Travel writer with journal (Shutterstock: see credit below)
Blog Words : Insider Secrets | 30 December

The 5 biggest mistakes made by novice travel writers

Multi-award winning travel writer Nick Boulos reveals the pitfalls you need to avoid as you forge a career in travel journalism

Nick Boulos is one of the most commissioned, awarded and respected travel journalists in the UK. Here, he reveals the most common mistakes that budding travel writers make – and how you can avoid them.

1. Wanting too much, too soon

It's good to dream big, but it's also important to be realistic. Travel editors on major newspapers and magazines have a stable of contributors and are unlikely to accept a piece from an unknown writer or someone with little experience, particularly if it involves sending them to the other side of the world to do a story.

Instead, target smaller titles, those more likely to be receptive – and work your way up. 

2. Writing for free

Whether it's the idea of a 'free holiday' or the thought of seeing your name in print, newbie travel writers often offer to write for free in the hope of securing a commission. Bad move.

Not only does it undercut professionals trying to make a living from an already incredibly challenging industry but many editors will be put off by such an offer. If you don't value your work enough to be paid for it, then why should they?

3. Losing integrity

So, you've got an exciting (and paid) commission and you're off on assignment. Now the real work starts. Even though some lovely tourist board PR has arranged an exciting few days for you in some far-flung land doesn't mean you're obliged to write glowingly about anything and everything. Integrity is key. Don't be blinded by any hospitality you may receive. Your first priority should always be the reader.

4. Losing sight of what's important

Travel writing should always be more about the writing than the travelling. If you're more interested in the overseas jaunt rather than the finished article, it's likely that journalism isn't the career for you.

There are plenty of other jobs that allow you to travel, so don't get into this for the wrong reasons because it will soon become apparent.

5. Falling at the first hurdle

You've got to have a relatively thick skin to make it as a travel writer. Even the most established old-timers have ideas turned down and rejected. It's part and parcel of the job. The important thing is not to let it get you down.

Want more travel writing tips? Catch our seminars at the Adventure Travel Show on 17 and 18 January in London. Seasoned experts will be sharing their tips: you'll learn from the likes of Wanderlust editor Phoebe Smith, and writer and adventurer Alistair Humphreys. Tickets cost £45 each (includes entry to the show), and there are photography and filmmaking seminars too.

Advance tickets to the show are now on sale. Get your show tickets for only £5 (that’s saving £5 off the door price!) by quoting ‘WANDERLUST’ when booking tickets online at

Read more articles by Nick Boulos here

Main image: Travel writer with journal (Shutterstock)