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Master the traveller’s idiom

13 Dec 2017 | 12:51 AM

If you have a passion for travel and a way with words then writing about exciting places is the ultimate way to channel your passion into a proper occupation

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Usha Albuquerque

If you have a passion for travel and a way with words then writing about exciting places is the ultimate way to channel your passion into a proper occupation 

Who hasn't dreamt of a job where you are sent round the world on an assignment, all expenses paid, with endless days lolling on the beach or people-watching in cafes? How many of us watch the ever enticing Fox Traveller or TLC and wonder isn't a travel show host the best job in the world!  Travelling the world, meeting intriguing people, seeing amazing places, and getting paid for it - sounds like a dream job! Farfetched as it may sound, it is not impossible to have a full-time career in the field of travel, or in a job involving travel. 

However, the most challenging and fascinating job in travel is that of a travel journalist. Imagine a hammock, a cold beer, and a calm breeze as you file your copy for your latest travel column - sounds pretty good, right? Though this isn't always how it happens and is not the easiest way to make money, but this traveling job definitely is the most enjoyable one. 

And therefore the toughest job to get, as there are not many full-time opportunities which exist in this career option. Very few publications pay freelancers' travel expenses.  If you have years of experience, you may be commissioned to write a 1,000-word travel feature for a major publication. 

Most publications typically want individuals who can work as freelancers and are able to submit first hand accounts of a given location. A travel journalist needs to share  experiences and anecdotes with people so as to encourage them to go out and explore the world. It is important for a travel journalist to be knowledgeable about the places they are covering, which destinations will be in the news next year, which are the new air routes, what are the new attractions. You need to be able to dig out the angles the travel guides don't cover hidden gems and insider info: after all, if it is already in a guidebook, what are you adding to it? Moreover, travel is a lifestyle activity, so you need to be knowledge about the various leisure activities that people like to indulge in, while on holiday, whether it be food, entertainment, nightlife, sightseeing, etc. with an excitement and enthusiasm for the places that you are discovering and sharing with your readers. 

Getting in

To get into travel journalism some qualification in journalism can be useful for building on your writing skills and credibility with the industry.  A degree is not necessary if you plan to remain a freelancer, but can make a difference when you apply for any full-time assignment or commissioned post. 

You can go in for a bachelor's degree in journalism or a post-graduate degree or diploma in journalism or mass communication, after a degree in any subject. Some years of experience working as a feature journalist, even if you are handling other kinds of stories, can open doors for you in specific fields of interest, like travel. You might also want to try out the different types of articles you wish to write, whether for newspapers, magazines, television, or online - each has a different style and requires different skills.

Work space

Sometimes the best way to make a start in travel journalism is to blog or start a website on an interesting travel destination or topic. Using Twitter, social media, and a personal blog to share travel-related stories might help determine if you have the affinity to turn this interest into a part time or a full time career. Use your blog to showcase to editors what you can do: they would want to see that you can write well-crafted, engaging copy that you can sniff out good angles.  You would need to do your homework before you plan a trip or pitch for an assignment. 

Check out internet sites, like Makemytrip.com, yatra.com, travelguru.com etc,  follow journalists, editors, newspapers and magazines as also other travel blogs, tourist boards, airlines, tour operators, attractions, museums, hotel groups and so on. You will learn a lot about which articles are well received, the kinds of readership of different publications, which sites have been flogged to death, etc. 

* You can also try for an internship with a travel magazine or website. Freelance work with travel magazines or organisations that require employees for travel research, marketing and collecting local information, can also be useful experience for such an assignment.

* One important thing to keep in mind is that every travel story needs imagery — a picture, so other than taking along a photographer, or getting expensive  equipment, you will have to learn to take good pictures, even if it is with your own smart phone.  In fact, travel photography is another viable travel careers in which you can earn while travelling too. Needless to add that you need to have a creative eye and good photography skills for this job.

Skill set

You must be articulate and skilled at communicating, with a generous dose of humour, and of course, you must enjoy traveling, meeting people, researching facts, and crafting a compelling story from what you learn.

* A zest for life, a passion for travel, and a vibrant personality will add to the resonance of any good travel story. There's a whole world out there waiting to be seen. So get started right away - why wait for a holiday?

Travel Journalism

Allied to that of a travel journalist is the work of a television travel show host - one of the most lucrative jobs in the field of travel. This is normally taken up by professional TV presenters who can talk fluently on camera, look good on the screen and speak convincingly about their travel experiences! Similar are jobs as the crew of a TV travel show. Here you may not get the fame and exposure of television, but if you are a trained TV cameraman, recordist or programme producer you get to travel, and also enjoy the fall-out of the coverage and publicity generated by a travel show. 

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