If you love traveling, and you love writing, you’ve probably wondered how to become a travel writer. Is it possible? Is it as glamorous as it sounds?
Travel writers can write on just about anything- real estate, airlines, gear, resorts, hotels, adventures, hikes, photography, food, and more. In this article, we are going to cover a few benefits that travel writers experience as well as discuss what it takes to actually become a travel writer. We are going to be realistic, practical, and informational.
Benefits Of Becoming A Travel Writer
Traveling To Awesome Places
This may be the most sought after benefit of being a travel writer. Writers can travel to incredible destinations by themselves, or potentially on assignment to experience incredible places. In addition, writing is a position that can be done remotely on a computer. This allows writers to travel, and continue working and writing while traveling, or travel to a next destination while still working on a piece regarding the previous destination.
Getting Free Gear
With travel, it is essential to have gear that makes adventures and experiences possible, safer, and more enjoyable. Examples of this may be, clothing, backpacks, safety gear, photography gear, food, and other items. While traveling, individuals have to utilize gear, and therefore, putting gear to the test in real life situations. This type of experience can be hugely helpful to others that are considering buying the same gear. By getting the recommendations and insight from someone that has used gear and put it to the test, they can feel more comfortable in their purchases. Brands have noticed how important this is as well, and therefore they are willing to sponsor writers, and pay for usage so that gear can be tested, promoted, and be trusted by future customers.
Getting Free Accomodations
Accomodations may be supplied by your employer for the project you are working on. In addition, writers with followings/influence, or those that are reviewing accommodation areas may get accomodations covered by the place they are staying at in exchange for the promotion, or marketing materials that may be produced from the writer. This can range from lavish hotels, to cheap hostels, to campgrounds, to vans or RVs.
Getting Free Adventure Experiences
Writers may get paid to promote a tourist attraction, or fun outdoor activity. This can come from the adventure guide company itself, from a local tourism board, or by the organization hiring the writer to write the piece. This style of incentive can be various adventures. For example: guided fly fishing trip, guided climbing trip, rafting, a museum tour, tickets to a sporting event, a concert, or dozens of other types adventures.
Making Your Own Hours
There is no doubt that writing takes time, commitment, diligence, and hardwork. That being said, writers often simply have deadlines, not set work hours. This means that they have the freedom to place writing time wherever they would like in their day to maximize productivity, sneak in adventures, or take care of just about anything. This time freedom is extremely valuable to many, but it does make it extremely important that the individual writing is self disciplined.
Being Accountable For Your Own Success
Your success is largely (never completely) up to your dedication and quality of work. You are accountable for your effort, your production capabilities, your own continuous improvement and proactiveness. Much like an entrepreneur, your success is heavily influenced by your own actions, and this can be extremely rewarding to many.
Meeting New People
For the extroverts and social types, this can be a huge source of happiness. Traveling often means meeting new people, especially if you make the effort to do so. While traveling, you may get to experience a wide variety of cultures, socio-economic statuses, viewpoints, talents, family dynamics, and simply the way of life of different people. This can be eye opening, extremely rewarding, and can often shift an individual’s way of thinking. This can lead to self improvement, but also the ability to help others in need.
You Get To Influence & Help People
Writing is educational and entertaining in nature. Writing helps others make decisions, educates them, or simply keeps them entertained. Therefore, well researched, well thought out, and quality writing has the power to help people. Whether the content is widely viewed, and helps thousands of people, or touches a few people deeply, writing can be a powerful way to impact others in a positive way.
Downsides Of Being A Travel Writer
It’s Hard Work
Being a successful travel writer is hard work. Don’t be fooled by famous influencers’ lives. While some may have been lucky, most have worked extremely hard, and need to spend many hours every day thoughtfully putting out and producing high quality content. Consistently putting out high quality work is essential to long term success. The only way to do so is with hard work. Continuously improving skills, making adjustments, testing, and learning is essential to growth. This only happens through persistent hard work. Hard work isn’t a bad thing, it is simply important to remember, that even the most luxurious sounding “jobs” often take extreme dedication to become one of the best, travel writing is no exception.
