Over the past couple of years, I’ve received several desperate requests from novice travel writers, ….
….asking me to help them round up some last-minute assignments, so they can request complimentary accommodations, meals, entry to tourist attractions, rounds of golf, fishing trips, boat cruises, and a host of other freebies, at their destinations.
There’s only one problem with these requests — they’ve all been expecting to round up some travel assignments from a few days to a week or two before they leave for their destination!
There seems to be the expectation that somehow, miraculously, assignments will drop into their laps like manna from heaven, and that the destination marketing organizations will just drop what they’re doing, at the last minute, to arrange red-carpet treatment for the writers.
So, when I get these last-minute requests, I politely ask my neophyte writers to come up with some viable story ideas and angles, and then create enticing query letters to sell the stories to editors around the world. I also ask them to prepare their magazine distribution lists to send their queries to.
Then the reality of the situation kicks in, and they’ll say, “Oh, I guess I should have been doing this months ago”.
Yes, indeed, they should have been laying this groundwork months ago.
Occasionally, a writer will fluke a last-minute assignment and score some freebies, but they’ve usually left it way too late. This is a great pity, because many of these writers are talented enough to secure assignments, if only they had planned their marketing and sales campaign much earlier.
And, as you know, if they’d had those assignments in hand, they could have bartered them for all sorts of nice comps with the tourism agencies, which would have saved them considerable travel expense money.
Well, what can we learn from this?
Obviously, you need to plan well ahead of your travels. None of this last-minute scrambling around for assignments and comps. It’s stressful and seldom works.
The question is, how far in advance should travel writers be gearing up for their trip, lining up assignments, arranging comp travel, meals, entry to tourist attractions, museums, tours, etc?
Generally, I’ll work 4-5 months out for international travel, and 2-3 months out for travel within my own country (in my case, the U.S.A.). The procedure is the same for domestic and international trips.
Here are the six steps you need to follow, and their timelines.
- Research your destination, looking for potential stories to pitch (5 months before you travel).
- Send out your pitches and query letters, en masse. Pray for assignments from some of the editors (3-4 months before you travel).
- Contact the tourism agency, DMO, or CVB, with details of your assignments and a polite request for assistance with your travel (2-3 months before you travel).
- Take your trip, and do your research for your articles.
- Send thank you emails to your hosts (within one month of returning to home base).
- Write your articles. Then, when they’re published, send PDFs, links, and hard copies to your hosts (within 4-6 weeks of returning to home base).
Follow these steps and you’ll find yourself scoring some very cool trips and tours!
About the Author:
Roy Stevenson produces a free weekly newsletter for aspiring travel writers. It’s considered one of the most informative e-zines in the travel writing business.
Subscribe here: http://www.pitchtravelwrite.com/pitchtravelwrite-ezine.html 
Roy has published seven eBooks on selling and marketing freelance travel articles. (See right sidebar)
He operates a personalized coaching business for novice travel writers, and every one of his 60+ novice writers has been published in print or online media. Many have scored cool press trips using their assignments as collateral. (http://www.pitchtravelwrite.com/coaching-for-travel-writers.html )
Roy offers Travel Writing & Marketing Master Classes. S.E. Asia (Siem Reap, Cambodia, October 2017), Seattle (April, 2018).