Setting Up Sponsored Trips 101

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67 minutes of video
67 minutes of audio
21 slides
20 pages of transcripts

Getting on a sponsored trip is the holy grail of travel writing, right? Living a life in which you effortlessly hop from one free trip to another, spending your days enjoying haute cuisine and your nights in the fluffy king bed of your complimentary suite? Here we discuss the basic tenets of free travel as a travel writer, from ethics to minimum barrier of entry to the different types of trips, and their various pros and cons.


“We call this the travel section, not the don’t travel section.”

– A real editor’s response to a story filed about a press trip that didn’t showcase the highlights of a destination as intended shared at the recent TBEX conference

Put a bunch of professional travel writers, especially over a meal and some not-for-kids libations, and stories of bad press trips almost always come up.

At some point, the one-up-manship usually starts:

  • “We only had two hours to visit a museum, check out an entire downtown’s worth of shops, and eat lunch, but they scheduled us for a tour of a model train museum that took up an hour and a half.”
  • “Our host had so lost control of the schedule that we had to cut an entire afternoon of winery tours…which was exactly what my assignment was for.”
  • “At the end they wanted us to share the perspectives on the region, and we unexpectedly, in hiking clothes, ended up having to each give a one-hour-long talk to a conference room full of suited-up Turks and Georgians following out words hungrily through multi-lingual simultaneous translation headsets.”

During our recent IdeaFest retreat, one dinner devolved into a rather amusing round of such storytelling until one writer, currently studying journalism in college and looking to leap directly into full-time freelance writing upon graduation, said something along the lines of, “wow, I’m not sure I would ever want to go on one of those.”

From the way we were talking about free trips, she certainly had a point. But isn’t free travel supposed to be one of the biggest perks of being a travel writer?

The short answer is yes and no. Or, it depends.

It depends on how well the trip is organized, who specifically is organizing it, how many stakeholders are involved, what the expectations are, whether you have a handler or are on your own, who makes the schedule, and dozens of other factors.

We’ll look at the pluses, minuses, truths, myths, and mysteries of free travel as a travel writer in this webinar, Setting Up Sponsored Trips 101, the first in a series on getting free travel as a travel writer.

We will cover:
– The right reasons to seek out free travel (as a travel writer)
– The three different categories of free travel and their pros and cons (with sample itineraries)
– The ethics of free travel