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Really Useful Links for Writers: Travel Writing

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Paul FitzSimons

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One of the upsides of this recession, is that many of us have been given the opportunity – whether we wanted it or not – to do something different with our lives, maybe even fulfil a dream. For some (like myself), it was to write. For many others, it was to travel. Individually, each of these might be seen more as an opportunity to whittle money out of our bank accounts, but, by combining them, it’s actually possible to carve out a lucrative niche for ourselves.

A few weeks ago, Lismore in Co. Waterford hosted Immrama, the annual festival dedicated to travel-writing, featuring such gurus as Paul Theroux and John Dwyer as well as a few hundred other active and aspiring travel-writers. It’s festivals like Immrama that bring to the fore the opportunities there are out there to turn our desire to travel the world, and our desire to write about those adventures, into a profitable endeavour.

Besides setting up your own blog and taking on the gargantuan task of getting people to read it (your mammy doesn’t count), there are a number of other avenues to get readers to your travel-writing. Long-standing travel magazine Wanderlust encourages those of who travel to write about it. It has a section on its website, in which it gives some great advice on how to get started, the different types of travel-writing there are and who to approach to get published. There are also travel-writing tips from Wanderlust editors Phoebe Smith and Lyn Hughes.

Over on Travelllll.com, travel-writer Jessica Festa, who did start by setting up her own website, offers us her own unique take on getting started. She knows that it’s a hard slog to get from simply putting pen-to-paper while up a mountain or in a new city to becoming an established and regularly-published writer and she advises us that we need to be strategic and analytical.

On her own website TravelEachDay.com, travel writer Holly Cave gives us her five golden rules on getting published and getting established. She reminds us that, although not every piece we write will make its way into a magazine or on to a travel-website, it will go to make up that all-important weapon in any freelancer’s arsenal – The Portfolio. She also supports Jessica Festa’s viewpoint about aggressive pitching, suggesting that we need to be making direct contact with travel editors to find out what they’re looking for and how to submit it.

How many times are we on a plane and are handed a dog-eared copy of the in-flight magazine? I’m probably the most home-birdy least weekend-mini-break person I know and yet I take the magazine, read it cover-to-cover (my Kindle is accidentally stowed safely in the overhead compartment) and come away with at least two new cities I want to visit (most recently Montreal and Bratislava). What I haven’t realised – up to now anyway – is that so many of these magazines are crying out for submissions from enthusiastic travellers. Travel website The MatadorNetwork.com gives us a run-down on the top magazines we should be approaching to get our travel stories read at thirty thousand feet.

You may feel that, as a regular get-up-and-out type person, you certainly possess the travel stories you’d like to tell, but that, since those horrible Leaving Cert English essays, you haven’t actually done any writing. That being the case, availing of a creative writing course might be your next step – there’s no shortage of them in colleges around the country and online. One such course aimed specifically at aspiring travel writers comes from CoursesDirectOnline.com. It covers all the elements you need to know, such as structuring your travelogue, research and presentation.

Or if you prefer the more face-to-face approach and will be within reach of Central London over the Summer, The Guardian newspaper are hosting a couple of day-long courses, presented by long-time travel-writer and journalist Peter Carty.

One of the pitfalls of being a travel writer – or any writer for that matter – is that earnings can be rather sporadic. It becomes necessary to engage in more lucrative endeavours to supplement our income. The Matador Network comes to the rescue once again as it offers us an enlightening and entertaining list of jobs we can do when we’re not traversing the world – jobs that don’t tie us down to the nine-to-five and can be done in and around our writing.

“A traveller without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi.

Do You Have The Lust?

Wanderlust is the leading magazine for adventurous and authentic travel and offers great advice on how to get started as a travel writer.

“Travel writing comes in many forms: guidebooks, first-person features, practical articles, 500-page novels. You should be reading all types and taking notes.”


That’s five ‘L’s, People.

Travelllll.com’s Jessica Festa knows what it takes to get published.

“Anybody can start a travel blog; however, if you’re looking to be able to quit your desk job and live full-time off your writing, you’ll need to be strategic.”



Not Just Some Days…Each Day

Travel writer Holly Cave’s five simple rules to finding and winning writing jobs.

“There are freelance travel writer jobs to be had out there, even if you’re just starting out.”



Leaving On A Jet Plane.

The Matador Network gives us a list of In-Flight Magazines that pay well for travel writing.

“Compared to consumer magazine publishers, in-flight magazines tend to pay a higher rate for travel writers.”



You Have The Story, Now Learn The Craft.

Course Directs Online offers a comprehensive Travel-Writing course.

“Travel writing is a specialised branch of freelance writing that can be frustrating and challenging if you don’t know how, but remarkably rewarding if you do.”



Face-To-Face, Please.

Peter Carty will present two day-long travel-writing workshops in Central London over the summer.

“The travel writing courses help participants to write travel features and sell them to newspapers, magazines and websites.



Gotta Have a J-O-B.

The Matador Network’s list of jobs you can do to supplement your travel-writing income.


About the author

Paul FitzSimons is a screenwriter and novelist and has written the novel ‘Burning Matches’ and a number of scripts for film and TV. He has worked as a storyline writer on RTE’s ‘Fair City’. His short stories are published in ‘Who Brought The Biscuits’ by The Naas Harbour Writers. Paul likes crime thrillers, good coffee and Cadbury’s chocolate. He doesn’t like country-and-western music or people who don’t indicate on roundabouts.

Paul also runs the Script Editing service Paul | The | Editorpaulfitzsimons.com

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