How To Travel For Free (Or Close To It) As a Travel Writer
Why is Ireland paying for 1,319 foreign writers to visit its shorelines, pubs, quaint villages, and green rolling hills? And how can you get an invitation to travel there for free?
Bonnie Caton here again, reporting live from The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Chicago.
Yesterday, we learned how anyone can get paid to travel by jotting down their experiences and pitching them to glossy magazines, newspapers, and websites. Today, freelance travel writer Steenie Harvey (a.k.a. the “The Freebie Queen”) told us about the free trips, meals, and perks that can go with the travel writer’s lifestyle.
See, tourism generates revenue. That’s why the tourist board in any city, state, or country wants travel writers to visit… so that they’ll convince the rest of the world to come empty their pockets.
And, that’s why Ireland paid the travel expenses for more than a thousand foreign writers last year. They know that once those writers experience the enchanting countryside, the charming villages, and the jovial bars of the country… they will encourage other people to go, too.
If you can tell friends and family about the best parts of your vacation, you can surely do the same for travel magazines and get your trips paid for, too. You don’t have to go as far as Ireland to start, either.
The Montana Office of Tourism, for example, said: “Publicity is one of the most believable and effective types of exposure a travel destination can get… our state garnered over $30 million dollars in travel-related publicity in 2010.”
Even your hometown likely pays for writers — local and foreign alike — to experience museums, festivals, events, and attractions at a discount or for free.
Steenie talked today about three main ways to take advantage of the perks of a travel writer’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. 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.
[Editor’s Note: If you’re a member of the International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance, you’ll find a free press trip listing at the bottom of your newsletter every other week.]
** 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, and museums and attractions to do the same.
The one catch in all of this is that you do actually have to plan to write a story. And, if you want to get the very best perks, it helps if you’ve been published one or two times first.
When you know how to get an editor’s attention, though, that’s not hard.
Denver Post Travel Editor Kyle Wagner is going to tell us how to do that this afternoon — I can’t wait!
[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.]