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Issue #367: Does the Perfect Travel Experience Exist?
September 13, 2021
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Editorial: Does the Perfect Travel Experience Exist?

On my 100+ press trips and Fam tours I’ve seen far too many travel writers pass damning judgment on destinations because of minor irritants. Things that should have been shrugged off as part of the rough-and-tumble of travel became the focal point of snarky articles. One tiny incident, sub-standard meal or below average attraction apparently ruined the whole destination in the eyes of these writers.

I appeal to my fellow travel writers to use discretion and common sense when writing their travel stories.

Everyone certainly has some travel horror stories. And because travel writers travel so much, we’ve seen more than our share of the awful, the average, and the downright ugly at our destinations.

But, were things really all that bad?

Bad, to me, is being caught in the middle of a volatile revolution, stranded by a pandemic, mugged, flooded out by a tsunami, fending off spitting cobras in your hotel room, or having your wallet stolen from your pocket and thrown over a cliff by malicious monkeys. (I actually saw this happen in Bali. Fortunately, I wasn’t the victim.)

I’m suggesting that most inconveniences are part of the travel experience — and there’s little we can do about these things that will change them.

Have you ever had a mediocre hotel experience? I’m sure we've all slept in a few hotels that were less than perfect.

If you’re a travel writer who spitefully thinks, “Everyone should know that this hotel is bad. I’m going to write a review and make sure everyone knows about it.” So, they write to their review and their comments are published verbatim. The devastating results: hundreds or perhaps thousands of other people avoid this hotel, just because of your singular bad experience.

Never mind that perhaps the hotel was short staffed that day and service suffered as a result.

What about theme parks? Some are definitely better than others. And some cost way more than they should, but isn’t there some fun to be found?

When we moved to Danang, Vietnam we heard about Ba Na Hills, a French Village Theme Park about 45 minutes away in the mountains. The advertisements made it look tacky to us, so we didn’t visit it for our first two years. It took a couple of younger friends to open our minds. They told us it was worth a visit, so we gave it a try.

It turns out we loved it and we’ve returned several times with visitors and friends. It wasn't fair to pass judgment before we experienced it. And even if we had hated it, there were thousands of people there thoroughly enjoying themselves. A negative opinion doesn't matter among all the joy that we observed.

Or maybe you thought a museum was boring. Did it really have nothing of value to offer?

Maybe the subject matter wasn’t your thing. But you can learn something in every museum. And don’t forget, other people may have really liked that museum you found lame and boring.

As a travel writer you need to identify the audience that can benefit from the experience — and write from that perspective.

Most bad experiences are subjective. Travel writers can’t presume to speak for all travelers. You need to write from a broader perspective, one that takes into consideration the target audience who would enjoy the place.

A few years ago I visited the Singapore Reptile Park with some friends. The reptile park is directly opposite the world-famous Jurong Bird Park. To be honest, the Reptile Park is run down. I wondered how it managed to stay in business.

But, at the reptile park my friend’s 10-year-old son got to hold a small boa constrictor and a small crocodile. At this decrepit park we stroked the backs of the iguanas as they were being fed.

We also watched some 8-foot long South American fish violently thrash around in the water while they were being fed. We saw crocodiles hanging out and snapping at the keepers who were sweeping out their domain. We saw cute little turtles in a pond, and snakes curled up in cages.

Our young friend talked about these things constantly and enthusiastically for the rest of the day. He wasn’t so impressed with the bird park next door.

How would I write about the reptile park? I might tell people they only need to spend an hour there. I might say the Reptile Park has only a few major attractions. And I'd definitely mention that it’s an attraction good for 10-year-old kids who like to experience exotic animals, up close and personal. I’d put them in the shoes of our young friend and describe his excitement.

Another example is Winston Churchill Underground War Experience Museum. It’s overshadowed by the slick and glitzy London Dungeon next door.

The Underground War Experience is expensive for what it delivers, and its displays and exhibits could be jazzed up somewhat. But would I tell people to avoid it? Certainly not.

