When I first considered becoming a travel writer, it was just a dream.
Having just ended a 25-year marriage, I was starting a new life and had no idea where I was heading. One thing I knew for sure: I was happiest when I was traveling and wanted to travel more. But the reality was, I had a full-time job, limited vacation time, and no idea how to go about becoming a travel writer.
So, I started doing a bit of research. That’s when I ran across Great Escape Publishing. I ordered the Ultimate Travel Writer’s course and started dabbling with the program.
Along the way, I thought it would be an innovative idea to get to know some writers, so I signed up for a writers’ meet-up group and started networking.
The group leader mentioned a new regional magazine her friend had just started and suggested I talk to her about including a travel column. Using the tips I had gleaned from the program, I pitched the idea to the editor. To my amazement, she said YES!
A few years later, I decided to move this dream of mine a little farther down the road by attending the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop. And as they say – the rest is history.
Today I’m writing full-time. I’m also editing and managing social media campaigns for a few publications. And, I’m not just writing about travel. My work has included chocolate, expat profiles, and now, I’m even doing car reviews – which comes with the handy little perk of brand-new cars to use for road trips.
Every successful travel writer I know follows a unique path. Mine has been filled with networking, detours, and unexpected outcomes. For a while it was a meandering slow walk, but today it’s becoming a sprint toward even more successes.
If you think travel writing is for you, here are three tips to start you on your way.
1. Don’t worry if you can’t take the leap right away
Almost weekly someone will say to me, “It’s amazing how quickly you’ve become a travel writing success.” Clearly these people don’t know the whole story. A tapestry looks perfectly woven on one side and a mish-mash of threads on the other. That’s exactly what my travel-writing career path looks like.
It took the better part of a decade for me to really get things moving along with my writing. With work responsibilities, family commitments, and all those things that come along with rebuilding life after a divorce, I didn’t have the time (or energy) to dive in at full speed.
So, don’t worry if you can’t or don’t want to go full throttle to begin with: Start small and you can build from there. That’s what I did.
2. Talk to everyone and build relationships
Incredibly, I’ve managed to build a travel-writing career successful enough to allow me to leave behind my accounting career by only writing for people I’ve met in person. I realize that’s unusual, but it illustrates the importance and benefits of networking.
As I mentioned before, I started by joining a writers’ group and through that group met the editor that gave me my start. At the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop I attended, I landed an assignment for an editor at the cocktail party following the editor’s panel. I’ve crossed paths with other editors at tourism luncheons, industry trade shows, on press trips and through professional organizations I’ve joined, too.
Talk to people! Put yourself in as many places as possible that will provide you with networking opportunities. Once you connect, build those relationships.
3. Embrace the detours and expect the unexpected
When I started down this travel writing road, I never thought about writing articles focused on chocolate. All I really knew about chocolate was that I liked it – very much.
A writer I had become friends with was giving up her chocolate column and referred me to her editor. I wrote that chocolate column for the next seven years and still write about chocolate for various publications today.
Never did I think I’d be writing car reviews – why would I? Now, I not only write reviews, I’m the editor for a lifestyle publication that focuses on women and our relationships with cars. That includes road trips which is one of my favorite modes of travel.
Oh, and that social media campaign managing I’m doing – who knew that would ever be part of my career? I sure didn’t.
The path toward realizing our dreams rarely follows a straight line. But if you embrace the detours and expect the unexpected, you just might build a dream bigger than anything you imagined.