Inside the Travel Lab is a multi-award winning travel blog founded by doctor turned writer Abigail King. Founded in 2008, it goes behind the scenes to bring stories from around the world to curious, responsible travellers.
What to expect
Welcome to Inside the Travel Lab, where we’ll help you travel the world while holding down a professional career. We’ll take you behind the scenes, share the stories we find, and give you tips on where you can find the best places to stay, eat and get to know the different traditions across the globe.
And we’re here for you whatever stage of life you’re in: juggling young kids, dealing with an empty nest, rebuilding after divorce, travelling solo or heading into retirement.
It’s what matters that matters, not what your life currently looks like. So if you care about the people, places and cultures you visit then you’ve come to the right place.
Who is behind Inside the Travel Lab?
Abigail King is an award-winning author, journalist and broadcaster. She is the founder of Inside the Travel Lab, described by National Geographic Traveler as “essential reading” and Lonely Planet as “one of the best in the world.
She first studied Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge before completing her medical degree and working as an Intensive Care & ER doctor for the best part of a decade before swapping the wards for a life on the road.
She’s travelled to over 60 countries, spoken at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on the subject of sustainable tourism and for the EU & NASA in Helsinki on the topic of digital integrity and counter terrorism.
She’s travelled to over 60 countries and likes hot tea, fresh strawberries and marmite toast, buttered just right.
AITO Travel Blogger of the Year 2023
Vuelio Top Independent UK Luxury Travel Blog – 2023
TravMedia Awards Finalist Blogger of the Year – 2022
Travel Media Awards Blogger of the Year Finalist – 2022
What makes this blog different?
We honestly (and slightly embarrassingly) want to make the world a better place.
Taking You Behind the Scenes
Whether that’s talking to survivors from the Nagasaki bomb attack or interviewing people who saw the Iron Curtain fall, we believe that it’s people who make a place.
Authentic Social Interaction
Other sites use robots to make it look as though someone is replying to you. We don’t. Every response you get comes from a real person. Usually me ;-) We don’t get involved in buying likes, gaming algorithms or any other soul-sapping venture born of desperation. If you like what we do, great! If not, well, there’s no point in faking it, right?
Travelling how people travel
Marketers enjoy pigeon-holing everyone into a niche. Solo travel, family travel, adventure travel and business travel.
Well, guess what? That’s not how people live!
Here, we cover a mix of solo travel, couples travel, family travel, business travel and travel with a baby and toddler because that’s life as most of us know it: a work in progress.
Our Philosophy is Responsible Travel
Here on Inside the Travel Lab, responsible travel has been our default position since we began.
But it’s not always easy and the information we have about the world and how we affect it shifts all the time. So, without being preachy, and without taking the joy out of things, here’s the section for responsible travel.
Hi, I’m Abi and I love hearing people’s stories.
I help busy professionals learn about the world and plan experiences that combine passion and purpose with having a good time.
So, why did you leave medicine?
If there’s one question that people always ask when they first meet me and hear about my life, it’s this one: why did I leave medicine?
But let’s back up a bit, shall we? And start at the beginning.
The Beginning: Brighton-ish
I grew up, mainly, in southern England near the forward-thinking and cosmopolitan city of Brighton. Not that it seemed that way at the time. Like many a teenager, I couldn’t wait to get out, to escape and to see the world.
My parents had met in Nigeria and then split when we lived in Saudi. We came back to the UK, my Dad moved to Oman and then to New York, so different perspectives on the world seemed ready-stitched into my life.
On the peak of Kilimanjaro during a Medical School Placement in a Hospital in Tanzania
The Medical Years
Yep. I didn’t just go to Medical School, I went all the way through, qualified and then worked in hospitals for the best part of a decade. My specialty was Accident and Emergeny & Intensive Care. That’s often ER to George Clooney fans and ITU and ventilators for the rest. I was three years from becoming a consultant when I made the decision to switch.
I actually didn’t think that much of it at the time, but it’s something I get asked time and time again.
The other big question is whether or not I regret it.
