WalletPop's Jason Cochran wins travel writing award

Julie Tilsner

Time was, pinning down Jason Cochran meant playing a serious game of "Where's Jason?" The travel writer for outlets such as Frommer's.com and Budget Travel magazine was never in one place very long.

These days he's easier to locate, based at AOL headquarters in New York City, writing travel and consumer articles for WalletPop and hosting its popular Shark Tank series. But he's still got the travel bug.

And this weekend, his peers acknowledged it. Cochran was awarded the Best Guidebook of 2009 by the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards/Society of American Travel Writers. The lucky book? Cochran's "Pauline Frommer's London," published by Wiley earlier this year.

The judges said reading the book "is like traveling through London with a street-smart, savvy best friend. The book is exceptionally well-organized and features a wealth of insiders' secrets for making the most of your London experience....Altogether, the book appears to contain nearly everything you need to know to plan a safe, entertaining and meaningful trip."

That sound like our man. After years as an entertainment reporter, Cochran decided he wanted to see the world and test his chops as a travel writer. So he set off on a two-year hiatus with backpack. When he returned stateside he sent clips of his adventures along with his resume to all the travel magazines and websites, never really expecting to hear back from any of them.

And he didn't, for about six months, until the website for Frommer's called him. "I went in and interviewed with Aruthur Frommer himself," he said. And of course, being Jason Cochran, he got the job. Later he moved on to the senior editor slot at Budget Travel Magazine and worked as a freelance travel writer before being snatched up by Walletpop, where he gets to blend his love of travel with his pop culture jones.

Doesn't he miss the glamorous life of a freelance travel writer?

"It beats a stick in the eye," he says, "but it's hard work. There are days you want to just sit at home with a pizza and get a video but you can't. You have to get out there and research out the next club or hotel."

Yeah, yeah. we know he likes to keep busy. He's written two other guide book for the Pauline Frommer's Spend Less, See More series; Walt Disney Orlando and San Francisco. Between keeping these updated and his very busy schedule with Walletpop, we know he still doesn't have time to get out for pizza.

Congratulations, Jason. We'll stand you a cold one next time we're in London. And we'll never tell you where we keep the sticks ...