How to Research on the Road and Find Salable Ideas While Traveling

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56 minutes of video
56 minutes of audio
28 slides
17 pages of transcripts

We have discussed how to get ideas for travel magazine articles from magazines and other types of research online, but some of the best ideas to report come from what you discover on your travels. Here is a look at how to use magazine pocket cheat sheets, getting lost on purpose, and hints of coolness from press releases and CVB sites to make sure you are gathering the most interesting and salable ideas on the road.


When it comes to article ideas, I’m a bit of a pack rat.

Okay “a bit ” might be a bit of an understatement.

I have article ideas squirreled away everywhere :

  • my main inbox is full of them
  • my to do app has hundreds in the “Pitches” section
  • my personal email that I used as my freelance email when I started out has a few hundred
  • the other email address that I set up just to capture pitch ideas has around 400
  • and the notes that I take during trips and walking tours have thousands more that I haven’t extracted from those longer lists of trip notes

I think that if I sat down and really combed through all of these locations and pulled ideas out of all the trip notes, even before going crazy and breaking them into smaller slices of ideas or slanting them for different audiences, I would have two or three thousand of article ideas in the bank for a rainy day.

The Journalist’s Approach to Article Ideas

When I knew I was going to leave my job and pursue freelance travel writing full time, I devoured every posts on all of the sites out there telling you the nitty gritty of exactly how, where, and how often to pitch, and at the time, Carol Tice, who runs the How to Make a Living Writing Blog and the Freelance Writers Den, was really just getting started, but I loved her approach.

She didn’t have a college degree and had instead spent that time in L.A. trying to make it as a songwriter, but got turned onto writing for local magazines instead. An editor took her under his wing and gave her the real-world version of a masters in journalism, so her approach to all things pitching and writing is extremely pragmatic and grounded in what actually works in actual newsrooms.

She’s an absolute nazi about pitching regularly and that if you don’t have a good income coming in, it’s 100% your own fault if you’re not pitching, and her advice on idea generation is some of my favorite:

“If you’re not developing article ideas, you’re not serious about earning well as a writer.”​

– Carol Tice

What We’re Going to Talk About This Week

As travel writers, we get the majority–and in a rush to the head, 100 in one hour way–of our article ideas on the road.

This is where we get our hands on the kind of info that editors in their 50th floor offices in Manhattan would never have access to, from anecdotes from tour guides and restaurateurs to spotting a new, just-opened concept that’s going to change tourism in a key destination, or experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime event, whether one of tragedy or one of celebration.

But I am always shocked to see travel writers making their way through these experiences without frantically scribbling down the wealth of article ideas flowing around them.

In this webinar, How to Research on the Road and Find Salable Ideas While Traveling, we’re going to break down specific techniques for idea capture and generation on the road so that you never find yourself staring at a blinking cursor and a blank email wondering what to pitch again.

We will cover:
– how to avoid coming home from a trip and realizing you don’t actually have very many good ideas to pitch
– how to triage your ide collection process by looking for article types
– my favorite hacks for finding stories on the road