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What if you could take a peek into your future? Now imagine pondering if you’ve got what it takes to become a travel writer and cover exotic locations around the world. What if five years down the road, a glimpse into this crystal ball exceeded your expectations?

Back in August of 2011, these were the kind of futuristic thoughts I had clanging around in my head. My travel-writing prophesies were a result of me attending the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Chicago. The workshop got me fired up and wondering if I could write travel articles, reaping the same fancy perks that the panelists at the workshop described to attendees.

After the workshop, I began to slowly build travel writing momentum. I traveled, wrote articles, got published, and started taking baby steps toward the travel writer image I yearned for in Chicago. Over the past year, my travel writer life took a major leap. Here is a snapshot of my calendar.

My Year of Travel Perks

November- A Month to Remember

In November, my wife and I flew to the Bahamas as a travel-writing destination. We stayed in a dreamy two-bedroom villa that was flanked on one side by the Caribbean Sea and by a Greg Norman-designed golf course on the other. The resort not only comped us for dinners and lunches, they also arranged for a snorkeling excursion that included swimming with pigs.

You read this right, there’s a Bahamas Outer Island that is home to pigs that swim right up to your boat. They do so in the hopes of sampling whatever food the captain brought on board. The exclamation point to this glorious travel-writing trip was seeing one of my articles as the cover story for a vacation magazine.

January- Start the Year with Travel

In January, I flew to northern Florida as part of an all-expense paid press trip. This trip was a whirlwind of historic sites, ghost tours, zoo tours, golfing, happy hours, and food, food, food. I placed five articles from this trip including one golf article that paid $800.

March- Island of Perks

In March we traveled to the island of Anguilla. I arranged to stay in a super-luxurious five-bedroom villa that was smack-dab on the ocean. My next-door villa neighbor turned out to be the author of a best-selling book that became a movie starring Tom Hanks. The villa-owner liked my articles so much that he asked to use the wording in future property rental and real estate listings.

May- Summer of Rum

In May we vacationed at a five-star resort on the island of Nevis. In addition to staying in ocean-view accommodations at a terrific rate, travel writing was my ticket to free breakfast throughout our stay, as well as oceanside dinners, massages, free golf, and a personal rum tasting event.

July- Oh Canada!

In two weeks I depart for an all-expenses-paid golf press trip to the Canadian Rockies. The four golf courses I’ll play for free are surrounded by snow-capped mountains and inhabited by elk, deer, and bear. I’m looking forward to taking aerial photographs from a helicopter, as well as experiencing a whitewater rafting trip.

Today- It Could Happen to You

If hindsight is 20-20, then the decision to attend the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in 2011 was one of my best moves ever. If someone had told me five years ago that I’d be a travel writer experiencing a humbling array of perks, I would have replied, “Yeah, sure… when pigs swim.”

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