How to score paid experience by writing about your local favourites


It’s (just past) mid-November, the daylight hours continue to fade, and students across the country find themselves smack dab between mid-terms and the start of December exams.

‘Tis the beginning of the season in which many of us – save for the winter sport enthusiasts – are at a loss when it comes to appreciating our current locales.

And it’s also easy to forget that the restaurants, bars, galleries, shops and walking trails which are the mainstays of your non-academic moments are potential treasures to people less familiar with your cityscape.

That’s right, your “old hat” might be someone else’s “hot spot.” Yes, even in November.

Perhaps particularly in November.

Publications big and small need insight into the trends and hidden gems only locals know best

While you’re toiling away with your school work, the major players in this country’s tourism sector are doing the same sort of hard labour preparing for next summer’s onslaught of visitors. Publications big and small need content. They need insights into the trends (and hidden gems) that locals know best.

Biggies in the business, such as Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, produce thick, beautiful travel guides for Canada (and many of its major cities). The happiest detail? These guides are frequently updated; this cycle of new editions means there is a market for new travel writing.

Is there a quirky, often-overlooked but really worthy theatre venue in your area? A new restaurant that you think people would (and should) come-from-far to check out? Have you tried the local hostel and do you know that it is bed bug free (and serves a mean spread of toast and jam)?

Write about it

Tell someone with a vested interest in tourism – be it a local paper or the editor for the upcoming Rough Guides for your province. You might even get paid.

Tourism experts and editors need up-to-date, insider information – and often they’re writing about the cities that students know well. We have our ears to the ground and we know the best spots to shop, eat, party and relax – on budget; on the flip-side, we often know where we can’t afford to shop, eat, party and relax.

We can write from both sides.

Make some dollars on your prose and local know-how, then channel those funds into a ticket somewhere new – rinse and repeat

So, while essay deadlines may leave most of us creatively drained and wanting to run from the written word, there may be a way to blend our academic skill with the imaginative impulse to be anywhere but with our text books.

Start waxing knowledgeable about the must-dos in your own neighbourhood. Try to make some dollars on your prose and local know-how. Then channel those funds into a ticket somewhere new. Rinse and repeat.

For information on contributing, check out large publications such as Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Nile Guide, as well as your local newspapers, blogs and tourist information bureaus.

About the author

Hilary Fair is an assistant editor for LAUNCH Magazine, managing the Travel section. She is a travelling and writing enthusiast who is recently out of school and looking for ways to make the two things she loves most coincide. Call it delirium, idealism, plain crazy: she steadfastly believes a trip to a local park, like a trip through Europe, can be an excellent adventure if you've got the right attitude (and, ahem, staples like brie and baguette).