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Freelance Travel Writer: Job Description and Salary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a freelance travel writer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties, and working environment to find out if this is the career for you.

Freelance travel writers seek out interesting hotspots, restaurants, sightseeing places, or whatever arouses interest. Writing experience and a relevant college degree are usually required by employers.

Essential Information

Freelance travel writers are self-employed professionals who write about various aspects of the travel industry and traveling, gathering their information firsthand by visiting various cities, states, and countries. Since they are paid per assignment, freelance writers may work long, irregular hours to meet editors' deadlines. A bachelor's degree in an area like English or journalism and previous writing experience may be helpful in securing freelance writing assignments.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in English, journalism or related field may be helpful
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% (all writers and authors)*
Median Salary (2016)** $38,782 annually for freelance writers

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Job Description for Freelance Travel Writers

Freelance travel writers earn wages by selling their stories to various travel-related publications, agencies, websites, and organizations. Travel writers may pitch article, book, or script ideas to publishers in hopes of getting a contract to write an article. These writers may work for several different publications or companies, be recurring authors at the same publication, submit regular columns, or write a series of related articles. They write about a variety of travel-themed topics, including different aspects of the transportation and hotel industries, culture, historical destinations, ecology, adventure, vacationing, profiles of different places, and international current events.

Code of Ethics

Travel writing associations such as the Society of American Travel Writers and the Midwest Travel Writers Association insist that their members adhere to ethical standards. These standards ensure that travel writers are credible and moral sources of information. Some of these guidelines that apply to freelance travel writers in general are:

  • All writing should be accurate, factual, and objective.
  • Travel writers may not plagiarize or sell the rights to works that they don't own.
  • No travel writer should accept cash or gifts in exchange for favorable reviews.
  • Travel writers should be respectful and considerate of their hosts when on assignment.

Freelance Travel Writer Salary Information

In January 2016, a survey of freelance writers indicated an annual total pay range (including salary and bonuses) of $21,343-$117,631, according to PayScale.com. Freelance travel writers may also be required to pay for some of their own travel expenses. They are also responsible for their own health benefits, retirement funds, and work equipment.

Freelance travel writers get paid on a project-to-project basis. Wages fluctuate depending on how many assignments a travel freelance writer gets each year. In most cases, especially for entry-level freelance writers, it's up to the writer to approach editors about story ideas. Assignments are made based on experience, talent, location, and other editorial requirements.

To become a freelance travel writer, one must have prior experience, a willingness to travel on their own expenses, and potentially a bachelor's degree. Being gracious and unbiased are important qualities that travel writers must have. They work on a pay-per-piece rate.


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