Travel Writing Life

Now that you know I’m a travel writer, you may have more questions than answers. And for the answer to one of my most frequently asked queries – “What is your typical workday?” – keep reading (text from Get Your Travel Writing Published).

Lying lazily in a hammock securely strung between two palms, I sway back and forth, back and forth. My eyes focus toward the cloudless cobalt sky. It is late afternoon. I’m luxuriating in the moment, making note of everything – the gentle sea breeze, the pearlized sand and the hypnotic roll of the surf. I’m in Fiji, I’m recollecting every detail of my morning and I’m working. The day started with a village tour and a catamaran cruise to an uninhabited island, complete with an outdoor barbecue, snorkeling and impromptu dancing to the beat of a native band. Tonight I’m the resort’s guest at its weekly Meke (Fijian-style luau). Tomorrow it’s on to Tonga where I’ll attend Sunday service at the local church – I’ve been told to expect to see the His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, a member of the congregation. My only complaints of this work day? I still have to pack, and I should have used more sunscreen.

But to fairly illustrate the complete picture of a travel writer’s life, I’ll briefly recap one more day. Indulge me as this description is crucial to consider before you gather your suitcase, notebook and camera in quest of your newly-acclaimed travel writing career.

Surrounded by pamphlets, maps, press kits and notes, I sit at my desk and stare at a blank computer screen. I’m on deadline. I spent my morning online, checking and double-checking facts and making a time consuming, yet fruitless search for an important detail. A brusque, not-so-friendly editor phoned and explained that he likes my recently submitted piece but needs an additional 500-word sidebar within two days. And the doctor’s office just called. Did I forget my ever-so-hard-to-get appointment?

Now that I have your attention and your luggage is back in the closet, let’s talk reality. To be a successful travel writer (definition: one who is published and will be invited to visit destinations like Fiji and Tonga), you play many roles. One obvious role is that of a reporter; others include historian, grammarian, private investigator, photographer and diplomat. And for some stories, you’ll become (my favorite roles) a shopper, skier, hiker, theatergoer or diner. Remember, the above list is plentiful but it is far from complete. The requisites change from piece to piece, publication to publication and year to year.

What doesn’t change, however, is the constant pleasure I derive from travel writing. I admit that I continue to congratulate myself on this career choice each time I fly first class, step onto the deck of a cruise ship or board a train to go to work.

How did I get started in this somewhat unconventional job? While my educational background includes a Bachelor of Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin, my entry into the travel industry was actually a career change from writing and producing audio-visual films in Minneapolis and Chicago to selling travel in San Diego.

Jumping into my career as a travel agent with both feet, I became very active in the worldwide travel community. But after several years of loving travel but missing writing, I combined the two. Thus, my travel writing career was born.