It’s not every day you get top travel writers, photographers, editors and publishers to offer up their best tip for breaking into travel writing. Below are 52 tips gathered from a simple question I asked on Linkedin….
“I am looking for 1 solid tip from experienced travel writers/bloggers/photographers about breaking into travel writing.”
Wondering what it takes to break into travel writing, travel blogging or travel photography?
Below you’ll find more than 52 tips from professional travel writers, travel bloggers and travel photographers.
1. Kenneth Hulick
Marketing Representative for the Port Townsend Leader / Private Chef / Writer & Photographer
The “big places” have been done to death. Focus on smaller, local/regional, and someplace that has a “hook.” (Coprolite museum, world’s smallest community garden, whatever.)
Euro Travel Expert
When sending an editor a pitch, be sure to include writing samples. This sounds obvious, but I have received a lot of queries without samples!
3. Gary Peterson
Freelance Writer / Photographer at Self
I would suggest anyone starting out needs to spend the money on a good writing course, like AWAI or Sophie Lizards course on writing blogs of real money. Try to stay away from the sites offering writing gigs that cater to clients just looking for the low ball offers.
4. Diane Rudholm
Managing Editor/Social Media Manager
Show me concisely what your story’s focus and angle are and the reason you’re a great person to tell that story. I’ll echo Terri’s comment: include writing samples! Anyone looking for more ideas on pitching stories or breaking into travel writing, I recommend Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George. It has a ton of practical advice, exercises for improving and polishing your work, examples of great travel stories, and interviews with pros. I absolutely love it, and no one paid me to say so. 😉 You can buy it used for a few dollars online.
Travel Writing (Lonely Planet)
5. Delina Alwanger
Managing Director at Call of The Wild Safaris P/L
6. Lara Dunston
Travel and food writer, journalist, guidebook author, editor, publisher, blogger, consultant
I have established a successful travel writing career in partnership with my writer-photographer husband, but we also have a popular travel blog – #2 in Australia and usually falls around #50 or so in the world. Feel free to email me laradunston at mac dot com.
7. Andrew T. Der
Environmental Consultant, Manager, and Journalist
1) Just keep writing!
2) Do not give up!
3) Always proof read – wait and proof read again!
4) Get another opinion and critique before submitting!
8. Lisa Overing
Features writer and editor for luxury lifestyle and yachting pubs
Well, actually go to the destination. You would be surprised how many writers just Google some place and what you read is part and parcel of some borax version of what already exists online. That’s a pet peeve of mine. I like interviewing the locals until I find some quirky person to put in the story. One person leads you to another to find what’s unique about the local culture and environment. Get leads on a good local photographer to illustrate your story and spend time talking to the photographers. They know the locale that is their eye’s muse.
9. Eric (E.C.) Gladstone
Writer/Photographer Personality & Expert
10. Jerome Shaw
Content Creator•Writer•Photographer•Teacher• Travel•PR•Journalist•Blogger•Twitter+ Social Media Savvy Digital Marketer
Consider your own backyard as a travel destination. Look at your own city with the fresh eyes you give to new and undiscovered destinations as you travel. Many people consider the place you live a location they’d like to know more about and one day visit. You can produce travel stories without all the expense of airfares, meals and hotels. (For more information on this concept: http://www.travelboldly.com/2013/07/interview-with-travel-writer-jerome-shaw.htmlhttp://www.travelboldly.com/2014/01/travel-writing-on-location-era-of-one.html)
Deliver the complete package to publications. Learn to produce publication quality text and photography. If you are first and foremost a writer, improve your visual skills. If you are a photographer, develop your language skills. And, if you want to deliver the whole megillah, become capable of delivering a 3-5 minute video on the subjects you write about and photograph.
11. Leonard Rapoport
Publisher and Editor-In-Chief at IMPress An International Press Association Publication
When writing the article, visit the various websites on the places you visited to obtain accurate information and facts. You may also find images you can use in your article as well using Google Maps and Images. Many are free to use without copyright restrictions if you credit or link to their website, see articles on creative commons, fair use and copyrights.
If you have a camera that takes video as well, everyone does these days, shoot some video clips for inclusion in the article. You can see some that we do on our IMPress site. Each author has his own style and most of our staff are experienced photographers, so they tend to have a great deal of beautiful photos. Here is an example: http://ipaimpress.com/photographing-northern-italy-tips-and-techniques/
12. Maggie Espinosa
Travel Journalist and Author
When starting in the travel writing industry pitch small, local weekly/monthly publications to build your clip portfolio. My first travel writing job was for the San Diego Presidio Sentinel. The editor was wonderful. Knowing I had no experience in the travel writing field, she still agreed to review my first attempts. I passed the test and was published regularly in the monthly newspaper. This allowed me to acquire clips to sent to different publications. Hence, my travel writing career was born.
