Most people dream of being a travel writer—imagine getting paid to travel the world. Travel writing can become a full-time passion if you like, or merely something you do on the side…a way to justify a vacation and defray some of the costs, maybe write off your trip on your taxes.
With this career, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get out and see the world…in a way you never could as an ordinary tourist.
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How would you like a trip to Cancun, at no charge, where you and your spouse would be wined and dined over a long weekend at a new, luxury hotel?
Or maybe you’d be more enticed by a complimentary rafting expedition down the Amazon in Ecuador’s untamed rain forest?
Perhaps a no-charge cruise to Europe’s most romantic cities?
Those trips might sounds like daydreams, but they are all money-free travel perks freelance writers have taken advantage of.
And not only did those writers travel without paying a dime, they got paid to write about their experiences, too.
If you’ve ever dreamed about living the romantic life of a travel writer, you don’t need to wait years to enjoy it.
See the articles below for more information on the travel writer’s life.
- The Secret to Instant Upgrades, Hotel Gifts, and More
Posted on April 18, 2013 by Suchi Rudra
I love to travel…but the experiences I have tend to be a little different from the usual vacation. That’s because these days, I get special treatment wherever I go.
All is quiet in the condo where we’re staying on the paradise island of Ambergris Caye, Belize. I’m up early. The world hasn’t yet come to life. When my five children wake up we share a breakfast of fresh mangoes and pineapple with black beans and rice seasoned with coconut oil. We wash it down with some cold coconut water. Locals call it pipa and it’s cheap and plentiful on a palm-fringed island like this one. After breakfast, it’s time for the pool where we laugh and splash and play until lunchtime.
- Have You Really Got What It Takes to Earn Overseas?
Posted on April 2, 2013 by Paula Pant
I travel a lot and spend time in some incredible corners of the world. It’s a lifestyle a lot of folks want, but most don’t realize they can have. I make my living by writing online about the places I visit. It’s a great way to share my experiences, stories and opinions with the world. It’s a fun way of connecting with people, and it can also be very lucrative. Online writing is now my number one source of income.
- Laid-Back Líbano: A Simple Life in Colombia’s Coffee Country
Posted on March 25, 2013 by Michael Evans
Atamales vendor rides through town blasting his sales pitch over a bullhorn, zipping past rings of children playing marbles on the sidewalk. An old woman sits in a doorway enjoying the cool breeze, as smitten teenagers walk hand in hand to an ice-cream parlor.
New Zealand is one of the most scenically gorgeous countries on earth. For most people, it’s either the trip of a lifetime or a destination to only dream about. Not for me. I went there for the second time last November. A long way to go—but it’s not too bad when you can break the journey. This time around, I chose to stop off in Hong Kong—and of course I had to take in the harbor light show…
My prior career as a tax preparer meant I was used to navigating endless flowing rivers—of paperwork—and I always seemed to be going against the current. I’ve since had a river-related experience in my new career as a travel writer…but it was a lot more fun. Here’s how it happened. My destination was the rugged Toledo District in southern Belize where an Indiana Jones-worthy cave begged exploration.
Some work days are more memorable than others. For me, standing at the Peace Wall in Belfast reading the messages of peace and encouragement written by dignitaries like Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama while composing my own message was definitely a memorable work day. Let me explain. For many years military checkpoints were dotted all over the city of Belfast.
When you decide to go overseas, you don’t just get to enjoy your new host country—you also get the opportunity to experience all the other nations in the neighborhood. So, now that I’m staying in Buenos Aires in Argentina, I recently decided to use the opportunity to take a short trip to nearby Uruguay. It was a country that took me by surprise.
I never tire of Bangkok. I’ve been coming here for years and although the city itself has changed, a new building here, a shopping center there, the essential feel of the place hasn’t changed at all…and that’s what I love about it. There’s something in the air in Thailand’s capital. It’s a city for city lovers…partygoers…travelers and adventure-seekers. It’s crammed with exotic, bustling markets…17th-century temples…art-deco hotels and has fast-food stalls on every corner. For 24 hours of the day, people are living and making a living all around you.
With the Maya Calendar coming to an end this year, speculation on the fate of the world is rampant. What better time to visit Belize and learn about this ancient culture? I decided that a good place to start was with a visit to a Mayan ruins site. Belize has many sites to explore, but I chose to travel to the far southern reaches of the country to a site often overlooked by tourists.
