My name is Scott Kendall, and I am a Travel Writer.
I like the way that sounds and feels. I couldn’t always say that. But after jumping in with both feet back in September of 2016, I can now say that honestly and with pride.
I have traveled thousands of miles, written hundreds of articles, taken thousands of photos and videos, and met hundreds of interesting, fascinating new friends. I have even started my own travel website, PlayStayEat. See this VIDEO for a sampling of my adventures as a travel writer.
I love the hard work, the research, the adventures, the perks, new friends, new places, and the challenges offered by being a Travel Writer. While everyone’s situation, path, and progress are different, I am going to share 14 Tips on How to Become a Travel Writer. Pick and choose the ones you like best.
1. Call Yourself a Travel Writer – and See How it Feels
Seriously. Imagine talking to someone, telling them you are a Travel Writer. How does it make you feel? What are you telling this person about your life as a travel writer? What experiences and travels do you see yourself involved with in the upcoming years? What is your next great adventure?
2. Evaluate Your Personal Situation and Goals
When I was nearing retirement from teaching Special Education and coaching tennis at our local high school, I contemplated what I wanted to do during my Golden Years. I had been a Navy Officer, management consultant, and a strategic planner before my teaching and coaching career, and knew I wanted a stimulating lifestyle after I retired.
I knew I wasn’t the type to sit at home, watch television, do crossword puzzles, and do a whole lot of nothing. I was in good physical shape, was young in mind and spirit, and still wanted to enjoy new places, people, and challenges. I asked myself, “Scott, what do you really enjoy doing? How do you want to spend the rest of your life?”
Since I know myself pretty well, I answered my own questions this way.
“Well, Scott. You enjoy traveling to new places, meeting new people, experiencing new challenges. You enjoy researching and learning about all kinds of places, history, people, and events. You have always been a good writer, and enjoy putting your thoughts and observations on paper (or on computer!). You love taking photos and making videos of anything and everything. And you enjoy sharing your knowledge, experiences, and skills with others, including family, friends, and strangers (who may likely become new friends).”
I already knew I wanted to travel extensively when I retired. My wonderful wife of 33 years and I had always traveled a good bit, and with more time on our hands during retirement, we wanted to increase the frequency and quality of our travels. The more I thought about it and the more I researched, the more I came to the realization that being a travel writer would check all of those important boxes for me.
3. Make sure you analyze and consider your financial situation
In my particular situation, I did not need to make lot of money as a travel writer. My teacher’s pension, along with savings and my wife’s income covered our basic bills. We had enough money to do some traveling, but not to the extent of what we wanted.
What if there was a way to have my travel budget supplemented by writing articles about the destinations I visited? What if some of my expenses could be reduced by having hotels comped, or by paying a reduced media rate? What if I could get free meals in exchange for writing reviews about the restaurants? Or complimentary tickets to top attractions at my destinations?
All of these financial goals proved to be doable, and we are now able to travel more and better, stretching our travel dollar further than before. For example, on a recent trip to Europe, we saved about $3,500 with perks I earned from being a travel writer. Imagine adding $3,500 to your vacation budget for two weeks to stay in nicer hotels, eat better food, and take part in pricey activities you might have skipped before.
I wrote many articles on these trips and was paid for each one. I still had to pay some expenses, like transportation, lodging and meals that were not covered, and other personal expenses. But because I received substantial savings since some of my lodging, meals, and attractions were comped, we were able to enjoy longer and better vacations.
4. Be willing to work for it
I discovered that all of these scenarios are possible by being a travel writer. I also discovered that being a good travel writer is hard work, can be frustrating at times and is not all glitz and glamour. You do have to get in the trenches. You do have to put in the time. You do have to keep learning and improving and trying new things. To do it right to garner the benefits of being a successful Travel Writer is hard work. But it is so worth it!
5. Learn to Effectively Describe Various Types of Lodging
On previous trips to Europe in the last few years, I spent two weeks in France, Germany, Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia. During that time, I received free hotel stays in Germany in Munich and Baden-Baden; in Italy in Venice, Rome, San Gimignano, Bologna, Ferrero, Cortina, and Ortisei; in Slovenia at Lake Bled, and in Croatia in Rijeka.
In exchange for these complimentary stays, I wrote several paragraphs, and even whole articles, describing some of these wonderful places we were fortunate to stay in. You can’t just say, “It was nice and the beds were comfortable.” You need a bit more, and you need to say it in a way that makes the reader think, “What a remarkable hotel. I would love to stay there!”
6. Sharpen your Culinary Writing Skills
I have been hosted by some of the best restaurants in the world, including Lili at the Peninsula Hotel in Paris; Ristorante Miky in Monterosso, Italy; Le Logge del Vignola in Montepulciano, Italy; Ristorante Riviera in Venice; Lake Bled Castle Restaurant in Slovenia; Restaurant Gostilna Na Gradu in the Ljubljana Castle; Gabriel Kreuther in New York City; Alexander’s in Fish Creek, Door County, Wisconsin; and so many more.
