Travel writing is a romanticized profession.
It conjures images of adventuring to far off places, meeting interesting people, and eating delicious food – all while you get paid.
It’s not quite so glamorous, of course. But many people, including me, pursue it because they want to see the world and share their experiences.
Like other genres of writing, travel writing requires getting a foot in the door. You’ve got the desire to travel and you’re a good writer. Now how do you begin turning it into a career? Here are a few programs that help young aspiring writers just like you.
National Geographic Glimpse Project
This project is an integrated media platform which covers everything from social networks to print magazines. In this program, you take on a ‘long term investigative project’ which you can do at home or while living abroad. During the first six months, you’ll work closely with a Glimpse director pitching and developing stories that can be formatted in writing, photography, or film. You’ll get feedback on your work and develop the skills you’ll need to become a better writer.
After that, you’ll work with less supervision but still have peer-reviewed feedback from the staff. You’ll compile a summation of your project and reflect on your development as a journalist. You’ll also get opportunities to earn money for publishing your work. Open to anyone over the age of 18, this program looks promising and is essentially an unpaid internship that gives you the necessary tools to hone your skills  as a travel writer.
You may have heard of the professor rating site ‘RateMyProfessor.’ RateMyStudyAbroad follows the same principle but, instead of rating professors, people rate their study abroad programs. Unfortunately, this site doesn’t look helpful for developing your travel writing career. Its primary aim is to help students who want to study abroad but are unsure of where to go. It offers anecdotal advice from former students, so it can yield insights that they would not otherwise have gotten. If you’ve studied abroad, you could certainly review your program. (I actually looked up my program and gave it a rating because it had none.) But don’t count on this one to open any travel writing doors for you.
This site is similar to the Glimpse Project, except it offers courses instead of a mentorship program. The courses are reasonably priced — $30 for the online course which you can do at your leisure — and they seem geared toward helping you create a professional travel blog. That’s a great strategy: if you market your blog correctly, you can make a career out of travel writing. There are good resources on this website, and they are supportive of aspiring travel writers. This is an opportunity definitely worth considering.
Of course, these programs are all unpaid. So if you’re already traveling, they’ll assist you in documenting your story. But the Glimpse Program can be done from home, and you can use it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Travel writing, though, is best as a co-career along with a stable source of income. Look for other opportunities such as teaching English abroad. That can give your writing a different angle and make it more than just another run-of-the-mill travel narrative. It’s also a pragmatic move, since few writers make sufficient money right out the gate.
Travel writing is hard work, and making connections with these programs can definitely ease that burden.