Here at Written Road, we have the privilege of being in contact with some great travel-writers who want to share their expertise. Sometimes, we get even luckier and they offer to write something for us!
This article is a guest piece written by Andrea Calabretta — a freelance writer and editor living in Boston, MA — and is full of insightful anecdotes on what to do and not to do on your first press trip.
Check out the article here below. She also keeps a rather entertaining food blog called BellyGlad at www.bellyglad.blogspot.com, so do check her out. If you want to get in touch with Andrea, feel free to drop her a line at [email protected]
10+ Tips For Your First Press Trip
By Andrea Calabretta
“Do you eat red meat?” my editor asked over the phone. I was staring at a message from him on my computer screen about a last-minute travel writing assignment.
“Yes,” I said. “I’ll eat anything.”
Evidently, he’d already spoken to several writers–all of them vegetarians.
My willingness to eat meat–and my up-to-date passport–sealed the deal: a press trip to the Duero River region of Spain & Portugal, all expenses paid. I was never so glad to be an omnivore.
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A couple weeks later, having taken a real trip on assignment for the first time, there were several things I wished I had known beforehand.
1.Bring business cards, even if you make your own. One of the best aspects of the press trip is the chance to meet and connect with other writers and editors, some of whom may want to hire you! Restaurant and hotel managers will also want to trade cards.
2.Take lots of photographs, and when you get home, quickly label them. As Nadine Godwin of Travel Weekly reminded me, “Photographs are your notes.”
3.Travel with an adaptor so that you can charge your camera and your iPod. Or, if you’re going to be doing this sort of thing a lot, invest in a solar or wind-powered charger.
4.Take a travel alarm. Hotel wake-up calls are notoriously unreliable, and you don’t want to be the one who holds up the trip because you overslept.
5.Be prepared to eat and drink A LOT. But mealtimes will likely be different from what you’re accustomed to (dinner in Spain starts at 9pm, for instance), so bring a few granola bars for the times you’re inconveniently starving between meals, or in the middle of the night.
6.Speaking of food, be prepared to sample everything at the table, even if it grosses you out. Your job is to experience a place—and all its delicacies and horrors—so that you can share it with your readers.
7.Pack anti-nausea/motion sickness medication. If you are traveling in a group, you will most likely be getting from place to place in a van or small bus, and European roadways can bumpier, and more winding, than the smooth super-highways we’re used to in the States. A bottle of Tylenol is also a good idea for early mornings after late-night dinners.
8.Don’t take your laptop. Yes, you read that right. But I’m on a writing assignment, you say, how could I leave my laptop at home? Because, I tell you, you will have no time to write. And your laptop will only worry you as you leave it behind on the bus everyday. Take a notebook instead—a good one, with some heft to it so that you can lean on it while you write, and so that you won’t run out of pages. Good pens help too.
9.Know something about the publication you are writing for—its readership, circulation, etc. The people you meet will be very curious to know.
10.You will acquire tons of press materials—photos and pamphlets and booklets and even, as I discovered, documentary DVDs. Bring a sturdy folder or accordion file in which to keep them organized. I left myself little extra room in my bag and ended up with an extra carry-on of press materials.
11.Pack light. Come on, people. You don’t want to be the travel writer who can’t carry her own luggage.
12.Bring your sneakers. Nothing clears the head and awakens the senses like an early-morning jog. You’ll have very little time to yourself on a press trip, and if you’re the introverted literary type, some alone time each day will do you a world of good. Plus, you’ll get to see a place in a different way (and at a different hour) than you’ll see it on the group tour. Just don’t do what I did and leave your pair of New Balance behind in a hotel room in Spain.
13.Bring your high heels. If your press trip is anything like mine, you will need some dress-up clothes for fancy dinners that happen late at night in dark restaurants with many bottles of wine. You’ll also want to avoid looking like a schlep during the day—leave your backpack and flip flops at home, and opt for comfortable but professional attire instead, even if it’s dark jeans and a button-down shirt.
14.And lastly, if you are going to be stomping grapes (I encourage it), bring an old t-shirt and shorts along to change into. You can count on grape juice flying, and it will stain.