I knew a girl who took a semester off of college to work for some guidebook company. She traveled Europe for six months and wrote a guidebook about castles or something. I became wildly jealous of her. We don’t really talk anymore.
Travel writing has been on my mind lately, it being summer and all. Travel writing seems like this wildly romantic and exotic pursuit- a dream profession. First travel writing myth: travel writing is rarely anyone’s profession. Travel writing myth #2: it isn’t really an exotic pursuit.
I just arrived home from a short stint in the Adirondack Mountains. As I was driving through the winding mountain roads, I noted all of the antique shops I pass each and every year on the way to the lake, and I thought to myself: “Self! If you had the time and inclination, you should pop into those antique shops, browse around, interview the owners, and write up an article entitle: “Adirondack Antiques In-Between Towns.” Then, you could sell it to some antique magazine or upstate NY tourism place or something.” Since I didn’t have the time or much of an inclination, I stopped my thoughts right there and began to think about lunch. Because I was hungry.
However- if YOU are traveling this summer, and you are a WRITER- you could dabble in some travel writing! It’s fun! I recently sold a short article about traveling to Niagara Falls with kids (tag line- too many of our young children are lost to the Falls…) to AOL’s Travel site. So I now, of course, consider myself a professional travel writer qualified to impart sage wisdom to you.
The cool thing about travel writing is (and don’t tell Frommers I said this) that you don’t have to be an avid traveler to sell a short, informational piece to a magazine, newspaper, or website. I just so happen to live an hour away from Niagara Falls. I just so happen to know it really, really well. I also just so happen to be obsessed with thoughts of my kids tumbling into the mighty Niagara River and plummeting over the edge of said falls. Hence- an article is born.
Perhaps you just so happen to live next to a tourist trap OR have inside knowledge of a gem of a place that would appeal to travelers looking for interesting destinations off the beaten path. Or maybe you can combine random knowledge you have tucked away in your thinker with information about a particular destination. For instance: Niagara Falls is known for those big huge waterfalls. It is also an archaeological wonder that attracts gemologists and geologists and people who just like rocks. If you happen to like rocks AND are in the Niagara Falls vicinity, why not take a crack at writing a short piece about rock formations near the falls?
Travel magazines have published every possible bit of advice about finding great coral reefs in the Caribbean or finding a youth hostel in Europe where you are not likely to get robbed or raped. They are no longer looking for run-of-the-mill “10 Things to do in Cancun,” but are instead looking for unique articles that look at a destination from an unusual angle.
They are also looking for articles that are really short. 500-1000 words is average. Informational travel articles are generally easier to sell than the travel essay where you divulge the personal details of a journey to a foreign land where you discovered how to truly eat, pray, and love.
Interested in trying it out? Here’s a game plan. Think of a place you love. Now, find something unusual or unknown about it. Google your ideas. If you can’t find any articles about karaoke bars in Nashville, well, you may have something there. In fact, don’t take that idea. That’s my idea.
More information on travel writing: