Becoming a Travel Writer

by Gina on October 10, 2012 · 31 comments

My 10 Year Journey to Becoming a Travel Writer

Becoming a Travel Writer: I would say about 1% of my time writing is actually done on the beach. But hey! That's better than nothing.

I would say about 1% of my time writing is actually done on the beach. But hey - that's better than nothing.

It dawned on me last week that when people ask what I do for a living, in addition to marketing, I can now say I’m a travel writer.

I alluded a couple weeks ago that I hadn’t been posting as much partly because I got some new freelance jobs – jobs that have been building up over the last few months since I really put myself out there, hoping to expand on the 5-year career I’ve had in the travel industry marketing and managing content, and get more writing jobs. As I’d grown in my career I was doing less writing and more managing of a team who did the writing. Editing can be fun, but to put it simply, I missed writing. I knew something needed to change. Maybe I’d seen one too many “Be all you can be” and “follow your dream” images on Facebook, or maybe turning 30 shocked me into realizing I had to get out of the professional rut I was in where I felt under-appreciated, bored, and that something – that often all-too-undefinable something – was missing. Whatever it was that kick started me, I started doing things in the hopes of becoming a travel writer. I started this blog (well, I had started this blog awhile before, but I actually started writing on this blog…an important aspect of blogging), I joined a travel writing course through MatadorU, I went to TBEX, I started pitching editors, I networked everywhere I could every chance I got. And suddenly, things started happening.

Ever since I was 20 and studied abroad in England I’ve wanted to be a travel writer – and ever since I was 7 and started reading the Babysitter’s Club and anything else I could get my hands (the library was my most favorite place), I’ve wanted to be a writer, period. However, I had no clue how to do it. None at all. So I went down other paths in life, but it turns out that all the experience and other things I’ve been doing the past ten years all seemed to lead to this point. I got the background I needed to become a better travel writer and a job that instilled a great work ethic in me and made me passionate about having a career (as opposed to trying to buck the system like I did when I was in my early twenties and felt strangled at the thought of a 40 hour a week job.) The writing assignments I’m now getting aren’t quite what I had envisioned when I was 20 when all I wanted to do was take off and travel around the world writing for Lonely Planet or Rough Guides, but that’s a good thing now, because instead my writing career is happening in a manner that is even better for my married lifestyle at 30. Isn’t it funny how life works sometimes?

I vividly remember when I got my first freelance travel writing paying job. I called Tom freaking out. “Oh my gosh, they want me to write for them and they’re going to pay me to do it!” (To be fair, I was equally as excited when I got my first non-paying travel writing gig. Perhaps I’m a little crazy.)

I still have to pinch myself sometimes that this is happening and that I’ve gotten to the point where I get writing assignments to write about travel destinations. I’m a travel writer! (Cue happy dance.)

Will travel writing ever be my full time gig? Maybe not, however, I’m ok with that because I’m achieving something I thought was impossible 10 years ago, plus I’m very passionate about marketing – of which there’s some exciting things going on with as well, but more on that later.

So what do you do when a lifelong dream comes true? You keep at it. The funny thing about working hard is that it’s not so hard anymore when you love what you’re doing. (Oh yikes, now I sound like one of those preachy career quote images on social networks.)

You also keep on writing for fun – at least I’m pretty sure that’s what a career expert would say right now – which is why I’m getting back to blogging this week. The two-week cold that left me sniffly and perpetually exhausted has finally departed me so get ready to hear about my jaunt through the ghetto of Vegas, going to Rodeo Drive with someone who acted like it was the most ridiculous place on earth, and other travel tips and stories. And as always, thanks for reading One Day in a City!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Noelfy October 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Hopefully one day I will be some excited when I would be offered a travel writer job!! ( paid or unpaid:)

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Gina October 11, 2012 at 12:51 am

I hope you do too, Noelia. :)

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Jennifer October 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Congratulations and good for you on taking action and making a change!

BTW, I used to work in the ghetto of Las Vegas (literally) so I’m looking forward to your post on that!
Jennifer recently posted..Guimaraes: 2012 European Capital of CultureMy Profile

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Gina October 11, 2012 at 12:44 am

Thanks Jennifer! As for Vegas, you’ll have to let me know if I was really in the ghetto or just being over-dramatic. ;)

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Julie - The Fairy Trails October 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Congrats, Gina!
How did you find the MatadorU class?
Julie – The Fairy Trails recently posted..Style on the Go: Scarves Plus SixMy Profile

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Gina October 11, 2012 at 12:46 am

Hi Julie, I found the MatadorU class really helpful for learning the pitching process and for helping to center and organize my travel writing goals. I’d recommend it!

