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What does a Freelance Travel Writer do?

By K. Testa
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A freelance travel writer typically produces articles for travel magazines, hotel and spa periodicals, and other printed publications. He or she might also write for online travel guides and blogs. Writers often publish their own blogs, as well, in order to add some personal touches to their travel writing, and to provide insider tips to readers. Generally, freelance writers are self-employed and work on a contractual basis.

Depending on his or her assignments and travel interests, the average freelance travel writer might visit famous tourist destinations or those that are off the beaten path. Some typical activities include exploring different geographic areas, as well as reviewing businesses there, such as hotels and eateries. A writer may also provide information about museums and other tourist attractions, from his or her own personal perspective. Freelance travel writers tend to be distinguished from travel essay writers, who typically focus more on writing personal memoirs and other such creative pieces.

Many travelers today seek practical tips rather than just simple reviews of tourist attractions. Such readers usually want to find the best travel packages and save money once they arrive at their destinations. Freelance travel writers often can provide them with helpful information by sharing personal experiences.

Sometimes a freelance travel writer specializes in an area of particular interest to other travelers, such as luxury travel. Adventure trips and eco-tourism are two additional examples of specific, popular interests. Some travel writers focus on sports, such as golf or skiing, and reviews of related vacation destinations. Other reporters may establish themselves as authorities on a specific geographical area, such as Las Vegas or Europe.

Like many professional writers, a freelance travel writer often has a communications or journalism degree. Yet these are not necessarily essential to succeeding as a freelance travel writer, especially if one has a solid writing background and significant travel experience. Travel writers who often visit foreign countries could benefit from speaking a second language. Generally, it is also helpful to have some basic photography experience, since many travel publications request photos as part of an article submission.

Travel writers interested in pursuing continuing education opportunities to improve their writing skills have several options available to them. For example, many traditional colleges and online programs offer courses in general writing, as well as travel journalism. Working conditions for a freelance travel writer can vary. Since most freelance writers are self-employed, they generally are based out of a home office. Usually, they are solely responsible for taking care of their business obligations, such as submitting invoices to clients for payment. Travel writing frequently involves long periods away from home, which can require the reporter to be flexible in his or her professional routine.

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Discussion Comments

By Fa5t3r — On Nov 14, 2013

If you're serious about this kind of job it might help to pick another kind of passion to mix together with the traveling so that you can specialize.

For example, if you really love golf, you could review a lot of different golfing vacation spots. Or you could do something about bird watching in other countries.

One of the more popular topics will always be food and I've read some really exquisite articles on traveling and the food that can be experienced in places off the beaten track.

The only problem with this is that you have to be an expert at whatever it is that you're writing about. You can't just decide that you know enough about the topic without really doing your research, or the people who will be interested in it will be able to poke holes in your articles, and you won't know which details are fascinating to them.

By indigomoth — On Nov 14, 2013

@KoiwiGal - Yeah, freelance travel writing is not the kind of job that I would quit my day job to pursue. Not until I knew I could make a living at it, anyway. Because there are definitely plum assignments out there, but at the beginning you're going to be spending a lot of money and making back very little.

But people manage it every day, so it's not impossible.

By KoiwiGal — On Nov 13, 2013

This is a really competitive field, so if you want to break into it you're going to have to have a stellar work ethic and a fresh take on unusual experiences. If you really want to give it a go I would do a ton of research, not just on the place you want to write about, but also about the magazine you want to write for and the job in general. A travel writing job is a dream job for a lot of people and those people are willing to work hard in order to achieve it. You need to be willing to work harder.

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