Insider Travel Tips to Help You Make the Most of Every Trip
By Jackie Flynn in Waterford, Ireland

NWA WorldTraveler magazine is the monthly in-flight magazine for Northwest Airlines.  Although NWAWT doesn’t publish Writer’s Guidelines, according to editor, Olivia Herstein, this is not intended to discourage new writers. Some of the Features section stories are regularly written by the same people, but Ms. Herstein says newcomers are always welcome, provided their stories meet the magazine’s requirements.

The three main categories of stories in World Traveler are Features, Departments, and Columns.  Columns are all currently assigned but the other two sections are open to freelancers.

Departments is a grab bag of items assembled under regular titles such as About Town and Take Offs. They are short pieces (75-200) words, heavy on detail and focusing on cities in the region, fashion (e.g. ‘Hip Rain Gear’), and places to eat and shop.

The best opportunities for you are in Features. This section has three stories, one of which focuses on a celebrity. The other two are destination pieces, including a regular, “3 Days” feature. Here, after an introduction to provide a sense of place, the writer describes a day-by-day itinerary of a city or region. Sidebars have such headings as “Must Do” and “Inside Scoop.” Total word count, including sidebars, is 1,500-1,800.

It’s not necessary for either of the two travel stories in Features to be located on North Western’s own route map (you can check that out at the airline’s website). However, if it doesn’t appear there, it must be on the route map of one of its airline partners in the SkyTeam Alliance. Since the Alliance covers 740 destinations in 151 countries, this leaves you a wide choice in destinations to cover.
The editor says, “Make sure you review past issues so you understand what we’re looking for. It’s a combination of travel story and guide book with a distinctive format.” The second destination feature story is less restricted in format, more free ranging.  Photos are not required as World Traveler will assign a photographer. However, if you are able to supply pictures, you will be paid in addition for those.

World Traveler receives 50-75 story proposals a month. Ms. Herstein wants to see published clips from people she hasn’t worked with before, especially for a Features proposal.  If your proposal is short-listed, a staffer will contact you to walk you through the process to publication. The editor wouldn’t reveal pay rates but said they were “competitive.” (I think it’s safe to assume this means about $1 per word.)

The 50-75 story proposals per month that World Traveler receives is quite a small number and is excellent news for you if you want to pitch a story to the magazine.  Also worthy of note is the fact they usually discard about 30% of submissions because the writer hasn’t researched the magazine properly and the proposed story won’t fit the publication’s format.

The lesson there is — as always — get to know the magazine thoroughly before developing a story proposal.  Research is easy. The website has three years worth of archived copies. Hint: Try to include in your proposal a link or cross-reference that makes it clear that you’re familiar with the magazine. Pitch your piece to a specific department. And model your story after one that the editors have already run. (You’re not stealing content, you’re simply mimicking a successful structure. Nothing wrong with that!)

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Travel, Writing & Photography Resources
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