Travel Writing Tips
by Deborah Owen
Travel writing pays well and is a perfect way to pick up extra income, yet most creative writers don’t take advantage of it. Why?
• It takes extra time
• It can be intimidating
• Writers are a procrastinating bunch
Travel writing is available to everyone – even those who don’t travel. The trick is to look at commonplace locations as though you are seeing them for the first time.
Where to Begin
Start reading travel magazines and analyze what you read. Magazines use various styles of writing. Choose the one that uses articles similar to your writing style. Analyze the articles. Do they use a lot of interviews? Pictures? Quotes? Statistics? What style do they like? What angle? There are no new subjects so the angle is everything.
Travel magazines like articles on little “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants that are off the beaten path.
1. Tell your audience how you found it, what they serve, how it tastes, prices, atmosphere, and background information.
2. Who owns it? When was it founded?
3. Find a unique angle
4. Take pictures for human interest
Always be armed with a camera, a notepad, pen and a tape recorder. You never know when a story will present itself.
The field of traveling is wide open. You can write an article on a park, a museum, gas station, antique shop, taxidermy studio, an old-fashioned drugstore, a lake – almost anything can become a travel story.
Tell how long it takes to travel to that destination, the unusual things that you saw, and what other tourists think of the place. Are there other places that you could use for comparison? You can write virtually dozens of articles on one trip.
Top Reasons for Failure
1. Straying from the subject.
2. Covering too much material. Focus.
3. Not choosing your market before you write the article.
4. Not matching your article to the proper publisher.
ALWAYS check the publisher’s guidelines.
Search the Writers Market, Duotrope, Worldwide Freelance, or other markets to find the right publisher. Writer’s Market is $40. Be sure to get the online edition since it is updated monthly, but be aware that this is a huge market and competition for big magazines will be fierce. Writer’s Market also offers folders to keep track of your submissions.
Be sure to note when you submitted, to whom, the name of the editor, and when their guidelines say they will respond. If you haven’t heard from them a week past their estimated time of response, send an inquiry.
It’s debatable where you should or shouldn’t query a nonfiction market, but most experts do. If you don’t, send your article with a cover letter and self-addressed, stamped envelope. Success lies in persistence, so submit a new article every week.
Finally… if you sell an article from a vacation trip, you can write part of your expenses off on your taxes. Ask your accountant about this.
So why not try travel writing this year? Be thorough in your research, take good pictures, perfect your work, match it to the right market and, above all, enjoy it. A good journal will give you plenty of food for thought when you get home.
I love lower California. What is your favorite place to travel?
*Presented by Creative Writing Institute, where every student receives a private tutor.