13. Ron James
Publisher/ Executive Editor at Wine Dine & Travel Magazine
First of all don’t expect to make a living as a travel writer. Those full-time and good paying freelance gigs are available, but they’re few and far between. There are far fewer traditional media outlets to place your work than in the past, and most big time outlets have a regular circle of writers they go to for stories. But freelance opportunities are out there — mostly online and digital — and, although they may not pay a lot or even anything, will look at inexperienced freelancers if their writing is fresh and well written — good photography helps a lot.
Get your work out even if it’s an unpaid, or low paid gig — then use the links to the clips to show your work to potential editors in larger media companies. Even if you don’t get paid a lot for your stories, there are other perks to travel writing, than including comps, media rates and hosted travel; but are given to journalists with an assignment from a known media company or who have a track record as a freelancer. You can see our great writers for Wine Dine and Travel Magazine at www.winedineandtravel.com/
14. Heidi Fuller-Love
Freelance travel, food and lifestyle writer/photographer/ professional hotel reviewer, radio host for British Airways
My tip? Sign up for every freelance writing site/newsletter you can find, read every article and learn, learn, learn about this competitive trade. A site that I highly recommend is www.writersweekly.com. You can find out more about Heidi at her website: www.heidifuller-love.com
15. Joanne Barber Reid
Author of travel blog
16. Halle Eavelyn
Managing Director, Spirit Quest Tours, LLC
Write for sites for free first – you can write for WeSaidGoTravel.com and Afar.com, both of which have great big followings, and then break into other sites that are harder to get into.
17. Jim Conkle
Travel Consultant & Tourism Director
18. Fred Hatman
Author / blogger / writer / photographer
Never stop endeavoring to improve your writing and photography skills, take pride in what you do… and don’t let the potholes of trying to get published (and paid) put you off. And, finally, be brave.
19. Len Kaufman
Len Kaufman Photographer
20. Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP
Independent Meeting Planner/Professional Conference Management and Freelance Meetings/Travel Writer
I always tell ‘newbies’ [which, by the way I still consider myself to be. . .] that there really is no one direct path for everyone. Ask ten different travel writers and you’ll hear ten different versions of how they got started and where their first break came from. My best advice is to follow the travel writers you really enjoy for inspiration and then make sure you find your own voice.
21. Carrie Groves
Editor and writer at ForBoomersOnline.com
We’ve been working on our travel site for two years now, but what I’m learning is that for any travel writing piece –print or blog –good photos are every bit as important as the copy!
Find places that are not written to death…and try to find a new twist to present.
22. Judith Doyle
Freelance journalist & travel writer at Self-employed
Show, not tell! Is still the most important advice. Or as George Orwell said “Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint on broken glass.”
23. Skip King
President, Reputation Strategies LLC
* you’d better be sensitive to finding a very cool place no one else yet has, or
* you’d better be able to describe aspects of a place a lot of people already know about in a way they’ve never heard before, and
* you’d better be able to do both if you want to make a living at it.
I’m serious about this. I’ve done some travel writing myself, but primarily, I’m a PR guy (don’t take on many promotional clients these days – only those with truly interesting stories). Just as editors do, I have my favorite travel writers; these are people I know can PRODUCE. If I present a writer to a client, it’s because I know they won’t just write about their expenses-paid vacation.
If your goal is to sell a story about your free vacation, I – and my clients – have no time for you.
24. Neala Schwartzberg-McCarten
Freelance Writer specializing in travel with art, culture, and history twist
Pitch, pitch, pitch and develop a thick skin when it comes to rejection.
25. Mike Marchev
President at Marchev & Associates
Here is another slant. One that has served me well for over 30 years. As a professional trainer, speaker for hire, salesman, and liver of life to its fullest, in my opinion you are in the right industry. Travel rocks! But don’t “pitch.” Instead, offer, introduce, collaborate and present. You will find these to be much easier and less daunting than “pitching.”
Next, understand with your full heart and soul that you can’t be “rejected” because they are not rejecting you. The topic may be off … the timing may be bad … the decision maker may be having a bad hair day, or in all probability counting the minutes until the Friday 5 o’clock whistle. etc. Don’t flatter yourself by thinking they are rejecting you. They are not.
Write for you: in your words and with your personality shining through. Mentally become “bullet-proof” and keep on pursuing your dream. Sound a bit corny? Keep failing. Fail more. Fail faster. Fail with flair. If you are good at your trade, your goodness with eventually surface. Don’t quit and never stop believing in yourself. You are all you’ve got. Good luck and Go Mets!
