business in the world.

By Randy Mink