Fundamentals of Travel Writing

with Jennifer Billock

travel writing course

Travel writing—and getting paid to travel—seems like an unattainable dream. But don’t let the naysayers fool you. It is absolutely possible to live that dream, and make a living doing so. Accomplished travel writer Jennifer Billock will show you how with this course on the fundamentals of travel writing. Learn how the industry works and how to make your trips work for you.

This eight-week class combines weekly writing workshops with readings. You’ll learn the basics of writing about travel for publications and the web. We’ll cover types of travel writing, press trips, what it’s like on the trip itself, writing a feature, and being mindful of issues within the industry. Participants in the class will receive a list of potential travel writing markets. Each week includes a writing assignment. Class members are encouraged to participate in critiques of one another’s work.

Jennifer is great! She truly cares about what she’s teaching and she is very open and responsive.
—Sequoia Armstrong

Travel Writing Course Outline

Each week includes suggested readings, all of which will be available on the web.

Unit 1. The Wide World of Travel Writing

I will introduce the class and how it works and go over discussion participation guidelines and best practices. Then we will discuss several different types of travel writing, including how-to, front-of-book, service, essay, and feature.

Assignment: Post your bio in the discussion section. Write a 500-word essay about your most meaningful travel moment.

Unit 2. Traveling at Home

First we will have a short discussion about the last assignment and critiques, and any comments on the suggested reading. We will then discover the world of travel writing at home and stories you can find in your own community.

Assignment: Go to a public place in your community and observe for 30 minutes. When you come back, write a 500-word piece about what you saw.

Unit 3:  All About Press Trips

First we will have a short discussion about the last assignment and critiques. Media trips are the bread and butter of a professional travel writer’s job. This unit discusses everything you need to know about them—including how to get them, how to find the best stories, publication guidelines, and ethics.

Assignment: Prepare an introductory letter.

Unit 4:  Before and During Your Trip

First we will have a short discussion about the last assignment and critiques, and any comments on the suggested reading. We will then discuss the pre-work that needs to be done before a trip, including research, finding contacts, and brainstorming potential stories. Next, we will discuss the work to be done while on a trip, including interviews with locals, photography, taking evocative notes, and discovering the real story.

Assignment: Go to an event or happening in your community. While you’re there, take notes, interview people, and take some photos (this can be done with a cellphone). When you return, write an 800-word travel story about the event and what it was like.

Unit 5:  Travel Features

First we will have a short discussion about the last assignment and critiques, and any comments on the suggested reading. We will then have a more in-depth discussion about travel features, including setting, characters, perspective, scenes, and narrative arc.

Assignment: Create a thorough outline for a travel feature based on a travel experience you’ve had (or feel free to road trip and find a story that way).

Unit 6:  Issues in the Travel Industry and Your Role as the Writer

First we will have a short discussion about the last assignment and critiques, and any comments on the suggested reading. We will then discuss current issues in the travel industry, including over-tourism, inclusion, colonialism, and sustainable tourism. We will also discuss your role and responsibilities as a travel writer when it comes to these issues.

Assignment: Write a 1,200-word travel feature from the last assignment’s outline with these considerations in mind.

Unit 7:  All About the Travel Publication

First we will have a short discussion about the last assignment and critiques. Then, we will break down the travel publication, including publication tiers, demographics, and how to “read” the publication to know exactly what to pitch.

Assignment: Write a breakdown of your favorite travel magazine.

Unit 8:  Market List and Pitch Workshop

Each student in the class will receive a list of publications looking for travel-related content. After discussing the reading and assignment critiques, we will talk about best practices for pitching stories and read some successful queries.

Why Take a Travel Writing Course with

  • We welcome writers of all backgrounds and experience levels, and we are here for one reason: to support you on your writing journey.
  • Small groups keep our online writing classes lively and intimate.
  • Work through your weekly written lectures, course materials, and writing assignments at your own pace.
  • Share and discuss your work with classmates in a supportive class environment.
  • Award-winning instructor Jennifer Billock will offer you direct, personal feedback and suggestions on every assignment you submit.

Let’s take a trip together. Join our online travel writing class!

Course type:

Student Feedback for Jennifer Billock:

I could not be happier with Jen’s commitment both to my personal development and the class as a whole. Jen went above and beyond in creating a supportive workshop environment. Not only did she provide thoughtful criticism of our weekly assignments, she helped me build the confidence to pitch and land my first food writing piece, with a second on the way! Jen is kind, enthusiastic, and a smart reader—basically, she’s the whole package as an instructor and writer.  Jenn Hall

This course was incredibly valuable to me - both in terms of developing the quality of my writing and learning about the business side of food writing. Jennifer's feedback on our submissions was thoughtful and very useful. The guidance she provided, and the specific feedback on my writing, helped develop both the quality of my writing and my ability to self-criticize. Steve Paris

Jennifer was great!! She truly cares about what she's teaching and she is very open and responsive. Will highly recommend Jennifer and if she offers another course I'd be very interested in taking it.  Sequoia Armstrong

I enjoyed the class, content and dynamism of Jen throughout the class. My writing has improved considerably since I started doing these courses. I would (and have), recommend the classes.  Patricia Lopez

Jennifer Billock was incredibly helpful, fast to reply to questions, present with discussions and assignments and a wealth of useful information and tips. The organization of the course and lessons was very well done, easy to follow, and engaging. She provided lots of rich examples of the styles of writing being explored and her teaching style was very friendly, respectful and approachable. I was really impressed with the course and thankful for her guidance and expertise. Claire Keeler

I loved this class. I though the lessons and assignments were varied enough to cover multiple aspects of food writing. I enjoyed exploring sides of food writing that I would not have ventured into on my own, like writing recipes and covering a science-related food story. - I really enjoyed working with Jennifer. Her feedback was very useful, and I liked that she got to know the three of us in the class individually. Plus, although she is a successful and busy writer, she wasn't condescending to us newbies. Pamela Hunt

The content was relevant, engaging, and challenging. Jennifer was great! I've never used before, and after my experience with Jennifer, I will def try another course. Katherine Levey

jennifer billock


Jennifer Billock is the author of two cookbooks and five history books. She is an award-winning writer, bestselling author, and editor. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Playboy, mental_floss, Lucky Peach, National Geographic Traveler, and Conde Nast Traveler. She has taught writing courses for local colleges and mentors young writers on a regular basis. Jennifer also co-hosts the podcast Macabre Traveler and edits the Kitchen Witch Newsletter.