Travel writing is a viable career idea for anyone with a strong sense of wanderlust. Even if you’ve never put your thoughts into long form before, when you’re truly passionate about the adventures you’ve been on, you’re going to write something both informative and entertaining!
That’s why you should think about investing in this career, or taking it on as a side hustle. You can write when on location, when you’re home again, when you’re relaxing by the pool near the resort – it’s a very flexible job to have!
Whether you want to blog, start writing books, pitch to travel mags with your insider tips, or a combination of all three, you could make a career out of your passion for both travelling and writing about it. All you need to do is maintain an internet connection at crucial points and you’ll be good to go!
We’ve also got plenty of tips to help you adjust to writing whilst travelling and putting out the best content you’re capable of.
Do You Want to Freelance or Get a Job?
Depending on how much you want to travel, and how often you want to write about it, you may want to freelance as a journalist, start up a blog, or get a job at a travel mag. Any of these choices are going to be great for your career and allow you to build up some useful bylines that’ll only generate more interesting offers in the future.
You’re probably going to spend the next few months focusing on one of these areas over the others. And we can’t blame you for that. It makes sense to funnel as much of your energy as possible into the dream travel writing career you’re envisioning!
In reality however, you’re probably going to have to do a mixture of work. Freelance travel writing is usually the ideal, as you can write what you want when you want and post it to your blog as it suits you. However, this work can be finicky and rarely pays well when you’re just starting out. Even when you’re well established, it’s going to take a few years before you start bringing in the big bucks!
That’s why you should look into writing for travel companies, agencies, and big name tourist websites. You can then sign up to freelance on contract for a journal, whilst maintaining your blog in the background, and then you can search for a salaried position that’s going to take you seriously. It’s an exhausting journey, but it’ll work!
You’re Going to Need Good Time to Write
Writing in the back of a taxi, on a plane or train, or whilst maintaining balance on the back of a rickshaw, is going to be hard. It’s going to be something you’ll need to adjust to, which can take time if you get motion sick as well.
That’s why you should always clear at least an hour to write when you’re travelling. You want to be able to sit down and open up your laptop or tablet without any distractions. Usually this is best done in the hotel room before you head to bed, but sitting down in the middle of the day at a local cafe will be just fine too. You might even make a few new friends if you start working in public places!
Get Used to Writing Pitches
Pitching to travel websites and magazines is going to get annoying – there really is no doubt about that. You’re going to need to write at least one or two pitches a day and send them off ASAP, to ensure you the best chance of having a paid project lined up on a regular basis. That means you need to get used to writing pitches, as well as used to receiving rejections (or simply no response at all).
You can come up with a pitch template to cut down the time involved in this. However, try not to use this automatically. Edit it manually to make sure each pitch you send out is personalised and does not come across as ‘canned’. You’re not going to be the only person in a travel mag’s inbox, so do your best to stand out!
And Get Used to Very Unusual Hours!
If you’re travelling on a regular basis, you’re going to suffer from jetlag on a near permanent basis. If you already find it hard to get a good night’s sleep, this is going to be the worst part of trying to maintain a productive job at the same time.
It’s why you shouldn’t head back out immediately once you’re home again. Give yourself a grace period to feel your legs again and sort your head out, and then book the next flight. This’ll also give you time to edit any recent posts you’ve put out whilst away, as well as generate new ideas for pitches to send off.
You’ll Often Have to Stay on Trend
While you can head to destinations you’ve always wanted to visit and then write about them, this is unlikely to make good, long term money. After all, you might have a travel dream only one or two other people share, and that can make the post you write uninteresting to most of your audience.
You can carefully curate a base of like minded people, but keep an eye on current travel trends as well. Of course, this is going to take time and a lot of research, but if you track hashtags and keep up with notable travel journals, you’ll be able to follow what people are dreaming about.
Even if you don’t want to hop on the bandwagon and do what everyone else is, you can still bring a unique angle to the pieces you end up contributing. If people come to you because of your honesty, you can bring a fresh voice to the arena. If people follow because you always have something wild to report, write with this in mind. You can still be you, you just need to be on trend from time to time.
Use AI to Help with the Details
Coming up with a title, a call to action to sign up to your newsletter, a caption for your latest Instagram photo, etc., are the finer details about being a travel writer that can get time consuming and annoying. If you want to focus on writing and writing alone, you can use Optimo’s AI tools to get an idea in just a few minutes.
That’ll give you more time to write what matters: the body of content, your killer closing paragraph, and allow you to take the perfect accompanying photos. You’ll also have more editing time, which will make you a more concise writer. Using tools like these might even help you get a few more minutes in bed, if you’re someone who has those jetlag related problems we mentioned earlier!
It Might Take a While to Make Money
Making money through travel writing can be very hard. It’s an expansive niche, but it’s filled to the brim with travellers already sharing their opinions. If you want to be in the same position, you’re going to have to work.
You’re going to have to commit to the long, awkward hours, and travelling as much as possible even when you’re not sure if you’ve got an interested editor on the other side. It’s a hard truth to come to terms with, but it’s also a necessary one.
Think of the ordeal as part of the passion project you’ve always wanted to take on. You’ll make money, make no doubt about that! But you’re going to have to take your time. A career doesn’t form overnight! And you’re going to make mistakes along the way too, by saying both yes and no to things you shouldn’t. Keep in mind that it’s all good experience and you’ve got plenty of time to try new things as you go.
Carefully Maintain Your Attitude
It’s easy to get swept up in the magic of being able to write about your travels. You can go wherever you want, write about what you got up to, offer tips and advice to people who’d love to visit the same place, and then do it all again when you book your next trip. When you think about it, this is a pretty privileged lifestyle to live!
Don’t let your attitude change as a result. Always be passionate, but never get flippant about what you do. Travel writing takes a lot of discipline, but it’s still not something everyone can try. You don’t want to accidentally alienate the audience you’ve worked so hard to build through an awkward change in your style or tone!
Travel writing could be the perfect career for you. Just don’t underestimate how much work will go into the process. Any career takes hard work and a lot of toil – you’ll just be in beautiful places at the same time!