The job of travel writer has been glamorized for decades and for good reason. From the days of writers penning dramas while sipping espressos in cafes along Rue Saint-Germain-des-Prés to visions of modern nomads typing away on laptops on white sand beaches lapped by turquoise waters – it’s a pretty idyllic lifestyle.
But how can you really earn enough money from writing to travel the world to meet your basic needs? Well, it’ll depend largely on where you live and how much you spend, but typically, travel writing jobs pay well enough to live a comfortable life on the road. Here, we’ll share some companies that hire travel writers and give you a ballpark idea of how much they pay, so you can decide if becoming a travel writer is a good fit for you.
What You Need to Be A Travel Writer
Writing is a skill all of us learn while in school, but what most people don’t realize is that you can make great money by making writing a career. In terms of the location independent movement, most people in this industry are travel writers, since they can make money while sharing their experiences. In order to become a freelance travel writer, you’ll need two main things: an ability to write well and abide by grammar and spelling conventions and a reliable laptop to get your work done on.
Many people think you need a ton of travel experience to be a travel writer, but that’s not necessarily true. While it is useful to be well-traveled, the main requirement is to write about the things you know. Maybe you haven’t travelled the whole globe yet, but you certainly know plenty about your hometown or even state. Start by focusing your writing in these areas. Choose areas you know intimately and pitch those stories to travel magazines and publishers first, since you’ll be able to provide a local angle most through travelers won’t be able to.
Travel writing doesn’t require a lot of equipment, which makes it a great job for digital nomads that are constantly on the move. It does, however, require a lot of attention to detail and a healthy dose of humility. Often times, you’ll have editors that will dissect your work and you need to be open and willing to accept criticisms and changes, and then adjust your writing to suit your client’s needs.
How to Get Started Travel Writing
If you want to become a travel writer, you’ll need to start building a portfolio of travel writing work that you can send to clients. Since there is a lot of competition in the travel industry, most companies won’t hire travel writers that don’t have any published work.
Therefore, your first goal must be to build a portfolio of published articles. As mentioned, start by pitching stories about the places you already know well to local publications in your community or online publications that have audiences that may benefit from your expertise. Once you have some published articles, you can start searching on websites like Upwork and Indeed to find new clients.
Now is also a good time to set up the processes for your writing. You’ll need to decide whether you want to write using Microsoft Word, Google Docs or some other platform. Whatever tool you decide to use, make sure it offers support for editing, comments and suggestions so editors can quickly review your submissions and make changes that you can track. If you’re producing a lot of content, management tools like Asana and Trello are useful for keeping the entire team on the same page and up to date on deadlines.
Now that you know the basics of freelance travel writing, let’s talk about some companies that hire travel writers and what they offer for compensation.
Companies That Hire Travel Writers
Travel-Oriented Websites and Publications
GoNomad features two different types of articles including destination mini-guides and first person accounts of trips, which they call ‘Journeys’. You can write about everything from what to see during a weekend in New York to detailing your epic trip across Canada in a motorhome. If you choose to do the mini-guides for travel destinations, you’ll need to have a heavy focus on facts and details, not just a general overview. They want things like contact information for any places you recommend delivered in a creative way.
GoNomad pays $25 per article, but they also work on promoting your website content and feature writers on their main page, giving you even more exposure and the opportunity to find new clients. The key to writing for this website is to keep things original and avoid fluff, standard descriptions you can find elsewhere and promotional hype. They’re looking for content that is entertaining and useful for a well-traveled target audience.
The Matador Travel Network is an international travel website that has connected global citizens for more than 10 years. Since 2007, they’ve hired thousands of writers, photographer and videographers to create stunning content from across the world. They’ve worked with everyone from leading industry professionals to people who have never been published before, making this website a opportunity for beginners and experienced travel writers alike.
Matador Network pays $25 per article and they operate on a pitch basis, meaning they won’t ever assign content to you. Instead, you must pitch ideas for articles to the company and they review all submissions. If they like your pitch, they will contact you with an offer. All submissions are done directly on the website and all you need to do is create an account to submit your travel ideas.
Known internationally as a go-to resource for all things travel, this is an excellent website for travel writers looking to expand their reach. For this site, you’ll write about top destinations across the globe as well as detail some of the experiences travellers can expect when heading abroad. While they are not always recruiting writers, they do have fairly frequent openings so it’s a good idea to keep checking.
Viator pays $100 to $150 per standard article and each one must be between 1,000 and 2,000 words. They also have some shorter articles occasionally that are designed as sort of destination to-do lists. These articles are only 300 to 500 words and the pay is $45 per each article.
