Do you approach travel writing and photography like a crab… or like a kangaroo?

Kangaroos clear large obstacles in a single bound. They never go backward… In fact, they literally can’t. So on they go, ever leaping forward through life.

Crabs, on the other hand, only go sideways. When they run into an obstacle, they resort to desperately lashing out with their claws. Then they go hide in a hole.

Here’s my point: If you haven’t found travel writing or photography success yet, that’s no reason to throw up your hands and go sit on the couch with some bon-bons (the human equivalent to hiding in a hole).

Anyone can get paid to travel by jotting down their experiences or snapping photos along the way and pitching them to glossy magazines, newspapers, and websites.

And, on top of getting paid to share about your travels, you can also score loads of free trips, meals, and perks…

But first, you have to actually get off the couch and get started for it to happen.

Here are the three main ways to take advantage of the perks of a travel writer or photographer’s life:

** 1. Go on a group press trip. You can find group press trip announcements to places all over the world, as well as nearby towns, by searching for them on the Internet or signing up for a service like MediaKitty.com.

[Note: MediaKitty.com also serves as a place for journalists to catch up on industry news, find story ideas, connect with editors, and more. To join you need to either have three published clips in your name, or if you write for blogs, include the amount of traffic on the blog to be considered.]

On these trips, you join a group of other writers and photographers for a few days of all-expenses-paid adventure. The tourist board, or whoever is paying for the trip, wants you to see and do as much as possible, so they can be overwhelming after a while… but nothing beats getting a free trip packed full of goodies like spa visits, rafting, horseback riding, etc.

** 2. Work with a tourist board to design an individual press trip that revolves around your own interests. Tourist boards are often willing to do this, though they’ll usually need a few weeks’ notice (and you’ll need at least a little bit of a track record before you approach them). Still, this is a great way to ensure you see what you need to see in a destination… and often on the house.

** 3. Arrange your own free perks. You can contact the tourist board in a city, let them know you’re a travel writer, and ask if they have any events going on or special things that might be worth your covering. That might get you a few free tickets, or discounts. Then, you can fill in the rest by contacting hotels, restaurants, museums, and attractions to do the same.

Of course, there IS one catch in all of this. You do actually have to plan to write the story and/or take the photos. And, if you want to get the very best perks, it helps if you’ve been published one or two times first.

But plenty of publications are happy to work with newbies — as long as you follow the Writer’s or Photographer’s Guidelines and send in a story and/or photos that meet their needs.

And there’s no better time or place to do that than right here and now.

Tomorrow, I’ll share some stories from fellow readers who are traveling for free and enjoying travel writer and photographer perks.

[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.]

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