Again, you can’t just say the food was really good and filling. Learn how to describe the food, the ambiance, the history, and the smiles on the faces of the personable chefs and service folks. Practice taking photos that bring out the artistry, colors, and flavors of the food. Talk to the chef and the waitstaff, and learn the real story that makes that place special.
7. Write About Wonders of Nature
I have always been drawn to the wonders of nature – mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, rocky trails, green forests, canyons, beaches, and more. I have received complimentary tickets for many attractions, including personal guided tours in Cortina in the Dolomites, Postojna Caves, cable rides up to Falzarego Pass and Alpe di Siusi, a cruise around the NYC harbor, admission to magical Plitvice Lakes, and so many more.
As a travel writer, I’ve gained a renewed curiosity and admiration of our beautiful planet and the many wonders that await us.
8. Try New Things
Get out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. Push yourself. I’ve always liked to try new things, but sometimes I would balk because of the expense or because I wanted to stay comfortable. As a travel writer, I’ve been able to go ziplining in Bovec and San Vigilio; went on a private water taxi ride through Venice and on to Murano; and went white-water rafting on the Soca River in Slovenia and in the Royal Gorge in Colorado. After each of these adventures, I was so glad I tried something new, and knew I would cherish the memories for a lifetime.
9. Write About Historical Sites
I love history, and being a travel writer combines that love with the research as well as the actual trips. I have gone to museums and on personal tours in Heidelberg, Rome, Bologna, Cortina, Breckenridge, Sacile, Postojna, Ljubljana, Kobarid, and other wonderful places, learning about the intriguing history. I find that my readers are also interested in many of the same things that I find fascinating, and often sprinkle my articles with bits and pieces of history.
10. Be a Kid Again
Sometimes, it’s great to be a kid again. Do something just for the fun of it – don’t always be the practical, boring adult. Eat Beef Tongue and Octopus. Grab that gelato in San Gimignano and savor it sitting by the cistern in the central piazza without worrying about the calories. Climb those stairs in Orvieto for a better view, even though you don’t know where they go. Ride a train into the darkness of Postojna Caves and look for baby dragons. Take your picture next to the largest wine barrel in the world at Heidelberg Castle, or jump into the freezing cold waters of the Soca River in Slovenia. Just do it, have fun, and enjoy it!
11. Practice Your Photography and Video Skills
As a travel writer, it is always a big advantage to be able to add photos and videos to your arsenal. Editors love writers who can deliver top quality narratives along with top-notch photos and videos that enhance their stories. Plus, it’s loads of fun.
12. Always Be Learning
If you are like me, and always like to be learning something, you might make a good travel writer. My Bachelors degree at Texas A&M in Management and Marketing was just the beginning of higher education for me. I got my MBA, and then another Masters in Education. To enhance my computer skills, I earned CP3 Certification and Certification in Digital Graphics, Desktop Publishing, Multimedia, Web Mastering, and Video Technology.
And when I decided to be a Travel Writer, I attended the Great Escape Publishing Travel Writers’ Workshop to learn the basics. I belong to several professional writer groups, like International Food Wine Travel Writers Association IFWTWA), Society of Travel Writers (SATW), and the Travel Writers Café. Never stop learning.
13. Network, Network, Network – and then Network some more
No man is an island. In travel writing, none of us do it alone. It takes editors, publishers, public relation reps, CVB personnel, business owners, hotel managers, restaurant owners, chefs, and others to be successful in this business. Everyone you come in contact with is a potential future connection that can help you achieve your goals.
Make good connections in the present, and continue to build those relationships. Go out of your way to compliment the achievement of others, and be personal and genuine with your praise. Offer to help others, and you will find many others will offer their help in return. Keep expanding that network.
14. Provide Value for Value
A lot of my previous tips focus on the value you can receive as a travel writer. However, none of the perks and benefits of being a travel writer come your way unless you provide value. You owe it to the editors, CVBs, DMOs, hotels, restaurants, and attractions you work with to provide value in return for the perks. Well written articles, high quality photos, engaging social media posts, and quality videos that promote and highlight the destinations are at the heart of what we do. Will the reader be entertained, informed, and more likely to want to visit the place you are writing about?
If you are doing it right and you are providing value, the answer is a resounding YES!
So, these are 14 tips to help you become a travel writer. It is not complete, and you may find some tips more helpful to your personal situation than others. However, I can guarantee you that, if you really do want to be a travel writer, at least some of these tips can help propel you to your travel writing goals.
Last Updated on March 13, 2023