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Problems Faced By Travel Writers

Problems Faced By Travel Writers

Travel writing is a very interesting job; however, the field has its own challenges like every other. This Penlighten article enlists a few problems faced by travel writers.
Penlighten Staff
Young brunette woman sits with laptop in meadow
Quick Tip
If you intend to work as a freelance travel writer, make sure you work on a retainer basis. A retainer is basically a contract between two parties (in this case, you and the travel company), wherein one party pays to retain the other party.

To read about the pristine, snow-capped peaks of Switzerland, the monasteries of Tibet, the deserts of Africa, the abundance of lakes, gardens, and valleys of America, the beaches of Australia and much more gives us an incredible pleasure. The beauty of writing lies in the fact that those words printed on paper have the capacity to transport you in a different place, a different time. The people who make this happen are travel writers.
Writing an apparently simple article on a travel destination can be hard work. A lot of effort is put into bringing out the best of a place through one's writing so that readers are impressed and feel inspired to visit that place. The general consensus is that travel writing is a lucrative, interesting job, and though this may be partly true, this is far from the reality. Here, we shall take a closer look at some of the problems faced by travel writers.
Job Profile of a Travel Writer
  • In simple words, the job description of a travel writer entails writing about a place for different publications.
  • To elaborate, a travel writer travels to different places, learns everything about them―the history, cuisine, tourist spots, clothing, transport, etc. Then, he jots down his observations and drafts an article about the place so that other people read about the same.
  • He may work for independent travel companies, tourist agencies, travel magazines, etc.
  • He may write travel reviews, personal experiences, brochures, travelogues, blogs, etc.

Problems Faced By Travel Writers

Legal Considerations
  • To begin with, remember the golden rule - no plagiarism. You are not to copy content from anywhere else; all your content has to be original and authentic. If you do not follow this rule, you are likely to be sued for plagiarism, and you may be blacklisted.
  • While this is something most writers are aware of, some of the fresh interns may remain blissfully ignorant.
  • This is especially true if they start their career with a small company/newspaper; they possibly believe that since the readership is limited, they might as well copy content from established magazines. This will never work though, whether your company/magazine/newspaper is small or large, you will be in trouble with the law for copying work.
  • Next, familiarize yourself with all the legal terms; these include copyright, patent, trademark, plagiarism, defamation, etc. Just like how you cannot copy the work of others, they cannot do so as well. If you find that your work has been copied and passed off as that of someone else, you need to pursue legal action against them on the grounds of plagiarism. However, legal proceedings require time and money.
  • You need to copyright and mark your writings as original. This is the legal evidence that the work is yours completely; without a copyright or a patent, no one is going to believe you. If you are freelancing, you have to undertake these responsibilities on your own; if you work for a company/publication, it is your employer's responsibility.
  • Next, consider the contract. There are different kinds of contracts that are signed by travel writers.
  • You may be working for a newspaper, magazine, agency, travel company, website company, etc. No two workplaces have the same rules; consequently, your contract (if you are working on a contract-basis, that is) will be drafted differently.
  • You will need to protect yourself; you can draft a binding legal contract or simple Letter of Agreement.
  • You have to be careful of what the contract contains. Many travel writers do not read the contract carefully and face the repercussions later. To avoid problems, learn how to negotiate the contract properly.

Huge Competition
  • You will be surprised to know that the competition in this field is rather intense. As a fresher, you will probably be googly-eyed and eager, completely ready to travel the world and write brilliant pieces and expect appreciation.
  • While this might definitely happen in the long run, remember that there are a thousand more like you, waiting to prove their mettle to the world.
  • You will need to extensive research, for you might find out that your ideas have already been published, your writing style resembles that of someone else, or your article is similar to many hundreds of articles people have already read.
  • Even for a small article in a magazine or a clipping in a newspaper, there are innumerable writers waiting in line. Do not be under the misconception that editors are waiting for fresh talent; they have numerous manuscripts to read every day. They need quick, fast, efficient work.
  • Do not get discouraged though, just be prepared. Add something unique to your piece. Say, you are writing an article about Forks, Washington. There are probably many pieces submitted on the same. Read them all, analyze, and find out something different about the place to write in your piece.

Expenses
  • You may have heard of tag lines that travel companies post in their job offer ads - they are something like "Get paid to travel the world and write!" or "Great opportunity to travel and earn", and so on. Wake up and smell the coffee, for your travel expenses are not going to be paid by the company always.
  • This is especially true for new writers. If you have to visit places that aren't very far-off, your travel expenditure may or may not covered by the company. The same applies for your hotel bills.
  • Established writers do have all expenses covered, of course, but it may take long to reach there.
  • Moreover, paying for travel depends on the publication and readership. If your magazine has a lot of readers and is famous enough, your expenses may be paid even if you are an intern. On the contrary, if you have fairly good experience but you work for a publication that has limited readership, your expenses may not be paid.
  • This is especially true for freelancers and bloggers. Most of their expenses may not be covered.
  • Some companies may pay for freelancers too, but then there may be an additional clause in the contract related to the remuneration.
  • Paying your own expenses, in addition to a tiring journey can be very frustrating.

Remuneration
  • Like every other field, fresh travel writers are paid very little. To a great extent, this again, depends on your workplace.
  • If you have been lucky enough to kickstart your career with a famous reputed magazine or a huge company, you will be paid fairly well. On the contrary, if you are writing for a small newspaper or a blog or a not-very-well-recognized company, you may not get paid handsomely for quite a while, without any significant growth in your career.
  • Point two, it is not necessary that your story will be accepted. That is to say, it is a common myth that you write an article, it gets published, and you are paid pronto. Well, it does not work that way.
  • After you write an article, it may take a few days or months to publish and it may also happen that you may not be paid for that piece.
  • Some assignments are really interesting, while some others may be drab. Your salary depends on the viewership of the articles.
  • A significant number of the population makes a good living in travel writing; but it takes a while to reach the pinnacle. Until then, the financial wheels of your life may very well be churning slowly.

Issues Related to Writing
  • As mentioned earlier, the content you write may already have been written many times before. You would be surprised to know; there are hundreds and thousands of articles about the remotest of places you wouldn't even have heard of.
  • Do not be under the misconception that readers love to read long articles. You would hardly find one out of ten magazines where an article is about 5-6 pages long.
  • If you write brochures, you may be able to write a medium-length article, a review should not exceed 2 pages, and most blogs have a word count limit.
  • Managing the length of the article is a major problem for most travel writers, since it may be disheartening to work so hard, research, and then having to pen down the same within a limit.
  • Many travel writers get carried away and write about their personal experiences. Remember, the readers want your views about the place, not your memories.
  • Another major issue is that many aspiring writers choose tried-and-tested places as popular subjects to be on the safer side.
  • This, however, may not necessarily work in their favor, because they have been written about so often that the public gets tired reading the same stuff, even if you adopt a different style of writing. Therefore, choose a different, offbeat subject.
  • Alternatively, you also run the risk of writing about a new place without anything to build on, then again, there may be a shortage of destinations for you to experiment on.
No career path is perfect; every field has its pros and cons. There are definitely some problems associated with travel writing, but with time and experience, you will be able to overcome them. At the end of the day, it is vital that you love what you are doing, and if travel writing is your goal, you will definitely find a solution to every problem.