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.

Home Base

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:

  • Diving
  • Swimming
  • Sight Seeing
  • Exploring parks
  • Museums

Using my list, I noted places that had promise in each category and sent an email query to each.



Excursions

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.

Follow Through

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

  1. Act professional
  2. Dress professional, but for the climate and activities scheduled
  3. Be courteous
  4. Keep your word
  5. Send copies of published articles to the host
  6. 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.

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