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Getting Past the First Hurdle in Travel Writing
by Roy A. Barnes

Writers wishing for their very own published travel article for pay often won’t take the first step to realizing this goal. They defeat themselves right off the bat by answering “NO” to their own question, “Will anyone be interested in the places or experiences I’ve had while away from home?” Such negative mind talk couldn’t be further from the truth.

Why do I say this with such assuredness? Because I would estimate that at least 99 per cent of the published travel articles which are in existence today have been crafted by those who initially witnessed another’s travel experience via a print publication, online, or by television/film. Those documented experiences broke the ground or continued to till the literary earth for future travel-themed subject matter. As a result, the domino effect continues in generating further interest by people who desire to experience what they read about and/or saw.

It isn’t necessarily a destination piece from the Sunday travel section of a newspaper about an escape from the daily humdrum of routine life that hooks the reader into wanting to experience the adventure of travel. Think about the buzz Marco Polo stirred up in Europe over the Orient by way of his written and spoken about adventures. Sometimes, it could be a less famous, but just as entertaining account of the grandparent’s misadventures with their grandkids in their restored Winnebago while traversing across the United States. Reading a novel like The Da Vinci Code or the Harry Potter series, both of which are full of travel hotspots, may inspire some readers to experience the same venues of a novel’s protagonist(s) in as realistic a way as possible, and then write about it. I want to share some samples of the travel article titles and ideas I’ve had, along with the ensuing nay-saying thoughts (in italics) which came to my mind when I considered writing, and then submitting the following travel-themed works:

  • The Angels of Cape Town: Cape Town Tourist Police whisk naïve traveler to the safety of the city’s harbor front. (Aren’t there enough angel stories on TV or in religious magazines so the travel industry will not touch this?)
  • Volunteers Wanted For Spanish Experience: Volunteer work in remote areas of Spain where the participants just talk, talk, and talk some more. English only all week. (Too one-dimensional for any real interest.)
  • Running in Airports: Don't Waste Your Pre-Departure or Layover Time! (Don’t travelers think that exercising at LAX is reserved just for those who run because they are about to miss their flight?)
  • My Travelin’ Roots: about a child’s travels in a semi-truck when school was out. (Isn’t this the kind of subject matter kids submitted to their 5th grade teachers for an English essay – that “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” fare?)

My will was stronger than my negative self-talk, and I submitted all the above works. Rejections and re-tweaking the articles followed. But the end result was publication for pay for each of them, including as reprints. Sometimes the accepting editors did change the titles and content a bit, but nonetheless, my writings did create interest in other people outside my social, work, and family sphere.

To reiterate, the roots of these successes stem from the works of other writers, who, in their pioneer-like fashion, got me interested in their places of interest: I was captivated. I experienced them in my own way, then wrote about them with my own interpretation and style (plus facts where required), pitched them, had them rejected, but through persistence, finally found a home for the above works.

Don’t let negative self-talk convince you that your globetrotting experiences aren’t of interest to a wider audience!

Here are some paying online markets to get you started. Study the sites to see what they specifically look for and how to pitch the query/article...

Transitions Abroad

GoNOMAD.com

Live Life Travel

Literary Traveler

© Copyright 2006, Roy A. Barnes

Roy A. Barnes writes from southeastern Wyoming. Besides Writing for DOLLARS!, his writing-themed works have appeared at The Willamette Writer, Write-from-home.com, Writers Weekly, The Fabulist Flash, The Dabbling Mum, and others. His travel- and literary-themed works have been published by such mediums as Transitions Abroad, The Goblin Reader, The First Line, Northwest Prime Time, The Traveler, The Kids' Ark, Live Life Travel, and Poesia.

Other articles by Roy A. Barnes :

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