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Saturday, November 12, 2022

About Writing for Travel Periodicals

By Bobbie Christmas

Q: I want to write articles for magazines. I’m especially interested in travel writing and hope a periodical will pay for my travel. I don’t know where to start, though. I need a step-by-step process.

A: The process isn’t simple enough to cover in brief, although I’ll give you a few tips. In addition to my information, please read and follow the instructions in a book about how to write for magazines and other periodicals. Warning: resources, payments, periodicals, and methods have changed over the years, so choose one of the most recent books on the subject.

Editors need to see proof that you are a qualified writer, so before you can get hired to write for periodicals, you must create a portfolio of your published works. To get clips, many people start by volunteering as a writer for a nonprofit or other organization. One writer I knew created imaginary articles crafted for imaginary publications.

Once you have a portfolio of clips, you are ready to query periodicals who may ask to see those clips. Yes, you usually have to query with your own subject ideas until and unless you become one of the stable of writers that editors then assign articles.

With the advent of the internet, travel writers today don’t necessarily have to travel to a location to write about it, so I’m not sure if periodicals pay for travel anymore, but don’t give up on the idea, if you like to travel. Most of the travel articles I’ve sold were based on travels I took for fun. While I didn’t get paid for the travel, I did get paid for the articles, which helped pay for the trips I would have taken regardless. I used frequent flier miles for at least one of my longer trips, yet based on that tour I sold three different articles to three separate periodicals, which recouped most of my expenses for food and land transportation. Result: Inexpensive eighteen-day vacation.

Here’s an insider’s tip: Once you determine the magazines that publish your types of articles, ask for their editorial calendars. Editorial calendars outline the focus of upcoming issues. For example, the focus of the May issue might be Florida. In advance of that issue, the sales staff sells advertising to companies that have products and services of interest to people traveling to Florida.

Although the editorial calendar is created to help the advertising sales staff, it can help writers as well. With the editorial calendar in hand, you’ll know that the May issue is going to focus on Florida. If your interest is hiking, as an example, you can query six months in advance of May and propose an article about hiking trails in Florida.

In addition to studying the editorial calendar, you must scrutinize a magazine to learn of its focus, style, and preferences before you develop a query. If you’re not already a subscriber to the periodical, get sample issues and study them before you query the editor.

In short, you first need a portfolio. Next you need to uncover potential periodicals and get their editors’ names and preferred methods for querying or submitting. You might start with periodicals that pay little or nothing and gradually move up to periodicals that pay a decent rate—more than a few cents a word. You must formulate and send a relevant query. Last of all, you must be patient, because responses may be slow. Payment may be slow as well, because most periodicals pay on publication. You may send your story in June, but if the story doesn’t appear until the February issue, you won’t get paid until then.

Oh, wait! That’s not all. You must also set your ego aside. Chances are strong that your articles will be revised to fit the space or comply with the style of the periodical. Do not complain, or you may not be assigned any more articles. It won’t matter that you are right; the editor has the last word. Take a deep breath, exhale, cash your payment check, and ask for more assignments.


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas, author of Write In Style: How to Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing and owner of Zebra Communications will answer your questions too. Send them to or Read Bobbie’s blog at

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