20 tips on how to be a travel writer and sell your stories

If you've got an experience you're itching to share with the world and you know how to write a compelling story, you've probably considered becoming a travel writer. Here's the step-by-step process on how you can become a travel writer and get paid to tell your story.

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Rachael

Apr 06, 2020

11min

how to be a travel writer

Fancy yourself a storyteller who's got a way with words? Any smart traveler will confirm that they do a lot of research before a trip, and one of the most valuable online resources happens to be the experiences and opinions of seasoned travelers like you! 

One quick Google search of a specific adventure, country, or piece of travel advice can really help someone out who will be traveling there soon. These days, experiences are valued more than mere things, and travel writing is becoming more in demand and popular as a profession.

Aspiring digital nomads often find success after years of freelance writing, collecting stamps in their passport, collaborating with other writers, and building their resume and brand. Even after all that hard work, few find the success they hoped for because it is such a competitive line of work.

With so many talented travelers in search of free trips, hotel stays, flights, their name recognized in travel media, brand deals, and so much more, it can be hard to stand out in the crowd. 

Those perfectly curated travel photos you see on Instagram weren't always so expertly crafted. The hoard of travel "influencers" on social media weren't always able to travel so freely. It's no holiday! You may be traveling in your spare time, but you're still on the job as a travel writer attempting to balance work and play.

But once you make it as a travel writer, you'll never want to go back

In exchange for your dedication and proficiency as a writer, you might just be able to snag those free perks! Unless you're writing for a specific agency, you'll get to be your own boss. 

Travel writers live by their own schedule, which is based on a system that works for them. They are constantly on the go, brimming with ideas, and creating beautiful content that fills their wandering souls with purpose. Finding creative and financial independence is not only fulfilling, but life-changing.

So how do you become a travel writer? How do you record your stories in an authentic and relatable way that people can connect with? But most importantly, how do you get paid to do it? 

Here are some actionable steps we've compiled so you can embark on your journey towards becoming a paid travel writer.

1. Develop the right mindset

2. Write constantly

3. Read constantly

4. Be able to travel

5. Decide what kind of writing you want to do

6. Create a website and start a blog

7. Build your brand

8. Get on social media

9. Network, network, network!

10. Pick a niche, or don't

11. Take better photos and videos

12. Be aware of what's happening in the travel space

13. Learn the rules of travel writing, and then break them

14. Let your friends, teachers, and family critique your writing

15. Go for substance instead of cliche

16. Pitch your writing when you're ready

17. Email your favorite brands, bloggers, and travel writers about collaborating

18. Prepare for those rejection emails

19. Persevere and be consistent

20. Continue to build your writing resume

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20 expert tips for getting started in travel writing

1. Develop the right mindset

This is going to be hard. You're going against the grain and trying to achieve something that, a couple decades ago, was not a substantial way to make a living. 

Not only will it be an uphill climb, it will be so worth it if you take the necessary steps! Have faith in your skills as a writer and storyteller, and do everything you can to improve and perfect your skills. Never stop learning and becoming better.

You have unique talents that the world should see. Now more than ever, it is much easier to get your name and work out there in order to be considered for a travel writing position. 

Gather all the tools you need, make a game plan with these steps in mind, and plan to turn many of your experiences into stories.

2. Write constantly

This one's a no-brainer. If you're going to become a travel writer, you need to practice writing! 

Whether you're going to the beach for summer vacation, exploring the new town you've just moved to, or going on an exotic trip overseas, write about it. Think about a cool experience you had when you met someone on the street. Refresh your memory as you think back to a fun trip you took with your parents when you were young. Be descriptive! What did you see, smell, feel, and hear on your adventure?

It doesn't have to be a novel, but more like a journal entry. Find a good flow as you pour your thoughts and emotions onto the page, follow your mind's tangents, and see where it takes you.

3. Read constantly

There's no better way to hone your writing skills than to study the works of other travel writers

Subscribe to magazines like National Geographic, Travel & Leisure, or Lonely Planet and let your wanderlust take over as you dive in. 