For travel writers, sampling local food specialties is part of the job. So to ignore the Antiga Confeitaria in Belém, Lisbon’s ancient maritime suburb, would be criminal. Decorated in blue and white azulejo tiles, this bakery/cafe is a shrine to the world’s most heavenly custard tarts—Pastéis de Belém. Famed throughout Portugal, these are pastries with history.
- A Glamorous Job That Could Take You All Over the World
Posted on October 4, 2012 by Steenie Harvey
A travel writer gets to visit so many wonderful places. It’s easier to pick out the disappointing trips. And in truth, in all of the 20 or so years that travel has been my ‘job’, I can only think of three that were less than stellar. At this moment, I’m putting together an itinerary for a return trip to New Zealand—with a stopover in Hong Kong. From Auckland, the City of Sails, I’m headed to the Southern Alps where much of Lord of the Rings was filmed.
Last summer, I spent an action-packed month flitting around Europe following my lifetime passions of travel, history, and track and field. How did I pay for it? I found 11 different magazines willing to send me checks in exchange for articles about my experiences. I visit Europe every year for four weeks by selling enough articles in advance to pay for the entire trip. I even manage to bring in a good income over the following year…
Matt Kepnes of Boston, Massachusetts found a way of ditching the 9-to-5 grind by harnessing the Internet’s income potential. Today, he’s a travel blogger who travels the world while making a full-time living from writing for the web. Right now, home is the cut-price beachside paradise of Sihanoukville in Cambodia. Matt got his start as a travel blogger.
After a somewhat bumpy and dusty drive, passing by small pueblos, burros, and sombrero-wearing farmers, we arrived at Mexico’s most unique set of “waterfalls.” Around 40 miles from the colonial city of Oaxaca, is Hierve el Agua—The Water Boils. This bizarre formation is one of only two found anywhere in the world; the other being Pamukkale in southern Turkey.
Pub life is the center of Irish culture. It’s a place to gather over a pint, listen to music and tell tales into the wee hours of the morning. Literary legends aside, Ireland has given us famed drinks like Guinness, Jameson and Baileys which can be found in any bar worthy of the name anywhere in the world. To experience the origins of some of the favorite Irish tipples, head to Dublin.
It’s a Tuesday morning in the Czech Republic and I’m sitting up in the light and airy third floor cafe above one of Prague’s most renowned theaters, trying out their special red espresso alongside a warm slice of juicy, black currant tart. From the long wall of windows to my right, I can see the sparkling Vltava River with its parade of long green, white and red boats.
You want to leave it all behind for that one idyllic Caribbean island—a place surrounded by vibrant seascapes and white sand…your very own hard-to-reach haven. But why settle for one when you can have 378? That’s a Caribbean island paradise for every single day of the year…and a few left over for friends. That’s how many islands sit in the San Blas chain, strung out along the Caribbean coast of Panama.
Part of being a travel writer is about finding a special place that can give you a unique experience far removed from the mainstream. It’s about buying a plane ticket to a destination of your choosing and letting fate decide what kind of adventure will dictate your course of action. After spending a few days in Bangkok, Thailand I purchased a flight to the tropical, hilly island of Phuket.
On the morning of my birthday this year, I woke up to the view of the Caribbean Sea. It wasn’t just a pretty view from an average resort – I was looking at the Belize Barrier Reef. If I got out of bed, walked downstairs and stood on the beach, the Reef would be a stone’s throw away.
Waking up to the sounds of howler monkeys quickly reminds me that I am, in fact, in the middle of the Belizean jungle. I’m at Cotton Tree Lodge, an eco-lodge in the southernmost region of Belize in the Toledo District. Why am I here? For the chocolate.
I was closing in on the San Blas Islands; a paradise archipelago scattered off Panama’s Caribbean coast. It was early morning and I was traveling from the mainland via motorized dugout canoe to Cartí, one of the largest of the 378 islands. We pulled up next to a wooden jetty…and stepped into another world.
The best thing about being a freelance writer is that you can work from anywhere—so I packed up and moved to Costa Rica. It might seem like a brave move, but it was also a sensible one. The cost of living is low here—so paychecks go a long way. Plus, my family gets to experience another culture.
I had to work last Sunday. I was up by 7.30 a.m. But don’t feel bad for me just yet. Once out of bed, I slipped into my swimsuit, cover-up and flip-flops and checked out of my room at a hotel I was staying in at the mouth of the Rio Dulce in Livingston, Guatemala.
