Becoming a travel writer is a dream for many.
And why not?
Travel writing sounds amazing. I’ve yet to hear one travel writer say they don’t love getting paid to travel and write.
Many dream of becoming a travel writer for well-known publications like National Geographic and taking glamorous, paid trips around the world.
You may be asking, what is Travel Writing?
Travel writing provides much more in-depth information about the locations and the journey than sharing stories of your travels with family and friends.
Travel writing appears in blogs that share people’s adventures and feature stories in newspapers and guides such as Lonely Planet.
Under normal circumstances, the competition to become a successful travel writer is fierce. The work can be hard, and sometimes the money isn’t great, unless you apply yourself.
Should You Consider Becoming A Travel Writer?
If you love to travel, seek adventures and enjoy working as a freelance writer, travel writing could be an ideal choice.
Luckily, you can employ easier and more successful methods to start travel writing today than just appealing to editors of well-known publications.
Ready to wander the world, have amazing adventures and see far-flung destinations?
Let’s look at how you can learn travel writing and find travel writing jobs that pay.
The Old Way to Become a Travel Writer (And How to Become a Travel Writer Today)
For famous travel writers like Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux, Freya Stark or Rebecca West, travel writing was a specialised subcategory of journalism or penned by those with money to travel. Travel itself was an expensive and rare experience.
Working as a travel writer was an elite career reporting for a newspaper or magazine that featured stories about exotic places that seemed unreachable for most people.
So what has changed? As new travel methods made the world seem a lot smaller and less expensive, internet use increased and content marketing and social media interaction developed, creating more options and opportunities than ever to allow you to become a travel writer.
Today, a travel writer can offer freelance writing for niche and in-flight magazines, travel guides and blogs; and websites for travel-related companies as more people are traveling and seeking information online.
12 Examples of Travel Writing for Great Results
So what sort of freelance writing jobs can you get? Travel writing takes many forms. Some types are easy to get into, whilst others are harder but can produce a bigger result.
Here is a quick list of places where you can find your dream travel writing job.
1. Destination Travel articles
Competition is high for traditional publications unless you have a fresh approach or unique angle, so you have to find the increasing opportunities for niche publications.
This kind of travel writing is factual, straightforward and relies on trustworthy sources. Guidebooks are still popular both in print and online.
For publications such as Fodor, Lonely Planet, Frommer or Rough Guides, competition is high. However, you can find plenty of work with new publications that produce guides or established brands that need a fresh perspective. The downside is that this outlet doesn't always pay well.
3. Travel advice and how-to articles
This common form of travel writing provides advice or how-to tips often as standalone pieces or in destination articles or guidebooks. You must relish research to enjoy this form of writing.
Those who enjoy this kind of writing can find paid opportunities with travel magazines, newspapers, and travel-related company blogs. Independent travel blogs hire freelancers too.
This kind of writing provides a step-by-step, first-person report. These articles include planning and scheduling advice as well as suggesting sights and accommodations when visiting a destination or region.
The reader should want to replicate your inspiring experience. As people plan their travels, this form of travel writing is a growth area for those who want to write a travel blog and monetise it.
5. Travel mode articles
Sharing the thrill of riding The Orient Express, trekking or even taking the classic road trip, are terrific examples of this form of writing. These articles are all about how you get there and the discoveries and feelings you have during the journey, not the destination.
Many print magazines and newspapers include a dedicated road trip section. Other modes of transportation such as walking tours are also included.
6. Roundups and “Best of” lists
As a travel writer, you collate a series of destinations, sights, etc., on a common theme. Think “15 Best Beaches in Australia” or “52 Awesome Things to See in Rome.” After the introduction, the writer explains why each made the list.
This is popular at the moment for print and online publications. They are also fun for bloggers.
7. Holidays and special events
This kind of travel writing explores global, regional and seasonal events, i.e., the Olympics, local festivals, summer, St. Patrick’s Day or solar eclipses.
To get work as a travel writer in this area, you need to plan well in advance and approach publications early to get an opportunity.
8. Special-interest articles
Special-interest articles offer diversity. They include articles on local attractions, travel and lifestyle; food and travel; culture and niche areas of travel such as rock climbing, traveling off-the-beaten-track, digital nomads, etc.
With endless opportunities for niche magazines, websites or your travel blog show this is a great place to start as a travel writer.
