I’ve been a passionate traveler for over 20 years, and an on-the-road freelance travel writer for around 18 months. Since I started out, I’ve had close to 50 articles published, and I learned a few lessons along the way. As a rookie travel writer, success is largely down to forming the right habits and consistently putting them into practice.
When you’re in Thailand one week and Guatemala the next, you can’t afford to make mistakes in your travel-writing career. Planning ahead, making the most of spontaneous opportunities, and learning to expect the unexpected are all things that aspiring travel writers have to incorporate into their lives.
Here are some tips to keep you moving in the right direction:
Expect that technology will sometimes let you down.
Recently in Tulum, Mexico, the internet went down throughout the city… just when I was close to a deadline. Not a good position to be in, to say the least. Power cuts aren’t unusual in places like India and Nepal. Occasionally, you also may find yourself staying at a guesthouse or hotel where the internet connection is inadequate. Try to complete your work at least a few days prior to your deadline – because you never know what might happen.
You can’t always rely on getting to where you need to be when you want to be there.
Whether it’s an overnight flight delay or a truck breaking down in the middle of the desert, the very nature of travel is unpredictable. Trains and buses commonly run several hours late in some countries. Don’t count on having enough time to complete your assignment based on an estimated time of arrival. Give yourself plenty of space.
Gather enough material when you are able to; you may not have the chance again.
Take an abundance of photographs, ask questions, talk to key people, and take notes. While on the move, I’ve made the mistake of missing out on a photograph or not talking to someone whose viewpoint could potentially have enhanced an article. A couple of days and a hundred miles down the road, I realized I had missed my chance. I now try to make sure that nothing escapes me.
Take opportunities when they arise.
If you get the chance to attend an Indian wedding celebration or partake in an unusual local festival, do it. When you’re traveling, unique opportunities present themselves all the time. As a travel writer, your job is to be curious and inquisitive – you never know which experiences are going to make a great article. Be alert to the possibilities, flexible in your approach, and reap the benefits.
Try to stay on top of your workload by using your time effectively. If you find yourself without internet for a while, think about what you can do offline, and make any preparations that you can that will assist when you have access to the internet again. By prioritizing your work and not putting yourself under pressure, you’ll also be able to take up any of those aforementioned opportunities when they arise.
[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.]