When COVID first hit in early 2020, all my travel writing assignments fell over like dominos.
I had a series of local, interstate and international trips lined up, commissioned and ready to go.
But one by one, I received emails from the PRs who were organising the trips, or from the editors who had commissioned the story to say they were postponing it.
Those postponements turned into thousands of dollars of lost commissions because those trips never happened.
But despite the initial panic, I actually got lots of travel-related commissions in 2020.
I wrote domestic travel content for tourism boards, government agencies, local councils as well as travel and tourism updates for news sites.
I assumed that my ‘regular’ travel writing work (i.e. for the travel section of newspapers and articles for inflight magazines) would pick up this year.
I don’t know about you, but travel writing post COVID-19 looks very different.
I’ve found that I’m still waiting on stories to run (that were filed in the second half of last year) and it’s getting harder and harder to get a ‘yes’ from editors who were regularly commissioning me pre-COVID.
Now, I must admit, I haven’t pursued this kind of travel writing (e.g. destination pieces) very hard because I know how many travel writers are out there are pitching and I have other income streams apart from travel.
But the other thing is that I can’t see pages and pages of destination-style travel pieces coming back for a while.
So, what’s a travel writer to do?
This is where I think the travel writing opportunities are right now (and where I’ve found them in the past 6 months):
- With previous editors of inflight mags – I’ve reached out to lots of editors who used to work at inflight magazines and many of them are still in the media industry. Some are now working within bigger publishing houses or content agencies and are commissioning content. I’ve been commissioned to write articles for hospitality venues like hotels and restaurants.
- With PRs – okay, this might not be the type of travel writing we’re used to, but there’s definitely work out there creating this type of content. Some writers I know have been working on articles for custom publications (think cruising or rail specific companies who produce magazines) and I’ve recently written content for hotel blogs.
- Travel-adjacent content – I’ve recently pitched and been commissioned for travel-adjacent content. By that I mean interiors magazines that have a travel element or food publications that focus on where to eat and drink in a particular region or town. This is where I think it’s really useful to have a specific interests that you can overlay with travel – such as wellness, design, food, adventure/outdoors, sustainability etc.
- Breaking news/hard news/updates – In the past few months I’ve written loads of quick turnaround articles on travel bubbles (mostly how they’re not happening), COVID-inspired travel trends and travel news for online sites. One of my editors even remarked, “I’m always looking for short, newsy travel news pieces. Countries re-opening or travel bubbles are always popular.”
- Updating travel content – The world has changed post COVID and the virus has impacted so many places. Being able to leverage where you are right now and offer to update existing content is really appealing to editors. They want to ensure they’re providing relevant, timely and accurate information to their readers, so if you can offer to amend existing articles for editors, this is an opportunity to be seen as a local expert.
- Writing books – Now this isn’t one that I have personal experience with, but a couple of freelance friends of mine have recently been commissioned to write travel books (think sustainable travel, camping and caravanning adventures and road trips). So if you’ve had an idea for a book kicking around your mind for a while, why not pull together a proposal and send it off?
I’ve found that PRs are still really keen and supportive of working with travel writers, but it’s up to us to find new avenues and different ways of getting travel content out there.
But that’s what we do as freelance writers, right?
We’re nimble, flexible and ready for the challenge.
What do you think?
Have you found any other ways of utilising your travel writing skills post COVID-19?