In mid 2013, I became bored with my life and my surroundings. I’d just saved up and bought myself my first detachable-lens Canon camera but was sick of photographing the same scenes over and over again. Inevitably, I began to research “travel journalism.”
Travel journalism is the kind of dream career they tell you about at university (or any writer training course), but for the most part, professors discourage it.
I’d gone into my tertiary studies with the steadfast belief I would become a freelance writer at the end of my degree.
But repeatedly I was told this was not the best industry for a budding journalist to be in. The jobs (and pay) would be inconsistent… and being relatively unpublished at the time, I’d have to catch a lucky break for someone to want to take on my stories and ideas.
I’m glad I didn’t listen.
I came across a blog about a young woman who was camping, photographing, and writing herself across the United States.
She had a beaten up car, an el-cheapo tent, a box of canned food, and a good camera to capture all of the special moments.
She wasn’t a photographer or a professional writer. She didn’t even have a pre-paid domain name. But she had a story to tell, and I became enthralled.
The blog was candidly written – I felt as though I was with her as she got up each night to check around her tent and when her car broke down on the highway in the middle of nowhere.
I particularly empathized with her nightly fear of being attacked, feeling vulnerable as a woman traveling and camping alone.
The best part of her blog? I didn’t have to imagine it – she had pictures to go with each travel entry. I could literally see the Internet café she was typing from.
The special thing about travel blogging is you don’t need a degree in journalism or experience in photography to do it well – it’s having both of those elements that make your blog attractive to others who’ve got the same itchy-foot disease you have.
It took me around three months to work up the courage to go on my first solo hiking and camping trip.
I had a vague idea of the direction I wanted to head, and I knew I had enough money in my pocket for about two weeks’ worth of uncooked rice, campsite fees, and fuel.
I also knew this adventure would be my foray onto the travel writing scene. Just like I’d read myself, I was careful to document my experiences along the road. Not just the scenic locations either – the little things like shots of my campsites and descriptions of my feelings during that trip.
And I was amazed to see the views I’d gotten once I arrived home.
That was around three years ago now, and I’ve built, deleted, and rebuilt several blogs since then.
If you’d like to become a travel writer, the thing to remember is that starting out in “travel journalism” isn’t always about being paid to stay in luxury on a remote island and review it later. Instead, people are interested in real-life experiences. They want to know what you liked, what you didn’t like, and how they can be footloose, too.
Got a case of wanderlust for the traveling and writing life? Start small. Make a free blog, grab your camera, and jump in the car. That’s the true essence of being a travel writer.
[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, Profit From Your Photos: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]