Going on a FAM trip is like grabbing the “brass ring” of travel writing.
It’s when someone selects YOU to go on a free trip, with activities, transportation, luxury hotel stays, and the best meals… all on the house.
FAM trips are designed by PR people or tourism bureaus, with the idea of offering a rich and varied experience to travel writers and other media folks, in hopes of promoting a destination or attraction.
I’ll never forget my first FAM trip, on St. Simons Island, Georgia. I had only a few articles under my belt at the time but decided to take a chance. I applied and landed that golden ticket, traveling with 11 other journalists to The King and Prince Resort, just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean.
When I returned home, I wrote several articles about the experience and worked on getting them published. I made sure to send the links/magazines to every property and attraction I’d been able to visit. Pretty soon, I was being invited on FAM and media trips… without even having to apply.
Once you have a few by-lines under your belt and can prove you’re dependable by delivering articles that highlight your trip, I’m confident the same thing will happen for you.
To speed things along, consider becoming a member of places like ITWPA, Media Kitty, and TravMedia. All three are organizations intent on helping travel writers learn of opportunities in upcoming FAM trips. You’ll have to put your best foot forward when you apply for a spot, as the competition can be fierce.
Here are a few other things you can do to score FAM trip invitations…
Do what you say you are going to do.
If you apply for and land a coveted spot by promising you can get three articles published, you better be ready to go home and make it happen. PR representatives talk to everyone.
If you are the “real deal,” they will sing your praises. Other invitations will arrive in your mail box. On the other hand, if you promise something and produce nothing, it’s a big no-no. It won’t be long before the invites dry up.
Try and line up publications ready to take your stories before you go. Review what’s in The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program, The Travel Writer’s Café, or the stuff you get with ITWPA membership on how to do this.
You’re on the job.
By all means, enjoy every second of the exotic location, the warm weather, the magnificent vistas, and ridiculous food… but remember to take good notes and tons of pictures, too. You’re going to be writing stories when you return home, so your facts need to be accurate. Be professional. Be that person the tourism bureaus want to work with again.
Don’t be that aggravating, irritating travel writer.
FAM trips are set on a tight schedule. There is nothing worse than showing up late, when everyone else is on the bus, ready to go. Be on time, be respectful, and you’ll be a favorite.
Even if you have no personal interest in where the group’s headed, don’t be a complainer. Find something to enjoy. Look for the story within the story. After all, you may find some little-known thing that makes you excited to write about it later.
Travel writers eat strange things. They go to strange places. They meet strange and interesting people. A sense of adventure will take you far!
You can under-promise, but you better over-deliver.
You were invited on this trip because you promised them a story. Make sure it rocks! Knock their socks off with great coverage and stellar images. You’re a travel writer and tourism representatives are counting on you to help promote their area to others.
I’ve been able to work with numerous tourism bureaus, both overseas and in the states. One recently told me they’re using my “true professionalism” as an example in their training seminars. It’s such an honor to be named in what all tourism bureaus should expect from a travel writer, after the FAM trip is over.
Today, I have nearly 150 articles published. I’m blessed but I’ve also worked hard. The free trips are icing on the cake.
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