If you’re wondering how to get started as a travel writer…the interview below with Maryalice Wood has some great tips. Not just about how to write stories that editors want…but how to get upgrades on cruise ships…how to sell the same story several times…and more.
In fact, IL gave Maryalice one of her first bylines.
The interview below was conducted by our friends at AWAI, publisher’s of the respected Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program.
INTERVIEWER: Maryalice, why did you travel to Oman, and what makes it your favorite travel destination you’ve written about?
MARYALICE: I flew to the Middle East to visit my sister who works in the UAE, but an unexpected side trip opened my eyes to the marvels of Oman. It is a unique destination—not with the same “in-your-face” display of luxury and magnificence you find in Dubai, but rather a harmony of great civilization and modern development.
My most amazing Omani experience involved a sleep-over in the desert. In less than 24 hours, I was hooked, and to this day, Oman continues to captivate my spirit of adventure and zest for discovery.
I: Were you planning to write a story before you left?
M: Long before, but especially since completing the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program, I have been writing about my travels. As usual, on this particular journey, I traveled with my essential tools: the eye of a photographer, the mind of a writer… and always the heart of an adventurer.
I always travel with possible articles and photos to publish on my mind, but I don’t allow it to make me miss the moment I’m IN. With my camera I capture the details of each setting, but with my eyes and ears, I retain the memories. My hands bring the symphony together on the keyboard.
I: When and where did you publish your article on Oman?
M: I jotted down a few notes the day after my side trip, but didn’t write a longer account about my incredible desert adventure until after returning home. I wrote for a period of less than 24 hours, and from that I’ve sold three articles, including photographs, from my trip to 40plus Travel and Leisure Ltd. (1,800 words and five photos for 55 British Pounds), International Living Postcards (short excerpt plus one photo for $50), and a local newspaper (another short variation with one photo for $25). This article was also printed in four other newspapers simultaneously.
On top of that, I also took a photograph of young Bedouin children that was nominated as one of the “Best of 2009” in the “Faces” category at igougo.com.
I: Wow, three published and paid articles from one trip! Did you receive any special treatment as a travel writer while you were on your travels, too?
M: Not on this trip, as I sent the stories in after returning home. On other trips—cruises in particular—I have been upgraded when I wrote ahead to the cruise line and told them I would be writing about the journey.
I: That’s great. We often say that it’s a good idea to ask for upgrades and discounts in advance if you know you’re only going to get paid a few hundred dollars for your articles, because it helps offset your travel costs. Travel writing may not be the most lucrative profession but it’s certainly one of the most glamorous and fun ones out there.
So congratulations to you on your travel writing success. Do you have any tips for those reading this interview who would like to do the same?
M: Three tips I have for someone who’d like to get started writing travel articles are:
1. Research well before you go and don’t be afraid of spontaneity!
2. Take LOTS of photos—let your camera be your daily journal.
3. Eat where the locals eat and keep your eyes and ears open.
I: Where to next?
M: My next trip is to Nova Scotia for a family reunion where I am sure I will hear a lot of stories… and I’ve just returned from six weeks of circumnavigating Australia and Indonesia. I have several articles and photos in progress for submission from that trip.
Each day, whether at home or abroad, is another memory in the making—I try to make it mine and then share it with others. And if I get paid for it, that’s a welcome bonus!