where to pitch

6 great travel publications that pay freelance writers

By July 26, 2017 June 29th, 2019 17 Comments

Updated April 2019

If you want to break into travel writing, you have endless opportunities to see your words in print and online. And even better, there are numerous publications that pay writers well. I’ve compiled a list of some well-known and less well-known freelance travel writing opportunities where you can pitch print and online travel publications. And best of all, they pay well. 

Freelance travel writing opportunities that pay well 

Don’t feel that you need to trek to a white sand beach with turquoise water before you pitch a travel story. My very first travel article was about the small country town where I live, and my second was in another state in Australia.

Often it’s easier to pitch an area you know and that is relatively local to you – there are fewer risks and most times you know the area and the people intimately. Therefore you know the great angles to pitch editors. 

And even if you don’t want to be a travel writer, from time to time you may come across a local story or destination that would suit an online travel publication or even a print one, so it’s always worth keeping your eyes open for good opportunities.

[But if you do want to travel further than your neighbourhood – you may need to get sponsorship or hosting from a tourism board or PR agency]

Travel magazines that pay freelance writers 

AARP The Magazine

 

AARP has a readership of over 37 million readers and is the leading United States publication for people aged 50 years and over. The magazine provides three editorial versions that are specifically targeted to different life stages (50-59, 60-69 and 70+).

While you can pitch feature articles for their money, health, food and relationships sections, the travel segment is focused on tips and trends on how and where to travel.

You can find the pitch guidelines here and the editorial calendar here

Pitches should explain the idea of the piece, how you would approach it as well as attaching recent writing samples.

Pay rate: $2/word for print; $1/word for online

World Nomads Mojos

If you’re looking to break into travel writing, registering with World Nomads Mojo is a great start. They have heaps of opportunities available for writers, photographers, videographers, presenters, animators and cinematographers.

They advertise their regular opportunities here 

But you can register your name, details and skills, and when commissions and opportunities arise, Mojos will use the database as a starting point to look for suitable candidates.

I’ve had a couple of pieces published with them, and they were great to work with. 

Travel + Leisure

How could I compile a list of freelance travel writing opportunities and magazines that pay freelance writers without mentioning the top shelf publication that is Travel + Leisure? With over six million readers, this is one of the magazines to pitch if you want to make a name for yourself within travel writing.

Freelance contributors write the majority of articles in the magazine so there are plenty of opportunities to pitch and be published.

I interviewed Diana Hubbell, former editor of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia at the beginning of the year, and her stories are a good indication of the types of articles they are looking for.

Pitch guidelines: It’s important that you include service information with each destination article (e.g. when to go, how to get there, where to eat and so on).

While, it’s a few years old now, I would really recommend reading this article about the Travel + Leisure brand and what freelance writers can do to increase their chances of having a pitch accepted.

Pay rates: $2/word for print. An editor has let me know that digital rates are not shared publicly.

And don’t forget that Travel + Leisure have magazines for India, Southeast Asia, Mexico and more.

Hemispheres

Hemispheres is the inflight magazine for United Airlines and targets affluent and intrepid world travellers.  You can read online issues of the magazine here

There are around 12 freelance contributors per issue, so again, lots of opportunities to pitch and submit your travel articles.

The sections that are open to freelancers are: features, navigator (front of book section) and diversions (their front of book culture section).

Pay rates: $1/word

Ensemble Vacations

This is a Canadian travel magazine specifically for travel agents. It’s a marketing publication used by travel agents to send to their clients. Ensemble Vacations are always looking for stories that travel agents could potentially sell to clients, so they are keen for narrative pitches (not service or listicle-type articles).

They accept pitches from international freelance writers.

Pitch: editor@ensembletravel.ca

Pay rate: 75c/word

AFAR/Wayfarer

AFAR is a multi-platform travel media brand. The Wayfarer is AFAR’s original online content initiative. Their aim is to ‘inspire and inform’ readers by answering: Where should I go next? What’s new and interesting? As a regular traveler, what do I need to know?