In The Underground Experience I learned new things about the blitz, (the bombing of London by the German Luftwaffe.) I learned what life was like in London during this traumatic part of its history. I remember, vividly, sitting in a bomb shelter replica listening to the sound of a British Spitfire fighter plane, the drone of a V1 flying bomb, and feeling the reverberations as bombs landed around me.

Newspaper headlines posted on the walls told of major events in WWII and the blitz. These experiences gave me a better idea of the hard and frightening times that Londoners endured.

I wouldn’t hesitate to tell people to go and see it for themselves, especially history buffs and anyone who wants to learn about this part of history — because I certainly did.

The concept that every destination or attraction should be perfect is ruining the traveler’s experience.

Not every travel experience is equal in quality, content or excitement. I wish we’d ditch this judging mentality of painting an attraction as good or bad, and therefore “worth visiting” or “not worth visiting”. Has anyone ever really had THE perfect travel experience?

We owe it to our readers to objectively describe an attraction and even point out the shortcomings of a place. But, our travel writing should inform and educate people about the attractions or destination so they can visit and make up their own minds.

Here are seven of the best practical travel writing tips and techniques to improve your writing and take it to the next level.

This Week's Featured Post

Dreaming Up Luxury Travel Story Ideas

I accidentally stumbled into luxury travel writing. By good fortune, I landed some cushy assignments that included visiting high-end resorts, villas, and lodges. After those initial experiences, I’ve never looked back!

Here’s how I dream up luxury travel story ideas that will sell. If you do these things, you can get cushy luxury travel assignments.

I’ve used these techniques for some superb luxury assignments: in 2013 we did a 28-day stay at 12 high-end Balinese luxury villas, and then we repeated this again in 2018 with a 30-day stay at 11 high-end luxury Balinese villas and resorts. You know – the ones with helicopter pads near the front entrance.

We’ve also had stays at numerous rustic Pacific Northwest lodges and plenty of Arizona spas and resorts. Another of our luxury travel gigs was a week-long cruise down the Burgundy Canal on a 146-foot long boutique hotel barge, sampling France’s finest food and wines.

Does this sound like what you’d like to do? Do you want to break into the luxury travel writing market?

Here’s how you can break into luxury travel

Upcoming Posts

September 20: Four Great Reasons to Sell Multiple Travel Story Ideas and How To Do It
September 27: Six Tips for Dreaming Up Travel Story Ideas that Sell
October 4: One of My Most Potent Travel Writing Secrets: Researching My Destinations Before I Pitch Success Stories

Jessica Pickett's Impressive Travel Writing Trajectory

Here’s Jessica Pickett’s impressive and inspiring story, in her own words, of how she launched her impressive travel writing career.

Hailing from Lake Charles, Louisiana, Jessica’s steady ascent through the travel writing ranks is a textbook example of what novice travel writers should be doing to break into this competitive arena.

Novice writers can learn from and aspire to the lessons in her trajectory:

“While attending a Travel Writer’s Conference in San Diego in 2014, Roy and his wife, Linda, sat at my table and, to my good fortune, easily struck up conversation. After chatting with Roy, I immediately purchased his eBooks, even before hearing him speak on stage.

A few short weeks after the conference, I landed my first byline. Bolstered by the knowledge gained from Roy’s books and his posts, I pitched a well-known regional magazine and blog. This regional blog and magazine where I “started” my travel writing is

After answering a “Call for Writers” post (which had been shared over 4,000 times by the time I saw it) I was invited to become a regular monthly contributor.

Upon submitting my first article they offered me a permanent contributor’s role. There, I published dozens of articles, both digital and print, in over a year of writing for them.”

Here’s how Jessica went from strength to strength to become a professional travel writer . . .

Read Jessica's Travel Writing Success Story

Pitch Travel Write: Most Requested Links About Query Letters that Work

The query letter is your most important sales tool. It explains your idea in enough detail to arouse the curiosity of an editor. 

