Putting Your Travel Writing Into Motion: Independent European Backpackers
Get thee self out on the road, you travel writer you. Foster your skills as a freelance travel writer, and put your feet where your words are going. Where should you travel to first? While that answer is completely subjective to your travel experience, budget, dream destinations and writing goals, one of the top destinations for most travelers in general is Europe. Blame it on their widespread use of English, which helps Americans blend in while they gawk. Writers especially tend to flee to Europe in hope for inspiration or to visit haunts of their literary heroes. Now that the seed is planted, here is some fertilizer to get it growing.
Penny Pinch It
Obstacle No. 1 for almost every travel writer working on freelance is a lack of money. Saving for your trip is the most effective solution, but this takes time—and money. Instead, look for ways to shave pennies off of your travel expenses. What you’ll need the most will be somewhere to sleep, bathe and eat. Consider the following budget wise solutions for penny pinching travelers:
- Couchsurfing offers a global community of travel lovers willing to share their couches, kitchens and bathrooms for free. Yes, free.
- Airbnb lets travelers rent apartments, houses, boats, planes, tipis, yurts…you get the idea. Rent is often cheaper than hotel accommodations, plus you have the option of full amenities, such as a clothes washing machine and a fully stocked kitchen.
- Hostels can be found in almost every country and most big cities. Save big money by sacrificing on privacy in this dorm style setting.
- Teaching English or volunteering in public service arenas in other countries gives you a firsthand look at their cultures, while funding your travels.
I’ll add that with these options, as a solo traveler, you are able to connect with other travelers and locals in a way unobtainable when booking a hotel chain. For example, I spent time in an Airbnb rental in Seattle where I made fast friends with the homeowner who cooked me omelets, gave me discount tickets to attractions, and took me out on the town the last night I was there. Enrich your travel experience by choosing more social accommodations. Your readers will thank you after you produce tales and tidbits unavailable to the sterile and outdated tourist.
Writers are loners by trade, so it comes as little wonder that you may consider solo travel as an option. If you are traveling alone, you save money and force yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. Need to find a bathroom? You’re on your own. Lost in the middle of a seedy neighborhood? You have only your navigational skills to depend on. When travel becomes a survival situation your senses perk up and you become attuned to the sights, sounds, smells and emotions of a city.
If you have a travel partner you could all too easily revert to staying in your friendly bubble, protective and homely. Embrace your solo self and enjoy the personal growth you’ll experience on your journeys. And, for heaven sakes, remember you’re a writer so take a notebook or 10 because there will be no one to turn to when you get back home and can’t remember the name of that guy or pastry or street or beer.
Mixing Work and Play
Before you float back to reality and settle back in to your writing world, make the most of your memories. Start writing stories as soon as they happen, journal your experiences, photograph the highlights. Back home you can search for travel blogs, websites and news channels that are accepting submissions from travelers. If you are interested in starting your own travel blog or website, start by seeing what else is out there so you can find your niche. Otherwise, look for ways to incorporate your travel experience into other freelance writing, such as when you are writing motivational blogs for other travel writers, such as the one you have just read.
Miranda B is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.