Do you love to travel? If so, getting paid to write about travel may sound like a dream job. And it is for many freelance, remote, or contracted travel writers – those who make a living selling travel stories and advice columns to websites and publications.
Is travel writing right for you? As a real-life travel writer, I’m not going to lie to you – just like any job, there are pros and cons. Get the full scoop below.
Expectations vs. Realities
How do you picture the life of a travel writer? Days spent lounging in tropical beach hammocks, cool drink in hand, and evenings filled with fine dining and diverting conversation?
Sometimes it’s like that. But more often than not, travel writers spend their days behind their computer desks. Here are a few common misconceptions:
- Do travel writers get paid to travel? Technically, no, they do not. They get paid for the articles they write about travel. Most fund their own travels. Occasionally, they may receive a free promotional trip or stipend. This usually comes from reaching out to a local department of tourism, not from the publication you write for.
- Do travel writers travel all the time? While the amount of travel depends on the individual, most travel writers live relatively ordinary lives most of the time, taking a few trips each year. Some writers choose to move to new lands for temporary but extended stays. And, working while traveling is not the same as simply going on a vacation.
- Do travel writers get to write about whatever they want? Yes and no. Typically, writers pitch ideas to a publication, and the editors decide whether they want to publish the article or not.
- Do travel writers get paid a lot of money? According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers average around $35.00 per hour but only $73,000 per year. Because they are not usually salaried, full-time employees, they must acquire their own insurance and they do not get paid holidays.
Now that we’ve faced the harsh realities, let’s look at a few of the challenges.
Expect the Unexpected
Travel can be a life-changing, transformative experience, but it brings its own challenges. Passports are lost, flights get canceled, internet connections falter, and the weather is unpredictable.
Working while traveling can also be a challenge in itself. Not every place you travel will have reliable internet to get your article sent in on time, so plan accordingly. Consider investing in a global Wi-Fi hotspot.
Don’t overlook how important adding problem-solving skills to your resume can be. Critical thinking, attention to detail, and the ability to work well under pressure are all prime skills for a frequent traveler to have.
Live on Less
Travel is expensive, and as already mentioned, travel writers don’t usually enjoy all-expense-paid vacations. One way they afford more travel is by living on less at home.
Consider downsizing to smaller accommodations, especially if you will be traveling many weeks each year. Avoid going into debt, especially for recreational items that could take time away from your travels.
When you travel, don’t insist on expensive eats, accommodations, and activities. Look for savings wherever possible, be they coupons, free events, or frequent flyer miles.
We love our pets, but boarding them while abroad can be stressful and expensive. Instead of keeping your own pet, consider applying as a pet sitter with a service like Trusted Housesitters – you’ll get to stay at someone’s place for free while they’re traveling; all you have to do is look after their pets.
You Don’t Have to Travel to Be a Travel Writer
What if you have a passion for travel but can’t afford to jet set often? You don’t have to travel in order to be a travel writer. Why not?
Many travel articles are purely informative; fewer tell a story. It is possible to gather information about a place from websites and guidebooks and write an informative article, even if you’ve never been there. As an example, take a look at the “best of” lists on any travel website. You could use review sites like Tripadvisor to compile such a list. You can think about it as if you were researching a place prior to traveling there yourself.
You can also get to know a place in other ways, even from your own kitchen or living room. Eat the food, listen to the music, wear the clothing, or watch a documentary about the wildlife that lives there. You could even interview someone who has been there in person.
Being a travel writer isn’t merely a life of glamour, but it is an exciting career choice if you like to write, have the means to travel, and enjoy sharing your experiences and advice with others.
You can even write about places you’ve never been if you know how the utilize the resources you can find closer to home.
Take care when choosing any freelance career, and make sure you inform yourself well beforehand. Once you know if it’s right for you, the world may indeed be your oyster!