Flying Air Asia over Battambang, Cambodia.

How To Find Out If You Want To Be A Travel Writer In 8 Days

Want to be a travel writer? Find out in 8 days. Come to Cambodia and do one of our Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreats. Our next Retreats are in May and July 2018 and we’re offering 10% discounts to fill the last spots.

As a pro travel writer who has lived abroad and worked with her photographer husband since 1998, travelled to well over 70 countries (I stopped counting years ago), lived in a few dozen, who has decades experience writing for more than a hundred of the very best publications and sites (National Geographic Traveller, The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Delicious, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, Conde Nast Traveller China, Wanderlust, The Independent, The Telegraph, CNN Travel, Feast, and many more), authored dozens of travel guides for the best guidebook publishers (Lonely Planet, Dorling Kindersley, Footprints, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, AA etc), runs a successful travel site, and is about to launch a guidebook series, I am bound to get asked questions about my work.

But the one thing I hear at least once a day is “I want to be a travel writer – how do I do it?” Interestingly, the question nearly always comes from women – all sorts of women – from university students to women in established careers, from designers to photographers and, increasingly, from travel bloggers who like the idea of seeing their name in print (and writers for print who want to start a blog).

But I think there’s a question that you should be asking yourself before that one, and that’s how to find out if you want to be a travel writer at all. Because before you take the steps to becoming a travel writer – quitting your job, selling your house, marrying a banker (I’m (half-)joking) – you need to figure out if travel writing is really for you. Well, here’s how to find out if you want to be a travel writer in eight days.

Want to Be a Travel Writer? Learn How in Just 8 Days

Kicking off in Cambodia‘s Siem Reap, home to UNESCO World Heritage listed Angkor Wat, our Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreats provide eight days of opportunities for writers, bloggers and photographers – aspiring, amateur, hobbyist, and professional – to get inspired and gather content to produce stories, with the luxury of time and without the pressure to pitch or publish.

But for those who don’t have any skills or experience in travel writing at all, through our writing and photography retreat we provide one of the best opportunities you could have to find out if you want to be a travel writer – and best of all, you can do it in just ten days.

Day 1 – Bitesize Writing and Photography Classes

On the first day we kick off the retreat with a full day of bite-size writing and photography classes and manageable tasks and assignments. They are bite-size and punchy because we want you to hit the ground running the very next day.

The idea is to give participants the basic techniques that you need to gather sufficiently varied content over the ten days that can be compiled and crafted into stories – written or visual, or both. You can be compiling this material into a story during the trip or waiting until you get home. However, we recommend using some of your downtime to do this when you’re here.

Day 2-7 – Content Gathering and Crafting Stories

We then give our participants an adventure – a culinary travel adventure – peppered with a wide array of encounters and experiences from which great travel and food stories can be crafted.

From sunrise at Angkor Wat to sunset over the Battambang rice fields, from exploring remote temples to soaking up the atmosphere at Siem Reap markets, from cooking classes with world-class chefs to observing artisanal producers and makers in their home workshops… there’s enough to inspire a feature-length story, a series of blog posts or a photo essay.

And that’s the intention. It’s an adventure that I’ve carefully designed to replicate the kind of research and content-gathering trips that a writer-photographer team like Terence and I regularly do. Only I normally spend weeks planning them to ensure that once we arrive in a destination we’ll be able to gather enough material from which to tell a story – a mouth-watering, meaningful and memorable story.

Essentially, it’s project-based learning in the field. This is a practical, real world learning experience, and it’s up to you to take advantage of the opportunities you have to gather material to craft stories.

Day 8 – Optional Writing Workshops and Photo Critiques

Having said all that, our participants are on holidays after all – even if it’s a learning holiday that requires a little commitment to spending some of each day being creative, whether that’s jotting down ideas and notes that can be woven together to form a story, or shooting enough quality images to edit into an evocative visual narrative.

We don’t crack a whip. Our participants tend to be adults who have had jobs where they’ve had to be disciplined. While we’ve had food and travel bloggers attend, we’ve also had chefs, pastry cooks and caterers, lawyers and teachers. These are people who know hard work and how to get things done. So it’s up to you to do the creative work.

We don’t ask to see what you write or shoot during the trip – unless you wish to show us, of course – and while we do offer time on the final day for workshops, if you prefer not to participate in sessions to discuss and critique each-other’s work, that’s fine, although you’ll learn more if you do. You’re also welcome to send us writing and images to assess at a later date – or not. That’s the beauty of being an adult.

Ongoing Guidance and Opportunities to Ask Questions

This is active, engaged learning. I spent seven years in academia teaching communications students who were studying media production, writing, media studies etc, and before that taught film producing and directing to industry, and screen studies to adult learners, so I’m bringing many years of teaching experience to this as well as our decades as a professional writing and photography duo.