Traveling Constantly Can Be Draining
If you’ve ever had jet lag, rushed to avoid missing a flight, had rental car troubles, hotel reservation troubles, or have gotten lost while traveling, you’ve experienced at least one of the headaches that can accompany travel. These types of things will inevitably happen, even if everything is planned perfectly. And planning perfectly can be draining in itself. Travel can be hectic and stressful at the same time as it is extremely rewarding. Planning travel well takes mindspace as well as time, which can be draining to some.
Healthy Lifestyles Can Be More Difficult (but not impossible)
While traveling, it can be hard to mix in a run, walk regularly, get to the gym regularly, and avoid sedentary behavior. While traveling can also potentially make some of these things easier, it is essential for travelers to plan healthy habits into their days. If this isn’t done, it can become nearly impossible to maintain those healthy habits while constantly on the move. A gym membership may not work for you, access to weights, or a good place to run or walk may also be difficult. It is up to the traveler to determine what type of physical activity can be maintained during travel. One of the easiest and most rewarding ways to stay physically active is to plan hikes and trail runs. The benefits of hiking and other outdoor activities span across fitness, mental wellness, and overall well being.
In addition, travel often can mean eating out more regularly which may hurt some nutritional habits. This needs to be taken care of by the traveler as well.
Inconsistent Pay / Instability
A travel writer may have inconsistent projects or pay. Some writers may only do travel writing as a part time job due to this. It is possible to find a full time job, or to fill your schedule with enough freelance work that full time work is necessary. Full time steady positions are hard to find, and it is also considered quite difficult to acquire enough consistent clients to travel and write full time.
Expenses Can Be High While Traveling
Traveling expenses can be high. Even if certain items are taken care of by your clients, between travel costs, lodging, food, and other expenses, generally speaking, travel is more expensive than living in one location. With this being said, there are methods of travel, and areas in the world that are extremely affordable, even if one desired to eat out every night. This just may involve more research to find the most affordable options.
Key Skills Necessary To Become A Travel Writer
Becoming a travel writer isn’t easy, and requires several skill sets to be lucky enough to make this a career. Here are a few:
Quality Writing Skills
This probably could go without saying, but it is essential to be a great writer. Great writing is a difficult skill to acquire. Fortunately, good writing isn’t just a natural ability, but it can be learned through experience and teachings. The more persuasive and entertaining your writing is, the more it can appeal to a particular audience, and the more versatility you have in your writing abilities, the better your earning potentials are. In order to achieve this, writing skills need to be continuously developed and practiced over time.
Time Management Skills
One of the main benefits of being a writer is that your schedule is up to you. While this is a great positive, it means that time management skills need to be extremely good. Balancing work, leisure, travel, research, exercise, and more becomes more difficult while traveling, and also less structured. With less structure comes more freedom, but also more opportunity let time pass inefficiently.
Organization & Planning Skills
Balancing multiple writing projects while planning travel, lodging, food, scheduling and other accommodation is extremely time consuming and difficult. Mistakes are easy to make, but can mean missing flights, deadlines, and activities. Staying organized and planning well ahead is essential to long term success as a writer.
Patience, Persistence, & Diligence
Trust, respect, and top of the line skills are all acquired through consistency. Building quality writing skills takes patience and consistent writing. Building a client list could take years, and building an audience that trusts you can also take years. Nearly anything good in life takes hard work. Travel writing is no exception.
Versatility will enable a writer to take on multiple types of roles. This can help fill the writing queue, acquire different types of clients, and write different styles of content. While versatility can be a huge strength, it is also important to recognize that being an expert, or having a specialty area can be highly valuable as well. Having a clear specialty and expertise mixed with the versatility to be a competent writer in multiple areas is the best of both worlds, and will enable a writer to have ample opportunity.
Tips To Become A Travel Writer
Write A Lot
Write every day. Malcolm Gladwell is famous for his words, paraphrased “tit akes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials”. Writing is certainly no exception here. Writing more than anyone else will create a better writer than nearly everyone else. The more a writer writes, the faster skills will be built. In addition to this, when creating a blog, or posting on social media, consistency can play a major factor in building an audience, and writing a lot makes this easier to do. Setting goals, like writing 1,000 words per day can be huge for advancing quickly.
