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Can Travel Writing Jobs Really Pay for Your Travels?
Yes, you can travel and get paid for it. But it won't be easy

Being comfortable with a keyboard isn't enough to supplement your income as a travel writer - you need to find travel writing jobs or paying outlets for your work.


Lets debunk the myth of the staff travel writer right away: unless you're already on the paper or magazine or you're one of their favorite freelancers, forget it. I don't mean to discourage you, but why should you, a complete unknown, get the job everyone else wants? In any event those jobs are disappearing daily and your chances of landing one are as good as being picked to fly to the moon.

There are several pathways to travel writing as a career. 

  • You can freelance
  • You can start your own publication
  • You can become the editor of an existing publication
  • You can blog
  • You can write for corporate publications

And I'm sure there is plenty more.

Start small and take your time

If you're already a writer, you're ahead of the game. But if this is just a distant hope, you may need a bit of training. A great place to start is my article on How To Write Travel Articles That Sell, a primer for the beginning travel writer that lays out the tools of the trade for you, even if you've never written a word.

Take a writing course

If you're still 'in training' and less than confident about your writing, you should consider taking some kind of writing course. Several good ones are on the market, and they all help you break into writing for money as part of the course.

Check the writers' guidelines

Different publications have different writers' guidelines in which they tell you what they want. Two of the most complete lists of what publications want are the Writer's Market (more US-oriented) and Willings Press Guide or the Artists and Writers Yearbook (more UK-based). You can also search the web for each individual magazine and look for guidelines on their website.

The writers' guidelines should contain everything you need to know: how long an article should be, whether they accept submissions from 'new' writers (who don't have clippings to send), how much they pay, their writing style - and anything else the publication requires.


You'll first have to identify a handful of magazines and newspapers (and websites) that may want something from you - and then you'll have to pitch. In other words, travel writing jobs contain a heavy dose of marketing: you'll have to 'sell' them on the fact that this is the best story idea in the world, and that you're the best person in the world to write it.

What you pitch in your query letter will to a large extent determine the answer you get. Just telling an editor you're going to Tibet or Timbuktu will elicit as much excitement as watching broccoli boil. Editors have more than enough copy - much of it poorly written - so what they need is something different. What is your angle? What is special about your story? How specific and unique is it?

Start writing for publication

Once you're writing, don't expect your article, however brilliant your friends tell you it is, to end up in National Geographic or Travel and Leisure. You'll first need to break into small markets, either low-paying or free. Web is good, print is better when it comes to earning recognition as a travel writer - although some websites are rapidly gaining the prestige of the printed page.

So by all means, practice with websites and collect writing samples, but graduate quickly to print markets, even those that pay abysmally (or not at all). Getting a few clippings under your belt will do wonders for your reputation and build your experience.

Eventually, armed with clippings in hand as a published travel writer, you can approach larger and more prestigious publications.

You'll have plenty of competition - the publisher's niece who wants to travel for free, the well-known rock star who dabbles in writing, the news reporter who wants to try her hand at travel, and absolutely everyone else who loves to travel and wants to make enough money to continue doing so.

The smaller and more specialized the magazine, the better your chances of breaking in.

Now you wait

After approaching the magazine or newspaper, you then wait. It can take up to several months to get a reply, believe it or not, and in the trade it's poor form to submit the same story idea to different publications. The one exception is the web article directory - you can submit the same article to as many as you want.

My best advice - learn to multitask: come up with a dozen story ideas, and shop them around. Back and forth, from one editor to the next.

Until someone says yes!

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(and to say thank you I'll send you the 'list of 9' indispensable items I NEVER travel without!)