What is travel writing?
Imagine yourself travelling for the sheer joy of travelling, staying in the best five star hotels, eating the best food, seeing beautiful sights… and it’s free. Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong (well, sort of).
This dream is the reason why people choose to pursue a career in travel writing. After all, who wouldn’t want to see the world on someone else’s dime? Just think: You could be exploring every café in Paris in search of the best hot chocolate, or travelling through Europe deciding which country has the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals. How about hitting up pub after pub in Ireland to determine which one serves the cheapest pint of beer?
Many people dream of becoming professional travel writers and working for magazines, blogs, and even hotels or tourism clients who may pay you to write about exotic locations. On one hand, this industry is competitive and it will take years to gain the experience you’ll need to be a full-time travel writer, but on the other hand, this dream isn’t as far-off as you think. Keep reading to find out how you can start your journey as a travel writer today!
What You Need to Know to Be a Travel Writer
There’s no doubt about it: Travel writers have the ultimate dream job. The best part about this career path is that the industry is booming, and there will always be an audience that wants to read about far-off locales where they can imagine their dream vacation. 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 is a unique voice, the dedication to hone your writing skills, and the determination to keep going against all odds. To start, you’ll need to find a good pitch, such as the search for the perfect hot chocolate in Paris, build up a portfolio of publications, and then approach blogs and magazines with whom you’d like to work.
Your Quick-Start Guide to Being a Travel Writer
- Discover the pitch
- Start writing about anything you can think of to develop your skills
- Create a personal blog or YouTube channel to showcase your travel content
- Send in query letters to publications to inquire about freelance opportunities
- Start travelling on your own and write about it!
When you decide to start a career as a travel writer, keep in mind that it usually takes a lot of experience and a portfolio of publications before you’ll get hired to go on free trips, so don’t quit your day job just yet. Instead, you can choose to write part-time about your own adventures and sell the story to a publication afterwards. You can also start a blog or a YouTube channel where you document your journeys; gaining a following on social media can help impress a publication enough to hire you, and you’ll be able to practice your writing skills. Moreover, writing about your personal travels can help you build up a portfolio of work that you can submit to publications you wish to write for.
Once you have a few local articles written or pieces about your personal travels, you can then query magazines such as Outpost Magazine and Bold Magazine. If a magazine likes your articles, they may hire you to be a contributor or freelancer. After you build up your writing experience and establish a strong professional relationship with a publication, they may even assign you travel writing pieces where you’ll get to go on an adventure on their dime and write about it! Until this point, however, the most important step is to simply begin writing and practicing your craft.
At this point, travel writing seems like the ideal career. However, this competitive industry does have a few pitfalls to consider before deciding whether or not it’s for you.
Is Travel Writing for You?
You may think that travel writing is the perfect career, but there are a few things to consider first. Ask yourself: Do you have the time to be a travel writer? You may have family obligations or responsibilities that don’t allow you to go abroad a great deal. That’s okay as well; it just means that you can only take a couple of projects a year instead of turning it into your career. Travel writing takes incredible levels of commitment, and even the most successful travel writers struggle with constantly being away from their families and spending countless hours in airports.
Dealing with Rejection
No matter what, as a writer you will face rejection, and that’s why you’ll need a thick skin. It may take some time before your first article is accepted and it may not have any bearing on your writing ability. Rejection is part of being a writer, but it can also make you better. It’s important to look at the rejection process as a chance to learn. Ask your editors for feedback, examine your editor’s criticism closely, and implement their suggestions into your writing. Practice makes perfect, so try writing as much as you possibly can to get your personal voice down. Don’t take rejection letters to heart, but use them to become the best writer you can be.
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 awhile before they can pay their writers. Just keep in mind that payment may not come as soon as you would expect when you are sending queries to publications.
Moreover, when you’re just starting out, you may be asked to write for free. This can be a great opportunity to be published and develop a portfolio of publications that can lead to paid freelance jobs once you’ve established your expertise in the field.
Deadlines Are Very Important
Procrastination is a true weakness for me, especially with all the tantalizing social media outlets out there. When it comes to writing for a magazine or newspaper, deadlines are crucial to surviving in the industry. As a writer, it can be easy to get distracted by other things, especially if you work from home. Moreover, if you’re travelling and having fun abroad, it can be tough to barricade yourself in your hotel room to write. It’s crucial to be self-motivating in order to meet the deadlines that are necessary to keep clients happy.
These three things can make or break a writer, and it’s important to understand that this career option is not for the faint of heart. Decide if this is something that you really want to strive for, and if it is, then go for it.
Still, the incredible benefits of travel writing can outweigh the challenges. A career as a travel writer is not too good to be true, but takes a lot of hard work, research, and experience. Take the time to practice your writing, hone your distinctive voice, and publish stellar pieces. Once you have a few articles under your belt, it will be easier to approach publications, and you’ll build relationships with editors as you go.
Even if this dream job may seem lofty, 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.”