Being a travel writer has its perks. Travel publications pay well and on time, and once those initial articles are published, free trips start rolling in courtesy of public relations firms. But how do you acquire those first few published articles?
Pick Locations Wisely
Know your fellow countrymen. United States residents prefer the Caribbean, Hawaii and Mexico, so U.S. travel magazines prefer stories on these regions. While Taipei may intrigue you, these other stories improve your odds of a sale.
Tourism boards, like Atout France or the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, will host events in big cities like Los Angeles or New York to give updates about the latest news in tourism, like new airports or hotel openings. You can use the information given at these events to write an article, even if you’ve never been to the country hosting the event.
Typically, attendees are invited via their publications, but emailing different tourism boards can land you an invite. Follow them on Twitter to find out when they’ll be hosting events and shoot them an email request a few weeks in advance.
Will Blog for Trips
PR firms constantly seek high traffic blogs and may offer bloggers free trips in exchange for a post or two, even if their blog themes are about topics besides travel. You don’t have to pitch editors or have experience to blog, so it’s a good way to break into travel writing by writing about subjects you already have expertise in. The main key is to just have the traffic.
Look into Less Popular Publications
Everyone knows Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and AFAR, but what about magazines catering to travel agents? Magazines like Recommend, Travelweek and Travel Agent. Writing for trade publications is different from writing for consumer publications, but it’s easy enough to get the hang of the style. Just remember that whoever is reading the article is not going on the trip themselves. Local newspapers also have travel sections. Check with them and see which locations are popular.
The travel industry thrives on networking. Everyone you meet can offer you an in with an editor, a press trip, an invite to an event. Make friends on every trip you go on, with travel agents, and every publication you write for.
When on assignment, always reach out to the tourism board of whatever country you’re going to as well as local tour operators. They are more than happy to help you, and once you post an article about a location, you will be on their radar for future trips and opportunities.
Pick Up and Move (or Stay Where You Are)
Travel magazines love when someone actually lives in the location they’re writing for. If you live in Mexico, Myanmar, or Montevideo, search for publications that have newsletters related to these areas. They love having someone local to attend hotel openings or inaugural flights.
Twitter chats are when groups coordinate a time and hashtag to talk about travel-related topics. Many big publications like Conde Nast Traveler have their own (#TravelerChats). They are the perfect way to network, net followers, and place you on the radar of editors. To find out when they’re happening, follow tour operators, travel agents and travel magazines on Twitter. Two you can start with are Conde Nast Traveler and Travel Weekly.
BIO – Ashley Burnett is a freelance worker living and working in California. Her articles have appeared in several travel publications, as well as on The Billfold, The Toast and Wyvern Lit. You can reach her via Twitter @AshleyDBurnett or through her website: www.ashleyburnett.net.