9. Travel blogs, content and social media marketing
As more people search online for travel ideas, they rely more on blogging, content marketing and social media.
Travel writers with great conversational and social media skills who can engage an audience are in high demand. This field is highly competitive whether you are looking for paid opportunities or developing your blog.
10. News Travel
News angles that consider travel after a civil or economic disruption or natural disasters can have a great interest among readers.
Normally given to travel journalists, openings for travel writers are available with travel magazines and online publications that include feature sections.
11. Travel opinion or editorial pieces
A travel op-ed is a short opinion piece included in newspapers and magazines. Periodicals commonly reward staff with these assignments, but sometimes they make open calls for submissions.
Whilst these are not as common as other forms of travel writing, originality, and a unique angle will increase your chances of getting published.
12. Travelogues, travel memoirs and personal travel essays
These forms of writing all involve sharing a narrative about your travels. They deliver a literary feel and create a window into your journey and the locations you visited.
Although not currently in demand, you can self-publish a book or produce a travel blog to market yourself as a travel writer.
How to Find Travel Writing Jobs You Want
Competition is high for paid writing jobs. Before you start, here are a few action items that will help increase your chances of success.
- Prove you are a great travel writer – Either through developing a successful travel blog or creating a portfolio of high-quality travel pieces, display your ability.
- Guest post – Pitch travel writing ideas, although guest blog posts are seldom paid. You can find guest post openings by looking at the submission guidelines for your targeted publication. Start with lesser-known travel blogs, then work your way to the top with paid writing jobs.
- Make sure people know you’re available for paid travel writing opportunities – Get out there on social media, start a blog highlighting your skills and make it clear you are available and amazing with a call to action!
- Consistently send out pitches and search for jobs – People are not going to knock at your door in the beginning. You must actively apply and send articles to editors.
Finding travel writing jobs is not that different to looking for a traditional job. Regularly search job websites, look for opportunities on social media, search online for travel writing jobs and look at the website of your dream company (or publication).
Travel writing opportunities exist with:
- Travel-oriented websites, blogs and publications.
- Newspapers and magazines with travel sections.
- In-flight magazines.
The Write Life provides a thorough overview of travel magazines and websites that pay freelance writers, including travel writers.
A few of the most helpful job boards require a fee, but they are worth it! Consider these job posting sites:
Can Travel Writing Jobs Pay for Your Travels?
The biggest difference in how you get paid for travel writing is the money source and how much you can earn. Four main avenues include:
- Full-time salaried travel writer/journalist
- Freelance travel writer
- Blog writer with monetised blog or self-published stories
- Combination of all the above
Entry into a full-time writing job usually requires a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English or communications. As of September 3, the average annual pay for a travel writer in the United States is $70,620. (Ziprecruiter)
Don’t let this discourage you, because you can find well-paid opportunities for freelance travel writing.
As a freelance travel writer, you can earn $10 to $1,000 per article, depending on whom you are writing for. Freelancers who can manage many articles at once and write quickly will earn more. Understandably, the more experienced you are, the higher your earnings could be.
Interestingly, some well-known websites pay less, and generally, magazines pay more, especially niche and smaller publications.
What about blogging income?
The world wide web is a crowded place, and it can take time and significant effort to successfully monetise a blog. According to Smartblogger, “It takes even our smartest, most dedicated students three to six years to make enough money from blogging to quit their jobs.”
Travelling can be costly, and you need to consider that. Often you will need to pay your own travel expenses as a freelance travel writer, but you get to do what you love, travel and write.
Top Tips from 5 Expert Travel Writers
1. Think Of Your Readers
“My guiding principle is that whatever you write isn’t really about your trip. It’s about the reader’s trip” said Jason Cochran, editor-in-chief of Frommers.com, author of Here Lies America and two-time Gold Lowell Thomas travel journalist award winner.
2. Travel And Write A Lot
“Thus, the best I could tell folks was that — to be a travel writer — you have to travel a lot and write a lot. Simplistic as this sounds, I still think it’s valid advice. There’s simply no way to write about travel with any kind of authority unless you get a basic sense of what life on the road is like. Also, it will help if you travel in a dynamic way — opening yourself up to the unknown and interacting with the local cultures,” advised Rolf Potts, a travel writer, essayist, adventurer, teacher and winner of the Lowell Thomas Award and Chatwin Prize.
