So you wanna be a (good) travel writer?

Written by  November 4, 2010

Travel writing is one of those professions that most people think is really cool, easy and fun - staying in fancy hotels or visiting exotic locales 24/7 and whipping up a quick article here and there - but it's actually one of the most misunderstood.

Despite its allure and its perks, travel writing is actually a very grueling, hard-to-break-into and demanding career choice. You know all those stresses and complications you encounter when you travel? Imagine dealing with those every day. And don't forget that pitching, researching and writing articles is a LOT of hard work - much of which never even ends up in print, and hardly pays enough to keep moving.

That being said, travel writing as a career is also very rewarding. Getting a chance to see corners of the world that many people never get to is a great privilege and sharing that information with readers is what drives a lot of travel writers out there.

Of course, there is such a thing as good and bad travel writing. David Whitley, a freelance travel journalist over at GrumpyTraveller.com, recently wrote a piece detailing all the problems currently plaguing the state of travel writing (mainly in the UK but he extrapolates to other writers overseas). His main complaints include: writing that, instead of offering insight or entertainment, is basically just 'what I did on my holiday' journalism; celebrity writers who are unqualified for their topics and really have no business taking up space in a proper publication; taking advantage of travel junkets where your entire trip is organized and paid for you; writing about trips that are way out of the price range of the average reader; an obsession with writing about hotels; and a "complete absence of fun." 

I can't deny some of the points in Whitley's list, but there is still plenty of great travel writing out there worth reading. If you remember to do the exact opposite of these terrible travel writing sins, you should be fine! So, if you're committed to being one of the good ones, check out some of our past articles on travel writing:

Related Articles:
Confessions of a Guidebook Writer
Resources for Aspiring Travel Writers 
So, You Want to be a Travel Writer

And if you think you've got some great travel writing to share with the world, read our contributor's guidelines and send a query to Verge! 

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Published in Editor's Desk
Zalina Alvi

Zalina grew up in Toronto and began her career in journalism at the York University campus newspaper. Before joining Verge in 2010, she worked for a documentary festival, a non-profit organization and various magazines and newspapers. Zalina has had some eclectic travel experiences, including reporting for a newspaper on the island of Molokai in Hawaii.

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