Have a travel itch and a camera in hand? You don’t have to classify as Insta-famous to travel and take beautiful photographs that document your adventures. Whether you want to travel far and wide, or just want to figure out your style or aesthetic, figuring out the way in which you want to present your personality and story online with a creative outlet. If you find yourself looking to go a step further and consider travel journalism as a professional dream, don’t wait. Go ahead and start working on your craft, style and voice now.
Read on for how to become a travel journalist.
What does a travel journalist do?
- Travels, creates content for social media, blogs, other outlets
- Write blogs, shoot videos and photographs to share a piece of the world with their online community
- Edit videos and photographs that best document their experiences and personal style
- Manages social media and interact with followers to maintain a sense of community
What does it take to become a Travel Journalist?
You don’t have to have tickets for a cross-Atlantic flight to enjoy traveling and photography. “A lot of people think they have to be somewhere epic, or popular, or amazing in order to write a compelling article. I find just the opposite,” said Anna Kloots of @traveloutsidethebox.“I think if you are observant with details and creative with what you look for, you can find an interesting thing to write about whether it’s your hometown or the number one place on your bucket list.” Explore what your own city has to offer while also inspiring others to also eat, shop, and explore local as well.
You’ll also need serious writing and media skills. You have to make consumers feel as if they experienced the place you write about alongside you. Choosing article formats, multimedia content and publishing and/or social media platforms that works best with your skill set or workflow may help to limit the amount of time spent behind a computer and allow you more time to explore your travel destinations.
As one of the important media decisions you’ll make for your personal brand, picking the right social media platform for your content will allow you to best document and share your travels. As a beginner travel-journalist you can always count on Instagram to post and caption your pictures as a way to perfectly share your experience but consider a personal journal or an online platform to publish your writing from abroad. “I began keeping a journal for my own personal life when I went for my first trip abroad… But eventually, I started a blog to keep family and friends up to date on what I was doing when I moved abroad,” said Kloots. “I used Instagram to help feed traffic to my published work, providing images and just a sentence or two from the piece to make people want to learn more. I did a lot for free for a long time, anything to get my work seen.”
What you should know about being a travel journalist/blogger?
1. What income will I earn as a Professional Travel Journalist/Blogger?
Just as travel journalists and bloggers differ in their personal style and messages, so do their salaries. You can earn your salary freelance writing, or with sponsored campaigns and press trips. Other money-making opportunities include creating digital content like online courses or photography aids. As for the incomes behind these endeavors, press trips can average around $2,000, sponsored campaigns can vary between $50 to even $1,500 and freelance travel writing can bring in a pay stub of anything between $20 and $500 per post. Again, choosing which route you want to take is just as important as creating content that reflects your personal style and personality you want to display to your audience.
2. How much will I be expected to work as a travel journalist/blogger?
As many travel journalists and bloggers work freelance, schedules can often be based around particular partnerships or trips one wants to move forward with. But the question often arises as to how much travel time is actually dedicated to working and creating content. Whether you use your smartphone, a point and shoot, or a high-end camera and lens, anyone can get behind a lens and express their creativity. Not sure when to pull your camera out during your travels? “When you’re traveling the world, always do the most,” said Zoe of @zoelaz. “Sometimes leaving your camera or journal behind seems nice and better, but you’ll always regret the shots you don’t get or the stories you don’t write! Always do the most.”
Don’t be afraid to take a moment and capture multiple frames in order to ensure you got the image you want. But also make sure to allow yourself to take in your surroundings. “Coming from my background of a person who just picked up a camera and decided to go, find a balance between the part of you who wants to create and the part of you who wants to experience,” said Sam Potter of @captainpotter. “In my earlier days I just wanted to create and felt competitive with myself and I got too wrapped up in creating and missed out on a lot of experiences. I would look back on photos I took and there was no real memory there as I was too wrapped up in the creative process. You need to have the ability to put the camera down, be in the moment. When you allow that you allow the real story to come out.” Find a balance between capturing and experiencing the moment while creating images and memories that will last forever.
3. What will my work environment be like?
As a travel journalist, your work environment will change constantly. You may even consider a plane seat to be your office. Once you arrive to these locations, it is important to remember that not only is this a new location for you to cross off your bucket list, but a place someone else calls home. Push yourself to not just take on the role of a tourist on vacation but rather a traveler looking to make a real connection with a new place, culture and people. “As we enter these places, we need to go in with the respect of this is someone else’s home. This is a history and a culture and a people,” said Potter. “And if you go there and this is just your next vacation destination, you are not only going to me missing out on the bigger picture but also robbing yourself of a truly life changing experience but also destroying a culture as well.”
Having this mindset in planning your activities, finding places to eat and what images you capture will help you to go deeper than just the tourist traps or trying to capture a perfect picture for your Instagram feed. “I love to portray authenticity through my travels. Capturing something beautiful, or a real moment always means so much to me. Those are the photos I look back on and can remember everything,” said Zoe. Authenticity will not only leave you with more profound memories but also allow your personality and style to shine through every post. Every now and then, travel journalism should also capture the not so perfect moments. Being authentic to yourself and your experiences will allow your audience to connect with the real you and allow your voice to stand out from other accounts. Maybe include a bump in the road in your blog post, or share an Instagram story a delayed flight just to remind everyone that life doesn’t always go perfectly as planned.
4. What do I need to know about the future of travel journalism/blogging?
The nature of travel journalism and blogging constantly changes to adapt to the trends of social media platforms and audiences. The Internet may seem overloaded with beautiful accounts of travel journalists showcasing their incredible travel adventures. Take inspiration from these accounts and appreciate their creativity and style. It may seem daunting to try to start your own journey of sharing your personality and adventures online but remember that it doesn’t require being a professional. Start by expressing your personal vision and style that will inspire others to explore the world around them. Look for ways to learn something more about the location you are visiting. Explore new experiences and ways of thinking, pull out your camera and get creative and stay authentic as you share your content with the world.
3 Key Skills for Travel Journalists
Let your creative ideas flow as to how you can perfectly encapsulate a city or culture. It is rare that the first photograph you take is the perfect shot so allow yourself to enjoy the creative process of trial and error.
2. Being an active observer
When in a new location, it is important to open yourself to new experiences with a genuine desire to learn. Check yourself for personal bias and take these opportunities to not only learn more about the world but also your self.
With all the planning, traveling and editing there is to be done, it is important to be organized. Being organized will also ensure that you have the most time to enjoy and explore a new location while also making time for the unexpected side trips or bumps in the road that are sure to happen.
Other useful skills:
- Be authentic
- Create a personal style
- Be adventurous
- Be ambitious
“As I grew older I just knew this is what I wanted to do for a living. Traveling has always been a big part of my heart, but being able to capture my travels the way I do is just my full passion,” said Zoe of @zoelaz.
“I’d like to portray the different flavor that each place I go has, the feeling it evokes and the experience of being there. No two places are really the same, not if you’re really there to travel, to dig deep, to learn. I did a lot for free for a long time, anything to get my work seen. The most important thing is writing everyday, and doing everything you can to get an audience to read your work. You never know what article is going to change everything!” said Anna Kloots of @traveloutsidethebox.
“I started to travel and it was about showing the world through my eyes. And as I traveled I got to start seeing the world through the eyes of others and I just found their stories so much more compelling than my own.I just wanted to use my spotlight to shine a light on other people and other cultures…” said Sam Potter of @captianpotter.