Wandering the world, laptop in hand, might be the vision of an aspiring travel critic, but the reality is a bit different. Your primary job is writing about the places you've seen in fresh, interesting ways that make people want to take the same trip. You become a travel writer by first becoming a writer.
Although creative talent is necessary for any writer, a good education is the first step. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that a bachelor’s degree is usually required for a writer, especially one who wants a full-time job. Degrees in English, communications or journalism are typically preferred by employers. If you already know your target is travel writing, choose travel-related topics for course assignments whenever possible. Consider taking foreign language classes as electives to improve your ability to communicate in other countries.
Writing experience will help you sharpen your skills and make you more attractive to an employer. Work for your high school yearbook or college newspaper while you complete your education. Explore part-time jobs or freelance opportunities with magazines and non-profit organizations, and in advertising or publishing companies. Some magazines offer summer internship, so look for travel magazines if possible. Many aspiring writers create personal blogs, both as a creative outlet and to practice their skills. Talk to your local Chamber of Commerce or visitor’s bureau about writing local flyers, newsletters and brochures for travelers to your area.
In today’s electronic world, a thorough knowledge of computers and excellent computer publishing skills are mandatory for a writer. Online publications might use text plus graphics, audio, video, animation and still pictures, all of which you might use in your work as a travel writer. Take additional courses to help increase your knowledge base and skills. Focus on topics that will help you prepare material directly for the Internet, such as graphic design, page layout and multimedia software. You might also be off the beaten track as a travel writer, so learn how to troubleshoot basic computer problems so you can still file stories even if you can't find a computer technician in your area.
Many travel publications accept articles from freelance writers. Check their websites for submission guidelines, and if necessary, offer to write some articles for free to get your work known. Once you’ve built a reputation, you can propose articles to editors who know your work. Networking helps in establishing yourself, so join travel writers’ organizations or establish relationships with travel agencies or other organizations such as public relations firms involved in travel and tourism. Don’t expect overnight success, as it takes a long time to establish yourself as a travel writer and positions are limited.
2016 Salary Information for Writers and Authors
Writers and authors earned a median annual salary of $61,240 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, writers and authors earned a 25th percentile salary of $43,130, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,500, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 131,200 people were employed in the U.S. as writers and authors.