We’re with you throughout the period to provide guidance, coaching and support. You can use time between activities, on excursions, or over drinks and dinner to consult us, pick our brains, discuss your ideas, and find solutions to problems. You’ll also be among similar people like yourself who you can talk to.

This is not passive learning. To maximise these opportunities, you need to do what a writer does in the field and ask lots of questions, and not just of us, but the people you meet: our guides and drivers, the chefs and cooking instructors, farmers and makers, and business owners. Our guides are also there to serve as your translators.

The Business Side of Travel Writing – from Pitching Stories to Blog Monetisation

Depending on the interest of the group I can also cover the business side of travel writing, and share our experience in both the print and digital worlds. I can cover everything from successful pitching to magazine and newspaper editors to how to respond to approaches from editors and give you the layo of the land as it stands right now.

I’ll also explain how the digital and social media worlds works, from monetising your blogs and undertaking social media projects for clients, from tourism boards to luxury hotels and travel companies. I’ll also cover ethics and how to work in a way so that you maintain integrity in the process – something that’s more important than it’s ever been to succeed.

How to Find Out If You Want to Be a Travel Writer?

If, over the ten days, you find that:

  • you are not getting excited by everything you’re seeing and doing;
  • you are not closely observing and scrutinising everything;
  • you are not constantly wanting to ask questions of the people you’re meeting;
  • you are not eavesdropping on conversations;
  • you have not been getting the urge to take notes and scribble down ideas;
  • you have not been compelled to photograph everything, even as memory snaps;
  • you are not reflecting upon what you’re experiencing;
  • you don’t find yourself during your down time by the pool or snoozing in your room reaching for your notebook and pen;
  • you are not leaving us at the end of the trip, feeling inspired and invigorated, bursting with ideas, and eager to get home to begin work on a story, blog, photo essay, or even a book…

… then maybe you don’t really want to be a travel writer after all.

Now, if all that sounds a bit heavy and too much like hard work and you’d just like to come to cook and eat and gawk at Angkor Wat, then come do our Cambodia Culinary Tour.

But if how to find out if you want to be a travel writer in 10 days appeals, then come do our Retreat.

Don’t have 10 days? Take a look at the image above. Does it inspire excitement or anxiety? Travel writers are the sorts of people who write “happiest when at 30,000 feet” in their social media profiles. We see a shot of a wing of a plane in clouds and we get itchy feet and immediately start searching for flights. If you hate flying, planes, road trips, trains, you’re going to need to learn to love them. Travel writing is as much about the journey as the destination. There’s no time travel yet!

How to Find Out If You Want to Be a Travel Writer: Sign Up for One of Our Writing and Photography Retreats

Find out if you really want to be a travel writer on our next Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreats in Cambodia’s Siem Reap and Battambang.

We are offering 10% discounts if you leave a US$500 deposit now and pay in full by the end of January 2018. Trips are all-inclusive and prices are based on a single person in a double room. Prices for two people in a double/twin share on request.

20–27 May 2018 (check out 28 May)
8-Night Cambodia Travel & Food Writing and Photography Retreat

Full Price US$2,955 per person
10% DISCOUNT: US$2,660 per person
15% DISCOUNT for GRANTOURISMO SUBSCRIBERS: US$2,512 per person

1–8 July 2018 (check out 9 July)
8-Night Cambodia Travel & Food Writing Retreat – the Monsoon Edition!

Full price: US$2,955 per person
10% DISCOUNT: US$2,660 per person
15% DISCOUNT GRANTOURISMO SUBSCRIBERS: US$2,512 per person

This fee includes return airport transfers, VIP immigration fast track, a welcome kit, all accommodation (single occupancy in stylish boutique hotels with swimming pools), all breakfasts, lunches and dinners, lots of snacks and tastings, all transport, entrance fees, guides, excursions, tours, activities, classes, workshops, and consultations. Highlights, inclusions, exclusions, testimonials, and vital info here.

UPDATE 4 January 2018: We still have a few spots left on each trip and to fill them fast we’re offering additional incentives including a 60-minute massage and culinary gift pack. We must close bookings on this trip soon so email us ASAP at: info@grantourismotravels.com or laradunston@icloud.com.

If you’re new to Grantourismo, Terence and I have had hundreds of stories published in print, in newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent and The Telegraph, and magazines such as Delicious, Australian Gourmet Traveller, National Geographic Traveller, Wanderlust, Conde Nast Traveller China, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia etc; we’ve written and updated dozens of travel guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Dorling Kindersley, Rough Guides, Footprint, and more; and we have published Grantourismo since 2009. See some of our clippings here, here and here. Learn more here about usGrantourismo and how we work.



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