Internationally recognized as one of the best travel websites, this is an exceptional site to have work published on, if you have the advanced skills and expertise for the job. With more than 6 million readers, this is the ultimate client if you really want to make a name for yourself in the travel writing industry.
While the work on the site is incredibly elite, there are plenty of opportunities for travel writers, since most of the content is sourced from freelancers. Travel + Leisure has several regional publications aside from its main USA-based publication, including ones based in Southeast Asia and South America.
Travel + Leisure focuses on travel stories along with documenting the joys and pitfalls of traveling. It’s recommended that you include practical information such as when to go, how to get around and where to eat when submitting destination articles. Travel + Leisure only accepts original content so any submissions will need to be brand new posts and not published anywhere else. They pay $1000 for digital content and $2 per word for printed magazines articles. If you have an idea for a story, send your pitch to email@example.com.
Outpost Magazine is an international travel brand that posts several different types of travel articles to both their print and online editions. Their publishing offerings include feature stories, thrill seeker articles that cover wild adventures, insider guides, field notes that feature scientific connections and, gourmet recipes from across the world. This magazine only publishes exclusives so you won’t be able to publish your work on any other websites either before or after it appears in Outpost’s publications.
Outpost pays on a case-by-case basis so there is no standard when it comes to word count or pay per word. Article submissions should be sent via email to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include your story angle, length, elements and whether you have any photos that should be included. It’s also useful to include any writing samples you feel are relevant to show your expertise and style. Since they receive a high volume of submissions, you’ll only hear back if your article pitch is accepted.
Magazines and Websites With Travel Sections
With the emergence of yoga retreats across the globe, this magazine has the perfect niche market if you enjoy yoga, travel and like to share your experiences. Yoga Journal works frequently with freelancers and 75% of their content comes from these remote workers.
Their article requirements are a little longer than some of these other sites at 3,000 to 5,000 words. Yoga Journal pays $800 to $2,000 per article and you should focus your writing on yoga destinations, new centers or emerging topics in the industry. Freelance writers are encouraged to submit pitches for travel articles directly to the editor-in-chief at email@example.com.
While Instinct magazine is a monthly magazine geared towards gay men living in California, it does have a fairly large travel section and they are looking for new contributors regularly. Almost 40% of their articles come from freelance writers and their style in fun, hip and entertaining, making it a fun place to share travel ideas in a laid-back atmosphere.
Most article submissions should be between 1000 and 2000 words and pay can range from $50 to $300 depending on the content and length. To get started, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with writing samples and a brief description on how you would be a good fit for the magazine. It’s also important to note that Instinct expects all contributors to be familiar with social media as they use these tools to keep articles relevant.
While largely a site known for offering fitness and nutrition advice to men, this magazine has online and print sections focused on travel. Almost half of Men’s Health articles are written by freelancers, making this a good website to pitch your ideas.
Men’s Health also pays well when it comes to freelance travel articles. Feature articles must be between 1,200 and 4,000 words and the pay ranges from $1,000 to $5,000. They also accept submissions for shorter article between 100 and 300 words for which they pay $100 to $500.
Another option for travel writers is to write for airlines that offer in-flight magazines detailing destinations and trends in the airline industry. To write for these companies, you need to be published and adhere to a high standard when it comes to sourcing and sharing information. If you pitch to these companies, make sure to double check beforehand that they actually offer flights to any destinations you want to write about.
This publication focuses largely on updating information and providing new angles to classic vacation destinations. Payment varies and so does the length of articles with longer pieces at 600 to 2,000 words and shorter pieces from 100 to 500 words.
Lufthansa is Germany’s largest carrier and as such, their in-flight magazine features articles in both German and English. There isn’t much information regarding pay or article standards online, but contributors are encouraged to contact the editor directly. You can find that information here.
This magazine accepts both short and long pieces like Delta’s in-flight magazine. They don’t specify exactly how much they pay, although they do state that pay can range up to $1CDN per word for certain submissions.
Final Tips for Becoming a Travel Writer
Some publications will pay hundreds of dollars while others will pay far less. Avoid writing for less than you think you are worth. It may be difficult to secure work at the beginning, but you will be grateful that you waited for the right project instead of selling yourself short and producing work you aren’t proud of. Make sure to build a strong portfolio and don’t get discouraged if an article submission is rejected or you don’t hear back from an editor.
Keep at it and work on constantly improving your writing. You can find great tips and tricks from some of the editors at theses magazines by doing a Google search and reading some of their interviews. It’s also useful to read multiple articles on these sites before submitting ideas to make sure that content doesn’t already exist and to ensure that you fit the preferred writing style. Travel writing can be a very rewarding job and it’s a great way to make money on the road.