PEOPLE OFTEN tell me how lucky I am to do what I do. I have a habit of replying in the words of St Augustine: ‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page’

DSC_0052A Fleet Street sage once commented that being a travel writer gives one a first-class ticket through life. To a certain extent that is true. Yet it is imperative that one possesses the travel bug in the first place, plus a constant yearning for exploration.

MIke in CanadaEssential Journeys is a travel, culture and lifestyle blog, born out of a desire to employ a personal voice to showcase some of the best and most enriching experiences available to the discerning traveller, casting an eye over the unusual, unspoilt, uncommercial, exclusive and often reassuringly expensive. I therefore make no apology for enjoying a touch of luxury when on the road, whether that be boutique elegance and refinery, pristine beaches and serene landscapes, or gourmet gastronomy. And neither do I apologise if I occasionally lead you through mud-laden jungles in sodden clothing in search of the unusual and the authentic.

Ah, Mr Bond...Having lived, worked and travelled extensively over the decades, my passion for seeking out new experiences remains undimmed, Admittedly, as I have grown older, so my passion for the finer things in life has grown, and yet local culture plays as important a role. Which is why I have created something of a hybrid blog. Whether it be Michelin-starred finery, 5-star luxury, hunting out authentic street food, or haggling in spice markets and souks, each and every experience exists to enrich our lives; each one re-defining our ideas of luxury, and inspiring us to travel the extra mile.

I decided to launch a travel blog in 2013, based on responsible tourism, nature and wildlife, and local cultures. Eco Travel Guide filled a gap in the market, which is why, when the site went through a complete re-brand and re-design earlier this year, I felt it imperative to incorporate eco tourism as a stand-alone section within Essential Journeys. This is why I believe Essential Journeys is rich in inspiration and different by nature, appealing to you, the reader, to try out the new and the extraordinary, from the awe-inspiring to the unconventional, from the indulgent to the truly romantic. Through words and pictures, I want to take you on a journey, and inspire you to turn your travel dreams into reality.

Winery, Umbria, ItalyHere at Essential Journeys, you will find cutting-edge destinations, holiday suggestions, city guides, luxury/boutique hotel and spa reviews, food & drink, news and events, photo essays, nature and wildlife, local culture, lifestyle, product reviews, plus so much more.

And finally, my personal bucket list: Everywhere that I have not been, including Mongolia, New Zealand, Central and South America, Antarctica, Eastern Russia, China and Japan.

Where have I been in the last quarter: Canada, Switzerland, France, Holland, Greece, Turkey

Where am I now: England

Where will I be in the next quarter: France, Austria, Spain, Isle of Islay (Scotland), Madeira

Michael Cowton