As a travel writer, I have enjoyed my share of complimentary stays in five-star accommodations, four-course dinners with wine pairings, and free city tours and attractions. All in exchange for published articles – and in addition to the pay.
What I didn’t count on in my travel writing career was receiving free travel-related gifts. And not just any travel gifts, but items like high-end luggage and cameras — things we travel writers can really use a lot.
When I attended the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in San Diego in September 2014, I heard the experts talk about the perks of travel writing, which had me intrigued from the very first day. One of my main reasons for attending the program was to see how I could not only get paid for my travel stories but get valuable perks along the way.
During the workshop, the seasoned writers and editors stressed the importance of good writing, giving the editors what they’re looking for, strictly adhering to writer’s guidelines, and delivering captivating, quality articles on time.
After the workshop, I began writing for an online website featuring travel tips and stories by moms and grandmoms who specialize in family travel destinations. Thankfully, I’d already written for a variety of other family publications, which I believe gave me a distinct advantage with family travel credibility.
After publishing four of my articles – all of which received positive feedback and praises from the editors – the magazine sent me an invitation to apply for their product-review team. To be honest, I never saw this one coming. Being new to the publication, I didn’t even know what a product review team did, or realize this was actually one of the potential perks associated with being a site contributor.
Imagine my surprise when a package appeared on my doorstep! The first product I received was a beautiful, top-quality piece of hard-faced carry-on luggage from Ricardo of Beverly Hills, just perfect for an active travel writer like me. The luggage, known as a “mobile office” because of its multiple accessible compartments was valued at $170. My price? Zero dollars. That impressively-designed carry-on was mine to keep — all in exchange for a well-written product review.
I simply followed the guidelines set forth by the travel site and posted my product review. This review was ultimately shared on various social media outlets and with the company itself.
About a month later, a smaller package arrived in the mail. This time, the item was a Panasonic Lumix camera. I looked the product up online and much to my surprise, it was a high-end point-and-shoot camera with DSLR qualities that retailed for $450. Also included in the package was a travel kit with a spare battery, recharger and SD card, making the total value well over $500. Again, it was totally free, all for the price of a quality product review.
Here I am with my new suitcase and camera.
I just returned from a three-day Disneyland vacation with the grandkids. The luggage was the perfect size for the long weekend, and not having to lug my full-sized DSLR camera with lenses and camera bag was a Godsend. The camera fit perfectly in my husband’s pocket, and we were good to go. And the picture quality? Spectacular! More than proving the camera’s actual worth.
These are perks I never dreamed were possible in my travel writing career. Not only do these top-end products have value, they have utility, and remind me that, on my journey as a travel writer, I have no idea what new experience lies around the next bend.
In the meantime, I am loving the journey!