Buenos Aires in Argentina gets under your skin…whether you like it or not. I had planned to stay for two weeks – I changed my plane ticket twice and finally left, reluctantly, a year-and-a-half later. It may have been the tango that hooked me; the dark underground dance floors with bodies deftly moving around each other.
- Getting Paid to go on Adventures in Far-Flung Countries
Posted on May 9, 2012 by Katie Hilborn
I had been staying in the tranquil Nepalese tourist town of Pokhara for a month when a travel writing assignment came in. It involved researching retirement in Nepal—and I needed to find some expats. As I sat drinking my morning chai at a lakefront breakfast joint, I wondered where all the Westerners were hiding. I had seen only a handful since I arrived, and they all seemed to be just passing through.
My husband and I had recently returned from our third vacation to Panama. We had a busy trip—we toured the Panama Canal, visited the ruins of Panama La Vieja, taken a Spanish language immersion class, explored the restaurants on Via Argentina…and that was just in the city. We also got out into the countryside, strolled quiet beaches and walked in the mountains.
- How Our Travel Blog Helps Fund our Adventures Overseas
Posted on April 17, 2012 by Diana Russler
My husband Bill and I are avid travelers, a habit formed working for international organizations for many years. When we decided to retire in 2009 and focus on our passion for travel, we looked for a way to stay in touch with friends, make new connections, and—if we could—fund some of our travels by writing about our discoveries. Our blog was born.
Today, my office is a hotel balcony on the Cote d’Azur in southern France. There’s a view of a palm-lined promenade and the glittery Mediterranean—it’s as forget-me-not blue as the sky. Back home in Ireland, my neighbors are enduring unexpected April snow showers.
It’s Wednesday night and I’m sitting in The Roaring Donkey—a neighborhood pub in Cobh, Ireland—Guinness in hand as I attempt to sing along with my new friends, the residents of this colorful town. I’m here because a local invited me to join him and his friends for an informal “jam session” of traditional Irish music.
I didn’t set out to be a travel writer. And the way I fell into it was haphazard. So when the editors of IL asked me to reveal how I funded my year roaming through Latin America by writing, I didn’t think I could do it.
Charles Darwin on HMS Beagle…Mary Kingsley, Victorian explorer and writer…Edmund Hillary, conqueror of Everest…they all had one thing in common: They kept logs and diaries of their travels to document their experiences and keep them from becoming blurred memories. Today’s voyager has a different tool—the blog. Not only is it fun, but it can make you money.
My childhood dream was to explore the world, treading in the footsteps of past explorers while discovering the wonders of its landscapes and people for myself. I was still just dreaming when I grew up—and I was stuck working long hours behind an office desk.
Getting paid to drink beer in Berlin, Germany—it’s so much fun being a travel writer! The first beer of the night, a sparkling wheat beer called Kristall Weizen, cost a very reasonable €2.10 ($2.79). Around 30 minutes later, I ordered a second. This time, it cost $2.52. Snigger if you must, but it was thrilling to get the timing right and save 27 cents.
I’d always wanted to be a writer. It was something I yearned to do for a living. I had worked in banking all my life but in 2008, aged 47, I decided that it was now or never—I would take a chance. So, I quit my job, sold my house, gave away my two cats (to a woman who adored them) and moved lock, stock and barrel with my wife to Malaysia.
I like to travel. I work much of the time from my home in Colorado (where my tax-deductible office is exactly 11 steps from my bedroom and has a million-dollar mountain view). But, I’ve also worked from Vail, Denver, and Leadville… I’ve toted my computer to France, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Germany, and the list goes on (and on).
Saturday night in Murcia City, southern Spain. I’m in El Secreto tapas bar, trying to summon up the willpower to eat a sea urchin. It looks absolutely bizarre. And in all honesty, absolutely vile. But as all vacationers need to eat, food stories are a travel writer’s staple.
- Enjoy Freedom, Opportunity, and Adventure When You Move Overseas
Posted on January 24, 2012 by Glynna Prentice
Five years into my expat life, I look forward to downsizing. In fact, I recently bought a small, manageable, lock-and-leave property in Guanajuato, in the Colonial Highlands. It’s a far cry from what I thought I wanted when I first moved to Mexico… Then, I’d wanted a good-sized house, instead of an apartment as I’d had in the U.S.
I don’t enjoy spending my own money. Not if I can spend someone else’s. After all, travel writers give publicity to a destination which then helps ‘sell’ it to a wider audience. And studies have shown that readers pay far more attention to a travel story than an advertisement.