6 great travel publications that pay freelance writers
Updated April 2019
If you want to break into travel writing, you have endless opportunities to see your words in print and online. And even better, there are numerous publications that pay writers well. I’ve compiled a list of some well-known and less well-known freelance travel writing opportunities where you can pitch print and online travel publications. And best of all, they pay well.
Freelance travel writing opportunities that pay well
Don’t feel that you need to trek to a white sand beach with turquoise water before you pitch a travel story. My very first travel article was about the small country town where I live, and my second was in another state in Australia.
Often it’s easier to pitch an area you know and that is relatively local to you – there are fewer risks and most times you know the area and the people intimately. Therefore you know the great angles to pitch editors.
And even if you don’t want to be a travel writer, from time to time you may come across a local story or destination that would suit an online travel publication or even a print one, so it's always worth keeping your eyes open for good opportunities.
[But if you do want to travel further than your neighbourhood - you may need to get sponsorship or hosting from a tourism board or PR agency]
Travel magazines that pay freelance writers
AARP has a readership of over 37 million readers and is the leading United States publication for people aged 50 years and over. The magazine provides three editorial versions that are specifically targeted to different life stages (50-59, 60-69 and 70+).
While you can pitch feature articles for their money, health, food and relationships sections, the travel segment is focused on tips and trends on how and where to travel.
Pitches should explain the idea of the piece, how you would approach it as well as attaching recent writing samples.
Pay rate: $2/word for print; $1/word for online
If you’re looking to break into travel writing, registering with World Nomads Mojo is a great start. They have heaps of opportunities available for writers, photographers, videographers, presenters, animators and cinematographers.
They advertise their regular opportunities here
But you can register your name, details and skills, and when commissions and opportunities arise, Mojos will use the database as a starting point to look for suitable candidates.
I've had a couple of pieces published with them, and they were great to work with.
How could I compile a list of freelance travel writing opportunities and magazines that pay freelance writers without mentioning the top shelf publication that is Travel + Leisure? With over six million readers, this is one of the magazines to pitch if you want to make a name for yourself within travel writing.
Freelance contributors write the majority of articles in the magazine so there are plenty of opportunities to pitch and be published.
I interviewed Diana Hubbell, former editor of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia at the beginning of the year, and her stories are a good indication of the types of articles they are looking for.
Pitch guidelines: It’s important that you include service information with each destination article (e.g. when to go, how to get there, where to eat and so on).
While, it's a few years old now, I would really recommend reading this article about the Travel + Leisure brand and what freelance writers can do to increase their chances of having a pitch accepted.
Pay rates: $2/word for print. An editor has let me know that digital rates are not shared publicly.
And don’t forget that Travel + Leisure have magazines for India, Southeast Asia, Mexico and more.
Hemispheres is the inflight magazine for United Airlines and targets affluent and intrepid world travellers. You can read online issues of the magazine here
There are around 12 freelance contributors per issue, so again, lots of opportunities to pitch and submit your travel articles.
The sections that are open to freelancers are: features, navigator (front of book section) and diversions (their front of book culture section).
Pay rates: $1/word
This is a Canadian travel magazine specifically for travel agents. It's a marketing publication used by travel agents to send to their clients. Ensemble Vacations are always looking for stories that travel agents could potentially sell to clients, so they are keen for narrative pitches (not service or listicle-type articles).
They accept pitches from international freelance writers.
Pay rate: 75c/word
AFAR is a multi-platform travel media brand. The Wayfarer is AFAR’s original online content initiative. Their aim is to 'inspire and inform' readers by answering: Where should I go next? What’s new and interesting? As a regular traveler, what do I need to know?
Don't you just wish all publications had writer contribution guidelines like this one?
Pay rate: $1/word
Of course, there are thousands and thousands of travel publications out there (not to mention all the 'regular' magazines and newspapers that have travel sections), but here are just a few to get you started and to help you realise that there are lots of well-paying writing opportunities out there.
How can you break into travel writing or earn more from your writing?
If you are serious about travel writing and earning money from it, I can't speak highly enough of this online course in travel writing* run by the Australian Writers Center (and no, you don't have to be Australian to do the course). I did it a few years ago, which is taught by freelance travel writers and within a month I had recouped the cost of the course with my first travel writing commission.
I now regularly receive offers of press trips and famils and I've have been published in some big name travel publications (like Travel + Leisure), and it's all because I took that course.
I'd also really recommend Tim Leffel's book Travel Writing 2.0 (in the link below)*. He is a total guru in the field of travel writing and I love that he offers such practical and useful advice for freelance travel writers and bloggers.
“Most travel writing books you pick up spend most of their pages on the craft itself and the earnings part is treated as an afterthought. I think that’s backward.” – Tim Leffel
And if you're looking for ideas of where else to pitch your travel writing - look no further than Gabi Logan's Travel Magazine Database - this is an incredible resource for writers to get detailed breakdowns of hundreds of travel magazines in addition to the 30 magazines new breakdowns a month for $20/month. (You can also save two months’ membership fees when you opt for an annual subscription.)
*In an attempt to join the modern world, the above are affiliate links. Or at least I think they are, because I'm not really confident that I've set it up correctly. I'm dipping my toe into the world of affiliate links, but will only have them for books or products that I have paid for myself, have tried and think are really worthwhile. Because let’s be honest, lots of freelance writers aren't making much cash. I want to change that.
Tim's book has been fundamental in helping me to break into travel writing. I would highly recommend it.
Are you looking to get into travel writing? Have you found any great publications that you'd like to share?