When you start travel writing, you want to stand out. You want editors to work with you — to pick your pitch, assign you stories, give you helpful feedback, creatively collaborate and brainstorm. Ultimately, it’s a team effort, and editors are looking for star players.
Tryouts are the hardest part, because getting on the team means competing against all the other talent out there. But then once you’re in, how can you bring your best game? It can all start with a little home-field advantage:
Always “travel” local
Begin by exploring your own backyard from a lens of curiosity, and become well versed in what is right at your fingertips — editors need writers at the ground level of a story, which is why it’s worth considering that you can become an expert on your area.
Traveling creates fresh eyes and new perspective — but can you see the world this way when you’re looking out your front door? Yes!
When you’re working on an article, treat every step you take as a new adventure, and try to view a familiar place the way you would if you were a tourist, or as a reader who picks up your travel article about this place.
Try new menu items and explore new trails. Ask questions, observe, share, and listen.
Pitch stories that have unique angles, but choose topics that you can write about with authority.
Experience a range of things — restaurants, shops, hotels, activities and even full travel itineraries — so that you can embody the full essence of something before painting it as a picture with words.
Embrace your sources
It’s all the other locals around you that are going to give your stories the richness and depth that is necessary for dynamic storytelling.
Talk to strangers as well as people you already know. Ask a lot of questions, and never underestimate the heart and soul of your community.
Store owners and restaurant managers, high-profile athletes and entrepreneurs, newbies and longtime residents — everyone has something important to share, and you never know what kinds of insight you can get from locals that will help you to deepen the details in an article.
Support homegrown publications
My freelance writing career began (like most) as a dream of mine, and one of the best moves of my career was setting up a meeting with the managing editor of the local Vail Daily newspaper.
I walked into his office to try to prove my case for writing a story for the publication. I had just moved back to Colorado after a year of living and writing in Scotland and traveling in Europe, but I told him I was eager to dive into the mountain community and to create engaging stories about it.
Soon after that meeting, the newspaper’s publishing company developed the Vail Daily Magazine Group, and I began writing for the glossy mags. Five years later, I write regularly for more than a dozen magazines for this publishing company, covering stories in Vail and beyond.
It’s this local experience in researching and writing that really set the foundation for my freelancing, allowing me to create a strong portfolio and a connection with a wide range of local, national and international editors and publications.
The possibilities aren’t far away – you just have to embrace them.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Five Fun Ways To Get Paid To Travel: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]