Get Paid to Travel

bali-570655_640Who wouldn’t want to travel the globe and get paid for it?

Before booking a flight to Bali, get grounded in the basics of travel writing press trips.


  1. The Rule of Hype: Teasers such as “Get paid to travel the world!” are usually ad copy written for companies selling courses and books. While it’s true that travel writers do go on paid press trips, known as junkets or “fam” (familiarization) trips, the road toward being wined and dined in luxury hotels is paved with contacts and publication credits.


  1. Develop Contacts: reveals the secret to receiving invitations to junkets — get your name on the press lists of national and regional tourist boards, airlines, tour operators, hotels and other organizations that regularly host trips for journalists.


  1. Join: Become a member one or more travel writers associations which receive calls for writers and hold conferences jointly with travel industry representatives. Every association I looked into requires applicants to have had a minimum number of travel articles (or photos or books) published in widely read media within a given timeframe. For details visit International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Organization, the Midwest Travel Writers Association, the Society of American Travel Writers, the Travel Journalists Guild, the Australian Society of Travel Writers, or the Travel Media Association of Canada


  1. Unglamorous Truths: Louisa Peat O’Neil, author of several Travel Writing books, contends that many travel writers hold other regular jobs and use vacations days for junkets. And not every trip is glamorous, as Jeremy Ferguson attests in his article that included the line “It’s a simple restaurant that serves dishes that usually surf on a tidal wave of grease.” (


  1. Ethics in Question: In “All Expenses Paid: Exploring the Ethical Swamp of Travel Writing”, Elizabeth Austin writes, “It’s true that the writers of most junket-based pieces generally sing the praises of their hosts’ accommodations… the greatest hazard of the press junket isn’t the implicit quid pro quo. It’s the controlled and sanitized travel experience it presents to the writers, with everything as perfectly planned and tidily gift-wrapped as those nightly presents left on our pillows. During our trip…we got the complete visiting rock star experience.” The likes of which Average Traveler won’t experience.


  1. Objectivity is Key: Tim Ryan (com/2001/06/24/features/story1.html) tells about the time Paul Theroux ( joined several travel junketeers for dinner at a luxury hotel. “In a pleasant tone that carried a knife-to-the-heart message, Theroux posed a question: ‘How can you possibly write something objective about a place when you’re essentially being paid to visit? I know I couldn’t.’ The room fell silent as most of the writers lowered their heads.” Writers who occasionally break away from the group can gather un-choreographed impressions and information.


  1. Integrity Intact: Disclosing that a trip was sponsored can put the article in perspective. Jeff Shelley writes, “I flew out to ‘the Flathead’ thanks to an invite from the Whitefish Convention & Visitors Bureau…Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t need a ‘fam’ trip to be sold on the Flathead Valley.” Writing about firsthand experiences and appealing to the five senses, rather than parroting adjective-laden brochure hyperbole, demonstrate integrity, too.


  1. Readers Trust Writers: Tourist attractions can get publicity with advertising campaigns, but at a high price. Austin explains that “a single full-page ad in ‘Condé Nast Traveler’ ( reportedly costs a whopping $50,000. And an ad lacks the credibility of a seasoned travel writer swooning over a resort’s breathtaking setting and lavish amenities.” Tourist attractions realize value for the dollar when they invest a fraction of that amount per writer per day. According to Jeremy Ferguson, “Travel agents don’t like to use their customers as guinea pigs. If an area of China, for instance, claims to be ready for tourists, the agents want to see it for themselves.” Writers participate in these PR junkets.


  1. Travel Writers’ Resources: Order the e-book “Guide to Become a Travel Writer” at Click on

If you’ve already had travel articles published, getting invited on a paid press trip could be your next goal. If you’ve dabbled in travel writing, you can follow L. Peat O’Neil’s recommendation. “No one starts at the top. Find your own level, work in it, then work up out of it.”

As you’re jetting to Bali, you’ll agree that travel writing is the best job in the world.

By the author of Ken’s WarWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide.


 ken's war cover

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award-winning author of YA books.







Tips for Earning Money Writing Globally: Part 2

Beth Fowler headshotPart 1 listed half a dozen sure-fire ways to get published internationally. Here are more that have worked for me.

