Freelancing for Newspapers Challenge: Travel Writing Close to Home

Sue Fagalde Lick By Sue Fagalde Lick

When we think about travel writing, most of us assume we have to fly to Europe, take a cruise, go rafting or climb a mountain. Those could all yield great stories, but if you can’t go that far, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a travel writer. In fact, some of the best stories are close to home, and you have the advantage of easy access. I’m blessed to live on the beautiful Oregon Coast where there’s something wonderful to see and do in every direction. But no matter where you live, there’s something to write about.

When company comes from out of town, where do you take them? When you need a break, where do you go? Do you know of special places that are not in the guidebooks? Perhaps there’s a historical site, a unique restaurant, a glass-blowing shop, or a nature trail that lends itself to pictures and a story. For example, not far from where I live, an elderly gentleman has set up an amazing model railroad museum in his garage. It’s not in the guidebooks; you have to look for the sign, but it would make a good article.

Take another look at your hometown. See it with the eyes of someone who has never been there before. What grabs your attention? What would you want to photograph? Always think photos when you look for travel article ideas. Good pictures will sell the story.

Look at newspapers’ websites or travel writers’ websites such as The Society of American Travel Writers to see what papers are looking for. Many newspaper travel sections focus on seasonal or geographical themes. If you are among the first to query on a subject that fits the theme, you have a much better chance of selling the story.

A list of travel writer resources can be found at Transitions Abroad.com.

Newspaper travel articles can be sold to multiple papers. Just make sure you don’t give up all rights and don’t approach papers with the same readership.

YOUR CHALLENGE: Find a place within a half hour’s drive that you can write about and sell to multiple newspapers. Do a little research, take a few notes and pictures and start working on your query.

You are welcome to share your results or discuss the challenge here, as well as at my Freelancing for Newspapers blog. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

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Sue Fagalde Lick, author of Freelancing for Newspapers, worked as a staff writer, photographer and editor for newspapers in California and Oregon for many years before moving into full-time freelancing. In addition to countless newspaper and magazine articles, she has published three books on Portuguese Americans. She has taught workshops at Oregon Coast Community College, online for Writing-world.com and for Willamette Writers and California Writers Club. She offers an online course on reviews as well as individual coaching. See her website and visit her blog.

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