What do you do for a living?
I’m an editor and writer for a travel website.
How would you describe what you do?
Journalism, copy editing, copy writing and the administrative work that managing a website requires — all rolled into one job.
It entails a lot of attention to detail. I find and write stories, I edit quite a few stories and I also publish content to our website.
What’s a typical work week like?
A typical work week is pretty much what you’d imagine from an office job — lots of sitting at the computer, broken up by occasional meetings. The bonus is that some weeks are very atypical, in that I do need to travel regularly for work. So, every couple of months I take a trip, either to write about my travel experiences or to meet with colleagues.
How did you get started?
I did a lot of traveling and writing. It sounds simple and straightforward, but it really wasn’t. To break into the field, I took a contract job with a publishing house in Boston, MA, as an editorial assistant. I traveled both before and after, and when I’d built up enough writing samples to have a portfolio, I started to seek out work with guidebooks. I wound up writing as a freelance author for a guide based out of London called Rough Guides.
What do you like about what you do?
The creative aspect of my job — I like that I’m able to write on a daily basis, and I also like creating and laying out webpages using HTML and software like Photoshop. I like that I have the opportunity to travel and to live overseas. And I love my workplace and the company I work for, which I find makes a huge difference in my overall satisfaction with my job.
What do you dislike?
The mundane details — administrative stuff and having a routine schedule to follow.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I’m on salary.
How much money do you make as a Travel Writer?
I make the US equivalent of about $65,000/year.
How much money do you make starting out?
In this field (web editing and writing), I started at $35,000/year.
What education or skills are needed to be a travel writer?
You need to be a good writer, obviously, and it helps to have plenty of travel experience. It also helps if you’re an organized person, and, like many other jobs, the more software you know, the better candidate you’re going to be. You need to be somewhat familiar with HTML, and skill with Adobe design software like Photoshop is invaluable.
What is most challenging about what you do?
For me, it’s staying on top of all the various job duties I have and keeping organized.
What is most rewarding?
Getting to travel for free!
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
There are a lot of different career paths you can take as a travel writer — especially with the number of web-based media outlets that exist these days. I write and edit for a travel website because this type of work offers more stability than working as a freelance travel writer, while still allowing me to live overseas and to travel pretty regularly. Other upsides are that I’m paid a salary, I get great benefits and I don’t have to compete to have my work published. The drawback, though, is that the work isn’t quite as exciting, I don’t make my own hours, and I have a relatively narrow range of options to choose from for my writing projects.
It’s a tough choice, but the advice I’d give is figure out what works for you. If you really want to be a freelance travel writer, it’s going to involve a lot of independent travel and up-front cost. You’re going to need to learn how to market yourself (through social media and other means) and create good relationships with a number of print and online editors so that you always have someone to pitch your work to. Finding work like that can be a difficult process — there’s usually a bit of luck and a lot of hard work involved. As a freelancer, the benefits were that I got paid to travel and write, and I got to determine my own work schedule. The drawbacks were that I didn’t get paid much, and the work wasn’t necessarily steady.
How much time off do you get/take?
I’m lucky there. Working in Europe means I have about five weeks vacation per year. I usually use about four weeks of my vacation time each year.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
I don’t know if people know enough about it to have misconceptions. I guess it would be the amount of time I spend in the office rather than out traveling around the world.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
To win the lottery, have houses all over the world and a plane gassed up and ready to go. Seriously, I want to continue to travel and learn about the world both formally (in school) and casually, by finding interesting things to do and interesting people to share my time with.
What else would you like people to know about what you do?
Just want to say good luck to any budding travel writers out there.