3. Write the Story
“Don’t pitch ideas, just write the story and send it in. Until you’re established, an editor is never going to commission you to write a story if they haven’t used you before. Why would they? You’re an unknown quantity. So, rather than emailing, ‘I’m thinking about writing a story on X,’ just write it and send it in. If they like it, they’ll use it. If they don’t, they won’t. That's how I got started, plus the dozens of students who've been published after taking my travel writing course,” said Rob McFarland, award-winning travel writer and a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the U.K., and the U.S.
4. Travel Light
“Travel light. I’m never happy if I have checked baggage. If you can’t lift it and walk with it, you’re carrying too much,” noted Tony Wheeler, the cofounder of Lonely Planet guidebook company.
5. Be Patient
“Writing remains a dream for many, when other goals fall by the wayside: actor, cowboy, astronaut, ballet dancer…. The basic tools lie within every literate person's grasp: the ability to experience and convey it. And best of all, authors – unlike artists or mathematicians, notorious for peaking early and burning out – tend to improve with age. The door stands open a long time. For that very reason, competition is fierce. The entry skill set may be accessible, but the professional one requires cultivation.
Give yourself time and space to grow. Being a writer is a process, an evolution…and like any plot arc, it will contain antagonists, blocking action and solution attempts that go tragically or comically awry. No matter how vivid those setbacks feel, remember you're on a larger journey…and one of the most profound ones possible,” advises Amanda Castleman, Travel Writing Master Class instructor, co-founder of the online school Like A Honey Badger and winner of the Lowell Thomas travel journalist award.
Resources to Start Travel Writing and Make Money
These travel writing courses and networking opportunities will get you started and give you the confidence to succeed as a travel writer. Consider:
- Will you learn how to write good travel stories?
- Will it teach you how to pitch and sell?
- Is the trainer a travel writer?
My top online courses in order of preference include:
Nomadic Matt and acclaimed award-winning travel writer David Farley offer the nuts and bolts of travel writing and that industry.
This video-based course is structured and staged for optimal workflow, offering interviews with prominent travel writers and examples of good versus bad travel writing. Assignments for each unit are returned with honest, helpful feedback and edits to your work.
The accompanying Facebook group offers valuable extra support and encouragement throughout the course.
Also check out his other courses, “How to Become a Travel Photographer” and “The Business of Blogging.”
Roy Stevenson, a professional travel writer, and photographer, offers a self-paced course, including marketing and selling your stories and improving your travel writing. Stevenson is one of the most prolific travel writers in the U.S.
He also offers face-to-face workshops.
Rob McFarland is an award-winning travel writer from Australia and offers a course on planning, writing and pitching. He gives feedback on what you have written and also offers the course face-to-face.
Travel Writing Networking Opportunities
Travel writers’ conferences and associations offer inspiring ways to improve your travel writing by learning from the pros and making new connections that lead to travel writing jobs.
This California conference offers support, encouragement, education, and inspiration with presentations by well-known, award-winning leaders in the travel writing industry.
This conference, offered twice yearly, in North America and Europe, teaches the art of digital journalism. Attendees include travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators and social media-savvy travel industry professionals.
Six business-to-business events on four continents comprise this leading global event for participants from the travel industry to meet industry professionals and conduct business deals.
This single-day networking and relationship-building opportunity provides the chance to meet travel and tourism brands in Asia, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S.
To find a professional travel writing association in your country, search “Travel Writers Association, [country].”
Well-known associations include:
- International Travel Writers Alliance
- Travel Massive
- Travel Media Association of Canada
- British Guild of Travel Writers
- Australian Society of Travel Writers
Become a Travel Writer Today
In some ways, becoming a travel writer is easy once you know what travel writing is. However, it is not always an easy path because of high competition and low rates of pay.
With the range of travel writing options and ways to improve your writing in this post, you can get started today. You are in a place to succeed. You have all the information you need to start your dream of being a travel writer.
Whether it’s destination articles, blogging for yourself or writing for National Geographic…
When life returns to normal, there’s a big world out for you to explore and write about.
In the words of travel writer and teacher Rolf Potts, “Always keep traveling and experiencing new parts of the planet. Even if you never get a single story published, you’ll most likely discover that you have fallen in love with the world and made your life richer in a way you never could have imagined.”
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