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Imagine yourself on the trip of your dreams: a palm-ringed island, the beauty and history of Paris, the intoxicating allure of the Napa Valley. Now imagine that with only a pen, a camera and a little curiosity, all of these incredible travel destinations are within your reach.

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Sometimes making a commitment to follow your dreams leads to more opportunities than you ever imagined. This is what happened to me when I committed to my travel writing dreams.

I’d been dabbling in travel writing for a few years after studying AWAI’s Travel Writing program, but I knew I needed to get serious and focus on pursuing my goals.  That’s when I decided to sign up for the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Chicago in 2011. Sure, there was a workshop fee and some travel costs involved, but I felt like I needed a live workshop to really nail down this travel writing business.

Turns out I was right.  In the two years since attending the workshop, I’ve had over 150 articles published online and in print publications. Even better, I’m traveling all over the world having incredible experiences — most of it on someone else’s dime.

I’ve fished for piranha in the Peruvian Amazon, harvested cacao in Belize, been mud-slinging on Hatfield & McCoy ATV Trails in West Virginia, zip-lined through the woods in Pennsylvania, walked on the future arm of the Crazy Horse monument in South Dakota, drove a reindeer sled in Norway, developed a test flavor for Ben & Jerry’s, swam under a hot waterfall in Guatemala, and left a personal message on The Peace Wall in Belfast. I’ve even hand-fed Little Debbie snack cakes to bears — and kept all my fingers! 

Using the skills I acquired by attending the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop, I’ve made numerous contacts in tourism which has led to invitations for press trips and events. At one recent event — a first-class luncheon in an upscale Manhattan eatery — I was serendipitously seated next to the editor of a digital magazine with over 300,000 readers. He was looking for new writers; I was looking for more publications. Love it when that happens!

In the months since that fateful meeting, I’ve written three articles for his magazine featuring destinations in Norway which were published in June. This autumn he’s planning to focus on destinations in Germany, and I’ve been assigned three more articles in connection with the planned coverage.

I’ve also experienced some great press trips here in the United States. Now that I’ve developed a working relationship with this editor, I sent an e-mail pitching a few story ideas for those destinations. Within days, I had sold three more articles.

Thinking back to the months before the 2011 Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop, I remember wondering if the workshop would really be worth the money. Within weeks of attending, I knew I’d been handed the keys to my future as a travel writer. It was without a doubt the best money I’ve ever spent.

You might read this and think I just got lucky with the seating arrangements at a luncheon. Truth is, I wouldn’t have been on the guest-list for that press luncheon without the benefit of information, guidance, and networking gained from attending the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop. Sometimes, when you take the first step toward your dreams, serendipity lends a hand.

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[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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