The air is dark and misty. You are on reaching the peak of Mauna Kea volcano in Hilo, Hawaii. You are currently in a two door jeep with only one window for the dashboard, which does not seem like much protection with all the loose rocks and cold wind hitting your face from outside. You reach the summit and pull into a parking space. You are not alone; there are a handful of other people who made it to the top, which is only accessible in a four wheeler or off-road vehicle. However, they are mostly German and Japanese – neither of which you are familiar with. You survey the view front atop – you can make out Oahu and Honolulu, two of Hilo’s neighboring Islands. You sit down, and remove a notepad and pencil from your backpack and begin to write while everyone else is busy snapping pictures. Your words will be your memories – you are a travel writer.
If this seems like a dream job for you, guess what, you can stop dreaming! Being a travel writer may actually be more attainable than what you think. We feel your passion, and we have some helpful tips on how to become a travel writer. Get hiking shoes on and read on!
Travel Writing: The Beginning
Before you embark on any adventures, take a few steps back. Here are some things that you can do in the beginning before you begin your travel writing experience:
- Read: This might seem like something you have done all your life, but there is no reason to stop now! Keep reading books by great writers, but venture into other genres as well. When you travel, you will likely be placed in people and places that you are not familiar with, and various kinds of stories by different authors will help you develop a wider perspective. Also, pick up some travel magazines!
- Write: Since travel writing is mostly, well, writing, you are going to need to perfect your writing skills. You can do this by simply practicing, going to school, or taking classes online or offline in English or Journalism.
- Explore Genres: Travel writing can encompass anything from reviewing hotels and restaurants in different places to developing guidebooks for inexperienced travelers. However, it also covers place-based writing, which can be a lot more descriptive and personal. Decide which genre you enjoy the best, and are good at, and go with it!
- Blog: Blogging is a great way to force yourself to write, and it can be fun too. Some travel writers are actually travel bloggers, who blog their experiences in their own blogs. Since almost anything can be published online these, blogging is a great way to get some experience and have something to show if you are ever asked to provide samples of your work.
- Be Social, Online: Joining social networking sites such as twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Word press are all ways for you to connect with other people who travel and write. Generally, travel writers have a strong online presence, because they are usually bloggers as well.
- Be social, Office: In addition to making connections online, remember to try to develop your offline presence as well. Look up workshops or networking events for writers, specifically travel writers, in your nearest city and attend!
Travel Writing: The Middle
Now that you have your basic ducks in line the begin travel writing, it is time to start! However, remember to start simple in the beginning. Travel writing does not mean you need to hop on the first plane to Bali!
- Explore: Test your talents for travel writing. To do this, simple visit a new location that you have never been to and take notes. Travel writing does not necessarily mean that you are writing while you are traveling. As you go about your journey, take notes, document your experience, and write down any thoughts, feelings, and smells that you deem relevant.
- Focus: Often times when people travel, they are too preoccupied with socializing or taking pictures to really feel their surroundings. As a travel writer, you need to remember that your writing is going to be interesting because of the detail that you put into it. People who read travel writing do so because they want to get a feel for where you have been. Take them on your journey!
- Write: Go ahead and test your reaction to your trip and write! Be descriptive and go into detail about things that you remember any feelings, and or physical reactions of any sort. The goal is to make it interesting. Your notes should be detailed and informative enough for you to achieve this. If you find that notes are not enough, feel free to capture pictures as well to help you remember certain details that you cannot take proper notes of.
- Break rules: Keep in mind that traveling writing does not have to follow the traditional rules of writing. You are welcome to go outside of traditional “narrative” writing that you may have previously followed. Learn to develop your own voice so people know who you are and what you stand for when they read your work.
- Look everywhere: As we mentioned before, travel writing does not mean you have to be in a foreign country. Feel free to write about things such as: hidden gems, a small spot in a large place, or a different viewpoint of a popular location. Be creative, think creatively, and let your imagination run.
Travel Writing: The End
Once you have some writing down, there are plenty of things to be done – here they are:
- Show off: Not literally, of course. However, if you are planning to be read, you are going to have to start sharing your work with others. To begin, start on a small-scale level. Let your family, friends, or coworkers read through your work. Listen to their feedback and their reactions, as this can help you tailor your future writing to patch up any loopholes that they might notice.
- Publish Online: As mentioned before, since you can literally publish anything online, go ahead and utilize that travel blog that you (hopefully) started earlier. If you are web savy enough, feel free to start your own travel website to incorporate other fun functions for your readers.
- Contact Employers: Do your research and find companies or agencies that publish travel articles or travel writing. Submit your articles to them and link them to your website or blog. This will increase traffic to your website and widen your personal network.
- Utilize Your Other Skills: If you happen to be a good photographer, take some photographs of your travels as well! If not, take the time to develop other skills that are relevant to travel writing to expand your skill-set.
- Commit: If you decide to commit to travel writing, keep in mind that like any venture, you should be ready to prepare yourself for the ups and downs of the industry. Writing alone is a tough career choice, and travel writing is no different. Keep at it and persevere through any ups and downs.
Put on Your Walking Shoes!
Time to renew that passport if need be! Travel writing is an amazing and small industry to conquer. Sometimes starting off can be as simple as writing about what you did over the summer, or as hard as spending plowing through a number of rejections. Whatever the case may be, persist with the stamina and passion that got you here in the first place, and remember to check out Udemy’s helpful courses on traveling for any of your jet-setting needs. Happy travels!