Do you keep a journal when you travel? Maybe you should…Reader Ginny Ripley has always kept a daily diary when she travels. Today Ms. Ripley shares how she used that travel diary to write (and publish) her first travel article – and how you can, too!
Interview with travel writer Ginny Ripley
BONNIE: Where did you go on your trip that provided fodder for your first published travel article, and what was the trip like?
GINNY: I went to Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, and Mozambique. Botswana is geographically fascinating because two rivers and five countries converge, so you can experience more of everything on your African trip. Some of the highlights were a sunrise safari from a Land Rover, another on the river in an open boat, and snorkeling in the Indian Ocean, just above a pod of wild dolphins who came to the surface to get a closer look at us. It was thrilling.
BONNIE: Did you plan to write a story before you left, or did it come about while you were traveling?
GINNY: I took the Ultimate Travel Writer’s program after I came back, and wrote the article a few months later. Thankfully, I’ve always written a daily diary on my trips so I had a lot of detail, as well as photos, to work with.
BONNIE: What was your article about?
GINNY: I started on the Island finale of the trip because it looked more manageable. I thought I could finish it faster and get my byline.
The safari part of the trip was so mind-blowing and overwhelming that I told myself I would “save it for later.”
Word to the wise: keep up with your writing, because before you know it, you’re off on another trip and the commitments and deadlines start to pile up.
BONNIE: How and where did you get it published?
GINNY: I got published in Travellady.com. It was unpaid, but it was my first thrilling byline. And I’ve been hooked ever since.
BONNIE: Besides building credibility and getting published, did you get any expenses paid, or were you able to get special rates and deals as a travel writer?
GINNY: Not on that trip. But I have on others I’ve written about. I usually travel everywhere for at least half-price, with many side trips and excursions tossed in for free.
BONNIE: How do you go about securing discounted travel and perks?
GINNY: I often start the barter process with an e-mail to a manager, telling him or her about an upcoming “Travel Writer Visit.” I am quite direct in asking whether they offer special rates for travel journalists, and I mention an interest in a place/event/excursion of theirs. Sometimes that’s enough to do the trick, but only if you try not to travel during peak seasons.
I have to say, another “perk” of all of this is that my husband has become a very good photographer, and we work in great partnership to get the travel writing done. It’s terrific to have someone fun to share these adventures with.
BONNIE: Do you have any tips for someone who’d like to get started writing travel articles?
GINNY: Sure. My number one tip is the best tip I’ve received — to start locally and write about something you know, in your own backyard. One article I wrote was about New Glarus, Wisconsin, “America’s Little Switzerland,” where I have been going for 20 years. It got published in German Life — a very beautiful, glossy Magazine– and was distributed in nine countries.
My second tip is don’t over-direct your writing. When you’re getting started on a new article, it’s important to just start writing, let it flow, then go back and finesse.
Also, skip the flowery adjectives and power your story through the use of verbs with muscle. I believe that’s one of Jennifer Stevens’tricks.
And finally, just ask. You won’t get a discount or an article published if you don’t put yourself out there and ask for what you want.
BONNIE: Where are you off to next?
GINNY: I plan on going to Ecuador — into the Amazon Rainforest and then to the Galapagos Islands. I really love wildlife and nature and this looks to be a dream trip.
BONNIE: Thanks, Ginny!
[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.]