MOVERS + SHAKERS | TRAVEL WRITER ANNA CHITTENDEN ON BALI, BEN & JERRY'S AND EX-PAT LIFE
My Movers + Shakers series faced a tumultuous start after I kicked it off earlier this year then was immediately taken down by morning sickness. However it’s back with a vengeance and a serious dose of travel inspo...
One of the most calm-inducing Instagram accounts I follow – think turquoise Balinese plunge pools, shady palm-fringed nooks and shells unearthed whilst combing white sandy shores, Anna Chittenden of Lost Guides leads an enviable life where she seemingly appears to be on holiday round the clock. Though this is all the smoke and mirrors of an Insta-perfect life and there's as much work as there is play; Anna's simultaneously published three travel guides during her travels.
Anna was my neighbour at uni in Newcastle and first London flatmate – back then she was on the marketing team at Ben & Jerry’s and I was navigating the glossy floors of Vogue House. We used to happily while away evenings at home eating tubs of Phish Food whilst leafing through the pages of Traveller and Vogue. A few years later Anna’s itchy feet took her to the other side of the world to far-flung shores and set up home in Singapore. From here she launched Lost Guides and has written a book on the island she now calls home, as well as two on Bali.
I talk to Anna about life behind Lost Guides.
In one sentence, how would you describe Lost Guides?
Unique, stylish offbeat travel guides.
What inspired you to start Lost Guides?
I decided to start Lost Guides after becoming increasingly frustrated with trying to find trustworthy and useful travel recommendations. I say the books are for those that don’t require over-the-top extravagance, nor have the budget of a backpacker – but are in search of those special places in between.
What’s your typical 9-5?
It can be so varied, which is what I enjoy! I released the second edition of my book, Lost Guides – Bali & Islands, a couple of months ago so I’m making sure that the word is getting out there through PR with traditional magazines, bloggers, influencers and that the book is available to buy in shops. When creating the books, I work closely with my book designers to think of interesting layouts, fonts and colours and I’ll spend ages editing and swapping photos in and out.
I'm now working on my next book project, Lost Guides – Tokyo, which will be out in 2019 in time for events going on there over the next couple of years like the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics. I’m planning my next trip to Tokyo, my fourth visit there, for the end of August, timing it so I'm there for the sumo wrestler tournament, which happens in September. I’m also going to include areas around Tokyo that are easy to get to, such as ski resorts around Nagano, around 1.5 hours north of Tokyo.
If I’m not travelling, the day can be filled with anything from writing and editing text and photos for a new book, chatting to my distributors, replying to customer emails or researching for a new book. As I work from home, on my own, I try and get up and about as much as I can do so I’ll do yoga for an hour in the afternoon and arrange to meet a contact for coffee, or attend a talk. When I’m travelling for research work, obviously my day-to-day will be completely different. I’ll be out and about meeting people, exploring, taking photos, doing interviews and running around like crazy!
How has your experience from previous jobs contributed to
My first job was in advertising and then I moved to marketing where I worked in Brand Management at Ben & Jerry’s (you remember all those free tubs in the freezer in our flat!). Everything that I learnt in my previous jobs I use everyday with Lost Guides – that could be managing the design process for my new book to organising or running a launch event. I think the design and brand skills that I learnt have definitely helped the most.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
You’re going to laugh but this is actually a note that I got in a fortune cookie after lunch at my friend’s house in Singapore; it says ‘little strokes fall great oaks’ and for some reason it has stayed with me! Big projects, be that launching a business, website, book or whatever can seem overwhelming but when you break them down into small steps they're more realistic and manageable.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Travelling is always so inspiring – from the food to the art to the people. But if I’m at home and in a rut I’ll go locally to art galleries and independent book shops to re-spark creativity.
What are your tips for staying motivated?
Set deadlines and announce them. For each book I’ve had a strict deadline and have announced launch dates, so I can’t procrastinate otherwise I’d have lots of angry customers!
How do you unwind?
In the last year, I’ve found cooking to be the most relaxing thing, while also listening to podcasts. I love The Guilty Feminist and The High Low and binge-listened to Dirty John.
What do you never travel without?
Big bulky noise-cancelling headphones – a game-changer for long-haul flights.
I’d love to do something adventurous. Maybe hiking in the Himalayas, and exploring North India.
Sand or snow?
Snow! I have the fondest memories from skiing holidays as a child. I love the mountain air and the adrenaline from racing down a steep run!
Town or country?
I grew up in the country (West Sussex, UK) so I’ll always be a country girl at heart, but right now I love living in a city (Singapore).
Favourite swim/beachwear brand?
Missoni bikinis are classic!
I love re-reading Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist
Boat magazine is an amazing travel and culture magazine that focuses on a different city for each issue. For the interviews I love The Gentlewoman.
There’s an incredible little hole-in-the-wall dim sum stall at the end of my road called Tiong Bahru Pau & Snack. I can’t walk past without ordering lots of BBQ pork baos and siew mai!
Huge thank you to Anna for taking time to be interviewed for my blog and sharing her wisdom. Images supplied by Lost Guides.