Gesture judiciously: Describing gestures adds life to personality profiles and fictional characterizations, but gestures don’t necessarily impart universal meanings. Thrusting fingers upward in a V signifies an insult, victory, two or peace, depending on where thrusting occurs!

When gestures are important, global freelancers include explanations that flow naturally in context. (“Making a circle with finger and thumb, the captain indicated that the trip was successful.”)

Be worldly: I once read a query promoting an area of India as an ideal tourist destination …never mind that two so-called religious factions were killing each other’s devotees. Worldly freelancers demonstrate global awareness and intercultural sensitivity. Being worldly means not sending pork recipes to a publication with a Muslim audience and not using nicknames (Yank, wetback). Lazy journalists use phrases such as “inscrutable Chinese” and “friendly natives.” Being worldly means banishing dogmas, romanticized images, stereotypes and prejudices. Read articles about cultural customs at

Write the truth: Hundreds of magazine and newspaper editors speaking about what they look for in articles concurred, “We are unhappy with writers who get their facts wrong.”

Don’t assume that a “fact” in magazines, newspapers, online and on TV is accurate. Inaccuracies get repeated. Calling a monstrous hodgepodge “Frankenstein” is a common mistake. Frankenstein was the monster’s creator’s name. The monster killed his creator, therefore, Frankenstein is a person who is destroyed by his own works.

Re-verify facts with interviewed subjects, check multiple and unbiased sources, proofread final drafts against your original notes, and ask a nitpicking, skeptical, truthful reader to review your manuscript. Check on-line reference resources such as

Write the right editor: You live in France. You want to pitch an idea about hand-knit sweaters to Gentleman’s Quarterly. A query addressed generically to “Dear Editor” shouts “Amateur!” So you open GQ and see 28 editors listed. Six handle fashion. One is the “European Editor.” Aim for editor-in-chief, and you risk irritating this VIP who’d delegated some of his editorial load to capable sub-editors, and you risk snubbing the fashion editor and the European editor.

Some individuals of the editorial team might have left after the magazine you have on hand was published, so verifying the appropriate recipient is wise in any case. Contact the magazine and ask to whom to address your query. If you send something to the managing editor and an assistant editor replies, continue communications at that level.

Nancy Flannery, an Australian journalist, author, editor and publisher, told “Southern Write” ( readers, “Attention to detail, visualizing the needs of the reader as well as conforming to the publication’s house style, integrity of one’s own voice, reasonable observance of spelling, grammar and syntax rules are surely still important. If text doesn’t flow and doesn’t have entertainment or information value, then it won’t be read.”

She ought to know. Nancy received her first check (that’s cheque Down Under) for writing when she was 12 years old.


Article by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”


 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.




Tips for Earning Money Writing Globally: Part 1

Beth Fowler headshotWhen editors in other lands see your work, they ask, “Is this foreign writer professional?” And, “Does this foreigner’s work fit our publication?”

Read on to learn how to get a si, oui, ja and hai.

Multiply earning power: I sold one article to magazines in Australia, Malaysia and the United States. By offering rights to one country at a time (i.e. First Australian Rights), you can re-sell an article to different countries. Offering reprint rights multiplies the earning power of one article, too. The chances of, for instance, a reader in Scotland seeing the article reprinted in New Zealand is so remote that editors of (off line) national publications accept second or reprint rights.

Write their way: “Study our publication before submitting,” is excellent advice for global freelancers to follow before sending manuscripts over the border. Is it travelled or traveled, lift or elevator? Style preferences are in submission guidelines, but basics that citizen writers know aren’t.

Malaysia and Australia, two English-speaking countries use British spellings. The Philippines and Taiwan use American spellings in English-language publications. Find help with American and British spellings at

Manage metaphors: UN members published a document depicting an owl to symbolize wisdom. The image flopped because in Asia owls symbolize stupidity. Metaphors, similes, idioms, clichés, slang and jargon are gobbledygook when they have unintended connotations. Avoid them.