26. Sylvia Frommer-Mracky
Travel Editor at THE AFRICAN TIMES
27. Georgina Allen
Early Years Professional, Primary School Teacher, Freelance Writer (Travel Writer and Museums)
Look ahead – pitch to editors about openings, festivals, celebrations that will be happening in six months time – pitch for summer trips in Feb etc – get an angle and try to pitch yourself as the best person to do this piece and why – good luck!
28. Kristance Harlow
Tech Savvy Travel Editor, Writer, and Researcher Extraordinaire
Write, write, write. Get a portfolio online by writing your own blog and dedicate yourself to putting out new original content often. A blog is essential to new travel writers today, your blog might not become your income but it will be a priceless portfolio.
29. Ruth Kozak
“Shadow of the Lion”; “Dragons in the Sky: A Celtic Tale” (work in progress) at historical fiction writer
I’ve been writing and publishing travel since ’82. First of all, you need to travel and look for unusual and interesting things to focus on such as a theme. NEVER write from brochures. Do your own homework before and after you’ve been on a trip so you have the facts straight. Remember to include people in the picture and dialogue as well as descriptive passages that transport the reader to the scene. And start off small. Sometime in local papers and even for free just to get a publishing experience. Always read the guidelines for subs. and don’t get discouraged. You learn to write by writing.
Learn about Ruth’s travel writing workshops www.ruthkozak.com
30. Greg Benchwick
Learn your market, carve out your niche (be it adventure, food, wine or regional), and never burn a bridge with your editors.
31. Vikki Moran
Owner/Publisher Capital Region Living Magazine, Travel Writer, Travel Blogger
32. Camille Miller
I help develop and sustain your network of subscribers. *Writer * Content Marketing Strategist*
You don’t have to wait for an assignment. Write “spec” articles that demonstrate your skill and stick them in a portfolio (online is usually best). I’ve discovered that editors care less about how long you’ve been working with words – they only want to see that YOU CAN DO IT.
33. Melissa Shales
Travel Writer and Editor, EFL/ESOL Teacher, Tourism Consultant
Get out there and network, online and in person. Unless you are known and know people, you won’t get commissions, even if you are worthy of a Nobel Prize, the field is too crowded and editors will go with the tried and tested first.
34. Simon Veness
Orlando expert, Travel writer, Sports columnist, Founding author of best-selling Brit Guide travel series
There are no simple shortcuts to getting to where you want to be these days. It takes time to establish your writing credentials, and knowing your subject inside out is only the start. Knowing your readers is also vital and being able to take a good photo to support your work is also really helpful nowadays. And work, work, work at your writing, as others have said. The first draft is rarely the best and it’s worth taking the time to re-read everything you write on a regular basis to see where you can improve.
35. Stephen Jermanok
Travel Writer, Travel Consultant, Screenwriter
Don’t take rejection personally! When I speak at Boston universities on travel writing, I bring my stack of over 1000 rejection letters I saved from my first years of writing professionally. My favorite is a simple form letter from Mad Magazine, with a box checked off that reads: “It didn’t tickle our funny bone.”
36. Richard Prudhomme
Editorial Stock Photograpy
37. Eileen Ogintz
Owner, Taking the Kids and Online Media Specialist
You need to find a unique niche and become an expert in that niche–providing insights that others can’t.
38. Karen Kefauver
Social Media Coach | Social Media Speaker | Business Blogging | Social Strategy | Adventure Travel & Bicycling Writer
Be sure to THANK everyone who helps you along the way – hospitality folks, PR people, locals who assist you and more. You can do this thank you via a plug on your own personal media sites, on their sites, via an old fashioned thank you card and if you really want to stand out or email, too.
39. Jonathan DeLise
Author of BuildingMyBento Travel Blog & Linguist; Searching for New Opportunities
I carry a plastic bag for my passport/small bills (useful in humid climates/for the rainy season), a metal spoon (it’s the most useful and least-threatening utensil) and a piece of hemp (rubber bands are great but they crack), in case something needs to be tied.
40. Jill Adler
Web Content Writer at Park City Television
Make sure you’re upfront about mutual expectations before you accept FAM invites. Nothing is more aggravating to hosts than promising guaranteed pub in a 100k circulation and not delivering. However, when you are a freelance writer, there are never guarantees when it comes to print writing so help manage those expectations.
41. Heather Stimmler-Hall
Author of “Naughty Paris: A Lady’s Guide to the Sexy City”, editor of www.SecretsofParis.com, & Private Paris Tour Guide
Take a journalism or travel writing class where you get constructive feedback on your writing (bloggers are used to being published without an editor, but it’s good to have professional feedback before writing for pay). If it’s a good class they’ll also address the ethics of free travel, how to tell the difference between PR and journalism, and hopefully teach you to be a bit more subjective when doing your research.
