We all want to be Liz Gilbert with pasta, prayers and sex around the world, but that story is already taken. What’s next for fresh ideas?


We all know the wannabee writers who think, ‘Let’s quit our jobs and become famous travel writers!’ Hi, hello, anyone home? Nobody just wakes up as a famous travel writer with editors queuing to buy their articles. 

So now you’ve had the wakeup call; you know the competition is tough, that you’ll struggle to get published. What can you do to get your articles sold? 

Here are four ways to not become that Clichéd Freelance Journalist:

1. Don’t write your story based on someone else’s story. (I repeat, Liz Gilbert’s story is already taken)

You have probably come across the hashtags #couplegoals and #bestlife before. The couple hash-tagging this are having The Best Time in Bali and have thousands of people reading their blog about how great their experience is.

DON’T try to imitate this by paying a model with a six-pack to stunt as your boyfriend for happy couple travel stories. Go and get your own #bestlife.

2. Writing with the conventional flow? DON’T be like salmon!

We all want to write about how beautiful the skies of Santorini are at sunset, but we all have heard that story a million times. We know it’s beautiful, but what’s the story? The economy of Santorini, its dependence on Greece or the history is much more swimming upstream.

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3. Stereotypes are easy to emphasize with, but what a cliché!

Gelato in Italy, yachts in Monaco, kisses in front of the Eiffel Tower…How about “Being rescued by an Italian Mama”, “Meeting the Guard of Monaco” or “Beer Festival in Paris”.

Everybody knows Paris is romantic and ice cream is pretty great in Italy, but don’t be lazy! What else? There are so much more to these places than what they are famous for.

Peter Selgin, from the Writer’s Digest says the following: 

“The real problem with clichés is that they deprive us of genuine details, which, though less sensational, are both more convincing and interesting”

4. Take your time to impress with your writing.

We all want readers to slurp up our every word, but being a freelance travel writer doesn’t mean you have to impress the reader with every word. Let your story unfold the way you want it to. Never stitch together a story with elements you think will impress your audience.

Read as many articles as you can in order to get a good grip on how not to sound like a cliché.

Justin Fox, editor of travel mag Getaway says the following:

“It’s important to read travel articles by all of the ‘greats’ but don’t skip the more obscure writers.”

About the author

Elzette van Zyl worked and lived in France for eight months, where she fell in love with French food and classic architecture. When she is not writing and travelling, she studies law, works at an insurance firm and enjoys good coffee. 

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