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Gloria October 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm

In my 20s now with a love for travel and exploration, and trying to figure it all out… this was inspiring and hopefully in the next few years coming, I will have found my place quite nicely like you have! Thanks for sharing. :)

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Gina October 11, 2012 at 12:48 am

I’m sure you will, Gloria! That seems to be what the 20′s are for. :)

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Alexa October 11, 2012 at 5:02 am

Congratulations, Gina! I get just as excited every time I get itty-bitty unpaid writing gigs. You have to start somewhere!
Alexa recently posted..MVM: South AfricaMy Profile

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Gina October 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Exactly, Alexa! Thanks!

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Cara (Twinthusiast) October 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Great post, Gina! Glad to hear more and more opportunities are opening up. I’m in the same career mode right now – trying to expand my writing – and it’s so exciting when your name starts popping up in print! Can’t wait to read more of your articles.
Cara (Twinthusiast) recently posted..Under the SeaMy Profile

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Gina October 11, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Thanks Cara! I’m thinking we should have a writing/blogging get together sometime soon and exchange notes – and so I can also see your adorable girls again. :)

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Becky October 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Congratulations on living your dream Gina! These are always my favorite kind of stories!

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Gina October 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Thank you Becky! Hope all is going well with your move back to MN! :)

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Ruth (Tanama Tales) October 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm

I get happy everytime I find out stories like yours. It is so cool to read about how you are following and fullfiling your dreams. I wish you success. Hopefully, gigs are going to continue showing up.
Ruth (Tanama Tales) recently posted..Half Term with the Kids: Essex AttractionsMy Profile

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Gina October 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Thanks so much, Ruth. I hope so, too. ;)

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Simon October 14, 2012 at 12:46 am

I’m a journalist, having wanted to be a professional writer for as long as I can remember. Travel writing is probably the sexiest kind of writing – so you’ve done well to skip everything in between!
Simon recently posted..The many trials of an aspiring travel bloggerMy Profile

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Gina October 16, 2012 at 10:16 am

Thanks Simon!

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Emily McGee October 15, 2012 at 6:59 am

Congrats! It’s really inspiring to read about someone pursuing their dreams and finding success!
Emily McGee recently posted..The Ultimate Digital SafariMy Profile

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Gina October 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

Thanks Emily!

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Koren @ City Gal October 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm

That’s so exciting! Congrats! ;)
Koren @ City Gal recently posted..3 Reasons (Other Than Me!) To Visit Sutton PlaceMy Profile

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Gina October 18, 2012 at 12:20 am

Thanks Koren! :)

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Debbie October 31, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Congrats — that is exciting :) It is so inspiring to ‘hear’ about you following your dreams — hard work does really pay off :)

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ardun November 16, 2012 at 3:59 am

Great stuff Gina! I hear what you are saying (even though it sounds like on of those quotes ;) ) about how it doesn’t feel like hard work when you love it. I’m not even getting paid to blog (yet) but just can’t help but share and write about my travel experiences.
Keep living the dream! I will keep an eye on your adventures :)

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Gina November 18, 2012 at 1:07 am

Thanks Ardun! Glad to hear my quote wasn’t TOO cheesy. ;)

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Ally January 12, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Congrats on being able to achieve one of your dreams. I still have no idea what my dream job would be, I change my mind too often :s
Ally recently posted..Why I want to do my semester abroad in MexicoMy Profile

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Gina January 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Thanks Ally! I’m sure you’ll figure it out. :)

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Marta Demartini March 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm

It was so emotional for me to read this article! Well done Gina I am so happy for you and I hope your career gets better and better. I have started my career dream path 10 years ago when, after growing up in narrow minded village environment I realized I couldn’t live without photography and traveling, so I twisted my career from accountancy to photography and here I am now living in London, with a partner who is also a photographer, keeping at it!! It has not always been easy, especially for me. As a foreigner I had to learn a language from scratch and deal with all the emotional sides of living away from your family but….it can’t be all perfect! Photography took over the traveling dreams in these years, London can be quite overwhelming and demanding at the same time. Having said so we’re off to Thailand next week (that is how I have found your beautiful post) and I am so excited that I have already started writing about it..hopefully I’ll get it all in my blog when I am back! And this may be another good starting point to widen my career to travel writing, one day..good luck with everything dear soul!

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Gina April 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Hi Marta, thanks so much for sharing your story! It sounds like you’re taking all the right steps to live your dream. Wishing you the best of luck as well! And hope you enjoyed Thailand!

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Rusha Sams January 27, 2014 at 4:38 am

So glad you have returned to blogging because you have so much to share and you’re sharing it enthusiastically! Best wishes on traveling to great sites and letting the rest of us know what’s there! It’s a big world, and through you we can see it! http://ohtheplaceswesee.com

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