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For more about how you can get started with travel writing today, visit:  

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” — Beverly Sills

One of the things that attracts people to travel writing is the idea of traveling for free or for less than what an ordinary tourist would pay. But before you accept a free hotel stay, free tickets to a museum, free tour, or even a free trip, it is important to know the rules and etiquette that go along with these perks.

Destinations roll out the red carpet for travel writers. Why? They need to sell the traveling public on their destination or brand. A destination can buy ad space in a big travel magazine for a price of anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. Or, they can have a travel writer come to the destination, experience it first-hand, and then write an article for publication in that travel magazine, online and possibly several other places.

Bringing the writer in often costs much less than that ad space. And let’s face it, we all trust articles over ads.

Before you step onto that red carpet and take in all those free travel perks, you need to be aware of the pros and cons. Some publications don’t like for writers to accept free trips and often see a free trip as a non-legitimate experience. They believe the way that you write about your experience could be swayed by what you get for free. Most newspapers don’t like free trips and won’t accept articles from writers who have received free stuff. Travel magazines, online websites, and blogs are more open to accepting articles from a writer who has received free travel perks, but may ask you to disclose free travel.

The vast majority of travel writers don’t get their entire trip comped.   Some do, but most get free hotels, free tours, or free experiences like zip-lining, surfing lesson, meals, etc. Maybe you paid for your flight, but some of the other aspects of the trip are free.

Follow these tips for managing the pros, cons and etiquette of free trips:

  • When you do get stuff for free you have to be careful about where you place your articles about those things
  • Always come through with your end of the bargain. Some new writers are lured by the free stuff, but they don’t write articles. If you don’t fulfill that end of the bargain, it looks bad on you and on the whole travel writing industry and it couple put you in a bad place from the start.
  • If you are new to travel writing, the best place to get started is to line up assignments before you leave. Use specific query letter guidelines, pitch your idea to an editor, then travel and write about the trip.
  • Do you research ahead of time. This keeps you from asking random questions. If you have pitched a story to a coffee magazine about a small coffee grower in Costa Rica, then you can focus your questions to fit the profile you are writing.
  • If you are traveling on a group press trip with other writers, always be respectful and on time. You don’t want to be THAT guy – the one that makes the group late to every appointment. You really don’t ever want to be THAT guy.

Traveling as a travel writer is much different than traveling as a tourist.   Travel writers and photographers immerse themselves into the culture of a place – soaking up every sound, sight, smell and feeling. It is truly a unique and wonderful way to travel.

Past attendees from our workshops are using what they have learned to travel the world and experience unique perspectives on the places they visit. And they are seeing their articles in magazines. And, yes, often they travel for free… but they always deliver quality articles to be certain each destination gets its money’s worth for that red carpet treatment.

For more about how you can get started with travel writing today, visit:  

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