What is Travel Writing?
Let me paint you a picture: imagine yourself travelling for the sheer joy of seeing the world, staying in the best five star hotels, eating the best food… and it’s free. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Enter the world of travel writing! In this industry, you can travel the world and develop your career at the same time. You could be exploring every café in Paris in search of the best hot chocolate, or travelling through Europe in search of the country that offers the best scuba diving, or how about hitting up pub after pub in Ireland to determine which one serves the cheapest pint of beer? Sounds like a blast, right? That’s what being a travel writer can offer you; the key is getting enough exposure and experience to reach that dream.
I don’t know about you, but it sounds like sipping champagne at Hotel de Paris is just a few well-crafted writing samples away.
What You Need to Know to Be a Travel Writer
There’s no doubt about it: travel writers have the ultimate dream job. Getting paid to travel and write about your experience is most people’s idea of ultimate career #goals. While any kind of career in publishing is competitive, the travel industry is booming right now, meaning that there are opportunities for you to try your hand at travel writing. So, what does it take to be a travel writer?
You don’t need to be a bestselling author to be a travel writer; all you need to do is be able to craft a good story, have a flair for writing about adventure, and be able to analyze the best trip advice for readers. To start, you’ll want to find a good pitch, such as the search for the perfect hot chocolate in Paris, and then start approaching publications.
Your five-step guide to getting started as a travel writer:
- Enjoy travelling
- Practice writing about your travel experiences
- Discover your pitch
- Send in query letters
- Start your own blog about your travel experiences
Adventures in Travel Writing
Many people have chosen to retire as travel writers, leaving their desk jobs to see the world and getting paid to do so. You get to see the best places and if you’re on contract with a publication, you may not even have to shell out a cent of your own. You can choose to write part-time and disappear from the stresses of life, or you can eventually make it your full-time career once you have enough experience under your belt. Whatever you choose, travel writing can be an exciting new career option for you. There is nothing better than to do something you love and get paid for it.
How to Become a Travel Writer
So now that you’ve decided that travel writing is something you want to try, the next question on your mind is probably: “How on earth do I accomplish such a feat?” Firstly, don’t quit your day job quite yet. You can’t be a travel writer tomorrow without some serious research and a portfolio of publications under your belt. A great way to get your feet wet would be to write about something in your own home town, or in an area close by that you can explore on a day trip. This gives you a chance to see what being a travel writer is like without any risk, and you can start practicing your craft so that you have writing samples to send to publications.
Once you have several article samples written, you can then approach magazines such as Outpost Magazine and Bold Magazine, as well as countless travel blogs and websites, with your work and ideas for future articles. If a magazine likes your article and hires you, then chances are they will continue hiring you for future work. At that point you can pitch all of your interesting ideas to the magazine, and if they like them, they may give you the opportunity to travel on a funded trip. Research is one of the hardest parts of being a travel writer, because you will need to find the publications that you want to write for and would suit your content. However, there are some very real pitfalls to being a travel writer as well, and it might require some thick skin.
Is Travel Writing for You?
You may think that travel writing is the perfect career for you, but there are a few things to consider first. Firstly, do you have the time to be a travel writer? You may have family obligations or responsibilities that don’t allow you to travel a great deal. That’s okay – it just may mean you can only take a couple of projects a year instead of using it as a career choice.
Dealing with Rejection
No matter what, as a writer, you will face rejection and that’s where the thick skin comes in. It may take some time before your first article is accepted and it may not have any bearing at all on your writing ability; maybe the topic you chose to write on has been covered recently, or maybe the publications you’re approaching already have travel writers on staff. Rejection is just part of what being a writer is all about. It’s important to look at the rejection process as a chance to learn, and it’s certainly not a reason to give up. Don’t take rejection letters to heart, but learn from the criticism and be inspired to change your travel writing strategy.
Publications with Small Budgets
Not all publications have large budgets to pay you the big bucks and send you travelling all over the world. One thing to consider when writing for magazines is that they usually pay after the article has been published. If they are a small publication, they may need to wait to get paid before they can pay their writers. If writing is your full-time job, that can put you in a bind if you are on a budget. Just keep in mind that payment may not come as soon as you would expect when you are sending queries to publications.
Deadlines Are Very Important
Procrastination is a true weakness for me, especially with all the tantalizing social media outlets out there, but when it comes to writing for a magazine or newspaper, time management is crucial to surviving in the industry. As a writer, it can be easy to get lost in your thoughts and become distracted, so you need to be self-motivated in order to meet your editor’s deadlines.
These things can make or break a writer and it’s important to understand that having a career as a travel writer is not for the faint of heart. Decide if this is something that you really strive for and if it is, then go for it by starting your own travel blog. Write about trips you’ve taken and what you’ve learned, trends in the tourism industry, or thought-provoking pieces on the cultural, political, and social aspects of travel in different areas.
Travel writing can be a fun and rewarding career; it’s just a matter of putting in the time it takes to research appropriate publications and write stellar pieces. Once you have a few articles under your belt, it will be easier to approach publications. After establishing a good relationship with a magazine or newspaper, the chances of them continuing to hire you grow. From there, the jobs may even start coming to you and then you will find yourself turning jobs down because your travel schedule just can’t take anymore! That’s a great problem to have.
Heed the words of Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
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