Press Trips for Travel Writers:
Tap into a
Network of Resources

By Roy Stevenson

Regional and State press trips are fun, rewarding and a great place to start your travel writing career.

I’ve been on a lot of these trips.  Just in the three-year period from 2011 to 2013 I was on forty-three press trips and FAM tours.  This included tours in Nebraska, Missouri, Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Idaho, California, Florida and Oklahoma.  I’ve been to some of these states multiple times. 

travel writers enjoy themselves on press tripsTeam of writers on a Familiarization (FAM) tour along the central Oregon Coast, having a little fun in an old time photography studio.

I’m frequently asked how I get invited to go on so many of these trips and FAM Tours.  There are three ways to do this: 

  • Accumulate dozens of bylines in magazines and online outlets in a variety of subjects.  This will help you to find places that interest you and match it up with your outlets.  Bingo!  Instant assignments!  
  • Establish a reputation to produce multiple stories after your press trips.  You’ll find invitations coming in thick and fast.  You’ll be invited on more press trips than you can handle.  
  • Plug into the travel writing community.  It’s easy to find out very quickly about any trips on offer when you have several sources of intelligence.

Clearly the first two bullets relate to being an active travel writer for a few years and getting published prolifically.  There’s no shortcut to this that I’m aware of.  Sending out queries, getting your stories published and building your bylines are the most important things for a travel writer to do.

I’ve discussed many strategies to help this happen faster on other pages of this site.  Mastering the art of writing query letters, using simultaneous submissions for selling your stories faster, and writing for a broad range of genres and niches improve your chances significantly. 

Your reputation and credibility as a travel writer are backed by plenty of bylines.  It makes you a desirable commodity to tourism agencies.  They want well-published travel writers to visit their region because they know you will follow through and write your stories after the trip.

But, if you’re a beginning writer, don’t despair! The third bullet is for you.

Even beginners can plug into the travel writing community and find out about currently circulating trips on offer.  If you can come up with an assignment or two, you may qualify for a trip.

In my early years of travel writing I didn’t know this!  I can only imagine how many opportunities I missed in my first couple of years because I wasn’t tapped into the travel writing community.

So, even if you’re still building your bylines and it seems like a steep climb, I will tell you how to plug into travel writing sources so that you can learn about where these trips are happening.  Then you can go out and pitch some story ideas and get some assignments to qualify for the trips. 

My goal here is to get you invited on press trips early in your writing journey -- and help you build your bylines at the same time.

Here is a list of resources to help you tap into the travel writing community and learn about the trips on offer:

Finding Press Trips through Convention & Visitors Bureau's (CVBs)

Your local CVB will put you on its monthly newsletter distribution list and press list.  They’ll be happy to list you even if you’re a novice travel writer. This is because they know that most travel writers begin by writing about local places and destinations, and that beginners are eager to get published.

Many CVBs and media reps send out monthly newsletters about what’s happening in their region, and these are gold mines of information for new story ideas.

Once you’re on their press list you’ll get invitations to their press trips. Most invitations are sent a month or two before the travel dates. Just be sure to round up one or two assignments before you go on their press trips. 

Not all CVBs host press trips.  If your local CVB doesn’t host these trips, and you’re working on a local travel story, CVB media professionals are usually happy to work with you on your assignment by arranging entry to attractions. 

If you’re traveling a far enough distance to need overnight accommodation, they may also help arrange accommodation and meals for you.  (Hint: roundup stories, where you’re writing about all tourist attractions at a destination, work best for this.)

How to Get on Their Press List:  Check out their website, find their media and press contact, and send an email to introduce yourself and ask to be placed on their list.

Chambers of Commerce

Many smaller towns don’t have CVB’s, so their Chambers of Commerce pick up the tourism/PR media slack.

How to Get on Their Press List:  Check out their website, find their media and press contact, and send an email to introduce yourself and ask to be placed on their list.

State Tourist Agencies

State tourism agencies often host their own press trips and they’ll send you invitations—if you have a track record of producing stories about their state or a juicy assignment or two for them.

They may be able to help you with transportation to your destination and other travel costs if you have a ‘respectable’ assignment.

What’s considered a ‘respectable’ assignment?  The most common standard I’ve seen for determining whether your stories are of high enough value is that they need a six-figure circulation—or a combination of articles that will reach a six-figure circulation.

You will need to find out from each state tourism agency what they require to qualify for a trip.

How to Get on Their Press List:  Check out their website and find their media and press contact, and get in touch with them as above.

Public Relations Agencies

Some PR agencies around the U.S. host press trips to various regions and states.  Depending upon the trip and the agency, some or all of your costs will be covered.  It varies so be sure you understand the details before signing up for a trip.

I go on several national press trips each year with PR agencies.  These trips are always well organized, interesting, with professional staff handling all the details. 

How to get on their list:  Do an internet search for PR firms in your region and find out which ones are involved in the travel industry and host press trips.  Then get in touch and ask to be placed on their list.

Regional Travel Shows

Every major city has one or two annual travel shows in their convention center.  They’re usually held in the winter and spring, when people are planning their vacations, although they can happen any time of the year.

I’ve cruised through the booths at these travel shows and have never failed to score accommodation at resorts around the U.S., just by introducing myself and finding assignments for places where I want to travel.

How to find out about travel shows:  Watch your local media (newspapers, radio, TV) to find ads for these shows.

this press tour including floating down the river on a luxury bargeThis assignment was a relaxing week-long cruise along the Burgundy Canal in France, on a luxury barge. Our crew was taking a break before venturing through one of many locks along the canal.

Travel Media Showcase

I’ve mentioned Travel Media Showcase before on this site because it’s an excellent conference for travel writers with just a few dozen bylines.

The travel writers who attend this event are an eclectic group, with some beginners, some print publication writers, some online travel writers, and some who are published in a variety of media.

Attendance is by application only.  For each event, the organizers select about forty travel writers from around the country and pay their expenses to attend the conference.

At the conference itself you speed date with reps from CVB’s and tourism agencies from all over the U.S.  The idea is to see if you have outlets in common with their attractions.

After attending Travel Media Showcase in 2011, I had many great trips as a result of the CVB’s I met there.  In fact, I’m still visiting some of their cities, four years later.

You can learn more on their website:

Keep building your bylines and stay active in the travel writing community - and press trip opportunities will certainly come your way. 

Related articles that will interest you:

How to Expand Your Writing Genres
Simultaneous Submissions: Earn More and Do It Faster
The Complete Guide to Query Letters for Travel Writers eBook
Low Cost Travel Press Trips for Travel Writers

How to Land Press Trips and Fam tours book cover

Special Report:

How to Land Press Trips and Fam Tours

I've written a guide about how to land press trips and fam tours.  It will tell you everything you want to know about how to get into the inner circle and get invited on regional, national and international press trips. 

Learn more here...

Roy Stevenson sitting in front of his computer.

Roy Stevenson is a professional travel writer and the author of  Over the past ten years, he’s had more than 1000 articles published in 200 magazines, trade and specialty journals, in-flights, on-boards, blogs and websites and has traveled on assignment around the U.S. and to dozens of international destinations.