42. Anthony (The Travel Tart)
Social Media | Blogging | SEO | Travel
Definitely find a niche of your own and dominate it. Always come up with a unique angle on a place or something that others don’t write about. Don’t rehash what’s in your guidebook!
43. Linda J. Bottjer
Owner, Gold Rush Tales
44. Marilyn Jones
Independent Writing and Editing Professional
Your time is divided by three: marketing, traveling and writing. Often new writers forget how much time it takes to market their ideas and their work. And become an excellent photographer. Not only do many editors appreciate this perk, these photos can serve as your notes when you sit down to write your article.
45. Susan Mate
Freelance writer/editor/researcher/web content at Last Word Media.
46. Carrie Finley Bajak
Content Ninja – Growth Hacker
47. Barbara Kingstone
publisher/ travel writer/ shopping maven at self employed
I don’t mean to sound flip but you can’t survive on travel writing unless…you have a trust fund or marry very well. Get in touch with Government Tourist Offices to see what they are budgeted for the coming year. As for submitting articles for free? If the venue receives high rating and has terrific contributors, then it’s a great platform to show your work. And know that travel writing may sound glamourous but is isn’t. Its hard work and not glamorous as many writers know.
48. Tamara Thiessen
Hotel & Travel Journalist
No use calling yourself a travel writer if you spend most of your time at home. I spend 9 months a year on the road, in hotels of all shapes and sizes, and still feel I spend too much time settling in. You have to travel and travel loads to know your subject and qualify as a travel writer and travelling writer.
49. Krystina Marie Price
CEO/Creative Director at Priceless Productions
As someone said earlier in this thread, write! write! write! And, as the publisher of, “Santa Monica Mirror” informed me, when I asked for a job, “Your brain is a muscle. Just like your body, it gets weak, if you’re not exercising it – by writing all the time. Journalism or any type of “writing” never really paid very well, only for super stars. We can’t all be news anchors and Tennessee Williams.
50. Irene S. Levine
Freelance writer, blogger & advice columnist
51. Ron Kness
Travel Writer and photographer | Website: http://ronkness.com/travelwriter
Research, research, research. Once you have the slant for your article, then search for out-of-the-way places, people or things that you want to see while at the destination. Almost everything has been written about in some way shape of form, so you’ll have an article that editors will notice if it tackles the subject in a new way.
52. Veronica Leonard
Writer & Editor
When I first started travel writing the overwhelming cost of getting somewhere compared to the pay back from magazines and blogsites was daunting. Building my own blogsite and establishing a niche in an area I knew and that was close at hand gave me initial credence. http://thewinetourist.wordpress.com I needed, having an active presence on Twitter added to that as well as membership in professional writers’ organizations.
I’ve never been on an organized press junket. However I have successfully approached Tourism boards, businesses and event managers on my own and asked for media passes, press rates, or in the case of tourism departments travel support in terms of food and accommodations and have not been turned down. In fact I’ve been blown away by not only the level of support but the friendships that have been developed from the service providers.
Never be afraid to ask for help to access the stories you want to write, but obviously the other hints are have your own website and blog, with links to samples of your work and be active on Social Media.
53. Mike Hinshaw
Travel and Food Blogger; Writer, Photographer, Foodie and all around Travel Geek
My number one suggestion though and one that helped me substantially is to try and convince a couple of seasoned bloggers to “mentor” you. I was very fortunate and had a couple of young ladies in Texas that at the time we’re available and helped me immensely.
Pick a couple that are straight shooters and will give you honest feedback, not fluff. It made all the difference in the world for me and the industry is actually “kind” at the core! I have reciprocated with a few newer bloggers and you need to carry it forward, if you go down this path.
54. Michael Luongo
Independent Writing and Editing Professional
Polite persistence is the key. I had an editor in my early days tell me I have the most creative way around the word no of any writer she met – when she rejected something, I would ask if I could come back to her in 3 months time, 6 months time, etc – eventually I landed an assignment from this very important travel glossy. It is more than being thick skinned, but not taking something personally and understanding maybe you’re not ready yet, but you will be, and to allow the editor to understand this. It’s something very basic I was taught in college – part of building skills, and letting others know you’re working on things. www.mkichaelluongo.com and @michaelluongo on Twitter.
55. Jeanette Hurt
Author and Freelance Writer
It should go without saying, but don’t be a diva on trips, don’t be obnoxious, and don’t behave in a way that is more appropriate to a soap opera; at the same time, line up at least one or two stories before you go on a trip. If you do any of the former and neglect to do the latter, you won’t be invited back, and you might not be invited to other places (it’s a small, small world just like the Disney ride).
Wow! A huge thank you to all the contributors! Have a tip of your own? Please share in the comments below.
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