Make Vacations Count!

Thursday, August 04, 2011
Usually your daily dose of The Muffin arrives in the morning, or at the latest, early afternoon. But today, I'm on vacation. (OK, actually I drove 700 miles - half way to Phoenix - to deliver my youngest daughter and two grandsons to their husband/father, respectively, because said daughter had emergency appendectomy surgery while visiting here last week and cannot fly for six weeks.) So, for today, you're receiving it at midnight (if you're an East Coast resident) and earlier in other time zones.

For those of you interested in travel writing, I'd like to offer a few hints that can turn a long (and perhaps tedious) road trip into a writing sale.

On our journey to Colorado, we stopped at several spots along our Nebraska route. Nebraska's Department of Travel and Tourism has a fun program called the Nebraska Passport. Various sites around the state are highlighted, and once you've obtained your "passport," you visit the sites and receive a stamp. Some of the sites in the program are natural tourist draws. Who wouldn't enjoy spending a day on a white, sandy beach or visit a top modern art museum?

Places like these may be obvious candidates for a story pitch to a travel or regional magazine. And, this sometime presents a problem since they ARE so obvious.

But some of the sites are so unique and offbeat - in a good way - that they are prime story material. For instance, who would think a petrified wood gallery would be interesting? Like my husband said, "Once you've seen a piece of wood, you've seen 'em all."

Then we ventured into Ogallala, Nebraska's Petrified Wood Gallery and discovered not all chunks of wood are created equally. Niche and unique travel spots make the best stories and fillers. I've already decided which markets I'm pitching this priceless gem!

Before we left on this whirlwind trip that would lead us to Trinidad, Colorado, I plotted a route and checked travel websites to discover what places we may want to visit. I use Nebraska's tourism website regularly, so it was easy to navigate. A few suggestions from the website triggered stops that I may have otherwise not considered. (Same process for Colorado stops!)

Don't forget about checking with CVBs (convention and visitor's bureaus) to see what events are happening. You may discover a conference, exhibit or show that would lead to a story.

Whenever we travel, I use Yelp to get ideas for restaurants, hotels and shopping. Plus, I make sure I post a review when I return from a trip. I've discovered it's a good exercise in writing a concise, honest review - a skill any writer can use for any type of work!

The next time you head out on a road trip, consider your route and check with local, regional and state tourism groups. You may be surprised at what type of article sales you'll find!

by LuAnn Schindler


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