Book Review: Travel Writer’s Guide

Travel Writer's Guide by Gordon Burgett
Updated: Feb 14th, 2012

The travel writing journey is different for everyone,…

… and how you get where you’re going is often a matter of connections, good ideas, strong writing skills and a little bit of luck.

I’ve never stumbled across step-by-step instructions on how to become a successful travel writer, but if such a thing existed, Travel Writer’s Guide is as close as it gets.

Author Gordon Burgett is a highly successful writer with more than 1,700 published articles and 23 books to his name. In this book, he provides a detailed description of every step of the travel writing process from getting organized, writing query letters and taking photos to interviewing, making the most of trip time, writing articles and reselling work. Broken down, the art of travel writing can sound quite overwhelming, but by following this process, Burgett says he earns three times what he spends in travel expenses.

What’s Good:

Travel Writer’s Guide breaks down every component of travel writing. The chapters are conveniently broken into sections that explain specific aspects of the process, so if you want to zero in on how to write a strong query letter, need advice on what you should be doing on a trip or aren’t sure how to run a successful interview, it’s easy to focus on those topics (and just as easy to skip them, if you’re already proficient).

Throughout the book, Burgett uses the example of a trip to Santa Barbara, California, to illustrate his points. From the first planning stages through selling reprints, he uses this made-up trip to demonstrate how he would go about each and every step of the travel writing process. A person could, hypothetically, follow along in the book while undertaking each step for his or her own trip.

Finally, Burgett offers 365 travel article ideas at the end of the book, and though some are a bit generic (“What are the ten hottest destinations of the year?“), others may jump-start the creative process you’ve been seeking.

What Could Be Better:

Though Burgett seems to have left nothing out when he wrote this book, there is one thing that’s worth noting: He’s already a highly successful travel writer. Though his sample query letters are well written and his research is well documented, it certainly doesn’t hurt that he has such strong credentials and relationships with editors. Few travel writers have such an extensive portfolio, and those just starting off may have only a few published pieces. It seems possible that the author may be able to make thrice what he spends on a trip, but that’s probably not a realistic expectation for anyone just starting off in the business.

Also, because the book is so detailed, it can be a bit dry to read at times. But, then again, what step-by-step manual isn’t?


Travel Writer’s Guide breaks down everything you might need or want to know about being a travel writer, but don’t expect to be as successful as Burgett when you’re just starting out.

~ JoAnna

About JoAnna Haugen 7 Articles

JoAnna Haugen is a creativity connoisseur, idea inventor and freelance writer with a professional background in copywriting. A former Peace Corps volunteer and avid world traveler, she is the community news editor for WorldView, the publication for the National Peace Corps Association, and managing editor for Journey Beyond Travel, an online guide about travel in Morocco. JoAnna’s writing has appeared in more than 40 print and online publications including Caribbean Travel & Life, American Way, WestJet’s up!, Vegas Magazine, Pathfinders Travel, TravelSmart, Diamond Resorts International Magazine and Las Vegas Review-Journal. She also writes the popular travel blog, Kaleidoscopic Wandering.

When she’s not on the road or writing about travel, JoAnna also works as a ghost writer, blogger, copywriter and editor for clients and projects spanning a variety of genres. Learn more about her professional work and follow her on Twitter for updates on her latest travels.


    • Hi Michael – thanks for stopping by! It is a good book – I read this one years ago, and even though the internet has changed the industry since it was written, there’s still a lot of relevant and applicable lessons in it……still very good for those wanting to get into this business.

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