Given our cover story, “20 Dream Trips: Where to Get Away from It All” as well as this month’s User’s Guide to renting a vacation villa, the time seems right to go behind the scenes at Travel + Leisure to see how the magazine’s editors compile such intricate service packages.

Nancy Novogrod Nancy Novogrod
| Credit: Nancy Novogrod

Anyone who ever performed in a ballet recital or school orchestra as a child will remember the challenge of making a difficult effort look easy (my daughter solved the problem by pirouetting "offstage" to plant a kiss on her father's cheek between pliés). The ensemble company at T+L strives for our own version of such a feat: our resource sections are intended to belie the complicated process from which they emerge. Preparations for them may begin as much as a year in advance; our editorial, design, and photo departments hash out each concept and the plan for assembling the disparate elements, from text and images to sidebars, charts, and illustrations. E-mails fly across the globe to our network of contributors and the travel experts we trust, soliciting insider tips and ideas; article and photo assignments follow, and are ultimately pieced together into a seamless whole.

This is, of course, only part of the mix that goes into every issue of T+L; with it come jewellike travel narratives from gifted writers that illuminate distant corners of the world. A case in point is New York Times reporter Guy Trebay's account of Tamil Nadu, in southern India ("The Temples of Tamil Nadu"), and the wildly elaborate temples and imposing mansions that stand as testament to the "cultural opulence" of its past. Russia transplant Brett Forrest takes us to the buzzy Ukrainian capital of Kiev ("Kiev: A City in Transition"), where real estate fortunes are being made—and new restaurants and clubs are cropping up. For gentler pleasures, we travel to the outer reaches of Tasmania, a new foodie haven, with writer Stephen Metcalf ("Tasmania's Gourmet Paradise"), and take a whirl through the winter wonderland of central Vermont with T+L special correspondent Shane Mitchell ("Mountain Magic in Central Vermont"). Behind the scenes at Travel + Leisure, the focus in the end is really quite simple: to ensure that the travels you, our readers, undertake are as seamless and interesting as they can be.