Travel tales captivate nearly everyone and have been doing so for thousands of years. Distant lands and foreign people are intriguing and always hold an audience. By the 1800s, as advances in printing technology made books and magazines affordable for the masses, the demand for stories about life over the horizon grew. Editors sought well written articles from vagabond writers and the art and craft of travel writing began taking shape. In the 20th Century travel writers found dozens of travel periodicals, hundreds of travel guidebooks, radio syndication shows, cable networks and, of course, the Internet as outlets for their words. Although almost every corner and cranny of the globe has been the subject of a magazine article or book, there is always a fresh persepective and a new voice to enlighten and entertain readers.
Travel writing has evolved a great deal from the early 1950s. Today's travel writer is much more in the story than in previous generations. Politics and editorial commentary frequently slips into the narrative. Visuals are almost essential—a good travel writer is also a good photographer, usually using digital cameras. Editors are very pleased when a freelance travel writer can provide well framed, colorful images to enhance the written submission.
SOCIETY OF AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITERS
The most respected national organization for professional travel writers is SATW. They have been around for 50 years and they promote responsible travel journalism. Membership is not an easy thing to attain: you have to be sponsored by two active members and you have to have a number of published works to present for review.
MAJOR METRO DAILY NEWSPAPERS WITH TRAVEL SECTIONS
-  New York Times
-  Philadephia Inquirer
-  Boston Globe
-  Chicago Tribune
-  LA Times
-  San Francisco Chronicle
-  USA TODAY
-  Washington Post
POPULAR TRAVEL PERIODICALS IN THE USA
- Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel
- Travel & Leisure
- National Geographic Traveler
- Cruise Travel
- Caribbean Travel & Life
- AAA Traveler
- AAA Home & Away
- Texas Highways
- Midwest Living
- Southern Living
- Arizona Highways
CAREERS IN TRAVEL WRITING
Most travel writers are freelance, that is, they work independently of any publisher or organization. They often work 'on spec' (on speculation) without assignment and without any guarantee that their research and finished work will be purchased or published. Freelance travel writers typically submit work to daily newspapers and are compensated in payment by the word. Such payments can be as low as $.05 to $.10 a word. If an article runs 1,000 words, which is about four double-spaced typed pages when submitted, payment could be as little as $50 to $100. This is typically negotiated as 'paid upon publication' - and articles may languish for months before being printed. To make a living at travel writing, most freelancers submit the same article to dozens of newspapers simultaneously, in hopes that five, ten or twenty papers will run their work. As well, when a travel writer visits a destination, the common strategy is to develop many smaller articles than one overview piece. For example, it is far more lucrative to create three smaller articles on Chowder Houses of Boston, the Road Apple Museum and the Nightlife on Raush Street than a single omnibus on Boston.
Even with hundreds of travel books and the many magazine titles that fill shelves in Barnes and Noble, developing a full-time writing career focused on travel is rare. There are far too many talented freelancers available to keep a lot of staff writers on the payroll. There are full-time travel writers out there, but they are a very small population.
TRAVEL WRITING RESOURCES
- Travelwriters.com is a website that brings travel writers, editors and destination clients together.
- Travelwriter Marketletter is a subscription-based publication with good information.
- Travel Writing Tips is a website that offers some good advice to novices.
-  Travel Writers Blog is another interesting place to visit.