Travel is a field that 90% of the people that I know want to get into. It’s so fascinating and so free. You don’t have the restrictions of a 9 to 5 job and you are getting to explore the world around you! Honestly, what more could you ask for?
People often have the idea that it’s a very difficult career to make or is not very lucrative and hence, decide to be stuck in a job that they don’t want to do so that they can travel later. But, why keep killing your desires internally to achieve something later, when you know that the same dream can be achieved now?
There are various examples of people who have left their jobs after earning enough and started travelling. Although, even that is very courageous and fascinating, it is not ideal for everybody. For all those who have a passion for travelling and exploring the world and getting a first hand look of everything, Travel Journalism is the ideal profession.
The job role of a travel journalist is very interesting, and the work space is not limited to a cubicle with a desktop. You can actually travel lots of place, be a part of various other cultures and traditions, and give immense pleasure to your taste buds by the cuisine of several lands. To be a successful journalist, two things are absolutely essential,
1.Your knowledge in English
2.Your skill of communication.
For these, you could practice by keeping a personal travel journal. This will give you a little bit of experience and practice regarding how to write and what all to include.
The first and foremost requirements of becoming any kind of journalist are fluency in English and excellent communication skills. Since you are working in a communication field, it is nothing short of a mandatory requirement for your communication and language skills to be at par.
Since English is really important, you could get a bachelor’s degree in Communicative English or go for a Media and Communication course where the subjects will be a little more vast and you will have a lot of options to choose from for masters. After grads, you can complete your MBA in Travel and Tourism.
Have a travel blog. The big publications would want to see that you can write well-crafted, engaging copy, that you can sniff out good angles and that you are dedicated enough to have stuck with the blog for more than a few posts. Once you start getting commissions chances are your blog will slide. If you are getting paid travel writing gigs, then your time for unpaid work will rapidly diminish. But until you get those paid commissions, a blog is a good, easy starting point.
There are a lot of people who think that because they are passionate about travel and can string a sentence together, that qualifies them to be a travel journalist. That’s not necessarily true. You need to understand how to dig out facts – and to determine that they are facts – and how to find hidden gems and insider info. You have to focus on having an angle and giving the readers something that is not already in the guidebook.
And you need to know how to write. It’s a skill and not everyone has it, but so many people think they do. But you can learn it. This comes with practice and a lot of reading. Read a lot and write a lot and you will get better with time.
How to get into a publication
Familiarise yourself with each publication so you are pitching the right style of article on the right topic. “Know the publications you want to write for,” reiterates Don George. “Read each issue from cover to cover. Try to put yourself in the editor’s head.”
Before approaching any publication, read its contributor guidelines, usually on the website. Some may not accept any unsolicited articles, others may have strict rules about submissions.Find out the name of the editor or relevant section editor so your submission hits the right desk/inbox. Addressing your letter to ‘The Editor’ (unless that’s the specified approach) shows a complete lack of effort.
Check whether your target publication prefers completed article submissions or proposals. If you’re sending an article, make sure it includes a cover sheet containing a synopsis of the piece, a word count, your contact information and details of any available photos. Proposals should be snappy and attention-grabbing.“If you’re pitching an idea to an editor, keep it (just) long enough to give them an idea of your angle and style, but short enough so they don’t get bored,” advises Liz Edwards. A hundred words should do it.
Then you need patience. Most publications receive hundreds of unsolicited submissions every week. It could take months before you hear back; in the meantime, keep practising.
Most of the people associate travel journalism with earning a lot of money and getting to travel around the world all expenses paid. This is not necessarily true. It is actually very rare that freelancers get all their expenses paid on a trip. Also, for a travel journalist to land an article with a big publication, he/she needs a lot of years of experience, only after that will you earn a large amount. Journalists who are not freelancing have comparatively more perks as the publications pay for their expenses on travel. Travel journalism can prove to be a lucrative job with enough job experience and not just in terms of money; in terms of experience as well!
Travel in itself has the options of either writing or photography and you can choose either of the two. Both will fulfil your dream of travelling. I have now briefed you on how cool it can actually get, so go, follow your dream, my fellow wanderers!