Read A Lot
Reading allows writers to see other experts, and identify what style suits their skills and experiences best. Reading not only educates, but for writers, can be a great way to help develop style by understanding what works and what doesn’t work for them.
Build A Website
Every writer needs to be able to show off their skills, and a website allows for that. Additionally, a website cna be used to build a brand, build an audience, and acquire new clients. In today’s day and age, writing with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind is a skill that nearly all writers need, and a website can help practice those skills.
A website can become a practice ground, a revenue generating asset, an asset to acquire new clients, a resume, and a fun side project all in one. Because of this, it is an essential item for any travel writer. Start one early in the writing journey.
Build A Social Media Following
A social media following can help amplify your writing, help acquire new clients, and become its own revenue stream. Writing with social media in mind is also an extremely important skill in today’s writing world and working with all types of brands.
Pick A Niche Or Be Willing To Write On Broad Topics
Both being an expert in something, and versatility in subjects are valuable skills as a writer. Picking a niche may enable a writer to take advantage of a less competitive market, or allow the writer to be considered an expert in a particular topic. This can add tremendous value to organizations.
Having versatility and a general knowledge of a large set of topics can also be extremely valuable. This can enable writers to work for a variety of organizations and cover a variety of topics. Travel writers of all kinds can find what works best for them.
Obsess About Continuously Improving
Continuous improvement is a key to long term success. Learning from past mistakes, and successes, and learning from experience will continue to heighten a writers skills. The more skills improve, the more an expertise grows, the more valuable a writer becomes. More knowledge, and more experience, will lead to more opportunities, and higher earning potentials.
Build Brand Relationships
Building relationships with organizations is often extremely important to success as a writer. Brands are who writers partner with and will get value out of the content that is being put together. Even influencers with large followings utilize partnerships with brands to create a revenue stream. Brands need to see the value of content, and if a writer can unlock a formula for writing, or build an audience that adds value to a brand, they will be able to benefit form that value.
In today’s day and age, digital media as well as print media requires photographic or video assets to accompany it in nearly all cases. Writers that add the ability to capture visually in addition to via words, will be able to generate the most value for readers and brands. Therefore, it is a valuable skill to have. In many cases it is a requirement to land a brand partnership or writing project.
Be An Expert In Something
Even if a writer is extremely versatile, a writer should be an expert in something. Expertise is highly valuable. Readers want to hear from an expert on a topic the most, and brands want to work with experts. Experts help build trust, and trust builds power over other people’s opinions. Power over people’s opinion leads to more revenue potential.
Collaborate With Other Writers & Brands
Utilizing other’s following and audience can help amplify a writer’s own following. Collaborating on a consistent basis is a fantastic way to continue to grow an audience and build a great reputation. This is a highly recommended activity and mutually beneficial for all parties involved with the correct structure.
Be Persistent & Consistent
Consistently write and put out great content. The more consistently helpful content can be published, the faster growth can occur. With this in mind, quality should always be more important than quantity. Continuously and quickly pushing out bad content, will not take a writer anywhere. In addition to consistent output of quality content, creating a consistent style can be beneficial to help with building trust, and an engaged audience.
Learn SEO, Marketing, & Persuasive Writing
In today’s day and age, organizations are often looking for writers with additional skills. Search engine optimization is one of those skills that is not only highly sought after by brands, but enables writers to build their own audiences, and establish a presence without the need for partnering with a brand. In addition to SEO, having marketing skills and experience can create a substantial amount of additional value.
Be Ready To Travel
You must not only love traveling, but it is essential to be up-to-date with your passport, immunizations, and travel insurance. Travel writers need to have the right gear, organized luggage within their budget, and a general knowledge and ability to travel in an organized manner efficiently.
Being multilingual isn’t a necessity, but can clearly be a huge advantage not only for traveling, but representing a variety of brands and a variety of audiences.
Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about