Free Lodging and Lobster Dinners: An Interview a Travel Writer
AN INTERVIEW WITH TRAVEL WRITER JEANINE BUCKLEY
TWWTT: Before we get started, Jeanine, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and what made you decide to turn to travel writing.
JEANINE: My background is in international marketing. While studying a semester in Paris, I fell in love with France and wanted a career that involved dealing with other cultures. When I came back from Paris, I enrolled at the Monterey Institute for International Studies where I received an international MBA.
I started my own company as an international marketing consultant. By working on my own I figured I’d have more vacation time. But as my business grew, I was spending so much time working on client projects that I had hardly any time to travel on my own. After 8 years, I found it very grueling and unrewarding.
That’s when I decided to pursue a career as a freelance writer. I figured I could add this ability to my portfolio of marketing skills. One night while searching the web, I came across travelwriters.com and signed up. Once I started receiving their press releases about the FAM trips available, I was hooked on becoming a travel writer.
TWWTT: Early on you published a couple of articles and got a taste of the free travel that lured you to travel writing. How did the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Course accelerate those successes?
JEANINE: I didn’t quite know how to get started as a travel writer – how to query editors, how to find the right markets for my articles – the practical ins and outs of becoming a professional. The course helped immensely with these things.
Also, you don’t have to get very far into the course to start applying the techniques it teaches to come up with a marketable article. I was able to place both my first full-length article assignment and my interview assignment with Travel Lady before I completed the course.
Of course, because you’re progressively learning new skills, you have more confidence in your writing as you work through the assignments.
My first article took quite a while to write. I remember working with my travel writing buddy and sending her a very rough draft. At that point I was struggling with what information to include and how to organize it. I finally just forced myself to sit down and finish it.
The interview article was so much easier to write. When I submitted this article to Travel Lady, the editor commented that I was a really good writer and told me she would show my articles to her travel colleagues. That was a great boost to my ego.
It also motivated me to write and submit additional articles to Travel Lady – I wanted to publish a total of six articles with them to meet their requirement for an assignment on a press trip.
At this stage, I was confident enough with my travel writing skills – knowing where to look for article ideas, the importance of using all of the senses to describe a place, how to organize different types of travel pieces, and the other techniques I’d picked up from the course at that point – that writing those remaining articles was actually fun.
Travel Lady accepted all of them and assigned me a press trip to York, Maine.
TWWTT: That’s encouraging to our students, many of whom, like you, were drawn to travel writing because of the opportunities for free travel that are out there for qualified travel writers. You’ve shown you don’t need years of experience behind you to get invited on press trips. It’s also an excellent testimonial for the skills the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Course and our workshops teach.
What kind of experience can students expect when they’re invited on a press trip as a working travel writer? Tantalize us a bit.
JEANINE: In my case in York, Maine – three days of idyllic leisure at no charge! As an international marketing consultant I was rarely invited to stay in such luxurious accommodations. It was a real treat to stay in a room with an ocean view, a Jacuzzi tub, fireplace and even wireless Internet access.
The first night, after dinner – chilled lobster salad served in a fresh avocado – I sat in my fireside chair with my laptop computer and actually worked on several of my course lessons. The next night I feasted on Boiled Maine Lobster, accompanied by a chilled Chardonnay and an exquisite view of the ocean.
Plus, I came away with enough information for four or five articles. And, the best part is, when I checked out, the bill was zero!
TWWTT: Since you’re quickly becoming a seasoned pro yourself, what advice can you give other students who share your travel writing ambitions?
JEANINE: Even if you’re still a student, start thinking and acting like a professional travel writer. Get business cards with your name and “travel writer” as a title. For example, the Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau gave me free passes when I presented my travel writer’s card.
Attend a professional conference for the networking opportunities. I went to the North American Travel Journalists Association Conference in Newport, Rhode Island, and met other travel writers who gave me valuable advice on breaking in to the profession. While there, I also obtained a ton of information on New England, which happens to be my back yard!
When you’ve landed an assignment, make sure you understand clearly the type of article the editor is expecting, whether or not she’s expecting photos along with it and, most importantly, when she’s expecting to receive the article.
And show your professionalism by always meeting that deadline!
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]