Working as a travel writer may seem like a dream job. You get paid handsomely to travel to exotic places and all of the transportation, accommodations and meals are given to you for free. It’s better than getting cheap holidays, it’s a free vacations, right? Wrong!
In the first place, no public relations firm, advertising agency, visitors bureau or travel marketing board gives anything away for free. If they are going to invest a few thousand dollars to fly someone halfway around the world, they are going to expect a return on their investment that at a very minimum involves them getting editorial coverage in newspapers, magazines or in new media that is worth at least a few thousand dollars, and more likely much more. If you can provide evidence that this is something you can deliver, then you may get your foot in the door.
Having been a professional travel writer for more than a dozen years, I am amazed at how dramatically the game has changed, for two huge reasons: 9/11 and the Internet. Back before the terrible events of September 11, 2oo1 air travel was fun. Afterwards it became almost too much trouble. As a result, fewer people bought airline tickets, fewer airlines and other travel-related companies bought advertising space in newspapers and magazines. As a result, editors at publications had less money to buy travel articles. As a result, there was less money available to be paid to travel writers.
I once joked that some of the articles of mine that are published earn me so little money that they will pay to have my film processed, provided I am using a digital and not a film camera.
As a member of the board of directors of a professional travel writers association, I am finding it increasingly difficult to encourage young people to get started. For those who would like to give it a try, my best suggestion is to write travel articles about places near enough to where you are located that you can go there for free or cheap. Then write excellent articles and post them on the internet. If you have a nice enough online portfolio, you can probably convince the owners of some local attractions to let you in at no charge in return for online publicity. You may even be able to get your article published in a local newspaper.
For someone who was wondering how to become a travel writer, I hope this article was not too discouraging. Happy travels!