Travel writing has been my side hustle for the past two years. And last month, I hit a new milestone – I earned over $5,000 writing travel articles!
As someone who loves traveling and writing, getting paid to write about my travel experiences is a dream job. In this post, I’ll share exactly how I’ve turned travel writing into a profitable side business and how you can do the same, even as a beginner.
How I Got Started with Travel Writing?
I’ve always loved traveling and had a natural flair for writing. But I never realized travel writing could be a viable income stream until a few years back when I met a professional travel journalist at a conference. She shared how travel publications pay writers like herself to write about destinations, experiences, hotels, tours and more.
I started poking around online and discovered entire publications devoted to travel like Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and more. Beyond magazines, many newspapers and websites like Lonely Planet also publish a ton of travel content.
After more research, I realized this could be an amazing opportunity for me to turn my passions into a profitable side business!
Here are the key steps I took initially to set up my travel writing income stream:
- Learned travel writing fundamentals – I bought a few books on travel writing to learn key concepts like developing your writer’s voice, writing query letters, story research, interviewing techniques etc.
- Sharpened my writing skills – I invested time strengthening my writing skills through courses, studying sample articles, and daily practice. Strong writing forms the core of succeeding.
- Built a portfolio – I started a blog and wrote at least one sample travel article a week for 3 months covering destinations, reviews, local experiences etc. This gave me published samples to pitch to editors.
- Reached out to publications – I researched publications, found submission guidelines on their website, and pitched relevant story ideas and my past published samples.
Within 3 months, I landed my first paid assignment! The initial few pieces were challenging, but gave me tear sheets to demonstrate my writing skills and land more assignments.
Breaking Down My $5000+ Article Writing Earnings
Last month, I earned around $5200 writing travel articles. Here’s a breakdown of where the income came from:
- Magazine features – I wrote 2 features for travel magazines at $1 per word. One was a 1,500 word roundup of hidden gems in Ireland at $1500. The other was an 800 word comparison of Alaska and Iceland at $800.
- Website guides – I penned 5 destination and activity guides for a large travel website at 60 cents per word. Each guide was around 500 words, so I made $150 x 5 = $750.
- Newsletter guest posts – A cruise company newsletter published a 1,200 word solo cruise guide I pitched at 50 cents per word, paying $600.
- Sponsored social media posts – I collaborated with 2 tourism boards to create sponsored Instagram and Facebook posts at $250 each, totaling $500.
- Contributor articles – As a regular contributor for Matador Network, I published 3 articles at $125 each, earning $375.
- Recycled content – I resold a 1,000 word roundup article on national parks at $100.
By writing consistently and expanding my client base, I was able to hit the $5k+ mark. While it took consistent time and effort, it was totally worth it!
How You Can Get Started as a Travel Writer & Earn Writing Travel Articles?
Based on my experience, here are some tips on how you can get started and find paying travel writing jobs:
Learn the Fundamentals
- Read books on travel writing to understand how the industry works.
- Study travel publications you’d like to write for so you understand their style, tone and topics. Submitting stories that align with a publication demonstrates your understanding.
- Take courses on travel writing online through platforms like Skillshare. They offer tutorials on everything from developing your niche to pitching editors.
Build Your Portfolio
- Start a blog to publish 5-10 samples of different travel articles like roundups, destination guides, hotel reviews etc.
- Publish on free platforms like Medium as an additional channel to demonstrate your writing skills.
- Use samples from reputable websites and publications when pitching your first few assignments.
Find Paid Writing Gigs & Start Writing Travel Articles
- Search “write for us” on websites of your favorite publications. Read and follow their submission guidelines.
- Pitch story ideas regularly to editors along with your portfolio. Follow up politely if you don’t hear back.
- Build relationships with travel PR agencies and DMOs to access sponsored press trips and assignments.
- Respond to writer calls on media jobs boards like JournalismJobs.com and Mediabistro.
- Leverage your network. Ask travel blogger friends if their publications are hiring.
Expand Your Client Base
- Reach out to tourism boards and travel brands about creating content for their blogs and social channels.
- Search travel writing gigs on ProBlogger, Flexjobs and SolidGigs.
- Join professional associations like SATW and NATJA that offer access to conferences, job boards and editor connections.
- Attend travel blogging conferences and network with editors and influencers.
Within 3-6 months of consistent pitching and relationship building, you can start earning your first payments for travel articles!
10 Tips to Writing Compelling Travel Articles
Based on writing over a hundred travel articles, here are my top 10 tips to create compelling stories that editors and readers love:
1. Hook readers instantly
Start strong with a compelling opening line or scene to draw readers instantly into your story. Share an interesting encounter, dialogue, or mystery from your travels.
2. Write an irresistible headline
Include keywords in your headline that captures the central theme or hook of your story. Add intrigue or locality to pull in readers.
3. Structure your story
Follow a narrative arc with your sections. Establish the location -> Build up the quest/mystery -> Epiphany when it’s uncovered -> Satisfying resolution.
4. Show, don’t tell | Writing Travel Articles
Tranport readers into your story with vivid descriptions of sights, sounds, tastes, smells etc. Recreate your sensory experiences through words instead of just telling.
5. Include lively dialogue
Weave in interesting conversations you had with locals or travel companions to add flavor and insider insight.
6. Share unexpected discoveries
Reveal hidden gems, exotic foods/rituals, and unique experiences that readers can’t find in a guidebook or standard article.
7. Remark on culture
Provide context around local customs, history, and ways of life that offer deeper perspective into the destination.
8. Add personal insights
Share your genuine thoughts, feelings, and reactions as you explore. Personal reflections add heart and uniqueness.
9. Feature stunning visuals
For online stories, include eye-catching photos, videos, illustrations etc. that draws readers deeper into the story.
10. Check all facts
Verify all info like accommodation rates, restaurant timings, activity prices etc. Editors value accuracy.
Using vivid details, personal insights, compelling storytelling and accuracy will make your travel articles stand out!
Frequently Asked Questions on Writing Travel Articles
How much do travel writers make?
It varies based on your skills and clients, but rates typically range from 25 cents to $1 per word for magazines and 10-50 cents per word for writing travel articles, blogs and websites. Top writers can make $150k+.
Do you need a degree to become a travel writer?
No specific degree is required. Strong writing skills, passion for travel, and a compelling portfolio are what matter when pitching your services.
What can you write about as a travel writer?
Destination guides, hotel/restaurant reviews, activity recommendations, trip itineraries, travel gear/tips, local culture insights, travel trends, and more. There are endless possibilities!
How do you get a press pass for free travel?
Build relationships with tourism boards and PR agencies. Pitch stories that align with their needs. Establish your expertise in certain types of articles or destinations.
How much time does travel writing take?
It varies based on assignments. But plan for: 5 hours for interviews & research, 3 hours to outline & write a 1000 word article, 2 hours for editing & revisions.
How do you become a better travel writer?
Read widely, take writing courses, study magazines in your niche, pitch consistently, learn from editor feedback, join a writing group, and keep practicing your craft.
As you can see, with consistency and by leveraging the right strategies, you can absolutely start earning money writing travel articles even without prior experience. Staying motivated and keep doing the good work will pay you more with time.