In the past couple of months I’ve spoken to a number of travel writers and editors and several of them have said a curious thing. That yes, it’s tough being in the publication game in the current climate, and yes, budgets for writers haven’t increased in years. But despite this, these high profile editors and well established writers all told me the same thing. There has never been a better time to be a travel writer. And this is why.
Why now is the perfect time to be a travel writer and find travel journalist jobs
Before I started travel writing I had all these pre-conceived ideas about what it would be like.
I knew that lots of people veer towards black and white when they talk about travel writing – “it’s competitive, it’s luxurious, it’s easy, it’s hard” and so on.
But one thing that came up time and again when I told people I wanted to be a travel writer was that it was going to be hard to ‘make it’ because traditional, print media was dying.
But you know what those editors and writers told me?
Advertising in the travel space is super strong.
One editor told me that advertising in the travel section of her newspaper brings in 25 per cent of the paper’s overall revenue.
Another writer told a similar figure for her newspaper.
While other sections of newspapers like career, cars and entertainment have steadily shrunk, travel (and property) sections seem to be going gangbusters.
So what does this mean for aspiring travel writers?
It means that you definitely shouldn’t give up on your dreams or aspirations of becoming a travel writer (even if that means you’re a part time one or someone who has a ‘regular’ day job but writes travel pieces on the side).
Over 10 per cent of all global economic activity in 2018 was generated by the travel and tourism industry.
That’s huge, right?
It means that freelance writers should take advantage of travel and tourism being the second-fastest growing sector in the world.
As lots of you know, I’ve really focused on travel writing in the last 18 months or so, and this year, apart from my corporate work, almost all my freelance feature articles have been travel-related.
I must admit I didn’t think I could get to a place where travel would be my predominant focus so quickly, but I’m thrilled that it is.
And yes, it can be tough initially to get traction and your foot in the door, but there are relatively easy ways to break into travel writing and start getting commissions and jobs as a travel writer.
But how does travel writing work when the planet is facing a climate crisis?
I hope it goes without saying that almost every single travel writer I know is thinking and talking (a lot) about the climate crisis.
For those of us who take regular flights, we are absolutely aware of the impact this has on the environment.
But I have started to see conversations springing up everywhere about this – from The New York Times buying carbon offsets for its travel writers, to new sites launching about how travel can change the world, and eco-friendly travel markets that pay writers.
I am now writing a lot more domestic stories, and when I do fly, I make sure that I pay for carbon credits. And there are some great resources out there helping travel writers travel sustainability during famils or press trips.
Tourism is crucial to so many communities around the globe that we can’t just say that travel writing and travelling should cease to exist. And there is little doubt that travel is booming globally, with PRs and tourism boards keen to promote their products.
This offers travel writers an incredible opportunity to not only see the world and be creative in how they communicate their experiences to others, but it also offers us a chance be part of a low-impact, conscious travel movement.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I don’t think any of us do.
But I do know that I’m hopeful about the emphasis the media is putting on the climate crisis, the way editors are wanting to promote destinations and experiences that are legitimately sustainable and the opportunity that travel writing has to make a profound impact.
And each weekend I am buoyed to see the thick travel sections in my newspapers and the beautiful, sensitive and eco-conscious stories I’m reading in glossy magazines.
Of course, three editors and travel writers isn’t a representative sample, but I was astonished when I heard them all say how positive they were about the future of travel writing. It gives me real hope.
Are you a travel writer? Do you think now is a good time to be a travel writer?