9 Reasons to Become a Travel Writer as a Second Career

For decades, life revolved around paying the bills.

But things change.

An opportunity to rearrange your life, such as retirement, arrives.

It provides the freedom to explore new paths and dust-off old dreams.

That’s how it was for me. Since I was young, I harbored the notion of seeing more of the world and writing.

So, after a career in real estate, I revisited the aspirations of my youth, which led to travel writing.

For me, it’s been a good move. Here are nine reasons why you may want to consider it, too.

1. A More Engaging Travel Experience

As a travel writer, you do more pre-trip research than the average vacationer.

When you’re on an assignment, you pay close attention to your surroundings. You get behind-the-scenes access. You interview lots of people.

After your trip, you sift through your notes and pictures. You consider things more closely, oftentimes discovering additional connections, patterns, and insights.

The travel writer’s life includes study, keen observation, meeting new people, and reflection. It’s a career loaded with rich experiences.

2. You Make a Positive Contribution

As a freelance travel writer, you serve your readers by

Introducing Travel-Related Opportunities

Where’s a good restaurant to try authentic local cuisine?  Where’s a good place to shop? What attractions offer the best value? As a travel writer, you point travelers in the right direction.

Helping Local Economies and Businesses

At the same time, you serve readers, you often benefit the economies and local businesses of the places you write about by attracting visitors.

Providing an Entertaining Reading Experience

Or you may serve with a well-told tale, painting a destination in your reader’s mind with well-crafted descriptions and details.

3. You Meet Interesting People

On assignments, you’ll meet other travelers, local workers (often great sources of background information), and the people you interview. If you go on press trips, you’ll meet other travel writers, too.

If you develop a travel-writing specialty, you’ll get to know related insiders and experts. For example, if you’re a food writer, you’ll get to know foodies, chefs, and restaurant owners. If you cover vacation properties, you’ll get to know property managers, brokers, and developers.

If your experience is like mine, many of the people you meet and interview will impact your life. Some will become friends.

4. Recognition and Respect

From Others in the Writing Industry

If you contribute regularly to the same publications, industry relationships of respect may emerge. A complimentary email from an editor or another writer can make your day.

From Readers

Also, if you write for the same publications, you’ll likely develop a following of readers. These are people who appreciate your work and recognize your name. Some may reach out to connect.

5. Work Flexibility

Work from Anywhere

As a travel writer, you can work anywhere you can charge up a laptop and get internet. That can be at your kitchen table, an airport waiting lounge, or the deck of an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora.

Can do it Full-Time or Part-Time

Travel writing is something you can do full time or part-time. (Some start part-time, then go full-time when they retire from their day job.)

Set Your Own Hours

As a freelance travel writer, you set your own hours. This enables you to work around other activities and commitments in your life.

6. Travel Perks

Once you build a reputation as a proven travel writer, it can open the door to a variety of travel perks, such as:

Press Trips

Press trips are free or low-cost tours organized for travel writers. Press trips are often planned by a convention or tourism bureau to encourage articles about a target destination.

Most press-trip invitations go-to publications, which usually send their own staff writers (employees of the publication). However, freelance travel writers with proven reputations can also get in on press trips.

Note: Not all travel publications accept articles based on press trips.

Reimbursement for Your Travel Expenses

Some publications will reimburse your travel costs while you do approved research to write articles for their publication. This is often in addition to the pay you’ll receive for the articles themselves.

Assignments reimbursed by a publisher may come your way once you’ve developed a relationship of trust and reliability with a publication and its editors.

Note: If a publisher reimburses your travel costs, you will likely not be allowed to submit work from that trip to other publications. (Which is quite understandable.)

Your Travel Costs as Legitimate Business Expenses

Some travel writers bear their own travel costs. This enables them to write for multiple publications on one trip. They can also submit work to publications that don’t accept articles based on press trips, which often pay higher rates.

If you’re building up your travel-writing business to make a profit, many of your travel costs may be tax-deductible. (Talk to your accountant for details.)

7. A Low Startup Cost

You Don’t Need Office Space, Employees, or Expensive Equipment

All you need to get started as a travel writer are basic office supplies, a computer, and a camera or smartphone to take pictures.

When you’re starting out, the biggest cost associated with travel writing is travel. But you can keep this cost down by

Writing About Places Close to Home

What’s home to you is a travel destination to others. The simplest way to break into travel writing on a budget is to write about close-by opportunities for travelers.

Teaching English Abroad

Many successful travel writers financed their early travels by teaching English abroad.

Besides providing an income, working at an English school gives you an “in.” It’s a way to make local connections and get close to the culture.

Volunteering Abroad

Many non-profit organizations provide volunteers with room and board, which can help stretch your travel dollars.

8. You Can Make Money

Besides travel opportunities, freelance travel writing can provide a welcome supplemental income.

Freelance writing pay is often measured in an amount per word. Rates among paying publications span a broad range. The pay can start at a few cents per word at less competitive online publications. It can go to more than $1 per word at some trade magazines and high-circulation consumer magazines, which run travel stores.

9. It’s Something you can do well as you get Older

It’s Work you are Capable of Doing Long into Retirement

As long as you’re healthy enough to travel, and can write accurate and entertaining articles about your experiences, you can maintain a place in the travel-writing industry.

If you are age 50+, Publications and Readers Value Your Perspective

People over 50 spend more on travel and buy more travel magazines than any other age group.

So, as a freelance travel writer over 50, you relate to the travel industry’s most valuable market segment.

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