hometown writing

Posted by & filed under Travel Writing.

I love my hometown because every day is an adventure—I just can’t wait to discover more of the city. After a long day of exploring, it’s fun to run home, log onto my computer, and search for a publication that might be interested in a story or two. 

Following my passion, I was inspired to compile this list of five tips to succeeding with travel writing from your hometown:

1. Be inquisitive

One of the principal lessons I’ve learned on my journey as a travel writer is the importance of curiosity. Honestly, I have never asked so many questions in my life!

Most people like to talk about themselves, whether it’s about their personal or professional lives. It’s human nature.

So by asking thought-out questions, I can learn the back story—the most exciting details of any article I’ve written, for sure. 

2. Be accessible

Several editors I work with love that I live in the area their publications cover. Because I am “on the ground,” I often answer last-minute requests to attend events they just heard about or to meet for dinner and drinks to brainstorm article ideas.

This past weekend an editor called to see if I were available for a three-day road trip along scenic Route 7A if she arranged for meals and accomodation along the way. She’s working on securing ad space in the magazine and will reach out to people and places that might want coverage. 

Just like that, a friend and I will drive from New York through Vermont for three days on someone else’s dime—and I’ll also be paid good money for the article and photo essay I turn in at the end of the month.

3. Be creative

Here in Saratoga, businesses are open again, and all of them need media coverage. By thinking outside the box and coming at stories from a different angle, I’m more likely to have my articles picked up by local, regional, and even international publications.

One of my favorite tea shops features a tea bar. The baristas are well educated on the teas they serve and the honey they sell, and I’m always happy to sit at the bar and learn about both.

How many articles do you think I could pitch to editors from just one visit?

Let’s see: I could write about any one of the kinds of honey they serve and sell the idea to a health and wellness publication, touting the benefits or maybe the importance of bees.

I could write a profile piece about the owner—she travels worldwide in search of the best teas.

Or I could craft a piece about the antique teacups and saucers for sale in the shop. Everyone loves a story that probes the history and previous owners of antiques. You get the idea. 

4. Be authentic

A good deal of my success is because I’m a local; people know me or at least have heard of me around town. I often hear how comfortable interviewees feel sitting together over coffee.   

No matter who you are or where you might be in your travel writing journey, your list of published stories will only grow if you’re approachable and genuine. Believe me, those are qualities people—including editors—love.

5. Be determined

I have spoken to more than a few travel writers who gave up before they even started. They didn’t see the value in hometown stories. I’m always quick to ask why they think the only interesting and saleable stories are found by traveling to other countries.

Look, I know that articles covering exotic places are exciting—I’ve written many myself. I realize far-flung locales are inspiring, and if the stories are well-written, they make readers want to jump on the next plane to get there.

But there are so many fascinating places right where we live, places that can ground us in between trips. I have found discovering local businesses, history, and characters to be an enriching experience.

You have the potential to be that writer, right where you live. I promise. Editors need folks like you and me to share our corner of the world with the rest of the planet. Stick with it—you can make it happen.