The Cost of Travel for the Would-be Travel Writer

Leonard Lea Frazer
Welsh painter, Kyffin Williams on the Island of Anglesey, Wales.
Welsh painter, Kyffin Williams on the Island of Anglesey, Wales.

Nowadays travel destinations such as Cuba, Costa Rica and Mexico attract tourists with a promise of a tropical location and low prices. All-inclusive cruise ship travel is also affordable and popular. The cost of travel in most cases includes airfares, accommodation and meals. Millions of vacationers purchase from a variety of travel choices each year.

The holiday expenses now provide an opportunity for individuals to make use of accumulated “Air Miles” from various credit card purchases and travel card promotions. In most cases these saved up points can be used to cover the costs of flights and also accommodation along the way and in the destination country. Usually the traveller pays only the sales taxes on each transaction. The cost of travel looks good, so far.
Well-established Travel Writers are sometimes offered paid vacations and other perks by hotel chains, travel agencies, airlines and, on occasion, Travel Magazines. However, the cost of travelling for a “freelance” Travel Writer (if you’re inclined that way) can be expensive, with only a few freebies thrown in. Being “on assignment” for “top of the ladder” publications, like Islands International and National
Travel Writer, Leonard, at South Stack lighthouse, Anglesey, Wales.
Travel Writer, Leonard, at South Stack lighthouse, Anglesey, Wales.
Geographic, usually means the expenses will be covered and picked up by the company that is hiring; (when National Geographic is mentioned, I always remember that freelance photographer, Chris Johns, who worked on the Fraser River Story and took several pictures in Valemount and the Robson Valley, ended up becoming the Editor in Chief of that publication). Freelance Travel Writers who are not on assignment pay their own way, but have the freedom to go just about anywhere in the world and market their stories to multiple publications and to on-line web sites.

Travel Writing Strategies:
By studying the market (to see what else has been written on a given destination) and having a fresh approach to stories, Travel Writers can sell their work to the highest paying travel publications. In order to write about a given country, they must be active participants and experience different accommodations, attractions, and sites that may provide a culturally stimulated experience. Then, they will be armed with story material.  This is yet another step in the “Travel Writer’s Formula.”
When the freelancer writes ahead to let the Tourism “powers that be” know that he or she is a professional Travel Writer who will be visiting their area, of a given country, they can expect a royal welcome, in most cases. When tourism officers of that particular country realize that a writer is coming to experience and write about their “neck of the woods” then the local tourism departments in the districts the writer plans to visit will be eager to roll out the red carpet. Their welcome may include free accommodation, meals, access to individuals to interview, entrance to museums and historical sites, transportation within the given area and complementary tour guides to chauffer the Travel Writer around. These are all travel costs that are taken care of.
Swedish tour guide, Lars Nolgren, hired for the day on the Island of Gotland.
Swedish tour guide, Lars Nolgren, hired for the day on the Island of Gotland.
Any travel stories that the Travel Writers are able to publish will promote and benefit local tourism in the host country they visit. The freelancer’s job is to try and find interesting material and write about it in an entertaining and original way. The stories may include destination pieces, a spotlight on an attraction, a “round up” story (the ten best hotels, the five top family resorts) or one providing advice and tips to a potential traveller to the country of choice.
In my self-planned trips to both England and Wales in 1993 and Sweden, Denmark and Norway in 1994, I followed Travel Writing advice and wrote ahead to announce my arrival, became familiar with the choice of attractions available, studied some of the history, investigated different forms of accommodation and perused local transportation routes and modes.
I had to be prepared for all types of accommodation. After all, how could I write about it if I had not experienced it? After narrowing down my choice of attractions to check out and towns and sites I wanted to visit, I then had a rough idea of what I could develop into stories on the host country.
In both my self-assigned trips (in 1993 and 1994) I experienced the Free and the Not-so-Free. Yes, I was welcomed, wined and dined, accommodated and given access to areas in the course of complimentary guided tours. I did, however, pay for the majority of the expenses for each trip. The free perks were nice,
A beach scene at Tenby in South Wales.
A beach scene at Tenby in South Wales.
but in order to arrive at my own choice of destinations I was also prepared to cover the cost. With a variety of overnight stops on my scheduled itinerary I became knowledgeable of each hospitality venue.
The English/Welsh visit included five nights at youth hostels, four nights camping, three nights at hotels, five nights at guesthouses, one night at a B&B, two nights at a friend’s place and two nights on my flights, to and from. My expenses included international flights, train fares, car rental for three days, camping and youth hostel fees, hotel, guest house and B&B costs, meals and film for my camera. My “free perks” were limited to two meals, several guided tours and free entrance to museums and historic sites.
The Scandinavian visit included nine nights of camping, three nights at hotels, four nights in guesthouses and four nights in youth hostels, one night sleeping in my rental car, two nights on a train, one night at an airport and two nights on my flights. My expenses included the five connecting flights to Sweden/return, car rental for five days, camping fees, hotel, guesthouse and youth hostel costs, train, taxi and boat fees, entrance to some attractions, meals and film. My free perks on this adventure included two nights accommodation (and meals) at a Five Star hotel, several days of guided tours with a private car, and entrance to museums and historical sites. I also experienced four nights accommodation at my Norwegian
Road-food in Leonard’s tent at a campsite in Wales.
Road-food in Leonard’s tent at a campsite in Wales.
relatives and friend’s private homes.
When the full value of all the material gathered is weighed, and hopefully through published stories that are purchased by travel magazines or newspapers, the collected travel experience becomes a writing asset that pays off for a would–be Travel Writer and hopefully absorbing some of the cost of travel.
Whether you are planning a full-scale freelance journalistic assault on a country of your choice, or just gathering story ideas and photos, on your next sojourn abroad, being a Travel Writer and publishing your own work is well within your reach.

Leonard’s little tent and rental car while camping on the Island of Faro, in the Baltic Sea, Sweden.
Leonard’s little tent and rental car while camping on the Island of Faro, in the Baltic Sea, Sweden.