Social media can be depressing, right?
Everyone seems to post travel photos from far-flung exotic locales.
Scroll down your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook feed any time of day. Go ahead.
You’ll find images of the 18th-century sculpted Trevi Fountain in Italy, the Great Blue Hole for scuba diving in Belize, coffee plantations in Hawaii, ancient mausoleums from the most visited necropolis in the world, Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.
When I was working 60-70 hours a week, living paycheck to paycheck with no disposable income or free time for travel, posts like these were disheartening.
Seeing other people doing what YOU want to do can make you throw up your hands in defeat—before you’ve even started your travel-writing journey—taunted by thoughts that you’ll never have the means to make it to places like that.
Or they can inspire you, make you put on your thinking cap, look at travel differently.
That’s where local travel comes in. It’s where most travel writers I know started. And it can be a gold mine for you, too.
Here are a few ideas to get you started writing about local travel experiences.
Are there favorite places you return to over and over in your hometown? Maybe museums that change exhibits several times throughout the year. Or places that cost little to nothing but are still interesting to see.
One of my favorite listicles was titled “10 things to do under $10 bucks in Saratoga.” It included museums, parks, gardens, carousel rides, and entrance to the race track.
Sometimes a place has been covered a gazillion times, in a million ways. Finding a different way to approach the subject makes it fresh and new. Local, regional, even international editors are interested in another set of eyes, an original voice, a distinctive point of view.
Another favorite piece I wrote was about Saratoga’s historic race track. It was interesting to find old photographs and share what it was like attending the meet so many years ago with readers who weren’t aware of its backstory.
Everyone loves events—especially when they’re local. Thinking about annual parades, beer and wine festivals, celebrations of a well-known person’s life and contribution to society, restaurant weeks, and community efforts can land a plethora of stories in the lap of a travel writer.
I loved the Wizard of Oz as a child. Learning that the author, L. Frank Baum, was born only two short hours from me was exciting. Spending a weekend in his hometown let me be a kid again.
Travel writers are a savvy bunch. We write about things we love to do, things that grab and hold our interest. It might be about fishing or knitting, cooking or shopping, mini-vacations with family or friends. In my case, it’s also about ghost hunting.
I’m always looking for a place that’s haunted. And my stories have included restaurants, graveyards, historic homes, old hotels, museums, and more. Think about what excites you. There’s a publication for that, promise.
Back to social media
Social media is a priceless tool. As travel writers, we should use Google, Pinterest, local news stations, newspapers, Facebook groups, photography sites, Instagram, and Twitter to our advantage.
All of these can inspire us to see what people are doing and where they are going—nearby or far away.
I don’t work 60 hours a week anymore. I quit while I was in Paris, on assignment and honoring my mother’s birthday. I’ve traveled to London, Puerto Rico, Ireland, and Fiji for editors interested in stories about my experience. This Fall will see me in Antigua.
Writing local is a stepping stone, a diving board, a base-line. It lets you get your feet wet in the travel-writing world. You can go anywhere after.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Five Fun Ways To Get Paid To Travel: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]