Browse top travel blogs that have made the first page of Google or have received recognition awards. 

Pick up books by authors like Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux, and Jack Kerouac and read them cover to cover.

Read things that aren't about travel, including books written by the "greats" and more contemporary authors

What's all the reading for, you ask? This will help you get acquainted with what genres are out there, choose what writing styles you like best, and determine what it is that makes their writing so captivating. Voila! You can now fuse some of their techniques with your own creative abilities to write even better stories.

4. Be able to travel

Many people have one idea in their heads about travel writers. We tend to envision the trips they take as glamorous, round-the-world adventures that we simply can't manage at this stage in our busy lives. 

What's holding you back from becoming a travel writer? You may have a full-time job, a family with kids to care for, and a measly seven dollars in your savings account stopping you from traveling. But the fact is, you need to travel to write about it! Thankfully, it doesn't have to be as glamorous as you think, especially not at first.

Take all the excuses you've made about not being able to travel and come up with solutions to each of them. Work them out. If you want it bad enough — to be a travel writer and sell your stories — you'll do what it takes to make it happen. 

Your specific obstacles require specific problem-solving. Keep in mind that you don't have to go to another country for it to count as "real" travel. Head to the next city or state over for a mini road trip or weekend getaway. You'd be surprised what adventures you can find near you!

5. Decide what kind of writing you want to do

Do you want to write guidebooks, hotel reviews, ebooks, magazines, or full-blown novels? How about writing solo, collaborating with other travel writers, or for a travel agency? 

Travel writing isn't all about service pieces! If your idea is unique to your experience, has a strong voice, and isn't just a generic listicle, you will stand out that much more from the sea of travel content out there. 

Blaze a new trail in creating the content you are proud of.


How to be a travel writer

6. Create a website and start a blog

Each year, starting a blog becomes easier and easier. These days, with just an idea and a few clicks you can lock down a website domain and start a blog all on your own! No need to pay for anyone to set it up for you! Websites like Bluehost can host your website, or you can build a gorgeous blog with Wordpress or Squarespace.

Load up your personalized site with information about you, your story, photo and video content, and your articles and you've got yourself a professional online portfolio. Your website will act as a hub for those who are searching the web for your content and give potential employers a great place to see more of your awesome work.

7. Build your brand

In order to become a travel writer, it's important to establish yourself as an authority on the topics you're writing about, even though you might be just starting out. 

The more confident you are about your own writing, the more believable and trustworthy you'll become as a travel writer

Building your brand is all about showing the world who you are. Choose a memorable name for your blog (make sure it hasn't been used before!) that represents you well and roll with it!

8. Get on social media

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are the most popular social media sites that travel writers should be on. If someone finds your content online and enjoys it, they'll likely want to follow you on social media to get updates. 

It can sometimes be tedious to push out consistent content on your social media accounts, especially if you're not used to it. Thankfully there are lots of social scheduling programs that can save you time! 

Do your best to post quality content with good captions as opposed to ten mediocre posts in one day just to get something onto your account.

Each social media site has their own specific algorithm that you can read up on to get even better at making sure your posts are getting seen by your audience. Being on social media is really important for a travel writer because you are building a community that values your work and is hungry for more. 

Cherish the people that join your little corner of the internet, and don't focus on how many followers you have. Engage with them authentically and they will stay loyal to you.

9. Network, network, network!

While it is important to build relationships online, it isn't everything. Go to a travel writing workshop or writing course and exchange contact info with your peers. 

If you want to do even more networking, head to a travel writers meet-up! There are several different annual seminars held throughout the year in different locations, whether they are stateside or abroad. Sign up for one, and if you're especially ambitious, make your own business cards to hand out to fellow travel writers. 

The more connections you have, the better!

10. Pick a niche, or don't

Niches are basically what type of travel writing you'd like to do. Are you all about eco-tourism and environmentally-friendly adventures? Do you want to focus on traveling with a family or budget travel? Are you an expert on solo travel or do you prefer to travel as a couple? 

