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Could You Be A Travel Writer?

October 2nd, 2020

Travel writing is one of the most coveted departments on a magazine and speak to many freelancers and they’ll tell you that this niche market can be the most difficult to break into, but it needn’t be.

There’s a need for a travel article in almost every magazine on the market, all you have to do is look for the opening. Imagine there’s a popular fishing destination that you are aware of, now look for something nearby, maybe a museum, an antique fair or a church with an interesting history, and you have the makings of a travel article: Family fun while the fisher fishes. How’s that for your tagline?

I’ve been fortunate enough to work as a travel and features writer for an Italian magazine and it all stemmed from one of the modules on my Writers Bureau course. For my course work I spotted a new angle for a travel piece and submitted it. My tutor gave me positive feedback and advice and so I rewrote the article and sent it to an editor and it was accepted. Some may say I was lucky, but I don’t believe in luck in this marketplace. If you write what will interest an editor, it’ll be accepted. The article can be found here: https://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/take-faith-break-lanciano

Travel writing isn’t all about distant destinations, it’s also wet Wednesdays in Wakefield and interesting ironwork in Ipswich. Having a piece accepted about somewhere close to home still makes you a travel writer, and can generate further articles, while also helping you to build a relationship with a magazine. With more aspiring freelancers chasing opportunities with the big publishers like Conde Naste and Lonely Planet it makes sense to scale down your aspirations and use your time building relationships with editors and also filling your CV.

Travel writing may seem appealing, but make sure it’s right for you before you set your sights on specialising in this market. It can be hard work, for example my editor once asked me to write a monthly feature on the Italian islands. When you consider that the country has roughly 450 of them, her idea soon lost its shine. One thing to remember when approaching an editor is that they know their market and your job is to convince them that you have the perfect article for them. This means don’t be afraid to ask questions and once you’ve established contact. Ask what they want, ask if there’s a destination they want to showcase, ask them if they have an angle they’d like you to cover. As my gran used to say, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’.

As with all writing, always look for opportunities. I had an idea while visiting a charity shop that grew into a feature about an animal charity in Scarborough. It’s not easy thinking of original angles, so why not try this for fun – use word association – could there be an outlet for, Northern Soul in Northumberland or are there pensioners making pizza in Preston? Look at the current pandemic, the travel industry has taken a battering, so use this to your advantage and look for travel opportunities that fit to current guidelines.

If it’s a field you want to get into then my advice would be to write 500 words about a place you’ve visited, put it aside for a week and then edit out all the sentences that apply solely to you and with what’s left start writing again. Remember whether you’re inspiring people to travel to an Israeli kibbutz or a knitting museum, once your words are in print, you are a travel writer.

 

My top five tips for making your travel writing appealing to an editor are:

  1. Look for a new angle.
  2. Pay attention to your tagline, (use this to sell your article).
  3. Stick to the facts, (don’t romanticise).
  4. Double check all prices and availability
  5. Remember everywhere is of interest to someone.

 

My blog is at www.barrylillie.wordpress.com

Barry’s travel experiences have included being kidnapped in the Middle East, trekking in Borneo and restoring a farmhouse in Italy. A playwright turned travel writer he now squeezes fiction into his schedule. His novella, Willow and the Motorway Horses is available now and he’s currently working on a monologue collection, a novel and a

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