For anyone who loves to write and loves to travel, a job as a travel writer is pretty much a dream come true. But the truth of the matter is this – unless you’re one of the lucky sods who bagged a job with Lonely Planet or Rough Guides – you’re unlikely to be able to make a living out of travel writing full time. Which means that you will inevitably spend time not travelling. Awful, I know.
So how can you realistically work towards becoming a travel writer when you’re stuck at home, or working full time in order to save up for your next adventure?
Write about places you’ve already been
You don’t necessarily need to be there right now to have a good knowledge of a place. Perhaps you lived in Australia for a while and have some incredible memories you never got around to writing about. Maybe you spent a weekend in Barcelona and learnt a few things about Gaudi and Dali while you were there. Often there simply isn’t time to write about these experiences while you’re in the midst of an adventure, so make the most of your time at home to pen some great stories.
Spend time building your network
If you’re serious about travel writing, you need the right connections so you have somewhere to pitch your ideas. While you’re remaining stationary for the time being, use it as an opportunity to reach out to travel companies, magazines, bloggers and known travel writers. That way once you’re back on the road you will know who to contact with your latest stories.
Twitter is a great place to start – search for travel writers and ask them for advice. Have a look online for websites that are happy to accept guest posts.
Create a portfolio
If you’ve had a few stories or articles published already, ensure that you collate them all for future reference. Websites like Clippings.me and Writerfolio are great resources to collect all of your articles in one place. Your portfolio is a vital tool for securing new work, as editors will no doubt want to see previous examples of your travel writing before they take you on.
Write guides to local areas, cities and places
Just because you know your home town like the back of your hand, it doesn’t mean everyone else does. You’re the ideal person to write a city guide as you’ll most likely know the trendiest hangouts, where to grab the best coffee, where to find a beer garden when the sun is shining, and other cool places tourists might otherwise miss. National Parks, beaches and small towns can be just as interesting as rain forests and capital cities – find a unique angle and use your imagination.
There are loads of great travel writing competitions out there. Everyone from newspapers to travel publications put on travel writing competitions, often with generous cash prizes. We even ran one ourselves in partnership with Rough Guides. Entry has now closed, but make sure you read the winning article when it’s revealed to see what makes a stellar travel writing story. Enter as many competitions as you can – you’ll build on your experience, and you might even win!
Read as much travel writing as you can
From short stories to modern classics, add some travel writing to your library. Whether you pick up Chatwin or Bryson, Theroux or Steinbeck, their words, descriptions, anecdotes and stories are just what you need to inspire you to be a better writer, and rekindle your love of travelling too!
Write your travelling tips and advice
While descriptive and inspiring travel stories make interesting reading, so too do travel tips, hints and advice. People love to read advice from fellow travellers. Articles about what to pack, where to find the best hotels, how to navigate the trams, local customs and other insider tip-bits are valuable to fellow travellers. Your insider knowledge might just help to get someone out of a sticky situation.
Write about topics other than travel
If you haven’t got much in your arsenal by way of travel stories, don’t let that stop you writing. Start writing about other things that interest you – gigs, art, culture, nightlife, food and drink, any hobbies you love – all of these topics will enhance your writing skills, and when you embark on your next trip you’ll be better versed at describing that delicious street food and amazing live music.