A Travel Bug?

Q: I am trying to establish a career as an independent consultant in the travel/tourism business. I have an undergraduate degree in marketing and foreign languages and a master’s in tourism/ travel management and marketing. I am also considering travel writing. How does one get started in this field? Is the idea of getting paid to travel real? Are there any local associations, conferences, or workshops I can attend to network and learn more?
— K. Moreno, New York

A: Careers in travel are among the most exciting for those who enjoy experiencing different customs and cultures and, of course, love to travel. You have a great educational background, which could provide several career options. Because of emerging markets, there are a growing number of career opportunities in travel — particularly in marketing. Aside from general-market growth in areas such as family reunions, weekend travel, and gambling trips, the volume of African American travel is increasing and a number of cities have developed African American specialty tours. The Travel Industry Association of America (www.tia.org) publishes a number of reports outlining market trends.

The Society of American Travel Writers (www.satw.org) and North American Travel Journalists Association (www.natja.org) are the preeminent travel writing organizations, both of which require proof of published travel articles for membership acceptance. For writers with no experience, volunteering for a community or local paper is a good way to develop your skills and gain exposure as well as a portfolio. If they don’t have a travel section, offer to start one with articles that focus on regional attractions.