Related

Get paid to be a travel writer (photo: Joel Montes de Oca)

Get paid to travel - become a travel writer

Expert advice to help you break into travel writing

Issue 74 | 74 october 2005

Want to be a travel writer? Then prepare to be loathed. The idea that someone goes to exotic places for free – and then gets paid to write about them – is too much for many to take. “You’ll never convince friends you are going abroad to work,” explains freelance travel writer Liz Edwards. “They’ll make constant reference to your ‘holidays’.”

But while free trips, global travel and your name in print sound glamorous, there are down sides. It’s hard work, hugely competitive and – unless you are the second Bryson – you won’t earn much. Roving overseas with a notebook, a deadline and a pack of other journalists can also take the fun out of travelling altogether. Not put off? Read on to find out how you can get this dream job.

Can you do it?

 

You can – but you need to be self-motivated and flexible. You need to have good ideas and be able to sell them. You need to manage living on a pittance and be willing to spend time away from home at short notice. You need to be writing a lot, for practice, not just for potential publication.

“Write to your passion,” says Don George, author of Lonely Planet’s Travel Writing guide. “Marry your own passion with a publication’s editorial interests and you’ll maximise your chances – knowledge and passion can sway an editor.”

“You need to be able to string two words together,” adds Jonathan Lorie, course leader of Travellers’ Tales, “but beyond that, what really matters is your attitude. Be persistent, reliable and believe in what you’re doing. Be prepared for rejections, and keep playing the numbers game until your number comes up.”

What kind of writing?

 

Travel writing comes in many forms: guidebooks, first-person features, practical articles, 500-page novels. You should be reading all types and taking notes, suggests Jonathan Lorie: “Read as much as you can to pick up tricks from the experts.”

Many immediately think of lengthy destination pieces, but this is the area where competition is most fierce. “Don’t necessarily begin with big features,” suggests Wanderlust editor Lyn Hughes. “Scour publications for spots where you could supply something with a travel spin. It could be a news piece, a contribution to a regular column or a quirky filler.”

What makes a good writer?

 

“A basic error with travel writing is assuming everybody’s interested. You have to work from exactly the opposite assumption: nobody is interested. Even your wife is not interested. You have to somehow make it so that they become interested.” (Bill Bryson, in an interview with Don George)

No one wants to hear about your last holiday. It’s not enough that you had a good time – you need a focus and you need to tell the reader something new.

“Know what the point of your article is,” says Don George. “What exactly are you trying to convey to the reader?” You need an original angle and an interesting tone.

The first line is key. It should draw the reader in to an engaging opening, middle and equally good end. “A good travel feature transports you to the destination. You should be able to see it, hear it, smell it,” says Lyn Hughes.

Don’t underestimate accuracy. Writing beautiful prose is no good if the facts are wrong. “Double-check your text for accuracy, especially with foreign names and words,” says Jonathan Lorie. “And don’t make things up: you only embarrass an editor once.”

 

How to get published

The UK has several dedicated travel magazines and newspaper supplements. But also think laterally – there are around 10,000 magazines in the UK. Many women’s titles have travel sections, or you could try Saga magazine, Which Caravan, Country Walking... the list goes on.

Familiarise yourself with each publication so you are pitching the right style of article on the right topic. “Know the publications you want to write for,” reiterates Don George. “Read each issue from cover to cover. Try to put yourself in the editor’s head.”

Before approaching any publication, read its contributor guidelines, usually on the website. Some may not accept any unsolicited articles, others may have strict rules about submissions.

Find out the name of the editor or relevant section editor so your submission hits the right desk/inbox. Addressing your letter to ‘The Editor’ (unless that’s the specified approach) shows a complete lack of effort.

Check whether your target publication prefers completed article submissions or proposals. If you’re sending an article, make sure it includes a cover sheet containing a synopsis of the piece, a word count, your contact information and details of any available photos. Include an SAE if you want a response. Proposals should be snappy and attention-grabbing.

“If you’re pitching an idea to an editor, keep it (just) long enough to give them an idea of your angle and style, but short enough so they don’t get bored,” advises Liz Edwards. A hundred words should do it.

Then you need patience. Most publications receive hundreds of unsolicited submissions every week. It could take months before you hear back; in the meantime, keep practising.

