A Travel Writers Life:
A Day on the Road & In the Office

By Roy Stevenson

Roy Stevenson, freelance travel writerRoy Stevenson working while on a press trip in Arizona.

As a travel writer there's a lot of variety in my life. Sometimes I’m on the road and sometimes I’m in the office.  No two days are the same in either place and that's how I like it.

People often think my life is exciting and glamorous. After you read this post, you can decide whether it's either of those things. Here's a glimpse into what a day in the life of this writer is like:

To set the stage and give you a high level viewpoint, when I'm writing full-time I’m on the road 150 days per year.  (You can read about "A Year in the Life of a Travel Writer" here.) 

My travel schedule is hectic. When traveling, I have to make the most of every moment.   I’ll often see in one day what the guidebooks recommend seeing in two days. When I’m on assignment, it’s definitely not a vacation.

You can dispel any romantic notions you have about how travel writers.  I don't fly first class but I often stay in luxury resorts. I rarely have time to sit around in a cafe in Paris for 2 hours, taking in the sights and sounds.

Writers need to see a lot of things in a compressed time period to make every trip profitable.  So I'm constantly on the go.

Having said that, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that it's a good life, albeit somewhat hectic. But it's a job and it's a business - not a vacation.  You can read about some of my favorite travel writing assignments and decide for yourself if this sounds like fun.

A Travel Writer On the Road

as a travel writer I get to experience all kinds of events

So, how do I spend my travel time?

Here are five random travel days selected from one of my annual trips to Europe:

Sample Day #1: Take the Eurostar train from Paris to Birmingham, rent a car, and drive 40 miles to a small medieval town called Tewkesbury, to attend a medieval festival and battle re-enactment. That evening, drive back to Birmingham to stay in a low budget hotel.

Sample Day #2: Drive from B&B in Tunbridge Wells to a military vehicle show at the Hops Farm in Kent, about ten miles on narrow country roads, watching out for slow moving tractors, sheep, and lunatic drivers coming the other way, while trying to remember to stay on the left side of the road. Stay at the show all day taking photos, watching and photographing the vehicle parades and shows, do a couple of interviews, then drive back to B&B in the evening, too exhausted to drag myself out for dinner.

Sample Day #3: Spend 9 hours walking around on a self-guided tour of Prague, photographing attractions and architecture.  I take a 30-minute break for lunch in a beautiful cobble stone square, baking in the 90-degree heat. That evening, attend a classical music concert in a cathedral, and get back to hotel at 11 pm, exhausted.

Sample Day #4: From Edinburgh, take an early morning bus trip into the Scottish countryside to the famous Rosslyn Chapel for a personal guided tour by the chapel curator. That afternoon, walk along Rose Street, photographing the 13 pubs and bars for an article for a beer magazine - and taking notes of what the pubs look like and which bars have what ales on tap, rather than sitting down and enjoying a few beers.

Sample Day #5: In the south of England, drive 1.5 hours to Arundel Castle for a guided tour, jump back in the car, drive another 2 hours through horrendous non-freeway traffic. Miss lunch. Visit the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum and take photos before it closes. Struggle to find my hotel in the dark in a town that I’ve never been to before.

You get the idea - it’s non-stop travel. I’m constantly fighting jet lag, strange food, foreign languages, bizarre sights, train timetables, tram rides, and walking around unfamiliar city roads using poorly designed or unreadable tourist maps.

I get lost constantly. I  miss meals frequently, either because I can’t afford the time, or because I just plain forget.  (My wife refuses to go on certain trips with me so I'm left to fend for myself.)

Did I mention that I love this life - insanity and all? Experiencing new destinations exhilarates me.

A Travel Writer in the Office

The other 215 days I spend at home are filled with writing activities from early morning to late at night, often seven days a week. I do take frequent breaks.

I write this on a Sunday afternoon, while the rest of the world is having a day of rest.

My day is structured. I write every day, no matter how I feel. Here’s my schedule:

  • write from 5:30 am until 11:00 am, stopping for breakfast around 7:30 a.m.
  • do a fitness workout from 11:30 until 1 pm, and have lunch on my way home
  • write and do other office work until 6-7 pm

The writing part is rather obvious – I’m either marketing my articles by writing query letters or I’m writing the articles that have been assigned.

The rest of the office work varies and might include several of these activities:

  • reviewing my travel article matrix to see what magazines have not paid yet for published articles
  • sending invoices to magazine editors
  • preparing photo galleries to send out to magazine editors
  • researching destinations that I am planning on visiting
  • emailing and calling tourist agencies about upcoming trips
  • sending requests to hotels, tourist attractions and restaurants for comps or press rates
  • researching books and online for new articles that I am preparing to pitch
  • signing magazine contracts and putting them in the mail
  • visiting the bank to deposit checks, and other kinds of business errands (although my wife picks up most of these chores to get out of the house)

So that’s a snapshot of a day in my life.  It's full of adventure when I'm on the road.  At home I'm writing and running a business. It's work.  Fortunately, it's work that I love. 

I won't pretend it's easy or glamorous.  And sometimes I work hard to meet deadlines. 

If you still want to be a travel writer after reading this then you will definitely want to sign up for my weekly e-zine.  In it I cover all aspects of travel writing, with a big focus on selling your travel stories.  That's the biggest challenge for most writers and it's something I'm very good at doing. 

I love sharing my knowledge about travel writing - you can sign up in the blue box at the bottom of this page.

Do you need help writing query letters that catch the attention of editors?

If you're looking for a guide to help you write query letters to editors, I've written The Complete Guide to Query Letters for Travel Writers to help you.  It includes everything you need to know about query letters, along with 20 sample query letters that you can use as templates for your own queries.

Learn more ...

You might like these related posts:

More related articles that will interest you:

A Year in the Life of a Travel Writer

Different Kinds of Press Trips for Travel Writers

My Best Travel Assignments:  Writing Gigs that I Really, Really Enjoyed

How to Land Press Trips and FAM Tours

Roy Stevenson sitting in front of his computer.

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.