Get Paid to Travel! Become a Travel Writer
Travel writing is quite possibly the best non-job in the world. It’s fun. It gives you an excuse to travel — and get paid to travel. It can bring with it instant “celebrity” status. (Just tell somebody that you write articles for magazines… and they’ll start looking at you in a whole new way.)
Plus the perks that established travel writers can land are really unbeatable — from a welcome fruit basket and VIP treatment at a hotel or resort to all-expenses-paid “press trips” to far-flung destinations the world over.
And the good news is: It’s easier to get started — and get established — than most people think.
Here’s a quick guide to give you an overview of the market and some resources you can use to get started right away.
Get Paid to Travel: Where to Sell Your Stories
Print and Online Travel Magazines
We’d all love to be published in Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Budget Travel, or any one of the big glossy magazines out there. But the truth is, when you’re just starting out, it’s better to set your sights on smaller publications and gain a few “clips,” or published articles, before you move on to bigger fish.
One easy place to start is on the web. Hundreds – if not thousands – of small, independent travel e-magazines and local tourism sites are more than happy to publish articles from newcomers like you.
You can also try small, local travel — and general-interest– magazines in and around your hometown. While you’re sipping a latte in your favorite corner coffee shop, pick up one of those small papers or digests and flip through it. If it’s free, take it home.
You can also check out your local bookstore and library. And you should do the same when you travel.
Smaller publications and independent web magazines don’t typically pay much, if anything, for articles. But getting published there gains you credibility. And credibility helps you sell other articles.
Once you’ve published a few stories in smaller magazines or online, you can show those clips to bigger magazines when you pitch your stories to them. With published clips to show, you’ll have a much better chance of getting in.
The travel writing market is so big that it’s hard to know where to start. Don’t forget to use our website as a resource. You’ll find there profiles of over 70 great publications where you might get your start. They’re listed in our archives, here: Where to Get Published
Get Paid to Travel: Niche Travel Publications
Niche-travel markets include in-flight magazines, adventure-travel magazines, travel for people who are 50 and over, “shoestring,” or low-budget travel, high-luxury travel, family travel, and so on.
In-flight magazines are the ultimate niche travel market. They’re prestigious, glamorous, and they give your story a captive audience of millions of readers. Plus, they have one of the highest ad revenues in the magazine business. And that means they pay more for articles than many other travel magazines do.
They don’t always work like “regular” consumer magazines. So the first trick is to find the right contact on the staff (check the magazines’ staff box for the editor’s name — you won’t always find it online). And then check for specific departments where an article you’d like to write would fit best.
We’ve written about writing for in-flight magazines in past issues of our e-letter. Check out:
If you want to write for in-flights, make sure you write about a place that the magazine’s airline flies. They won’t publish a story on Milan if they don’t fly there.
You’ll find a full listing of publications and other niche markets in The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program.
Get Paid to Travel: Non-Travel Magazines
When you think “travel writing,” you may not think about anything by travel-related publications. But don’t limit yourself. Once you start to look, you’ll see that an enormous variety of publications include some travel content — everything from military magazines to knitting magazines to pet magazines…
Many of our most successful readers have built their portfolios of published articles by looking beyond the straight travel market.
Take Roy Stevenson, for example. He’s published more than 75 articles in the last seven months.
One of his secrets lies in following his interest. When he travels, he’s interested in the history of a place… particularly its war history. So he publishes his travel articles in military magazines. But he doesn’t stop there. He branches out. And you can, too.
Consider these non-travel publications for your travel articles, where you won’t be competing with similar stories:
Alumni Magazines: You already have a foot in the door if you pick the alumni magazine of your alma mater. Give their magazine a read and see what kinds of stories they publish. But you don’t have to stick with your school. Consider that when you travel, you collect fascinating stories and meet interesting people. Some of those people might be inspirations to the fellow alumni of their universities.
History Magazines: Travel and history go together like peanut butter and jelly. Not only will travel bring you closer to interesting history stories, but adding a little bit of history to your travel articles will add flavor to them… and then you can try pitching them to both history and travel magazines.
Hobby, Sport, and Craft Magazines: If you travel to the South of France in the summertime, you’ll probably see men dressed in white playing Pétanque while the bugs rattle away in the trees. Sport magazines might be interested in a piece on traditional or culture-specific games. The Olympics, Marathons, staying fit while you travel… endless story possibilities exist.
The same goes for Craft and Hobby magazines. People who love animals might find great stories about dogs in one culture or horses in another, for example. Knitting magazines might be interested in a piece on yarn and wool from Ireland or New Zealand. Think about the regions and countries that specialize in a particular thing… and all of the publications that might be interested in the story.
Food and Culture Magazines: Like history, food and culture are major elements of the travel experience, and focusing on them can give you great cross-over articles. While you may have some luck pitching your food-related stories to travel magazines, other places to try include local food and culture magazines or websites. Think unique and review unusual restaurants, or talk about the quirky cuisine in little-known regions.
Also consider local customs and dances, music, alcohol, coffees and teas, or anything else you taste or experience while you travel or in your own hometown that might not be well-known.
Get Paid to Travel: A Few Quick Tips Before You Begin
1. Always, always, always find, read, and follow the Writer’s Guidelines.
The Writer’s Guidelines at any publication lay out for you clearly the rules you, as a writer, should follow. Ignore them at your peril. Some editors won’t bother reading your article if it isn’t pitched or presented the way they asked for it.
Truth be told, a lot of people don’t follow these guidelines. And that puts you at an advantage. You know how important they are. You can usually find the guidelines on a publication’s website, or you can write and ask that they send them to you.
2. Do your research and you’ll make more money.
Before you write for a magazine, make sure you know who their audience is, what kinds of articles they run, whether or not they like informational sidebars, and if they’ve already covered a story like yours. One good way to keep tabs on these things is to subscribe to two travel magazines that you’d like to write for and read them regularly. Sometimes you can also request back issues, or check out their archives online.
3. Get all the details.
Take good notes when you travel. Write down all of the details that your reader will need to know or that you can make into an informational sidebar. Hours, prices, menu items, the best room selections, where to park, directions, etc. If they have to-go menus, take one with you. Collect names and addresses. They’ll come in handy later.
4. Include photos.
Photos can double your chances of getting your article published. And even better — sometimes they can double your pay. You don’t have to be a pro to snap some good photos that will add interest and color to your story. Have fun with it. Take plenty of portrait and landscape shots, as the designers may need a specific photo size or shape for their layout. You want your photos to tell a story — just like your article does. So include people in them and send along a variety for the editors to choose from.
Let the editor know that you have photos, or include them with your article. How you pitch your photo and story package should depend on their Writer’s Guidelines.
Get Paid to Travel: Programs for Emerging Writers
Get Paid to Travel: Helpful Articles
Writing techniques for irresistible articles:
Get Paid to Travel: Can anybody be a travel writer?
Get Paid to Travel: Popular Headlines You Could Turn into Profitable Stories
How to approach editors:
Get Paid to Travel: How to Approach an Editor
Where to Get Published
Smaller publications and niche markets:
Don’t Hesitate: Do What I Did and Get Paid for Your Stories
Get paid twice for one article:
Resend or Repackage? How to Get Paid Twice for One Article
[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.]