So You Want To Be A Travel Writer?

travel writer

About 5 years ago when I originally decided that I wanted to be a travel writer I had that romantic notion of getting paid to travel the world and write about it. I’d fly first class, stay in 5-star hotels and write about my explorations from luxurious balconies overlooking crystal blue waters while making my readers green with envy.

I’d buy a one-way ticket to Europe, kiss my daddy goodbye, spend a year travelling, writing, living and being free and happy and getting all of YOU wonderful people to foot the bill. Yes, I really did believe I could do it. For about 5 minutes. But then I quickly realized that I’d also have to spend a lot of time planning trips, making reservations, going places I probably didn’t want to go and writing about things I probably didn’t want to write about just to earn a paycheck.

“But the part people always forget about, or just don't know about, is the actual work. Travel writing comes in mostly two parts, traveling and writing. Now I know everyone gets the traveling part, but I constantly have to remind friends that I'm also held accountable for the second part of my job title.”

The reality of travel writing isn’t really all that glamorous.  I thought I’d take trips that I wanted to take, write about them and figure out a way to make money doing that. Simple enough. In reality, travel articles (that make money) are usually sponsored. Companies – hotels, restaurants, tourism boards – pay writers to come visit their places of business and write about them. The only other way to make money off of travel writing is from advertisements on blogs.

Does anyone ever clicks the ads?

For writers who work for sponsors, they travel on the sponsors terms, not your own. You go where they want you to go. Now if you have a luxury blog like World of Wanderlust, then you get to paid to go to some pretty fabulous places. But again, you’re being paid to be there and for the post. So, if you have a bad day or get sick or don’t feel like writing that day, um, yeah that’s not gonna work. Brooke Saward started her blog in 2012 and has pretty much turned into an empire with contributing bloggers worldwide. But again, she’s an exception to the norm. I’m really not in it for the empire. I’m in it for the experience.

You are more likely to find stories like Jo Fraser I Quit My Job To Be A Travel Writer, And Now I’m Broke And Unemployed. Jo, like me, romanticized the notion of being a travel writer and in 2014 she quit her job and went for it.  Good for her. Travel writers, like David Duran, who write and travel full time don’t really live a plush life. In his article, The Struggle Is Real — The Reality of Travel Writing, he details the reality of what it’s like to travel 90% of the month. He gave up his apartment so when he comes “home” from a trip he sleeps on someone’s couch. David is a freelance writer, not a blogger. He acknowledges that while the travel part of his job is great, it is still a job.

me being a travel writer

I think like anything else it all boils down to passion. For me, I definitely have a passion for travel and I’m developing a passion for writing. I enjoy writing and telling my stories and I’m working on making it into my full-time job. Before, I wasn’t really willing to put in the effort that it would take to get there. But those days have changed.

I want to be the kind of writer that I am thankful for. Travel writers who provide information so that I’m able to do a ton of research before I head off on a trip. I want to be a resource. Through my writing I want people to feel like they are on the trip with me. I understand that the idea that this life is somehow glamorous at all times is not necessarily true.

I am up for the challenge!