The truth is, I couldn’t imagine spending the whole of my life doing only one thing. I had felt torn when applying for University places because there was just so much I wanted to do and so many places I wanted to see.
I felt great love and passion towards making a difference, and was luckily pretty good at science and passing exams. Medicine seemed like a good fit and like more of a responsible choice. Perhaps I could write and travel in my spare time; I’d never be able to be a doctor in my spare time.
The change I didn’t see coming…
What I hadn’t fully appreciated, because the system was about to change, was that the type of doctor I wanted to be didn’t have any spare time. Nearly ten years in and I had one weekend off every six or more weeks, into which had to fit all weddings and family occasions and moving house every six months as part of the job. Instead of 9-5, I was 2pm to 4am. I never saw anyone outside the hospital, but I did have a great off-peak gym subscription, no queues at the supermarket and a coterie of urban foxes skulking around in the twilight like me.
With an apology to the foxes, I felt as though my life was slipping away. If I stayed like this, I would be doing the same thing day after day after day until I had run out of days.
So I took a deep breath and made a choice. Was this how I wanted my one and only life to be? And if not, what would I do to change?
Our first visit to India, over 15 years ago. The Taj Mahal hasn’t aged a bit.
Becoming a Writer/How I Left Medicine
I did what I’d always done. I read a book.
Armed with “The Freelancer’s Handbook” by Andrew Crofts, I saved my money and hatched my plan.
For years, I’d held my husband’s job back because mine kept us fixed in the UK. What if we tried a move with his work and I tried out this writing idea?
If it turned out to be a fantasy and I tried to return, I would at least have a less embarrassing story to tell at interview as I begged to get my job back.
So, we moved to France. And then Spain. And I never looked back.
My first blog header for Inside the Travel Lab – stepping into an oasis in Oman
Starting Inside the Travel Lab
The blog stood out for the quality of writing. The writer captures the imagination, transports your mind and makes you really want to experience and sense the beauty of Nantucket Island in Massachusetts. – Visit USA Media Awards.
Except, poetic as it sounds, it didn’t quite work out like that.
I had no experience, no contacts and no idea what I was doing.
According to The Handbook, I should start pitching editors but rejection followed rejection because I didn’t have things called clips and cuttings.
And it was the classic job search Catch-22. No work without experience, no experience without work.
So, I started a blog. It wouldn’t count as “clips and cuttings” but it would, hopefully, show that I could write.
And so, on one late night in the hot summer of pink city Toulouse, the Travel Lab was born. Someone had already taken that name, so after some scurrying about, I found a variation.
Inside. I liked it. Inside access. Inside tips. Inside ideas.
Forty minutes and 9.99 later and www.insidethetravellab.com was mine.
The Next Ten Years
And then, the rollercoaster began.
“Influencers” weren’t really a thing back in 2008, with no instagram and no brand partnerships.
I spent my time travelling, writing and desperately, so desperately trying to start a family.
Inside the Travel Lab was my place for all the stories that the mainstream media would reject and it grew to find people who cared about the world and wanted to know more, to see more.
Surgery and loss tumbled one after the other, over and again, and then, in late 2016, we welcomed the miraculous arrival of our daughter, Rosa. Followed, almost immediately, by more family illness.
While my twenties glided by, my thirties tested me to the max.
So, here we are in 2023, emerging from the Covid pandemic. Older, wiser and less likely to throw myself out of an aeroplane or scramble across a floating wire in the mountains or sleep in a tent on the border of Guatemala with a local gift of a machete.
But full of joy and passion for the world at large, hope in the future and excitement at the thought of what could wait around the corner.
That includes a new role as the Head of Digital Content & Strategy at Bradt Travel Guides.
But Inside the Travel Lab goes on. I could never wave goodbye to this place.
Here are some of our new projects, aimed at bringing the world closer and sharing even more stories:
Let’s Work Together
We love connecting people with places and products they’ll love. If sponsorship was good enough for Shakespeare and Michelangelo, it’s good enough for us!
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