Don’t you just wish all publications had writer contribution guidelines like this one?

Pay rate: $1/word

Of course, there are thousands and thousands of travel publications out there (not to mention all the ‘regular’ magazines and newspapers that have travel sections), but here are just a few to get you started and to help you realise that there are lots of well-paying writing opportunities out there.

How can you break into travel writing or earn more from your writing?

If you are serious about travel writing and earning money from it, I can’t speak highly enough of this online course in travel writing* run by the Australian Writers Center (and no, you don’t have to be Australian to do the course). I did it a few years ago, which is taught by freelance travel writers and within a month I had recouped the cost of the course with my first travel writing commission. 

I now regularly receive offers of press trips and famils and I’ve have been published in some big name travel publications (like Travel + Leisure), and it’s all because I took that course. 

I’d also really recommend Tim Leffel’s book Travel Writing 2.0 (in the link below)*. He is a total guru in the field of travel writing and I love that he offers such practical and useful advice for freelance travel writers and bloggers.

“Most travel writing books you pick up spend most of their pages on the craft itself and the earnings part is treated as an afterthought. I think that’s backward.” – Tim Leffel

And if you’re looking for ideas of where else to pitch your travel writing – look no further than Gabi Logan’s Travel Magazine Database – this is an incredible resource for writers to get detailed breakdowns of hundreds of travel magazines in addition to the 30 magazines new breakdowns a month for $20/month. (You can also save two months’ membership fees when you opt for an annual subscription.)

TRAVEL WRITING 2.0: Earning Money from your Travels in the New Media Landscape – SECOND EDITION

*In an attempt to join the modern world, the above are affiliate links. Or at least I think they are, because I’m not really confident that I’ve set it up correctly. I’m dipping my toe into the world of affiliate links, but will only have them for books or products that I have paid for myself, have tried and think are really worthwhile. Because let’s be honest, lots of freelance writers aren’t making much cash. I want to change that.

Tim’s book has been fundamental in helping me to break into travel writing. I would highly recommend it.   

Are you looking to get into travel writing? Have you found any great publications that you’d like to share?

17 Comments

  • Michaela says:

    I haven’t done any travel writing, but I’d love to dip my toes in. The problem is I did all my interesting travel when I was sans kids. I am travelling to Port Douglas later this year, but that will be purely to RELAX…as much as possible with four kids!!

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Travel writing is a great addition to regular freelance work. I haven’t quite worked out how to make it work in terms of time spent away from other work and getting enough commissions to make a trip of four days financially worthwhile/viable.
      Enjoy the heaven that is Port Douglas and yes, relax and don’t think about work for a moment!

  • Collette says:

    I’ve written a couple of general travel articles – rather than destination focused, they are more lifestyle. But I’d love to be able to do more travel writing. Especially now I see there is so much opportunity! I might have to take a look at the book you recommend. Another great post Lindy.

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      There are so many publications out there that will commission travel stories Collette – I think often we think there are 2 or 3, but I could have easily written about 50! Tim’s book is great – as is his blog http://travelwriting2.com/

  • Bron says:

    Great post Lindy (as always). What do you think about pitching about places you visited years ago? Do you think if you’re talking about a niche experience that probably doesn’t change a lot over time (eg. Dog sledding in Canada!) you could get away with using your experience for the narrative and then researching to ensure any travel planning info is current? I’m in the same boat as Michaela!

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Thanks Bron 🙂 I reckon you’d be pushing your luck to pitch a destination or experience you went to/had more than 18 months ago. Though I do think you could probably get away with pitching or writing a listicle type article or a round-up based on having visited a place and then doing desk research.
      My focus in the past has been on pitching to local (Australian) travel publications, but I’m realising as the travel I can do is fairly limited at the moment with two small kids, that pitching to international publications about Australian destinations is the way to go. At least for now.

  • Gabi says:

    Hey Lindy,

    Funnily enough I was pulling the jobs list for this week, and someone had mentioned this post in binders, and I was very curious when I saw it was on your site.

