01239: Advice for Aspiring Travel Writer

I enjoy reading the travel articles in and hope to become a travel writer. Do you have any advice for someone hoping to go into travel writing as a profession? How did you begin? Do I need to get a degree in journalism or should I take creative writing classes?

Thanks for your email. We’re happy to give you our opinion on travel writing; we’ve been at it a long time (20 years) and the field has changed a lot in that time. We began by writing primarily about our home region (Texas) for local magazines and newspapers. After a couple of years, we moved into guidebooks as well as national magazines.

Journalism degrees are not at all mandatory (we don’t have journalism degrees) although journalism classes are helpful for learning writing skills, research skills, and newspaper style. Creative writing classes vary greatly from class to class; the best ones to pick are classes that specialize in travel writing or at least non-fiction writing.

Three suggestions:

  • read as much recent travel writing as possible in all formats: magazines, newspapers, online, guidebooks. The style of each has changed greatly since the advent of the internet; you’ll find a shorter writing style these days with more bullet points and sidebars.
  • find a niche. Successful travel writers today specialize in a niche, whether that’s a region (your own hometown, a favorite vacation destination, etc.) or a type of travel (family travel, spa vacations, learning vacations, budget travel, etc.)
  • approach writing as a business. Don’t get discouraged with rejections but consider how you can better target your writing to a particular market. One helpful travel writing site is …you’ll find a lot of good beginner info there as well as an active forum. You’ll also find job postings there.

Good luck! Paris and John

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