Many people aspire to be travel writers – they look on it as glamorous and glitzy. But a word of warning here; until you’re established, and have a track record, hotels and airlines aren’t going to throw freebies at you. So, it’s important that you make a name for yourself if you’re going to create a career in travel writing. Here are some tips to get you on the way:
• It’s not where you go, but what you uncover when you get there that’s important. Try to find an unexpected angle: what a resort or tourist destination is like out of season; the opening of a new venture, such as a theme park or perhaps you could tie in your article with a new TV series or film. Never write about the routine – only the remarkable.
• As with all writing, research the markets for your work properly. A piece on sun, sea and… holidays or extreme sports might appeal to a number of ‘lads mags’ but you wouldn’t expect them to be interested in a coach tour of classical sites in Turkey.
• Another golden rule that applies to travel writing is to get as many articles as possible out of each trip. Let’s take Egypt. There could be an article on heritage sites and monuments; another on Middles Eastern food; a third on diving and perhaps another on how a disabled person could cope with a Nile cruise.
• Do your research via the Internet before you leave home so that you don’t waste time. Then, when you get there, be a sponge. Soak up knowledge and facts – pick up brochures, leaflets, timetables etc. Talk to locals and pick their brains and also talk to tourists to get their views and tips. You’re not going to use all this information but it’s the iceberg principle.
• Make notes of everything and write them up as soon as possible – don’t leave it until you get home.
• Taking pictures is essential – very few magazines will accept your work if you can’t illustrate it. Also make sure you go for a variety of pictures. Some magazines like holiday pictures with people in them. Others prefer scenery and atmospheric sunsets. Make sure you can provide whatever they want.
• You’ve got to capture the spirit of a country or destination. Use all five senses to describe the place to your readers. Make them feel like they have been there with you. Don’t just give them a boring list of facts.
• And talking of facts, don’t let them swamp your article. They are necessary, but seriously consider putting things such as transport options, weather information, hotels etc in side bars or a fact file at the end of the article.
• Don’t try to cram everything about a place into one article. Sometimes it pays to concentrate on one aspect of a city or resort. A rather hackneyed (and not to be copied) example would be a piece about buildings linked to the architect Gaudi in Barcelona, instead of trying to do a piece about a variety of attractions in the city.
• And finally, don’t think your own country or region is beneath your notice. It may seem routine to you but would it interest people in other countries who are planning to visit? With the Internet to research publications and email to contact them it’s now as easy to pitch ideas to overseas publications as it is to those in your own country.
So, it might not be all glamour and glitz but you can still earn good money from travel writing if you approach it in the right frame of mind.