How to Travel Like a Travel Writer
September 3, 2020
The Florida Keys are calling. No, I’m not a Hemingway wannabe, but I am an admirer of his works. Last year funds were dwindling and stressors were eating at me. I was in need of an inexpensive vacation.
The time had come. I switched gears from my regular job to my aspirations as a full-time travel writer. As I pulled the atlas from my bookshelf, I threw it away. Who needs a twenty-year-old road atlas? Not me. I opened my laptop and began to search destinations in the keys.
Summer rates are pricey in the keys. The rates are more than I could afford year-round at the time. I searched a few higher-end resorts an hotels to pitch a travel story and try to secure a press slot. No luck. Travel agencies — no luck there either.
As my hopes of a stellar vacation with all expenses paid grew dim, I chose to switch tactics. I found a very decent hotel in Florida City. North of Key Largo, it came with a pool, hot tub, free wifi, breakfast, and parking. The rate was affordable, and the hotel had been recently refurbished.
The Sights & Sounds of The Keys
My lodging was arranged. I searched Trip Advisor and Google for excursions — sightseeing and adventure. I was quite surprised at the number of options. My quest began with making a list of my favorite things to do on vacation:
- Sight Seeing
- Exploring parks
Using my list, I noted places that had promise in each category and sent an email query to each.
I explained that I was going to be in the Florida Keys on assignment for a travel article and the dates. The email explained I was putting together sidebar articles — what to see and do, and if they’d be interested. The response was better than I anticipated. Two of every five e-mails received a positive response. As a result, I was able to secure a few free excursions in the area.
My hosts provided me:
- a SCUBA diving trip
- a guided tour of John Pennekamp State Park
- a sunset cruise
- two nights of fine dining
… and access to beaches I didn’t know existed. I was having a great vacation.
True to my word, this “working vacation” left me with so much to write about. Settling into my room each evening, I wrote about each adventure while still fresh.
I sold an article on inexpensive travel accommodations as my primary piece. A few more inquiries and I was able to sell smaller articles. These came with photos and each focused on a different business. Both restaurants were also reviewed in Trip Advisor. I explained how the food was great, and the hospitality even greater.
A working vacation for a writer can be a great thing, but these too take planning. Planning, and a bit of work to make them happen. I’ve not had many of these type stories to relate, but I love it when they come together.
Tips to carry you through
- Act professional
- Dress professional, but for the climate and activities scheduled
- Be courteous
- Keep your word
- Send copies of published articles to the host
- Always follow up with a hand-written thank you note — it’ll pay dividends in the future.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief snippet into a great adventure I had last year. Jump in and make one yourself. If you’ve had similar experiences or have a better method, I’d love to hear about it.