How to Travel Free and Make Money, Too


Travel writing is timeless and will always be a viable freelance market. Almost every type of publication dedicates at least a bit of space to travel. Why? Because it’s human nature to seek adventure, to escape from daily grinds and to explore our world.

If you intend to break into the travel market, don’t think it’ll be a snap. It’s competition intensive, but you can place your work. You can request, and receive, free meals, accomodations and visits to attractions.

The Dells, WI, a popular tourist Mecca, once gave me a key to the city – anywhere I wanted to go, no charge. I had written one prior travel piece, but I was an established writer with an established readership.

Tips for Free Travel

  1. Consider registering for FAM (Familiarization trips) at the FAM Connection.
  2. Read OnText’s blog post on travel writing.
  3. Write and polish one or two pieces based on your recent travel experiences.
  4. Select excellent quality related photos, one or two, from your collection.
  5. Select appropriate markets like your local newspaper’s travel section and follow regular best freelance practices for making professional submissions.
  6. Subscribe to Travel Writers online and read the material they provide.
  7. Read quality travel pubs, online and off.
  8. Do your homework. Make sure you understand how to submit a query. Make sure you know how to create a professionl article – clean copy!
  9. Before you request freebies, find a market willing at least to consider your piece.

 A Travel Article Sample for Beginning Freelancers – Branson, MO 
(Match this piece,  published at, to OnText travel writing tips)

Baby boomers who thrive on music absolutely must put Branson, MO on their list of places to do. 

 Just look at this list of performers for 2006:

B.B. King, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Regis Philbin, Petula Clark, Crystal Gayle, Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, Lee Greenwood, Mel Tillis, Ray Price, Osmond Brothers, Debbie Reynolds, Neil Sedaka, Andy Williams, Lennon Sisters, Oak Ridge Boys, Mickey Gilley, Jim Stafford, Yakov Smirnoff, Dino Kartsonakis, Buck Trent, Shoji Tabuchi, Pam Tillis, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Comets, Fabian, the new Liverpool Legends Beatles Tribute show, and The Road to Rock show.

Righteous Brother Bill Medley says, “Branson is an entertainer’s town. It’s like we’re in a playground for people who really love music.”

I took my family to Branson and we spent a fair amount of money but felt the variety and unique setting was well worth it.

In less than two decades, Branson has become one of the world’s most visited vacation destinations. In the heart of the Ozarks, the area boasts three mountain-fed lakes in millions of acres of wilderness. The pristine surroundings bring millions of visitors each year and the bright, exciting, brash family entertainment compels them to hang around.

Into camping, water fun and the outdoors? This is the place. Love the people-filled places like Disney World, and delight in celebrities strutting their stuff? You’ll be delirious in Branson. Do the trip in a long weekend, or there’s enough to keep you and your friends or grandchildren occupied for a week. They bend over backwards here for group tours.

Retired-from-real-life country stars who developed and fuel this fairyland community like Dolly Parton, Andy Williams and Jim Stafford, own dozens of theaters lining the main drag. The Gatlins, Bobby Vinton, Roy Clark, the Osmonds, and a host of others hawk Ozark traditions, and many have something wonderful to offer if you get past the hype, expensive souvenir photographs and ever-present traffic.

Mostly, you’ll be adequately cared for, well fed and entertained beyond your wildest expectations.

Attractions include Silver Dollar City and hands-down favorite, Showboat Branson Belle, which seats 900 for a lunch or dinner cruise in a setting right out of Mark Twain. Food is terrific, service astonishingly good, and believe it or not, the meal is accompanied by a live show like Cirque de Fantastique, or a new show called Showstoppers! A cast of singers and dancers, with music from Broadway to the big screen, from the Lion King to old-time rock ‘n’ roll. After your meal, the boat cruises incredibly clear river waters and you can stroll the deck, watching huge paddle wheels scooping, turning and churning.

Put Dolly Pardon’s Dixie Stampede on your list, too. It’s about $47 per adult for dinner and an interactive rodeo with ropin’, ridin’, and singing southern belles. At least two dozen horses galloping around an arena ringed by 950 mesmerized diners. The Stampede is splashed full of action, music and colored lights. Dinner is a miracle of efficiency and everyone has a magnificent time.

World-class stage shows and events abound through the year. Summer’s highlights include a Family Fishing Fair, a tribute to Viet Nam Vets, Gospel Revival and From Patsy to Present

For details, check and — The local Chamber of Commerce, a good place to start planning, is at 1-800-214-3661.

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