What has amazed me even more than the fascinating destinations I’ve visited over the years as a travel writer are the people I’ve met along the way and the unique experiences that would not have been available to me as an “ordinary” tourist.
It’s the one perk you may not know about in the travel writer’s life – access to the inaccessible.
I’ve been behind the scenes at chocolate factories, had exclusive access to and interviews with celebrity chefs, and even got a sneak preview of the new Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade floats.
Of course, when you’re first starting out, it takes a bit of work to build your credibility with destination marketing folks who can provide this kind of access. Here are a few ideas and tips for things I used when I was starting out. Maybe some or all of these will work for you!
- If you are brand new to writing and have no clips to show, start by blogging about your hometown. Bloggers get press trips, too. Reach out to local restaurants or attractions by contacting the media relations personnel. Tell them you’re a travel blogger and want to feature their business in your blog. Inquire about a media rate (which often leads to a complimentary visit or meal) and then write about the experience on your blog. It’s a great way to start.
- To boost your writing credibility, join an organization like ITWPA. Early in my writing career, I used my membership in ITWPA to help me obtain a complimentary ticket for sailing on a wooden Schooner in Annapolis. In turn, the owner of the schooner put me in touch with the Annapolis tourism representative who offered to set up a weekend for me in her charming town. This led to a friendship that resulted in many more invitations and contacts within the travel industry.
- Network, network, network! Honestly, we all know you have to be a decent writer to make it in this business, but the key to real success is networking. When you meet someone within the industry, get to know them – and let them get to know you. You never know where an introduction will lead.
Living in New York City, I’ve managed to get on the invitation list of several European tourism boards for local events. At one of the events, I was seated next to an editor of a major publication.
That connection led to a position as a contributing editor of his publication. You just never know! Even if you don’t live in a big city, you can network within your community and get to know people who are connected within the travel industry. Be nice, be personable, and things will begin to happen for you.
The travel writing life is an obtainable goal. Start with small steps like the ones I’ve outlined here and keep at it. The world is waiting for you!