In recent years, picking a niche has become less of a necessity for travel writers to stand out and more of an option. If your writing and strategy are excellent, you'll be heard one way or another.


How to get paid to travel

11. Take better photos and videos

Let's face it, with the rise of Instagram, sometimes it takes a gorgeous photo to attract someone's attention. Some travel writing gigs will choose the visual content that accompanies your work, but if you're starting your own blog you should learn your way around a DSLR or phone camera. 

There are lots of online courses to help you become a better travel photographer or videographer, like Skillshare. You'll also learn how to edit photos and videos in new ways, avoid over-editing, and polish your content effectively.

12. Be aware of what's happening in the travel space

If you want to be in the loop about everything going on in the travel industry, find a newsletter online that will give you the scoop on everything from fluctuating hotel prices to insider travel tips.

13. Learn the rules of travel writing, and then break them

To write like a pro, you need to learn from a pro. 

Learn from travel writers you're currently following by paying attention to how they structure their paragraphs, how formal or informal their tone is, and how digestible their content is

You can even pick up books on travel writing on Amazon to help you practice. Now take what you've learned and figure out what rules you don’t need to adhere to. It's your writing, after all!

14. Let your friends, teachers, and family critique your writing

Finding a support system is crucial to becoming a travel writer. 

If you aren't particularly skilled at grammar, spelling, or punctuation, having someone review it for you can do wonders. You never know what little mistakes a pair of fresh eyes can catch, and it can help you learn from those mistakes and get better.

15. Go for substance instead of cliche

There are tons of words in travel writing that are overused. Try to come up with more original ways of describing a place rather than repeating phrases you've read over and over. Using genuinely descriptive dialog will be more refreshing to the reader and seem less like fluff.


How to be a travel writer and sell your stories

16. Pitch your writing when you're ready

After months and possibly years of honing your craft, it's time to pitch. 

Study the publications you wish to be a part of, and put yourself in the editor's seat. What are they looking for? What are their guidelines? Are they looking for proposals or completed articles? 

Find the editors and use their names in your professional email pitch. Keep it somewhat short and sweet, but packed with intention and helpful information about your content.

17. Email your favorite brands, bloggers, and travel writers about collaborating

If you're looking for a more informal travel writing job, check out the contact page of your favorite travel gear brands to score a potential product review. 

Want to collaborate with one of your favorite travel writers? Reach out to them via their business email and see if you can do an article for/with them in exchange for exposure on their website. 

If you have a company in mind whose brand and goals align with yours, contact them too!

18. Prepare for those rejection emails

Not every company, blogger, or opportunity will accept you. This is mainly because they aren't looking for travel writers at this time or you don't meet all their preferred requirements. 

They will usually send a polite email back to you to let you know. If you want to become a travel writer, you should learn how to handle rejection and avoid taking it personally. 

There are countless opportunities out there for you to seize, so learn to move on and find success elsewhere when this occurs.

19. Persevere and be consistent

No matter how many rejection emails you get, keep your chin up and keep sending your work to people! Send different pitches to the same people, if you must. If they don't respond within a week, send them a professional follow-up message. But don't give up.

20. Continue to build your writing resume

If rejection comes your way, it will give you more time to not only excel at writing, but you'll be able to write more! 

Keep your content flowing and consistent, and soon you'll have a portfolio or website chock-full of great content for future employers to feast their eyes on. You've got this!


How to be a responsible travel writer

As you can see, a travel writer wears many hats! Social media guru, photographer, editor, videographer, proofreader, negotiator — these are just a few of the skills a travel writer needs to improve upon to make their dreams a reality. 

This job requires self-discipline, motivation, and a willingness to put yourself out there by stepping out of your comfort zone.

Think you have what it takes to be a travel writer and sell your stories? Take the leap. 

Invest in yourself by learning all you can about the travel industry, become well-versed on responsible travel, attend meet-ups, workshops, online courses, and never lose sight of your goals. 

Keep that creative and curious spark alive, my friend, and you'll be well on your way to being a digital nomad doing what you love!



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