The WORST Travel Writing Advice I’ve Ever Received

bad travel writing advice

Over the years, I’ve received much conflicting advice about how to break into travel writing.

Here are two atrociously poor pieces of advice.

Some old school travel writers will tell you, “don’t send long query letters.”

Why Should You Ignore This?

The advice that queries should be short is terribly wrong. Editors want to know all about the story you are pitching to them and you simply can’t get this message across effectively in a scant 2-3 paragraphs.

I’ve always used longer and more detailed query letters and I sell 90% of the articles I pitch—more than 1,000 articles. And, when the novice writers that I coach beef up their meager query letters, they suddenly start selling more stories!

Novice travel writers consistently undersell their story ideas.

I’ve worked one-on-one with more than 100 novice and intermediate level travel writers in my coaching and mentoring program. I’ve noticed that their query letters consistently undersell their story ideas. Adding more details about their proposed articles helps sell their story ideas more effectively.

My book, The Complete Guide to Query Letters for Travel Writers has twenty real-life query letter samples that landed me paying assignments in respectable print magazines. Every one of these query letters exceeds the standard ‘two to three paragraph’ length that the ‘experts’ recommend.

The second piece of poor advice you’ll hear is, “Start your travel writing career by writing front-of-book articles.

The traditional approach to breaking into top shelf travel glossies and in-flights has been to start out by pitching short front-of-book (FOB) stories.

FOBs are typically the short 100-450 word pieces you see at the front of magazines, hence the name. The theory behind this advice is that editors can see how you write without taking a big risk. If you hand in sub-standard work, it’s easy for editors to dig out another short piece from their “slush” files to substitute in.

This tip may have some merit—I know one very successful travel writer who specializes in FOBs and has subsequently broken into the stratosphere. However, I’ve never bothered pitching FOB stories. I’ve had a few FOBs published as a favor to some magazine editor who are friends, but I found that writing them is a time-consuming distraction, for very little pay.

I’ve always believed that if I have a good story idea I’m going to pitch it as a feature, and not waste it on a short FOB for which I’ll only be paid $50-$150. I’d hate to waste a good feature on a FOB piece.

Here are some more freelance travel writing tips that helped me get published prolifically right from the start of my travel writing career. They’ll help you get published more frequently and will boost your break-in to travel writing.


About Roy Stevenson 59 Articles
Freelance travel writer Roy Stevenson has had more than 1,000 articles published in 200+ regional, national, and international magazines, newspapers, trade journals, custom publications, specialty magazines, in-flights, on-boards, and online travel magazines. He's considered one of the most prolific travel writers in the U.S.A. His free weekly newsletter for aspiring travel writers is considered one of the most informative e-zines in the travel writing business. (Subscribe here: Roy has published seven eBooks on selling and marketing freelance travel articles. ( You can read Roy's full bio and see some samples of his work at his writer's website,

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