Since I launched my travel writing career two and a half years ago at the three-day Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop, our family added grandchild #13, my siblings and I became caregivers for our father until he passed away, and I had major surgery. We sold our house, moved to a different town, and started construction on a new home.
In that same two and a half years, I wrote 140 travel articles—which were published in 19 different print and online publications—and I experienced at least a dozen fabulous press trips.
It’s true you can design a travel writing career around your life circumstances and the age and stage in which you find yourself.
Here are three things you might not know you can do with travel writing …
1. Choose your destinations and length of trips
Years ago, I traveled to five of the seven continents doing volunteer mission work and saw much of the United States. I still like to make long treks once or twice a year, but, in general, I’m content now to explore parts of the southeastern United States that are within driving distance or a quick plane ride.
My husband and I are both very close to our children and grandchildren. We love being an active part of their lives, and our children enjoy having us nearby to babysit for a weekend or longer. All 21 of us live in Alabama, Georgia, or Tennessee, and we thrive on frequent visits.
Also, since my husband and I are about to move into our new home, I look forward to hosting friends and family members. Because of all this, I’ve decided to focus on the southeastern United States rather than flying around the world. It suits me very well to take short trips and discover fascinating attractions not far from home.
2. Work within your preferences
I just turned 68 years old. I’m healthy and physically active but not in the mountain-climbing, hang-gliding, scuba-diving, wilderness camping sense of physical activity.
Instead, I love beautiful architecture, buildings and sites with historical significance, chef-crafted meals, lush gardens, hospitable inns and B&Bs, museums that inspire and teach me, and passionate business owners.
Fortunately, numerous publications exist that are looking for articles on those exact subjects.
Additionally, my husband and I don’t drink alcohol. For us, it’s a personal choice, not a moral or religious issue. But with the current travel focus on distilleries, wineries, and craft breweries, you might think this choice would immediately count me out as a travel writer. I can assure you that is not the case!
If you have a similar limitation, here’s my suggestion: don’t focus on what you CAN’T do. Instead, make a long list of travel-related subjects you DO enjoy and pursue those wholeheartedly.
As a side note, let me add that when I am on group press trips where a visit to a winery, distillery or brewery is included, I am happy to join the group. I learn. I watch. I photograph. And, if the publication to which I submit articles wants me to include the information, I do so without hesitation.
The surgery I mentioned earlier was weight-loss surgery, which means I now have a very small stomach. I fretted that I might have to stop being a travel writer because of that fact, but I quickly learned to make adjustments. I eat very small portions. I savor each bite. I ask numerous questions, and I take lots of photos. It works just fine.
3. Write what you know
I’m a card-carrying baby boomer. I know that boomers are a large group and represent a vast number of preferences. However, I also understand the times in which we were born and reared, and at least some of the motivators and reasons for the things we do and say.
Also, before I became a travel writer, I was a teacher. Now that I’m a travel writer, I still think of myself as a teacher. Whenever I visit a new place, I learn all I can about what makes that city or attraction unique. I talk to the locals, and I eat what the locals eat. Then I eagerly set about sharing my newly-acquired knowledge.
With this self-knowledge, I also research the publications for which I write and adapt my tone to suit their styles. It’s a goal of mine to remain a life-long learner, and being adaptable is one of the steps of reaching that goal.
Travel writers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and life stages. With hard work, I believe it is possible to custom-design this career in whatever ways work best for you.