Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
Most families come home from vacations with nothing but some boring photos of loved ones and a lifetime of cherished memories. What if I told you that you could turn your future nostalgia into some cold hard cash? Or possibly a lukewarm check? Instead of reading those lame articles on in-flight magazines, you could be the one writing them!
Travel writing turns your plane tickets into metaphorical tickets to a career as an expert on world arts and culture! People will start asking you for hot tips on things to do in distant cities, and will assume you know what wine they should order with the fish. And if they don’t like your recommendations, they’ll think it’s their fault because, hey, you’re the one who gets paid to take vacations, right?
Where to Start
Becoming a travel writer is easy. Simply pick an interesting place on the globe, take out a second mortgage to pay for it, then travel there with nothing but your laptop, your wits, and possibly your spouse and children lest they think you’re merely having a mid-life crisis. Assuage their fears by telling them that you’re going to mid-life crush this, then hold up your hand for all the high-fives they will surely give you.
- Even short trips can be fodder for your writing career. Your camping trip to a remote state park can take a quick three-hour detour to a Starbucks so you bang out a draft while your family stares their phones waiting for you to finish.
- Save all your receipts. Your expenses are tax deductible, probably, and receipts give you a tally of how much money you’ll have to make for this trip to break even. Wow, it’s gonna take a bit more than you thought! But that means you’ll
have toget to take more vacations, where the money will work out better for some reason.
There are basically three types of travel article. Flesh out these rough outlines to create an article worthy of being briefly glanced at by business travelers at 30,000 feet:
- Finding yourself. It’s only natural that, after graduating at the top of your class from an Ivy League university that you might feel somewhat adrift. So you travel to a far-off locale. Once there, seek out the peasantry there and ask to see “the real [city name].” This sort of cultured question signals to your guide that you want to experience more than can be found on some pre-packaged tour, and to any unsavory-types that you’re probably more valuable as a ransom than to simply rob you. If you play your cards right, you’ll experience a life-changing epiphany. Your guide will love this, as they have probably waited their whole lives to help some privileged American learn lessons about themselves that any reasonable person could intuit immediately. A year or two spent on the other side of the globe, eating local street food and dealing with the day-to-day realities of living there, can tell you a lot about yourself—namely, that it’s pretty handy to have rich parents.
- Eating your way across the continent. Dish about the local cuisine found in various travel hot-spots. Ask a local where to find “the real [city name] foods. You’ll make them feel like an expert, which they’ll love. They may even let you buy them dinner for your trouble. Factor this into your budget. If you aren’t able to go abroad, the nice thing about this sort of article is that local food is found literally everywhere, and even the blandest meatloaf from the greasiest spoon in town can spring to life if properly seasoned with the right adjectives and superlatives.
- Who would’ve thought that some !@#$% writing assignment would lead to true love? So there you were, hundreds of miles from home trying to write your fourth “finding yourself” article. You have to pee, and you ask a local where “the real [city name] bathrooms are.” One zipline tour, one white-water-rafting excursion, three wine tastings, two salsa lessons, and a dozen expensive meals later, you come to realize your guide is the love of your life. They accept your offer to take you away from all this adventure and romance to live happily ever after in a small two-bedroom fixer-upper in the suburbs. The two of you are now embarking on the greatest adventure of all—navigating crippling debt.