Cite specifics: In anticipation of a trip to England, a Bombay couple scanned a travel article in which a British author had characterized London in July as “red hot.” The Indians shivered for a fortnight because London temperatures never rose above 50 F (10º C).

Global freelancers replace relative words (hot, heavy, tiny, expensive) with specifics (32º C, five tons, one centimeter, HKD$200,000).

Write comparisons of relative scale that appeal to readers’ experience. For instance, because Indonesians play badminton more often than basketball, a Western journalist writing for a Jakarta newspaper described a building as ” . . . five times the length of a badminton court.”

Convert consistently: As an editor, I’ve received manuscripts with inconsistent measurement systems. Inches inched along with centimeters (and centimetres), Fahrenheit warmed up to Celsius, and miles traveled with kilometers. Global freelancers use the system the publication uses and are consistent within one document. On the other hand, international publications include two measurements, as in “A 20-mile (32-km) path follows the coast.”

Global writers specify which country’s dollars are quoted by inserting the country’s name as in “$5 million Hong Kong,” or “HKD$5 million,” or including a statement: “All prices in Hong Kong dollars.” Find currency and measurement converters at

Hold the humor: A Singaporean reading an American editorial remained stone-faced at the journalist’s supposedly humorous reference to Governor Christie’s weight. Who’s Governor Christie? What’s weight got to do with anything? Trans-cultural humor requires intimate knowledge of psychology, zeitgeist, politics, history and language. What’s so funny about a chicken crossing the road?

If an amusing anecdote is integral to developing a theme, recruit a local from the country whose ribs you hope to tickle to review the piece. Rewrite or delete accordingly.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of how to make money freelancing globally.


Article by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”


 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.




Eat, Drink, Make Money: Part 2

salad-210717_150You’ve been dining out ever since you were knee high to a Grasshopper pie. That experience accompanied by a generous serving of solid writing skills, and a side dish of smart market research, ensures that you can eat, drink and make money.


Getting restaurant reviews published in e-zines, blogs or sites such as is easier than getting your byline in traditional media, but it’s harder to find good pay, typically.

However, the ‘net is an all-u-can-eat buffet of facts to spice up your articles. One of my favorite food websites is In addition to the ‘net and reference staples such as a thesaurus, the restaurant review writer’s larder should be stocked with ethnic, foreign, specialty and classic cookbooks.

A file folder stuffed with samples of other writers’ restaurant critiques is inspiring, especially after you’ve written several reviews and are starving for a fresh way to say “delicious.”

As always, you’ll ascertain the target publication’s preferences in word count, slant, attitude and so forth to avoid rejections. There are questions to sift out that are unique to writing restaurant critiques. My sumptuous article about a French restaurant was rejected because the magazine only accepted restaurant reviews of restaurants that had advertised in their
publication. Getting the mag’s submission guidelines would have spared me from disappointment.

Find out if reviewers are paid a standard fee. Are they reimbursed for meals? Who provides the photos? Are menu prices listed? Is dinner dinner or is dinner supper? Are restaurants rated on a five-fork scale? How are negative opinions expressed? (Most editors prefer to publish positive, yet honest critiques.)

Are readers likely to know what fricassee means? Is the chef’s or manager’s bio mentioned? Is the writing sensual or businesslike or technical? Are storytelling techniques used? Apart from all those permutations of policy and style, the prime objective of restaurant reviews is informing readers what to expect if they dine at the reviewed restaurant. The second objective is entertaining readers, regardless.

Before zeroing in on a specific restaurant to review, look for gaps in the target publication’s coverage. Have previous articles covered downtown cafes, but skimped on bistros and diners in the ‘burbs and hinterlands? What about vegetarian restaurants? Kosher restaurants? How about an article that focuses on restaurants serving wild game? When a new restaurant pops up, be the first to pop your piece de resistance in the mail to an editor.


It’s 1965 and Ken Paderson is itchin’ to get his driver’s license, but his world turns upside down when he and his dad are whisked off to a remote army outpost in Japan. Bento, moshi and udan replace lunch box, rice and spaghetti. The novel, Ken’s War, is slated for publication this May by Melange Books LLC. Please like the brand new site

article by Beth Fowler

article by Beth Fowler