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Most beginning travel writers think that the idea of travel writing is to write and sell enough stories to pay for your trip. I agree.  But when you’re doing the math, you should also consider the value of your free or low-cost accommodation, press passes to attractions, and even complimentary meals, too.  Some of which, it’s hard to put a price tag on because you’re getting access others can’t even pay for. By soliciting a number of article assignments in advance, and working with the local Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) or Chamber of Commerce at your planned destination, you can have a marvelous vacation and you’ll get royal treatment while you’re at it. So how much can you make as a travel writer on just one trip?  Here’s how I made $2,800 on just one… The example I’ll use is a recent 12-day tour of Tucson and Cochise County in Southern Arizona that turned out nicely for my wife and me. After investigating what the region had to offer in tourist attractions, I started sending out query letters to editors of a variety of magazines. I pitched a story about the aircraft graveyard just out of Tucson to a U.S. aviation history magazine and a U.K. aviation magazine… a story about the famous western town of Tombstone to a history magazine… an article about the Titan Missile Base Museum near Tucson to a U.K. military vehicle magazine… a lengthy article about the equipment on display at the Fort Huachuca Military Intelligence Museum to a communication magazine… and three travel websites agreed to run an article about a resort near Tombstone where I wanted to stay (it’s a replica of a historical western town, from around 1880). Jennifer Stevens talks about how to approach editors with stories like this at The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop. But let’s take a look at the math… Armed with these assignments, I contacted the Convention and Visitors Bureaus and Chambers of Commerce at these places and requested complimentary accommodation.  Between them, they covered all 11 nights’ accommodation at some very nice hotels, resorts, and B&Bs — and even came through with some complimentary meals. In addition, I requested press passes to the tourist attractions at these places and these were granted, as well. And often, we were given personal guided tours of towns and museums that were arranged in advance. In Tombstone, for example, we were toured around the town by the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce and given an hour-long historical tour of the town by the town’s resident western history expert. How much did we save with the complimentary accommodation and meals? Hotel rooms varied from place to place, but I’m sure we saved a good $1,200 (the Tombstone resort was close to $200 a night). These savings, plus several hundred dollars from free entry into all tourist attractions saved us a bundle. If you’re visiting several places a day, as we did, entry fees to museums and attractions can add up. We may have saved as much as $50 a day on this. It’s hard to put a price on the value of the personal tours we were given, but it’s always nice to have your own personal guide. In the end, I made about $1,000 from my magazine and website articles (not including reprints).  And I saved about $1,800 in travel expenses and got guided tours. Not at all a bad deal for a lengthy vacation in the warm Arizona sunshine, out of the wet Seattle winter – a vacation I would have gladly paid for. I go on several trips like this every year, and it’s all because one day I saw an ad for The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop and I signed up. If I hadn’t taken this course, I’m sure I would have given up after a year or two of disappointment. Now, Great Escape has me speak at their annual workshops about what’s working and not working for me in the field.  It’s a privilege and an honor to be part of your journey. This September, I’ll be at the workshop in San Diego to answer your questions and show you how you can do what I’m doing—travelling the world and getting paid for it. Hope to see you there!

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