Travel Writer Crash Course
In 2009 I signed up for a travel writer’s correspondence course. I read the first 67 pages of a seven-month course—and was so fired up I couldn’t sit there any longer reading lessons! I went straight to the computer and started a travel blog, dubbed Milliver’s Travels.
Now, there’s no way I learned enough in 67 pages to morph into a pro travel writer the same day. But with all that excitement needing release, it was better for me to learn by doing.
I decided to just do it for fun and worry about the “career” part later.
I began by blogging about a B&B trip I did with Brian in Ontario. The B&B was within four hours drive of our (at that time) home in Ohio, so not globetrotting by any means. But I got to see Niagara Falls for the first time, plus a small part of Ontario.
By breaking the trip into its distinct aspects, I managed to get seven stories out of that one weekend trip—including B&B, restaurant, teahouse, vineyards, two separate waterfall outings and kissing the lucky frog.
Not having the income right now for actual globetrotting, I make the most of the material I have by keeping my mind open about what constitutes travel writing. I did lots of stories about Canada back when we lived close enough to drive or fly there cheap. I’ve done stories based locally (and plan to do more). I even got a story out of stopping for 20 minutes at New River Gorge, West Virginia on our way to a business meeting Brian was attending in New Jersey.
(You can never totally predict who will value your writing. A site called Bridge Day linked to my story, noting “A great recap of the overlook area, including some great pictures.” Bridge Day is a site for BASE jumpers who gather annually to jump off the New River Gorge Bridge.)
I’ve brought travels or locations from my past to life again by writing about them on Milliver’s as timeless adventures, such as the trip we did to New Orleans in 2007 (The French Quarter: Alive & Kickin’ and Must Have Coffee & Beignets in New Orleans!). Or the time I was lucky enough to swim with dolphins in the Caribbean. Or my writer’s retreat in the Blue Mountains of Australia in 2002, which was a homecoming for me as well as a writing retreat.
NOW FOR YOUR TRAVEL WRITER CRASH COURSE
Who, ME? I can hear you say. But I never go anywhere worth writing about. I don’t have the budget for world travel.
Myth #1 of travel writing: You have to land a fat, all-expenses-paid contract from a glossy travel magazine and travel to far-flung, exotic places to qualify.
Not at Milliver’s Travels! If you have a healthy sense of adventure and fun, plus the ability to see your surroundings with fresh eyes, you qualify.
Milliver’s Travels has hosted dozens of stories from guest bloggers so far and the range has been amazing. We’ve covered everything from Paris, Texas (City of Ghost Sightings) to Diu, India (The Vintage Champagne of Coastal Holidaying)—written by a graduate of the Fear of Writing Online Course who lives in India—to the maple syrup harvests in Maine.
Maple Syruping in Maine was blogged by Julia Munroe Martin, aka @wordsxo, who lives right there where they do it. Covering the story for Milliver’s Travels caused Julia to partake of a local event she had missed every year for 14 years! She was so glad she finally got to see it all in action.
I’ve had stories from “exotic” places, too, such as Australia, Romania, Alaska and Prince Edward Island. But not from writers who traveled there for vacation; these were stories from writers who call those places home. And yet, they have the same challenges you would: that of seeing familiar sights with a fresh pair of eyes.
The paradox is that even writers living in countries we Americans automatically see as exotic can experience self-doubt about whether their lives/locations are too mundane to be worthy of a story. It’s so common I’m planning to do a piece about it here on MT.
I also have writers blogging about their current travels, so we cover all the bases at MT. A solid core of my guest bloggers have gone on to become staff writers . . . but that’s not because they possess special qualifications that you don’t have. It’s because they took action and did it.
Eighty percent of success is showing up. ~ Woody Allen
Soooooo, how ’bout it? Are you game? You can get your crash course in travel writing by working with me as a guest blogger at Milliver’s Travels. My submission guidelines will give you lots of clues straight up, plus I can help you come up with story ideas that don’t require a travel budget.
(You can also write about trips you’ve taken in the past, as long as you have photos to go with your story.)
Once you submit, I’ll work with you to shape your piece into a finished product. One young writer, EstrellaAzul, was thrilled with how her first-time-travel-writer story on Taormina, Sicily turned out, and she appreciated my support with suggestions and editing. Estrella enjoyed herself so much she went on to do a 3-part series based on her trip to Paris—and she has also joined the staff.
(Update: After 15+ stories Estrella still loves writing for Milliver’s Travels and she is now our photo editor.)
If you’re feeling restless or excited after reading this post, I have two big words for you: TRY IT. It’s loads of fun!
SUCCESS TIP: After looking around Milliver’s, you might find it helpful to reread this article. I’ve planted clues here about how to come up with a story idea, including links to more stories you can read to see what kind of stuff I like to publish.
Milli Thornton (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli also blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and coaches at Writer’s Muse Coaching Services.