A word from a pro...William Gray

Award-winning travel writer and photographer William Gray is a contributing editor for Wanderlust and a presenter on the upcoming series of BBC Holiday. So, how did he do it?

“I painted lots of peoples’ houses to save for my first big trip – eight weeks back-packing in Kenya. Nothing was published, but I did learn how to keep a journal. A year later (after a self-funded trip to Australia) I had one small feature accepted in Trailfinder’s free magazine. The trip probably cost me £3,000, but I was chuffed to bits with the £75 fee for the article. I began proposing features to regional papers and less well-known magazines. Then came a lucky break – a contract to write a book on coral reefs and islands. It helped me get my first travel commission in a national paper.

“You’ve got to treat travel-writing like a business. I may only travel for a few months each year – the rest of the time I’m pitching proposals, negotiating free travel with airlines and tour operators, writing copy and generally plugging away at PR.”

Top tip: “It’s like getting into a hot bath. Don’t jump straight in! Hold on to that full-time job while you build contacts and a portfolio of published work in your spare time.”

Further Information

 

Ever been On Assignment with Wanderlust - you'll research, write or photograph in a professional environment on location, with some of the industry's leading experts, including Lyn Hughes, Waderlust's Editor-in-Chief. Look out for upcoming trips on Wanderlust Journeys.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login or get more from Wanderlust - register today!

 Your Comments (4)

  • 23rd May by katesilverton22

    Thanks for writing such a great post about <a href="http://www.bestassignmenthelp.co.uk/do-my-assignment.php">write me an assignment for me</a>. If you guys have some more information regarding the subject then please let me know, I would like to read that kind of content in your next blog posts.


    Regards,

    Kate


    Report as inappropriate
  • 9th June by boy25875

    Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates.



    여성알바


    Report as inappropriate
  • 24th July by rjrocker

    I am a traveller and love to travel the world. I have been travelled to 20+ countries so far and planning to visit 5 more this year. Do I need to buy domain & Hosting to become a writer and posting my content online?


    Report as inappropriate
  • 27th July by ReneeChappell

    Not a travel author but rather I've perused a ton of travel aides/travel UK Essays and at one point pondered turning into a travel essayist myself. In school, I would take a great deal of classes in English/composition/lit or photography or a remote dialect (to assist with all that voyaging). Possibly bring up a temporary job with a magazine or a daily paper to help you get contacts. I'd likewise begin presenting my composition and photographs to magazines (and begin getting yourself distributed and your name in the business sector). Moves Abroad is a decent magazine that acknowledges articles from individuals who are at present living, working, concentrating on or volunteering outside their nation of origin. After that simply keep at it. Most likely make yourself a specialist in one area would be the approach.





    Not a travel author but rather I've perused a ton of travel
    aides/travel UK Essays and at one
    point pondered turning into a travel essayist myself. In school, I would take a
    great deal of classes in English/composition/lit or photography or a remote
    dialect (to assist with all that voyaging). Possibly bring up a temporary job
    with a magazine or a daily paper to help you get contacts. I'd likewise begin
    presenting my composition and photographs to magazines (and begin getting yourself
    distributed and your name in the business sector). Moves Abroad is a decent
    magazine that acknowledges articles from individuals who are at present living,
    working, concentrating on or volunteering outside their nation of origin. After
    that simply keep at it. Most likely make yourself a specialist in one area
    would be the approach.


    select
    select
    select
    select
    Departure date:
    RadDatePicker
    RadDatePicker
    Open the calendar popup.
    Return date:
    RadDatePicker
    RadDatePicker
    Open the calendar popup.
    Date flexibility:
    Spin UpSpin Down
    Search

    Need some travel planning inspiration?

    Simply select the destination you’re interested in or the activities you’re looking for and we’ll send your request to a select panel of tour operators.

    Each operator will respond to your request individually. Your details remain private and are not disclosed to any partners unless you decide to proceed with a booking. Enjoy!

    Search
    Email

    Wanderlust in your inbox

    Wanderlust sends out regular email newsletters – be the first to know about web exclusives, competitions, hot offers and travel jobs. Register today!





    I have read and agree to the Terms & Conditions

    Submit