How to Become a Travel Writer [7 Steps]

by Diego Navarro | LAST UPDATED October 13, 2021

a woman sitting on a beach and writing in a notebook
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If you walk up to random people on the street and ask them if they enjoy traveling or if they would like to go somewhere exotic the first chance they get, then you’ll likely receive overwhelmingly positive responses to both questions.

Ask the same people if they’d also like to get paid to go to the same exotic locations, and we’re pretty sure that almost all of them will agree on that being their dream job.

Travel writing is a trendy career choice in general, but it’s particularly popular among people with an overwhelming sense of wanderlust that can’t stay in one place for too long without getting bored, making it great for a digital nomad

The problem with this particular career choice is that surprisingly few people actually know how to become a travel writer. If you’re one of those people that want to break into the travel industry but don’t know how we think we can help you get started in our guide on how to become a travel writer.

1. Read

It doesn’t matter if you’re aiming to be a freelance travel writer, a professional journalist, or a fantasy author; the first thing that any would-be writer needs to do is read A TON of articles and material from the field they want to break into.

Get your hands on all of the travel magazines, guidebooks, and books that you can and start studying. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to stick to articles written by award-winning travel journalists like Bill Bryson or choose to go for shorter social media posts written by your favorite influencers. The most important thing is to absorb as much information as you possibly can in your particular niche.

Additionally, there are plenty of online courses that you can find that might help you improve your writing skills if you think that you’re not good enough to be a professional writer just yet. 

However, even if you do check out a course or two, don’t stop reading!

2. Quantity Over Quality

The most challenging part of starting a new job is putting yourself out there. 

We can’t tell you how many people we’ve met have stopped at step one and never even tried to write anything before giving up and moving on to another line of work.

Your first drafts will always be horrible, and you’re rarely going to like your own writing regardless of how much experience you have (we should know). But, this only means that you should write more rather than less.

Beginnings are always tough. While you’ll need to focus on quality as you take the steps toward becoming a professional, for now, the most important part is producing as much content as you can so you can stretch those writing muscles.

3. Start Your Own Blog

a picture of a mug of coffee on a table

Typing out your travel stories in Microsoft Word and not publishing them anywhere is just screaming in an echo chamber. Starting a travel blog is an excellent way to get some practice while putting yourself out there and allowing other people to judge your work.

While this might be a bit daunting at first, this is the only way to get decent constructive criticism and learn where you need to improve. Of course, you’ll also get a lot of annoying comments that don’t contribute in any way, but that’s just part of the day-to-day for travel bloggers, and you’ll learn to filter those out as time goes on.

Blogging is also an excellent way to build up your portfolio and online presence before committing to being a full-time freelancer. It really does make a difference when you have an established portfolio you can show as an example of your qualifications when applying for a travel journalism position.

4. Find Your Stories

Not all successful travel writers are digital nomads that travel around the globe and eat breakfast in a different country each day. In fact, the best travel writers are the ones that can write multiple interesting articles from one single location.

You won’t be able to travel to exotic countries each week, so you’ll need to find the story in the location you’re currently in. Write about lesser-known places or restaurants in a city, draw attention to the attractions that many tourists might miss, point out the local food that’s worth trying at least once, and so on.

If you manage to find a random story and somehow manage to make your readers passionate about it, then you won’t even need to learn anything more about how to become a travel writer since, at that point, you’d be the real deal.

5. Specialize

There are mountains of travel sections that go through all of the best pizza places in New York, and even more that describe the best cathedrals and castles you must visit on your trip through Europe.

To distinguish yourself from the crowd, you’re going to need to find something that few people write about but which might interest tourists.

This might change when you switch from freelance writing into actual writing jobs, and you’re likely going to be told exactly what you need to report on and what your article should center around. 

However, as long as you’re still a self-employed part-time writer and have the freedom to choose your topics, we guarantee that the more niche subjects are much more likely to draw in site visitors than the overdone travel tips that every single travel publication in existence is peddling.

6. Getting Hired

As we mentioned before, your body of work speaks volumes about your skills as a travel writer, so as long as you have at least a few dozen articles that are ready to go and that you can use as a reference, then you should have everything that you need to apply to be a travel writer.

All you need to do to apply is go to your travel site of choice, like Lonely Planet, for example, find and open up the submission guidelines listed on the site, and simply send in all of the necessary documentation for becoming a contributor.

As long as you’re a decent writer and know how to clean up your articles in editing, then you should be an eligible choice to fill up any vacancy that they might have in the travel sections.

7. Don’t Give Up

You might not get the first job you apply for, or you might get it and find out that it involves a lot more hard work than you thought or a different type of travel journalism than what you’re used to.

Regardless of how adventurous it might seem at first, travel writing is still another job, and you’ll be faced with a lot of the same headaches that come with routine jobs, like getting overworked or having a demanding boss.

However, as long as you persevere through the first few months or failures and rejections, then you should get the hang of things pretty easily after that.

Conclusion

a man using his laptop

We hope that our guide on becoming a travel writer was of some help to you and that you manage to get the job you’re aiming for a bit easier now.

However, even if you don’t manage to become a travel writer within a span of a few months of starting out, keep in mind that you’ll still be able to go out in the world and write about experiences that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Diego Navarro
Diego became interested in a nomadic lifestyle during a semester abroad during college. He spends most of his time in central Europe and the American southwest (where his family is from). He loves exotic food and playing video games on his Nintendo Switch.

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