Sarah Khan ’03 in Hyderabad, India.

Photo: Nishat Fatima

Character Sketch: Sarah Khan ’03

Grounded by the pandemic, the globetrotting travel writer is finding creative outlets.

The New York–based travel writer Sarah Khan ’03 has filed dispatches from six continents for the New York Times alone. Indeed, she likens herself to the globetrotting video-game heroine Carmen Sandiego, hence her social media hashtag #whereintheworldissarahkhan. Grounded by the pandemic, however, Khan has been poring over old notebooks from her seven years as a freelance journalist (previously, she was an editor at Travel + Leisure and Gotham magazines). They are a means of exploration in a stagnant time, of course, but she’s also using them to pitch stories with fresh takes on previous trips. “By cataloging my past experiences, I’m looking at them in different ways,” Khan said. “That’s what I can offer.”  —Jacqueline Tempera

Childhood dream
I’ve been telling people I wanted to be a journalist since I was 8 years old. It was nonnegotiable. My father worked for an airline when I was younger and traveling was always a part of my life and my upbringing. Blending the two made a lot of sense. 

Leap of faith
After working in magazines and falling in love with travel writing, I moved to South Africa and gave myself a year to make freelance writing work financially. I leveraged the fact that I was living in Cape Town and broke onto a lot of different editors’ radars. I know not everyone has the luxury or ability to move overseas, especially these days, but if you ever have the opportunity—do it.

Sense of place
You can’t try to tell the entire story of a place as an outsider helicoptering in. What good travel writing is meant to do, and what I aspire to do, is use my perspective and my life experiences to tell a side of a story of that place.