10 Outlets for the Social-Minded Travel Writer

I never assumed that making it as a travel writer would be easy.  When I embarked on this career in 2008, the world economy was free-falling and the publishing industry was suffering even worse.  My family called my dream idealistic, but I knew I could make it happen.

I’m now twenty five and I can claim moderate success.  My age and interests put me between worlds and the markets magazines cater to – I’m getting over the backpacker travel niche, I’m too young for high-paying luxury travel market, and I’m feeling the need to use my words to write about the deeper meaning of travel.

It’s hard to write about $300 Michelin-starred meals in Spain when people are starving across the Mediterranean.  Just as I’m starting to break into travel writing, I feel the need to use my words to make a difference.  My dream is to travel through the world writing about development issues and human rights, mixing travel narratives with journalistic reporting.

I’m not there yet.  Therefore I’ve put together this list of publications that reflects my mixed interests and the transitional career spot I currently occupy.   From the idealistic, low-paying magazines that feed my soul to the travel mags that pay the bills, this is where I’m sending my work in 2012.

 

Glimpse.org

The scoop: Glimpse has established itself as the home for up-and-coming travel journalists with its selective Correspondents Program.  Each spring & fall Glimpse choses 10 young writers for their fellowship to help Correspondents craft narrative pieces that “spur curiosity, challenge entrenched ways of seeing, trouble complacency, and create empathy across vast cultural and physical distances.”

The payout: The Correspondents Program awards $600 stipend for the duration of your stay, plus one-on-one coaching with Glimpse editors to build your portfolio and held kick-start your career.

The deal:  Candidates must be working, volunteering, or studying outside their home country for a minimum of 10 weeks.   See their requirements, FAQ and dates & deadlines for all the deets.

The contact: Sarah Menkedick (editor@glimpse.org)

Vice Travel

The scoop: To characterize Vice as ‘edgy’ is an understatement – ‘irreverent’ is more apt. Vice Travel is less about promoting cross-cultural understanding than snide commentary on foreign lands.  But I am no saint, and their pretentious hipster tone makes venting travel frustrations easier than ever.  Plus, their killer travel videos have made me seriously consider shifting into travel documentary work.

The payout: According to legend, they do pay.

The deal: There is no public submissions process (see below).  Numerous internships available for undergrads.

The contact: Vice operates on a spider-network – you must know someone who can vouch for you.  Their masthead publicly lists the editorial board, but they aren’t fans of blind pitches.  If desperate, try hanging around their Brooklyn offices or their pub, The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch, UK.

Verge Magazine

The scoop: Written for those who “travel with purpose,” Verge provides an outlet for spreading awareness about social issues.  They encourage readers to live abroad through articles that mix education, information and inspiration.  Topics range from listing volunteer opportunities in Africa, to documenting microfinance programs in Peru, or profiling inspiring activists.

The payout: .10 cents per word (in Canadian dollars).

The deal: Focus your pitches around topics that illustrate how meaningful travel contributes to a greater understanding of world cultures and issues.  There’s a full run-down on their submission guidelines here.   They also post a monthly open-call for submissions on their Verge Storyboard page.

The contact: contributing@vergemagazine.ca  No specific editor listed, see their masthead for a list of staff.  

Wild Junket

The scoop: This new website focuses on outdoorsy & sustainable travel for a 25-40 year old market. It’s fun, readable and holds plenty of promise – and a generous pay structure. The site began as the personal travel blog of Singaporean traveler Nellie Huang but is expanding quickly with its growing audience and kudos from across the industry.

The payout: $150 for a feature or travel guide.  $50-70 for smaller pieces.  

The deal: Lots of coverage on Asia and Europe, but Latin America is just begging for contributors.  See the editorial guidelines for more info.  Pitches should include the proposed article’s title, subheading and a bullet list of content.  

The contact: Nellie Huang (editor@wildjunket.com)

Travelers’ Tales

The scoop: The home for that 1st person account of your recent adventure.  Travelers’ Tales compiles the best travel narratives of the year according to genre – from humor or adventure, to spirituality – to print in their yearly travel writing collections. Yes, Gen Y-ers, I am referring to printed books.

The payout: Travelers’ Tales recognize the best of each genre with their Solis Award, which comes with $100 cash, publication and tons of street cred.  $1,000 for best overall piece.

The deal: They accept submissions to tons of genres, each of which has it’s own “best of” collection.  Publication is non-exclusive.  Submit via their website only.  

The contact: Read up on founders James O’Reilly and Larry Habegger here.

Off Track Planet

The scoop: This online travel guide for the “young, horny and broke” have recently upped their game. After building a loyal following for two years they have expanded from web into print, quadrupled their web content and made an open call for writers.

The payout: They’re a start up so they don’t pay at the moment. However, they run a three-month long internship program that is a great way for aspiring travel writers to cut their teeth – as I once did.

The deal: OTP’s style is as raunchy as informative.  Craft pitches accordingly.

The contact: Contact them via Facebook or apply to write for them online.

Vagabundo

The scoop:  No “Top 10” articles at Vagabundo – this site is all about narratives.  Spin your yarns in the form of destination pieces, volunteering stories,  adventure and the inevitable mishaps of travel.  They also print a glossy magazine every quarter.

The payout: $15 general article for website, $25-100 for feature.

The deal: Fresh, first-person accounts of adventurous travel, photos a plus. Full submissions or queries accepted.  Read their guidelines here.

The contact: Brendan van Son (editor@vagabundotravel.com)

The Common Language Project

The scoop: CLP provides a platform for emerging journalists to cover underreported stories from around the world. Their articles focus on the small human stories that illuminate broader social issues ranging from human rights, poverty & development, labor & immigration to the environment.

The payout: $50-100 for assigned pieces.

The deal: CLP’s adherence to journalistic ethics means you’d better double check your research before submitting.  They also have a fellowship, and an internship program.

The contact: Write to submissions@clpmag.org.  Alex Stonehill heads up international reporting projects.

In Transit (The New York Times)

The scoop: In Transit is a great travel outlet for journalists.  Not only is their niche is easy to fill – 300 word blurbs on upcoming events in the major cities of the world – but they automatically exclude anyone who has taken a paid press trip in the past three years. That excludes most travel writers and opens up opportunities for traditional journalists.

The payout – At $50 for 300 word articles, this can be a great income booster for simply keeping up with your favorite foreign city.

The deal: Send a concise pitch with up to three clear ideas.  Attach your resume and don’t hesitate to follow up if you haven’t heard from them.

The contact: Monica Drake modrak@nytimes.com

National Geographic Traveler

The scoop: My ‘reach’ selection goes to National Geographic Traveler. Some glossy mags can be too sophisticated for my travel tastes; Traveler strikes a balance between off-the-beaten-track adventures and the comfort demanded by the broader American public.

The payout: Some of the best in the industry – between $1-3 per word.

The deal: Competition is fierce.  Win over editors with a catchy, focused pitch or two about a novel angle on a specific destination.  Make sure to address two questions – Why now? And why in Traveler?   Don’t aim for a feature at first; get your foot in the door with a short back-of-the-book piece.  Read their guidelines and isten to their editors’ tips in this quick video.

The contact: Query by mail.  Include your credentials, relevant published clippings and a SASE to ensure that the requested materials are returned. Mail your proposal to Query Editor, National Geographic Traveler, 1145 17th St NW, Washington DC 20036

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