Thursday, May 15, 2008

Travel to write or stay in one place?

So how do you feel about traveling for freelance stories you're writing?

One writer who loves to travel is delighted that a national magazine is sending him all over. He picks assignments in places he has fun connections to or wants to see.

Another writer said traveling for work is like pancakes -- funnest when done infrequently. Besides, she said, that with lots of work to do at the destination point, what you see most of is the taxi, the lobby, the plane, the airport -- that sort of thing.

A writer who boils all his assignments down to what he ends up making per hour sees travel as a way to spend time in line or in a cramped airline seat while diluting your hourly rate.

Bottom line for this blogger? There's all sorts of things that are amusing until you have a family -- I cite business travel among them. Flying is nowhere near as fun as it used to be, between time spent hopping around in bare feet and the joys of multiple security checks.

I had a preliminary interview with a trade mag looking for a writer to do profiles and he mentioned, with genuine shock, that other writers he'd talked to had told him the pieces could be done from a distance. The editor asked me what I thought, and although I probably should have milked him for a free trip across the country, I had to agree with the other writer, that, for that magazine's purposes, that was the case.

Now Rolling Stone Writer's got to interview Mick Jagger in person, and I wouldn't miss that for the world. Given the chance ;)

If it's not purely fun travel (and many writing flights seem to be either fly-in-fly-out or tread the conference floor) it really eats into what you make per hour.

That said, give me a crisis to fly into and report on, and I'm there. I wanted to go to New Orleans to cover it for several magazines I was doing related pieces for in the aftermath, and none could justify the expense. I would have driven it (just 8 hours away) for the experience, but between public health/safety issues and not finding a hotel within an hour's drive at the time plus having a book to finish, I decided not to.

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