The beauty of travel writing is that you can write an article about
almost every aspect of your travels and find a home for it somewhere.
This page will give you some idea of the types of travel stories you can
write and sell. It will also give you an idea of some of the
terminology used in the travel writing industry.
There are some common themes for travel articles, there are travel articles that focus on "the best" that a place has to offer, and there are travel stories based on specific areas of interest. This might include things like luxury travel, adventure travel, beer and wine, just to name a few.
Additionally, you can develop a list of writing genres unique to your own areas of interest.
One of the most common types of travel stories is known as a "roundup".
The standard travel roundup piece gives an overview of a place and a brief insight into each of the attractions it has to offer. Researching these stories will keep you busy because you’ll be squeezing a visit to all of the attractions a place has to offer in a very short time.
Many magazines snap up stories about unusual attractions.
I once submitted a story about the mysterious Oregon Vortex at
Gold Hill, Oregon, to a magazine. In this place the bizarre is
commonplace: people change height in relation to each other as they
walk along a piece of wood set into the ground, a broom stands up by
itself in an old mining hut, gravity feels stronger in some parts of the
Vortex and pulls you around, golf balls appear to run uphill, and other
strange things. This is an unusual attraction story.
Weekend Getaways stories are very popular in urban and regional travel and lifestyle magazines. These are usually about places within a few hours’ drive of home.
Bed & Breakfast review articles find homes in upscale travel and lifestyle magazines, for an audience that enjoys luxury travel and peaceful surroundings. Many B&B's are upscale and qualify as luxury travel. If you want to know how I got into this well-pampered niche, you can read my story and the steps you can take to get started in luxury travel writing.
Art and Architecture stories describe some of the most notable buildings in a city or town and describe their history and decoration. Many stories have been written about the influence of Spanish artist Gaudi in Barcelona for example, and many stories have been written about Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs and interiors. I recently wrote a story about the large number of beautifully restored Victorian homes in Port Angeles, Washington.
Historical Account articles tell about a place and what it looks like today. I have written a number of these stories, a recent one being in International Living magazine about the re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury, at this small town’s annual medieval fair. I wrote a separate article about writing historical travel articles.
Eco-Tourism has become a popular topic and your story does not even have to be completely about a green resort or attraction. It could touch on a resort that uses sustainable practices to preserve the environment. And it could be part of as roundup article.
Festivals and Special Events are a favorite topic for travel writers because they're fun and exciting. But not all festivals and special events are unique enough to interest editors. Here's some advice about how to pitch these interesting and fun stories...
When To Go articles tell the reader the best time to visit a place to avoid the crowds and harsh weather. For example, many writers describe a city in Europe in the shoulder seasons (spring or fall) when the summer tourist rush had receded.
Getting There and Getting Around stories tell a reader how to travel to a place, and what transport is available once they are there. Such articles describe airlines that fly to the destination, how to get from the airport to the city without being ripped off by overpriced taxis, and how to use the subways, trams, and buses in the city. Such stories also tell about walking tours that the reader can take to see the most important sights.
A best attraction
story focuses solely on a place’s top attraction and provides some
detail about it. For example, if you consider the Eiffel Tower to be
Paris’s main attraction, you would write about its history, what it
looks like today, and about your experience and the views when you went
up the tower.
A best tour story covers an outstanding tour or activity that stands above all others in the region. On a recent visit to San Francisco my audio guide tour of Alcatraz prison and Island blew all the city’s other tourist attractions away (and that’s hard to do in San Francisco!). Your story would describe such a tour and what made it so outstanding.
Best eats articles usually run as short front-of-the-book stories, and cover a particular restaurant, food theme, or an area with a high concentration of eating establishments. I have written brief 250-word restaurant descriptions for Coast Food & Arts magazine, in which I described the restaurant’s flagship dishes, and the ambience and service.
Best shopping stories are popular with women’s magazines and tell about your shopping experience in one particular shop or mall, or a particular market.
Best lodgings articles are always popular with travel magazine editors. I recently finished a 15-day tour of the Pacific Northwest’s most rustic luxury lodges for a regional travel magazine. My story described each lodge, the rooms, the surroundings, its restaurants and spas, and the features that made each lodge so unique. This is but one aspect of luxury travel.
Almost anything can become a "best" travel story. Use your imagination - what are some of the best things you've experienced when you travel? Thinking about these things will lead to luxury travel story ideas.
Another type of travel story focuses on your interests and passions. In my opinion - these are the best kinds of stories because you're writing about something you love, and traveling to a place where you would want to go anyway. And you can take it a step further with your own specialized writing genres. This is my favorite way to get published more often.
Try writing museum stories. That's one easy way to break into travel writing and earn money while you do it.
Another easy genre for freelance travel writers is writing for boating magazines and other nautical publications. If boating isn't your thing and living overseas is your thing, you can write for expat magazines. It's an easy niche for novices.
Instead of things that float, maybe things on wheels is interesting to you. Writing about vehicles may be your travel writing niche.
And if fitness and health is your thing, you might want to check out my article about breaking into fitness magazines.
If you want to write luxury travel articles, I’ve written an eBook to help you break into this market.
It covers topics from dreaming up story ideas, writing query letters, and finding press trips. And, it includes a list of publications that publish luxury articles so you can get started selling your story ideas right away. Everything you need to know is packed into the twelve chapters of this eBook.
Roy Stevenson is a professional travel writer and the author of www.PitchTravelWrite.com. 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.