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If you’re starting to feel the nip of winter approaching and a trip somewhere warm sounds good right about now—especially one that’s paid for by someone else—then stay tuned. For the next few days, we’re going to talk about travel perks and how to get them as a travel writer.

But first, let’s back up for a minute and talk about what “perks” means, because we tend to throw that word around, and it actually means a wide variety of things.

Travel writing perks run the gamut from a free ticket to a museum… to a meal at a new high-end restaurant… to champagne and chocolates waiting for you in your luxury suite, paid for by someone who needs your travel insights. Savvy travel writers can even get flights and entire trips funded, finding themselves on adventures in far-off countries, experiencing amazing things without having to fit them into their travel budget.

Here’s a quick run-down of the various perks, freebies, and benefits that are typically open to travel writers:

Self-arranged perks: When you’re starting out, this will be the easiest way to offset your travel costs. Sometimes a visitor’s bureau can help you, and sometimes you’ll arrange them yourself, with a polite note. Some of these include:

  • Simple freebies. Businesses need “coverage.” For them, getting mentioned in an article is far better than paying for ads. So, often they’re happy to throw a free meal, service, or exclusive entry to an event your way if you approach them in the right way, letting them know you’re a travel writer doing an article.

  • Free hotel stays. There are multiple ways to go about getting a free stay at a hotel, but you typically don’t want to come out and ask, and it can help to have an assignment, or at least a few article ideas and target publications in mind. Sometimes, a hotel won’t cover your whole stay, but will throw in 1-2 nights, or offer a discounted rate. If you need more time to work on your story, try approaching more than one hotel, and staying 1-2 nights with each.

Travel “on assignment:” This happens when a publication contracts with you to do an article on a subject or a place, and funds all or part of your travel related to that assignment. Usually, this happens with larger publications, after you’ve been published with them a few times and built a relationship with the editor. Of course, you’ll be expected to deliver an article by the end… but if you hold up your part of the deal, you’ll get paid for it.

Press trips: Also called familiarization trips, or “fam” trips, these are the travel writer’s Holy Grail. Typically, you need a few published articles under your belt before you can land one of these. You can find press trip offers through a Google search, or in our ITWPA Insider newsletter, which comes out twice a month and always features a new press trip opportunity.

NOTE: All of the perks that go with travel writing exist because travel writers and what they have to say are valuable to the travel industry. It’s never a good idea to ask for free travel perks without the intention of delivering a great article after the fact.

The good news is that, as a travel writer, there are plenty of opportunities to score freebies. And the even better news is that you don’t have to be a seasoned pro to start getting them.

All you need is a couple of small, simple published articles under your belt… and the best way to start is right there in your local area.

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