Our history

Words by founding editor Lyn Hughes

It was 1993, and my partner, Paul Morrison, and I had decided to launch a travel magazine, having had the idea on a flight to Ecuador. We knew there must be other people like us who wanted to explore the world and whose idea of travel went far beyond lying by a hotel swimming pool. There had been other travel magazines launched but none had lasted, and many ‘experts’ predicted we would fail too.

But we had launched at the right time. The Channel Tunnel opened in 1994, making it easier and more affordable to head to France and continental Europe. And then came a revolution in flying with the advent of low-cost airlines. While there had been attempts at budget airlines before, notably Laker Airlines, the ’90s saw several launches, including easyJet in 1995, while Ryanair adopted a new low-fare model.

These new airlines made flying accessible to a wider range of passengers, and led to price wars, with major airlines having to drop their fares. The advent of online searches and booking also contributed to increased competition and to flying becoming more affordable. The world was opening up and the knock-on effect was that long-haul, exotic destinations seemed within reach.

After Paul passed away in 2004, we dedicated the magazine to his memory and resolved to keep sharing his passion for travel and seemingly endless curiosity about the world with our loyal readers.

We faced more challenges in years to come. Wanderlust had launched in a recession and another one hit in 2008 with the global financial crisis. Just as we celebrated our 15th anniversary, travel plunged as purse strings tightened, and 2009 was particularly difficult for the travel industry. But that wasn’t all we faced: our most direct competitor launched, social media changed the way people consume travel information, Brexit caused more uncertainty, and then of course, 2020 brought the pandemic.

It was against this background that Wanderlust passed into new ownership at the start of 2021. With editor-in-chief George Kipouros at the helm, we have really stepped up and evolved our offerings. The magazine is thicker and glossier, and is officially the UK’s number-one travel magazine. We have a new-look website launching soon, and our immersive online articles are simply beautiful. Our podcast is in the top 10% of travel podcasts worldwide. We’re now even in the metaverse and have a growing number of 360-degree features available.

We focus less on the basics of how to travel and more, for instance, on accommodation, with that being an increasingly important factor in people’s trips. With the explosion in travel and plague of overtourism, we take care to highlight the sustainable ways to explore, the places that deserve recognition and the immersive experiences that are the most authentic and rewarding for both locals and visitors. We shine a light on Indigenous experiences around the globe, have more voices in the magazine, and we use a wider and more diverse group of writers.

Our audience has developed too. The world of travel has become more democratic over the past three decades, with more people from more countries travelling than ever before. Digital platforms mean that our readership isn’t just British anymore; indeed, only 50% of the traffic on our current website is from the UK, and you will increasingly find the printed magazine on sale around the world, especially in the USA and in international airports. So, the days are gone when we would solely see the world through the lens of one type of traveller.

What hasn’t changed is the trust between us and our readers. We strive as much as ever to bring you the best destinations and travel experiences on the planet. Here’s to the next 30 years.