A passion for travel and the ability to string a sentence together will not qualify you as a travel writer. The trick to producing great travel writing is ultimately simply writing well. To that extent, you should make sure to follow all the guidelines of good writing — not least, spell-checking your article before submitting or publishing it anywhere. Travel writing isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a long and often hard grind. But by figuring out what type of travel writing you want to try your hand at, you’re taking the crucial first step.
Types of travel writing:
1. Freelance travel journalism
- Destination articles
- Special-interest articles
- Holidays & Special events
- Personal essays
2. Travel Blogging
- How-To posts
- Long-form posts
- General tips & guidelines
There is no such hing as eligibility criteria if you want to be a travel writer. There is a huge industry for travel writing/blogging which gives you an opportunity to explore the world and at the same time, earn from the same. However, travel writing is notoriously hard because an awful lot of people want to do it and there aren’t that many publications which have travel sections (and some don’t even pay for content).
Multi-tasking is one of the most important things a travel writer does. Not only does he/she click photographs and try to get the best shots or videos, they will need to figure out everything on their own. Therefore, one has to be confident in challenging situations, stay abreast with the latest fads in the travel industry, be fairly good at financial planning and, be a quick learner and adapt to new circumstances.
Tips to Become a Serious Travel Writer:
Start a Blog: Read various types of travel writing – from itineraries to long-form articles, book and travel memoirs – anything that is about travel. This will help you understand and give you an idea about travel writing. Unless you begin writing, you will not understand the nuances and the attention to detail that is required. Remember that you should always be on the look-out for a story, even in a non-story. So, your first step would be to start your own blog and continue working on bettering it.
Develop your online presence: Use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms like Instagram to connect with other writers, editors, and readers.
Twitter can help your industry knowledge and give you ideas for pitches: Follow journalists, editors, newspapers and magazines but also follow travel blogs, tourist boards, airlines, tour operators, attractions, museums, hotel groups and so on. The more you know about travel and how it ‘works’, the better. Which destinations will be talked about in 2019/2020, where are the new air routes, what are the new attractions… these are the pitches for the future. And by establishing a Twitter presence, you can make a name for yourself as well as boosting traffic to your blog – or indeed titles you’ve written for.
A particular specialism might give you an advantage: It’s a good idea to build a rapport with a commissioning editor of a magazine, newspaper or a website before sending them a pitch. They will need to know that you share a wavelength and will also want to see evidence of the quality of your writing – ideally, writing that would suit their publication. I also feel that anyone with a specialism has an advantage. Are you based in a particularly interesting location? Can you bring fascinating travel insights from the point of view of someone who has great knowledge of art, motoring, history, sports and so on?
Find the hidden marvels that the guide isn’t aware of: Often, most travel blog end up listing about destinations/places which guides usually talk about. If you have to stand out as a travel blogger, finding the hidden gems of a place and tracking its history or speciality will definitely win your brownie points from readers.
Fact-checking, Proofing-reading your story: Just as important as finding the story and writing the story is, thinking about what your reader needs. You are there to make their life easier. Fact-checking everything, adding fact boxes, captioning images: the easier you make their lives, the more likely they are to use you again. Proof-reading your stories will help you make it crisper and increase its readability.
Here are some category-specific tips:
- If you’re freelance writing, always check submission guidelines. Publications may accept only pitches or they may welcome articles “on spec” (pre-written articles). Some sources only take travel articles that were written within 6 months of the trip.
- If you’re blogging, brand your website (same advice if you’re an author who’s building an author website).
- If you’re writing a book, get a professional editor. An unedited book is an unwieldy thing, and professional eyes provide direction, continuity, and assonance. (Layout designers can be important if you’re publishing a travel photography book, in the meanwhile.)
What an average day of a travel writer looks like:
There isn’t really an average day for a travel writer. In one week, you can either be in the Maldives at the opening of a new hotel, working on a feature and interviewing a celebrity. There’s always something to do daily, whether it’s helping out the fashion team look for a hotel for a shoot, arrange a trip for a journalist, meet a PR to discuss ideas or plan forward features.
Important advice to travel writers:
We highly recommend you to specialise in a specific area, whether it’s a country or a type of travel, at least at the beginning of your career. When you go on a trip, the only way to make a decent amount of money is to sell it on to a number of publications, so build up as many contacts as possible and be inventive about who you pitch to – think foreign newspapers, in-flight magazines, websites that pay and specialist titles as well as the usual newsstand publications.
Try and keep up-to-date with social media (Twitter and Instagram) which is really useful in the travel industry.
(Edvantage Point is India’s go-to platform for education-related products and services. We are into admissions management for schools, career advice and counselling services for students as well as recruitment services).