Well-written query letters convince magazine editors that you have exciting travel stories their readers will absolutely love.

Your query needs to point out how the stories will fit into the magazines. And all freelancers need to learn the basics of writing good query letters.

Here’s our Query Letter Resource Page on, with one dozen of our best articles on writing effective query letters.

Access our free Query Letter Resources

Inspirational Travel Quote



If you can’t sell your travel stories, you don’t get to write them. This guide shows you EVERYTHING you need to know about selling your travel articles to paying print media.

My manual, The Complete Guide to Marketing and Selling Your Travel Articles tells you how to select salable story ideas, how to write first class query letters and pitch your ideas the right way. This comprehensive manual shows you how to find magazines that will be interested in buying your story, and how you can start selling your travel articles to magazines immediately and reap the fantastic travel benefits, while being paid for your work.

Buy the Book: Marketing and Selling Your Travel Articles

Testimonial from Michelle Newman:

“Roy, although I’ve been contributing to magazines, newspapers, TV and radio for nearly 20 years, your book, The Complete Guide To Marketing & Selling Your Travel Articles is an invaluable tool regardless of one’s level of experience dealing with & contributing to various outlets. Your book is written in a clear, understandable manner that gives concrete examples. Most importantly, it’s enormously informative & helpful.

As I shared with you, in one month I took a brutal hit and my 3 biggest outlets no longer exist or have ceased generating content. So it was back to square one for me — having to reach out and pitch editors and find new outlets.

The query letter section in The Complete Guide To Marketing & Selling Your Travel Articles is an enormous help; it is packed with useful, practical information and not a bunch of fluff.

Thanks one again for generously sharing all of your tips and info that you’ve acquired over the years.”
Michelle Newman,

When you buy this book in September you can get $15 off the regular price if you use promo code sp15 at checkout:


Don't forget to use promo code sp15 at checkout to get your $15 discount.

Group Coaching Mastermind Community

Our first Group Coaching Mastermind Community kicked off in October, 2020, and we’ve got a global group with members living in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Vietnam and the U.S. We're very excited about this group of writers and our new community! We added new members to our community in early January and they're getting to know the group and participate in writing activities.

If you missed out on the opportunity to join this session, you can get on the waiting list for the next session starting in the fall:

Learn more and get on the waiting list

Live Workshops

People have been asking when our 2022 workshops in New Orleans, Louisiana are scheduled.

Here are the 2022 dates:
June 17-20, 2022, Travel Writing & Photography Retreat
June 22-24, 2022, Marketing Master Class for Travel Writers

We've had lots of interest already. You can sign up for our no-obligation interest list for these workshops and receive our substantial early bird discounts when we open registration:

Get on the 2022 Workshop Interest List

Did You Know . . .

Our Complete Marketing Master Class for Travel Writers is ranked #1 on’s Top Ten Travel Writing Workshops.

You can access the list of the top ten travel writing workshops at the link below:

Travel Writers Exchange workshop list: #1 Marketing Master Class

Online Travel Writing & Marketing Master Class

Now, you can study our Marketing Master Class for Travel Writers online for only a fraction of the price of the live class! We recorded it LIVE in Seattle, for aspiring travel writers who weren’t able to attend in person.

    Who's it for?

  • If you’re a novice travel writer, or you haven’t had much luck selling your articles to print magazines, this Online Travel Writing & Marketing Workshop is for you.
  • If you weren’t able to travel to our Live Master Class, here’s the opportunity to attend anyway - without any travel costs and at a substantially reduced cost!
  • If you work a full-time job and can’t get time off to attend the live class – you can still attend on your own schedule after working hours.
  • If you’ve wanted to attend our Live Marketing Master Class but can’t get your schedule to fit with the dates it’s offered – here’s your opportunity to attend at your own convenience.


At Your Service

Coaching and Consulting
Online Courses
Vietnam 1-1 Retreat & Consulting
Expat Consulting


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That's all for now. Until next week - just keep pitching! Roy

Roy Stevenson
Pitch Travel Write

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