Travel—especially international travel—can be expensive, and even more so if you’re new to travel writing and not getting invited on complimentary trips yet.
So, how can you get the most bang for your buck when you’re starting out?
One way that I stretch my travel budget is by making sure I get multiple bylines from most trips that I take.
Often one trip takes me to two or more different countries (another way to stretch your budget by saving on flights), so I can get a lot of stories out of those.
Recently, I visited five Eastern European countries on one trip. Not only did I write separate articles about each destination, but I just had a story published about sparkling wineries in three of the countries on that itinerary. I also wrote another piece about a road trip through the Carpathian Mountains. And I’m not finished yet—I still have many more travel article ideas to work on from that trip.
But even for a trip to one country, one state, or even one city, there are ways to get more than one story. You could write about things to do and see; you could write about an adventure you had; you could write about a festival or maybe a restaurant or a hotel that you liked. Culture, ruins, and historical significance also make good starting points for stories.
Here are some ways to get ideas for stories—before, during, and after your trip.
- Before. Research your destination thoroughly. See what has already been written, and come up with something else or at least a different angle.
- During. Use all five senses to take in everything you can. Be observant and open to new experiences. There may be adventures that you hadn’t anticipated, and therefore new stories.
- After. Download and edit your photos. I take a ton of photos, and because I’m in sensory overload mode during the trip, there are things I might not have remembered. However, the photos trigger the memory.
Here are some different types of articles you can squeeze from one trip:
- A roundup article gives a good overview of what a destination has to offer. It’s a kind of a mini travel guide and includes a variety of activities, sights, food, etc. Roundups attract a lot of traffic. It’s generally the first thing people search for when planning a trip—and usually the first type of article I’ll write from a trip.
- Front-of-the-book pieces are the short stories that appear in the first third of a magazine. They’re also a good way for new writers to break into a magazine, because editors are more willing to take a chance on an unknown contributor for these shorter sections.
- Travel narratives are the meat of many publications and are generally at least 2,000 words. I try to write at least one narrative article about something specific, but not a travel memoir. You don’t want to write “What I Did on My Summer Vacation.” Instead, this should be engaging piece with a unique perspective that has the power to transport your readers to feel as if they’re there with you.
- How-to articles give information and/or advice on how to best experience a destination in a limited amount of time, how to do a particular activity in that destination, how to find the best places to eat, etc.
- Interviews with someone of interest can be a fun article. With some research, you can set these up ahead of time.
- Road trip pieces create an itinerary for readers, covering a defined geographic area. Sometimes they can be done around a theme, such as visiting craft breweries in the region.
- Reviews of hotels and restaurant are easy to write, and you can find publications that are always looking for these types of pieces.
Getting multiple bylines from a single trip also has another financial benefit aside from the travel expense. The money you make from selling the articles to publications after the trip can really start to add up!