I can barely believe that next month will mark my 10-year anniversary as the editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure. At this time in 1993, I was preparing for a trip to Wyoming and Montana to look at wildflowers. My packing list was simple: jeans, khakis (for evening), polo shirts and flannel shirts, and a new pair of hiking boots. (Gore-Tex and fleece were just emerging as miracle-fabric fashion staples.) I'd been the editor of another magazine in New York and was delighted to leave my nipped-waist suits and heels behind—that is, until I received a message toward the end of my northern Rockies sojourn about a breakfast that was being set up for me in L.A. The meeting, the final interview for a job at Travel + Leisure, took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills—not the best setting (or season) for my plaid shirt and khaki dress clothes, but I did have my boots cleaned and was able to grab a quick manicure at a salon off Rodeo Drive.
I started as the editor of T+L the following week, and it's been not only the job of my life but an opportunity to get to know the world. In addition to experiencing a few more continents (only the two poles still elude me), I've seen a dramatic ebb and flow in destinations. The first issue in which my name appeared on the masthead, October 1993, included a report on Cuba ("in a tailspin, but still intoxicating"). A U.S. trade embargo and travel restrictions were imposed on the tropical nation in the 1960s and have become more controversial and hotly contested in recent years. It is all the more surprising then that T+L readers have just voted Cuba their favorite Caribbean island in the eighth annual World's Best Awards survey, published in this issue—reflecting perhaps the allure of the unknown, or the resourcefulness of committed travelers who see boundaries as challenges to be overcome. Also in October 1993 were articles about the lively ethnic neighborhoods of Toronto—who would have imagined that 10 years later the city would be struggling with the effects of SARS?—as well as Ethiopia, which had "just opened its doors" to tourists after 17 years of civil war, and a food piece that included, per the magazine's critic, "the most beautiful new restaurant in America." Though Zenzero, in Santa Monica, is no longer in business, it was an early outpost of the fusion trend.
I still scramble around out West when I can, but my hiking boots are lighter and better constructed; T+L stories such as "25 Great Walks" have supplied me with more routes to follow. I am wiser—as we all are after the past two years—about previously unimagined risks, and longing to visit places that have become off-limits. And I am more certain than ever that the world would be a better place if more people could travel.