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You’ll often hear travel writers talk about FAM trips. But you might ask, “What is a fam trip?” A FAM trip is a familiarization trip designed by tourism representatives (and sometimes public relations firms) to showcase highlights of the destination they represent. Some of the FAM trips I’ve attended include Winter Carnival in Quebec City, Hershey/Harrisburg’s Wine Quest Weekend, Kent County Delaware’s Good Libations Tour, Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour. When you’re first starting out, you’ll need to join an organization like ITWPA or Media Kitty to get notices of these trips, and you’ll have to apply for your place along with all the other writers who get these invites, too. But after you’ve got a few articles under your belt and you’ve proven that you’ll get something published after your trip, you’ll find that a lot of these trips come directly to your inbox without so much competition. Here are a few tips for making that happen sooner rather than later…

  1. It’s important to establish a good track record and reputation.  Tourism representatives all seem to know each other.  And they will talk about you.  Your job is to make sure that what they say is all good.  Mind your manners and work your butt off to get something published after it.
  2. You’re not on vacation.  It might feel like a vacation when you’re enjoying wine tastings, bourbon tastings, or ice cream sampling, but you’re actually working.  Make sure you take notes and plenty of photos.
  3. Be respectful of your host and the other writers on the FAM trip.  You don’t want to be “that” writer – the one no one wants to travel with ever again.  Examples of bad travel writer behavior include showing up late for meeting points; monopolizing question and answer sessions preventing other writers from getting information they need; and complaining about food, accommodations, and activities.  It’s surprising how many travel writers behave badly.  Trust me, if you are one of them, FAM trip invitations will disappear.
  4. After the trip, be sure you follow through.  The purpose of a FAM trip is to gain publicity for the destination.  If you accept the invitation for a trip and never deliver an article or a blog post, you won’t be invited on other trips.

Skip any of these tips and you’ll quickly set up your first free trip to be your last. The skills I gained to get more than 200 of my stories published came from Jennifer Stevens, Kyle Wagner, and Steenie Harvey at The Ultimate Travel Writer’s workshop, but they’re also in Kyle’s newsletters to ITWPA members. When you’re a member, go through the archives for advice on approaching editors with your stories and finding the right angle to sell your piece to the right person. Then jump in!  You won’t regret it. Share on Facebook

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