The freelance travel writer's tools and supplies

By David Hammond 

Freelance travel writing is a business.

And compared to most businesses, the operating costs are low.

As a travel writer, you don't need office space, employees, or a warehouse.

All you need are a few basic tools and supplies.

What tools and supplies, exactly?

That's what this post is all about.


Freelance travel writers’ tools and supplies for writing


 To be a travel writer, you need a Computer with

  • a word processor, such as Microsoft Word 
  • Internet access for online research and trip planning
  • an email account
  • a video calling app like Skype 
  • a backup system for 
    • work in progress
      • USB flash drive, or 
      • Cloud backup (saves your work to an offsite server) 
    • work from previous months and years
      • External hard drive 
Note: a simple cloud backup method is to paste your work into an online word processor, such as Microsoft Word Online or Google Docs.

Many travel writers do all their work on a laptop computer. Others use a desktop computer at home and a laptop when traveling.

Unless you’re also editing video, a very basic computer will serve all your travel writing needs.

Printer/scanner


For proofreading 
It’s easier to spot typos and errors on a printed page than on a computer screen.

To send signed documents 
A printer with a scanner enables you to print, sign, scan, and return documents, such as agreements with publishers.

Reference books for composition and style questions


Two of the most popular:

  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White
  • The Associated Press Stylebook.

Stationery supplies 


Even in this digital age, you still need a few stationary supplies, which may include:

  • Printer paper
  • Lined Notebooks for research notes and handwritten first drafts
  • Steno pads for interview notes
  • File box and file folders to store trip notes and expense receipts 

The freelance travel writer’s tools for taking and managing photos 


Camera 


More and more, travel writers are expected to provide photos with their work. So, you'll need a camera.

In addition to taking pictures to accompany your writing, a camera is also useful for getting shots of things like restaurant menus and display maps to refer to when you’re writing.

Sidebar: While some travel writers carry along a professional-grade DSLR camera, it's not a requirement.  
It is possible to take decent pictures (good enough for most travel-writing uses) with a well selected point-and-shoot camera. 
That's the route I took. My camera of choice is a compact automatic with a wide-angle telephoto lens.  
With this type of lens, I fit more in a frame in close quarters, as well as get crisp images of subjects far away.  
It cost less than $300. And it’s worked out well. 
With my easy-to-use camera, I’ve taken hundreds of pictures good enough to accompany my travel writing in blog posts, websites, newsletters, a guidebook, and magazine feature articles.
Plaza in Cusco Peru, By David Hammond with a Nikon COOLPIX point-and-shoot model with a NIKKOR WIDE OPTICAL ZOOM ED VR lens. (“ED” stands for Extra-low Dispersion lens. It’s made from a special glass that helps prevent color defects at high magnification. “VR” stands for vibration reduction, which helps stabilize telephoto shots.)

 
Online photo album with sharing capabilities and editing tool 


The most popular online photo management application is Flickr. It's a web-based photo album that enables you to deliver images to an editor via a link.

Like this:   
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bydavidhammond/11090957075/in/album-72157638126648593/


Flickr offers a free plan that meets the photo storing and sharing requirements of most travel writers.

The application also includes a photo editing tool that enables you to straighten, crop, and make a variety of adjustments to your images.


Professional-level photo editor


Adobe Photoshop Lightroom  (for serious photographers)


The freelance travel writer’s marketing tools 


Writer’s website 


A writer’s website is like a brochure, which serves as the hub of your writing business’s online presence.

It identifies you as a travel writer,  presents your writing-career accomplishments, and conveys credibility.

What to include in your writer’s website:

  • Your picture
  • A short biography (as it relates to your travel-writing career)
  • Links to samples of your writing (clips)
  • Your email address or a contact form. 
  • Links to your social media pages, if you use them. 

Include a link to your writer’s website in your email signature when corresponding with editors and people you hope to interview.

Business cards 


Instill confidence
Presenting a business card to interviewees and others you meet in your capacity as a travel writer demonstrates professionalism.

Facilitate access
While on a research trip, your business card can help open doors—enabling you to pass where others don’t pass, to take pictures where picture taking isn’t usually allowed, and get face-to-face interviews with hard-to-reach experts.

What to include on your business card: 

  • Name and title such as “Writer” or “Travel Writer.”
  • Portrait photo 
  • Your writer’s website address 
  • Email address and other contact details you wish to share

Tip: Consistency builds trust. Keeping the color scheme and style of your business cards and your writer’s website similar creates a more trustworthy image.