One of your responsibilities as a travel writer is to find compelling and timely topics for your articles.
When I joined the staff as a stringer at a monthly community newspaper in 2009, one of my greatest fears was that I’d run out of story ideas. My mother even asked me, on many occasions, “Haven’t you run out of people to interview?”
That never happened. In fact, one of the greatest challenges you’ll face as a travel writer is narrowing the scope of possibilities. And whether you’re masterminding your first or your 1,000th article, the process is the same. The key is to awaken your mind and employ your innate sense of curiosity.
We’ve all seen folks walking the streets with their smartphones in hand, their heads tipped forward while texting or talking. I’d say they’re mostly oblivious to the world around them. Simply stated, travel writers are reporters who learn to tune in, rather than tune out, their surroundings. Their responsibility is to keep their eyes and ears open in search of news.
When I sold sound systems and background music more than 30 years ago, my sales manager told me to take a different route home after work.
“Why?” I remember asking him. His answer makes sense, now as much as back then: If you travel the same road all the time, you miss things.
To the travel writer, that means you’re probably not aware that on the other side of town, a new vegan restaurant opened, or the hotel that was under construction last week is offering a special lodging deal this week.
Once you travel a new road, I’m willing to bet you can find five fresh, new stories within a two-block radius. On that note, don your reporter’s cap and follow these three tips to find compelling travel story ideas:
1. Visit your favorite restaurant, bar, coffee shop, boutique, etc. Additions or changes to the menu, upcoming entertainment, an updated decor, and new employees are all newsworthy topics.
2. Make it a point to stay in touch with key people in the chamber of commerce and tourism boards. Ask for unique, less-sought-after story ideas.
3. Contact your local historical society, a historian or architect—all of whom will have stories to share. Tap into available resources as much as possible. In 2011, my editor assigned me to cover my town’s centennial celebration. Finding stories that appealed to a diverse audience was a breeze with help from the community.
Remember, cities, towns, and businesses thrive on publicity and will go out of their way to help you. Once you have the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” covered, refer to your Great Escape Publishing travel writer’s program, and get busy crafting your story.
[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.]