9 reasons to become a freelance travel writer as a second career

By David Hammond

For decades, life revolved around making a living.

But things change.

An opportunity to rearrange your life, such as retirement, arrives.

It provides the freedom to explore new paths and dust-off old dreams.

That’s how it was for me. Since I was 15, I harbored the notion of seeing more of the world and writing.

So, after a career in real estate, I revisited the aspirations of my youth, which led to travel writing.

For many, becoming a freelance travel writer as a second career is the right move at the right time.

Following are nine reasons you may want to consider it, too.

1 - A more engaging travel experience  

Greater purpose
As a travel writer, you’re not just vacationing, you’re on a mission. You have a purpose for what you’re doing.

Greater connection
Compared to the typical vacationer, you do more pre-trip research. You pay closer attention to your surroundings. You get behind-the-scenes access. You talk to more people.

As a result, you come away with a deeper sense of the places you visit.

2 - It’s a way to make a positive contribution 

In the the world of journalism they say you can’t attract readers reporting good news.

Yet, as a freelance travel writer, that’s precisely what you do by

Introducing your reader to travel-related opportunities
Things like, where to find authentic regional cuisine, where to get a good deal on a cruise, where to buy locally made crafts—whatever relates to the travel topics you decide to write about.

Helping local economies, businesses, and causes 
At the same time you serve readers, you often benefit the places and people you write about.

In fact, some get into freelance travel writing to draw attention to areas and causes for which they care.

Providing an entertaining reading experience  
Or you may serve by telling a travel tale—bringing your reader into the story with well-crafted writing that includes plenty of vivid description.

3 - Recognition and respect 

From your readers 
From time to time, you'll receive messages of appreciation from readers. And if you write regularly on a topic you know well, you may even develop a following.

Within the travel-writing industry
If you write frequently for the same publication (i.e., become a regular contributor), you’ll become part of that publication’s community.

These are the people who most understand what you do. And as your skills develop and you begin to hold your own, respect runs high.

A complimentary email from an editor, publisher, or another writer can really make your day.

4- Interesting interactions

The people you meet as a freelance travel writer include

  • Other travelers 
  • Locals
  • People you interview 
  • Other travel writers 
  • Readers who reach out and make contact 
It’s really a rich mix – loaded with opportunities to gain insights and make new friends.

While researching in Medellin Colombia, I met Jim and Robin (travelers from the US) in a metrocable car headed to the hillside community of Santo Domingo.

5 - Flexibility 

Work anywhere
As a travel writer, you can work anywhere with an electrical outlet and an Internet connection. That could be at your kitchen table at home or the deck of an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora.

Full time or part-time 
Travel writing is something you can do full time or part-time—whatever makes sense for your schedule and objectives.

6 - Travel perks 

Once you build a reputation as a proven travel writer, it can open the door a variety of travel perks. Such as

Press trips
Press trips are free or low-cost tours organized for travel writers. They’re often sponsored by (or on behalf) of a tourism bureau promoting a travel destination.

Complimentary lodging and travel services
Hotels and travel service providers sometimes provide complimentary or discounted services.

Reimbursement for your travel expenses 
Some publications reimburse the travel expenses of freelance writers on approved research assignments.

Your travel costs as legitimate business expenses 
If you’re building up your freelance travel writing business with the intention of making a profit, many of your travel costs may be tax deductible. Talk to your accountant.

7 - It doesn’t cost much to get started

You don’t need office space, employees, or expensive equipment 
All you need to get started as a freelance travel writer are a few tools and supplies, many of which you may already have.

You don’t even need to travel to become a travel writer 
If travel is out of the picture for a while, get started writing about travel-related topics close to home.

8 - You can make money

Supplemental income 
Most who become freelance travel writers as a second career treat it as a part-time lifestyle business—seeking an agreeable mix of travel, engaging interactions, and a supplemental income.

A full-time income 
Travel writers who earn a full-time income have honed their writing skills, choose assignments based on pay, and often write travel-related marketing copy in addition to travel articles.

9 - Travel writing is something you can do well as you get older 

It’s work you’re capable of doing 
As long as you’re healthy, you can begin travel writing in middle age or early retirement and have plenty of time to develop your skills and serve readers with high-quality work.

This is proven by research and a plethora of real-life examples.

If you’re age 50+, your perspective is valuable 
People over 50 buy and read more travel magazines than any other age group. They also spend more on travel.

So, if you become a freelance travel writer as a second career, you’ll relate with the travel industry’s most valuable market segment.