Live the Dream… Become a Travel Writer
The average person has 104,390 dreams in their lifetime.
If getting paid to travel is your dream, you might be happy to hear that your first paycheck could arrive before you even step foot on a plane.
You can get paid to write about sights and attractions within a few miles of your hometown.
Take a look at Steenie Harvey’s story below. See if you can’t make a similar list of things to do in a town near you with story ideas you can sell to magazine editors, newspapers, and websites…
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about getting those ideas on paper and in front of the right people…
HOW MANY WAYS CAN YOU GET PAID TO TRAVEL?
By Steenie Harvey
When it comes to travel writing, it often pays to think local. Having insider knowledge is often the easiest way to break into publications.
I should take my own advice more often.
Although it’s only 30 miles from my home, it’s been 16 years since I visited Tarmonbarry. I’m working on an article about villages in Shannon, Ireland and my memories need refreshing. (Just because a place was charming years ago, doesn’t mean it’s the same today.)
Here are a few story ideas I came up with…
On the surface, Tarmonbarry is a typical riverside village where visitors don’t need to look far for a fishing tackle shop. Many Shannon communities hold fishing competitions. Why don’t I get a rod and enter one? I probably wouldn’t win any prizes, but I’m sure I could sell a humorous story to a fishing magazine.
Literature and history are a travel writer’s gold-mine, too. I often go digging to find what Victorian and earlier writers wrote about a locality. I then link the quote to how a place has changed—or not.
“A good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub” said Leopold Bloom in James Joyce’s classic novel, Ulysses. I haven’t used it yet, but it’s a wonderful opener for a story about Dublin pubs. And how about the food?
And although Ireland is often called the Land of Saints and Scholars, few writers get beyond recounting the story of St Patrick. To me, that’s a waste of some cracking good material.
St Barry, Tarmonbarry’s patron saint, is shamefully neglected. According to legend, he crossed the river Shannon in a stone boat and slew a water monster. If travel writers don’t relate the story, visitors will miss the hidden-in-backroads churchyard where the miraculous stone boat is kept.
And a nearby “holy well” dedicated to St Barry, where you’ll also find the remains of a monastic Dark House. (An old belief that sleeping at sacred places could cure the mentally afflicted persisted until at least the early 19th century in rural Ireland. At St Barry’s Dark House, they were enclosed for three days and three nights.)
As I have a passion for history, mythology, and curiosities, I swoon over these kind of esoteric tales. The last time I visited Tarmonbarry it was for an article on Ireland’s holy wells and their associated legends and cures. I sold versions to both The World and I and World of Hibernia.
But the well wasn’t dry yet—I got a check from a less familiar source, too.
When researching markets for your stories, think beyond travel publications. Who else might be interested?
My published credits include National Driller: “The No.1 publication among professionals in the drilling and water supply industries.” Somehow I doubt that the editor had ever received a story on Ireland’s holy wells before. I imagine it stood out from the usual submissions about fuel pumps and wastewater solutions.
Use your insider knowledge when you’re writing about local jaunts. Research the less obvious. Find a new angle. This will help to catch an editor’s eye and will make your stories stand out, too.
[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.]