Few, if any, writing genres carry the allure of travel writing. Just the phrase evokes the mystery of far-away places, remote journalistic outposts a la Graham Greene and stories of people, food, and cultures, heretofore unknown. However, the reality of travel writing, if you’re the average writer trying to support a household, is that you lack both the time and the money to drop everything and travel across the globe to write an article on spec.
Finding Freelance Travel Writing Gigs Closer to Home
1. Try regional publications. Although most of us think of the big, glossy travel magazines when we think about travel writing, there are plenty of regional magazines, often hungry for new writers and new ideas. Most states and big cities have magazines. There are also special interest magazines that use travel articles, such as “Ski,” “Sports Fishing” and “Garden Gate.” Find these publications and learn how to pitch them by subscribing to the online version of Writers Market or using the bound version in your local library.
2. Go hyper-local. Many small town or neighborhood newspapers and magazines don’t have the budget to pay their writers, but many do. It’s worth emailing or calling the editor of that publication you find for free in the grocery store with a pitch. You might be surprised. I’ve been.
3. Pitch the big magazine about something local. Take a deep breath and email that big glossy magazine about something you know well–you particular neck of the woods. If you live outside of the big metropolitan areas, your area may seem exotic to such a publication. I was able to get an assignment from Coastal Living by pitching an idea about a community on Lake Erie. Remember, however, that while these big magazines pay well, their standards are very high and they generally pay only on publication, which may be up to a year from when you submit your article.
4. Interview your traveling friends. You may not have the time and/or the funds to do much traveling, but your friends and family members may have plenty of both. If your best friend just got back from Paris (or Borneo), sit him or her down for an interview. Better yet, send your friend with an “assignment” that you can write about when he or she returns.
Although writing about your region, city and neighborhood may not seem as exotic as traveling the seven seas on an assignment from a big name magazine or newspaper, your little area of expertise just might be of great interest–and worth more than a few dollars–to not only regional publications, but to the “big guys” as well. You never know until you try.
Sandy M, a former travel agent, has been writing about travel for more than a decade. Although her traveling doesn’t take her too far from home these days, she’s often found exploring (and writing about) the world-class wineries, covered bridges and art galleries to be known in her little corner of the world.