There’s a lot of chatter that goes on out there about travel writing. What does it take to be a travel writer? Can you really make money? How to land those dreamy perks? And do magazines really work with freelancers? There are a lot of myths out there which is why we need to separate fact from fiction.
As a freelance writer with over 700 published articles, I’ve managed to challenge these common myths time and again. And so have many others I know.
Breaking into the world of travel writing isn’t an easy task to tackle on your own. But if you begin with a solid foundation by signing up for a tried-and-true travel writing course, join a travel writer’s group that will encourage and support your journey, you’ll have the needed tools to become a successful travel writer.
So, let’s get on with challenging those mythical perceptions that discourage some from taking that leap into the travel writing world!
Myth #1: You Must Have Journalism Degree
When I broke into travel writing in the fall of 2014 by submitting queries and completed articles for publications, not one of my editors asked if I had a journalism degree. Why? Because it didn’t matter. What did matter is that I could create a good and timely pitch and pen a top-notch story.
My background includes 35+ years nursing and legal nurse consulting. The only writing I’d ever done was for professional journals or creating medical summaries. Nothing could be further from travel writing.
I know freelance writers with backgrounds in medicine, accounting, teaching, coaching, law, and more. And they’re all getting published.
Myth #2: Magazines Employ Their Own Staff of Writers
At one time I totally believed this. It’s because I’d never been exposed to the world of travel writing, so what did I know?
Truth be told, some magazines do have their own in-house writers, but more publications these days accept freelance submissions than don’t.
Many of the editors I work or have a relationship with tell me that more of their writers are now freelancers. We’ve been heading in that direction for quite a while and when COVID hit, this trend only increased.
Myth #3 You Must Travel to Write a Story
Obviously, if you love to travel, that travel will yield some fascinating stories, so go for it. However, not everyone starts out this way or chooses this path.
Like many of my colleagues, I started my writing career penning stories about my local area. For one, I was working full-time with only so much vacation time, and secondly, I realized that my hometown of San Diego is someone else’s ideal travel destination full of great story possibilities.
Though traveling to exotic islands is obviously my favorite, I continue to explore my local beach towns to write the type of stories I love best. And I enjoy writing for some local publications, which means I get to find those hidden gems right in my own backyard, or a short road trip away.
Myth #4 You Must Have a Specific Niche
Not if you’re a freelancer.
While this may be true for bloggers needing to hone in on a specific genre to gain followers, freelance writing is different and much more open to creative topics.
Some writers do find a niche they love, be it food, wine, cruising, or healthy living. But you don’t have to. Destinations are like people—multi-faceted. Visiting a place like Costa Rica for example yielded me several stories covering a vacation rental, food, culture, coffee, history, nature, and outdoor adventures.
Honestly, the more open you are to writing for multiple genres, the better. Your bylines will multiply accordingly.
Myth #5: It’s Not Easy to Get Travel Perks
Couldn’t be further from the truth.
Tourism boards are there to market their destination. Restaurant and boutique hotels want to lure patrons to their door. As travel writers, we are in a unique position. Our stories are their best marketing tools along with the social media coverage we provide.
This quid-pro-quo works time and again as the transaction benefits both parties.
Myth #6: Travel Writers Don’t Make Any Money
That is simply not true. But it all depends on the travel writer.
If you’re willing to write for free, you can get valuable perks, but you won’t get paid. If you pitch publications that pay writers, obviously, you’ll have an income stream. I enjoy my income from travel writing.
How much money can be made? Again, it depends on each individual. Airline and specialty publications can pay upwards of $500 to $1,000 a story. It all comes down to knowing the voice of the publication, coming up with a great story idea, and then pitching away.
Ultimately, I tell writers that if they want to make an income with travel writing, that just like building a business, it can take time to break into those high-end publications for a steady higher income. I find however, that for many, like me, this is second career and so they feel much less pressure on the income front.
And though we mentioned it above, let’s not forget about those incredible perks. Consider what all all-expense paid European river cruise, including airfare would cost out of pocket. Or an all-inclusive luxury invitation to spend 5-days, 4-nights in the Dominican Republic. These amazing benefits are well-worth the cost in the time and effort to write a story about something you enjoy.
Interested in getting started as a travel writer? Grab our discount and sing up for the “The Ultimate Travel Writers Program,” a beginner’s travel writing class that has proven methods (we know because we took it!). TravelWritersUniversity.com and the Travel Writer’s Cafe pick up where “The Ultimate Travel Writers Program” leaves off if you’re ready for intermediate assistance to take your travel writing to the next level.
Good luck! You can do it!