    These are the magazines that get so many pitches that new writers have a hard time getting in, but there are so, so many where that isn’t an issue, including a lot of publications like Ambrosia and Drift that feature beautiful, thoughtful, long-form content.

    We’ve got more than 500 broken down with pitch guidelines in the Travel Magazine Database and 1000+ travel magazines listed in the Six-Figure Travel Writing Road Map. Let me know if you’d like me to hook you up with either; I’m bringing print copies of the book to Australia when I come.

    Cheers,
    Gabi

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Hi Gabi, thanks for your comment. I think you’re right – these magazines probably do get lots of pitches, but I think it’s definitely possible for new(er) writers to get their foot in the door if they have a great idea. I know of a couple of writers who were very ‘green’ but managed to get commissioned in big name publications.
      I hear so many writers say that they can’t find well-paying publications that I wanted to put a few out there – so many lesser known magazines seem to be shy about publicising their pay rates (or do publicise them and don’t pay well), and I think that’s a real shame.
      Hopefully we’ll meet up this weekend!

  • Hi Lindy,
    Is it ever acceptable to pitch the same idea to multiple publications, if you’re trying to break in? Also, I write regularly for a state magazine in Tasmania, and sometimes have a story that I think would make a good pitch to a national food or travel magazine. Is it acceptable to pitch the same or a similar story but write two versions? I pitched to a national magazine editor recently for a story that had gone to the state publication, and the national guy was interested. I came clean about the article already running (next issue) in the state magazine… and haven’t heard anything since. (He was at the tennis that week so had other things on his mind.)
    Maybe I should just do a polite follow up and see what’s going on.
    Your thoughts and advice on multiple pitches appreciated! I’m suspecting it’s a no-no.
    Fiona

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Hi Fiona, that’s a big question! I know a couple of prominent freelance writers who say it’s absolutely fine (and in fact necessary to earn a good living) to pitch the same story simultaneously (e.g. travel writer Roy Stevenson is a big advocate of this – https://www.pitchtravelwrite.com/simultaneous-submissions.html). I’ve never done it but if I did I would definitely let each editor know that I had sent the idea elsewhere as well. From what I understand, some editors expect and accept simultaneous pitches but others really dislike it.
      I personally wouldn’t write the same story (or similar) for two similar publications, but I might use the same case study for two different stories with different audiences.
      I’d definitely follow up with the national editor – the tennis can be distracting!

  • Rachael says:

    Thank you so much for such an informative post for us newbies! I have had a few freelance travel writing contracts over the years but haven’t quite managed to pitch to any big names. I guess I should just stop thinking I’m not good enough and take the leap, eh?

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Go for it Rachel! I know it’s easy for me to say but nothing ventured, nothing gained 🙂 And if you do pitch, come back and let us know how you go.

  • Casper says:

    A little late to the party but just wanted to say huge thanks for this really useful piece, it’s fantastic to know that there is still opportunities to apply yourself to.

    I was wondering if you have any similar advice for travellers who’s main area of expertise is photography, rather than writing?

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Hi Casper, thanks for your comment. That’s a really great question about photography, but it’s not something I am familiar with at all (my photos are terrible – I’ve just enrolled in a course to improve!)
      Perhaps following some writer/photographers like Dan Avila, Jocelyn Pride, Danielle Lancaster (these are all Australians – I’m not sure where you are based) on Instagram might give you a sense of where they are placing their stories?

  • Lewis says:

    Hi Lindy! Great piece! I just wanted to check if these rates are up to date as I read on contently.net that in 2015, Travel + Leisure dropped their digital rate from $1,000 to $250-$100? Love your articles by the way 🙂

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Hi Lewis, thanks for your lovely words. As far as I know this is still right, but let me do some digging and I’ll get back to you 🙂

    • Lindy Alexander says:

      Hi again Lewis,
      I’ve just heard from an editor that they don’t disclose their rates for digital publicly, but that $1000 is not correct. I’ve changed my post to reflect this. Sorry I can’t give you any more info about digital rates.

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