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A NEW TREND IN TRAVEL: HAND-ON ADVENTURES MAKE FOR GREAT TRAVEL ARTICLES AND PHOTOGRAPHS
By Toymeika Braithwaite for The Right Way to Travel

People say you learn more by participating and experiencing things hands-on than you do by reading about them in a book or watching them on TV.  This seems especially true for children, but even adults seem to prefer “participatory” activities where they can feed the dolphins instead of watching them jump though hoops, for instance.

As travel writer, this is something you should watch out for this year. Budget Travel Magazine included two great articles in the May 2006 issue that focused on activities and vacations readers could take if they wanted to get their hands dirty.

The first article focused on places like farms where you could stay and help with animals. The second named a few places you could go to become a part of the action and help with activities like pollinating flowers, making vanilla extract, or producing goat cheese.

This weekend, sit down and do a bit of research about opportunities of this ilk in your hometown or in your favorite vacation spot. You may be surprised at how many such adventures there are.

An advantage to writing articles like these is that they can work not only in travel publications, but in other magazines as well.

You could send an article about where to pick lavender or pollinate vanilla to home and garden publications or magazines designed to reach a flower-loving audience.

And animal and pet magazines might be interested in animal-orientated activities ranging from conservation tours to farm stays.

Here are a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing:

** Some factories run tours where people can visit and even help make the product. (The Hershey chocolate factory in PA. runs tours as does the Limoge porcelain factory in France, for instance.)

** Are there any farms near you where people can visit (and maybe even stay) to learn about and help out with the animals? You could take your kids or grandkids there and write a first-person account of your experience.

** What about a local radio or TV station? Sometimes they let people come in to see how a show is put together. If you schedule time in advance you could even watch one live or make a mock show and then take home the recording. (This might work well as a field-trip idea for children, and you could write it up for a teacher’s magazine.)

** Are there any fields of flowers or rose gardens within a reasonable distance of your home — places where you might pick your own bouquet?
A story about something like this could work well for the home and garden section of your newspaper or a local magazine.

** Gold or silver mines often offer organized tours. Perhaps there’s a place where children can sift through rock and other debris to look for gold. Along these same lines, where can you go to look for pearls or rare stones and keep what you find? Or maybe you’ll find a place where children can dig for fossils and take them home as well.

A FEW WORDS OF WISDOM…

Once you have an idea you’re excited about, think very specifically about your audience. Who, exactly, would find this article useful?  Then think about what that person reads. Once you have a target publication or two in mind, be sure to read the Writer’s Guidelines for them.

Look through recent issues to be sure the editors haven’t recently published something similar to your article. And read an article or two in those publications to make sure you have a sense for the writing style the editors prefer.

In light of what you’ve discovered about your target publications, you may want to refine your article idea or maybe even go back and look for a different publication where your piece might be better suited.

In any event, you’ll want to have a particular publication in mind when you write.

[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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