Press trips are the icing on the cake for freelance writers.
A well-designed, informative, well-organized and, most of all, fun press trip provides writers with the tools to let our stories flow freely and naturally — after all, we writers love to tell stories, don’t we?
So, when I was asked on a free, five-day trip with one of my kids to a lavish beachfront resort during the dog days of August, my immediate response was, “Heck, yeah!”
My son, Henry, then 10 years old, and I wound up having a marvelous and unforgettable time at the Sandestin Resort on the Florida Panhandle.
I’ve participated in at least a hundred or so press trips, and sometimes I’ve been invited to bring along a family member or guest. During this particular family trip, the public relations folks planned many parent-and-child activities, including miniature golf, scavenger hunts, picnic lunches, and sunset cruises.
However, as happens so often when we travel, the best experience was unplanned.
On our last evening, we were told by hotel staff that the annual Perseid meteorite shower would occur that night. So Henry and I, along with the other two writers and their kids, headed out to the dark beach and, with our hotel bedspreads spread out on the sand, we were held spellbound by the incredible array of meteorites above us. Henry is now 24, and we still reminisce about that press trip.
A gastronomic-focused, luxury press tour of southwest France was another invitation not to be passed up – so I got right to work to secure good assignments from reputable publications. Two other writers and I feasted upon multi-course banquets, sometimes up to nine courses and presented in exquisite displays.
Somehow, we moved from lunch to dinner with only a few hours in between, touring the gorgeous Rhône-Alpes region. We oh-so-happily ate and drank our way through Lyon, Annecy, Chamonix, and Évian-les-Bains. And I’ll never forget the Hôtel Royal in Evian where I reveled in the cream and turquoise satin brocades of my room and the sumptuous, palace-like grounds.
While Israel had always been on my wish-list, I was also nervous about it due to the barrage of negative press about Middle East violence and instability. But when I received the invitation for an opera-themed press trip there, I didn’t hesitate in accepting.
As it turned out, the trip was glorious — a richly diverse, week-long tour of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and the Galilee region, enhanced by a mesmerizing performance of “Carmen” at the Masada, under the moonlight.
I loved traveling with the internationally diverse group of journalists on our trip and sharing our observations. Somewhat to my surprise and much to my delight, I felt completely safe and welcome in Israel.
You can have these kinds of wonderful, life-changing experiences, too. Here are my quick tips on getting the most from your press trips (and making sure that the invitations keep rolling in):
- Be sure to line up assignments ahead of time so you have no problem fulfilling your end of the bargain – a story about the things you see and do in a magazine or newspaper.
- Take notes because you’ll never remember everything you see and hear.
- Be professional. This is your job, not a vacation (even though it feels like one sometimes).