You’re not traveling now – you’re working – so make the most of it.
No matter how many assignments I zip off on, I’m always anxious and a little overwhelmed during those first few days. It all feels so daunting. One of the biggest mistakes I see aspiring travel writers make is failing to respect the work. They don’t ask questions. They don’t get names. They don’t take any notes whatsoever.
If you’re doing it right, an assignment can be fun but exhausting. As Tracy Ross, an award-winning national magazine writer, puts it (only half-jokingly): “Unless you are feeling depressed about your reporting the entire time you're on a story, you're not getting it.”
Here, some tips for doing a professional job that will get you the best shot landing another job.
The work begins before you even go with some pre-trip research. If you did your pitch correctly, you’ve already made some good contacts and have some good facts at your fingertips. Now is the time to dig in.
For complicated articles with language barriers or in places where you simply can’t waste a moment figuring out the local bus system, it may be worth your while to hire a “fixer". These are folks who act as translators and quasi-guides who can help you work more efficiently. Assignments to China almost always involve my hiring a fixer. Typically, you can find a college student or ask one of your local contacts for help finding someone. Rates vary of course. Visitor information areas often have a list of local guides who would be thrilled to take on a client doing interesting work instead of just another tourist.
I try to travel with only carry-on if I can to avoid waiting for lost luggage. I love Eagle Creek’s Pack-It system for condensing soft goods like clothes and organizing chargers, adapters and batteries. Cotopaxi makes a great day pack that stuffs into its own sack. If you have a lot of electronic equipment, consider bringing along a power strip with multiple ports that can handle enough volts from the destination sockets to charge many things at once.
Put your ego aside and deliver the travel story an editor wants – your career may well depend on it, says NY Times writer Tim Neville.
In this episode, we explore Jordan, a safe, friendly and affordable middle-eastern destination, and we discuss climate change. What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint?