Let Someone Else Pay for Your Explorations

travel writer at the marinaI’ve just returned home from my first scouting trip to Panama. My husband and I spent a week traveling the country, from Panama City to David to Las Tablas, to answer these two questions:

  1. Can we see ourselves living in Panama?
  2. If yes, do we prefer the David or Las Tablas areas?

This was a no-frills trip.

But even a trip with no frills costs quite a bit these days. Airfare, lodging, meals and travel within the country all add up.

Fortunately, I’ve found a way to get paid for it, and so can you.

Portable Careers Are the Way to Go

Writing — specifically travel writing — is a portable career that can really enhance an expat lifestyle.

It can also pay for your scouting trips to explore your new country.

After I attended the Live & Invest in Panama Conference, my husband joined me for a one-week tour of the David and Las Tablas areas.

Now that I’m home, I’m organizing notes and photos and outlining some articles.

I already have one publisher interested, and I’ll be querying others in the weeks ahead.

My goal is to earn enough from these articles to pay for the trip. If I can make even more, so much the better.

Become a Travel Writer

If travel writing interests you but you need to brush up on or acquire some skills to do so, there are courses available on- and offline.


“Six months from now you could be getting paid to see the world!” is the headline.

“Imagine sliding out of bed and knowing your ‘work’ for the day is to scuba dive along the Great Barrier Reef … or to shop at an open-air market in Madagascar … or to attend the opera in Vienna …”

That’s the promise of AWAI’s The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program.

It’s a program created by seasoned professional travel writer Jen Stevens, and you can complete the program at your own speed in the privacy of your own home.


Matador Network bills itself as “the world’s leading independent travel media company.”

MatadorU Travel Writing Course is structured more traditionally than AWAI’s. It’s 12 weeks of “rigorous coursework, including lessons, recommended reading, and weekly assignments critiqued by editors and peers.”

Once you’ve completed the course, you have perpetual access to the curriculum, the forums and any future bonus modules.

Go Offline

If you’d rather do your learning offline, check out offerings at local community and four-year colleges. Many institutions of higher learning offer travel writing courses.

Tips for Getting Articles from your Scouting Trip

A good travel writing class will teach you how to market your writing. That marketing starts before you leave home.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Make a list of at least 10 publications that pay for freelance travel articles for your destination. No matter how great my article is, “RV Retirement Magazine” won’t be interested in my stories about Las Tablas.
  • Check their writer’s guidelines. If they have any special requirements (“menus must accompany a restaurant review,” for example, or “we don’t accept articles about destination X during months with an ‘r’ in them”) plan accordingly.
  • Visit places of interest to the publications you’re planning on pitching. Not everywhere you go has to be worthy of an article, but make sure to see a few!
  • Take lots of photographs and upload them with descriptive information right away. Even if you don’t sell them with the article, they’ll help keep your experience fresh in your mind and your writing will be tighter and more specific.
  • If you’re planning to sell photos with your story, take both horizontal and vertical shots. You never know what size space the editor needs to fill with an image, so be prepared.

If you like the idea of a portable career but writing isn’t your thing, download my free e-book, Untether Yourself: 5 Portable Careers to Support You Overseas


  1. Thanks for sharing these resources, I think I am going to check them out!

  2. So, how was your scouting trip to Panama? Could you see yourself living there?

  3. Copywriters says:

    I was skeptical about AWAI’s program at first, but then found this page full of credibility:


    I joined and have been on my own for 8 months now and couldn’t be happier! I feel so FREE!!!


  4. Would you recommend AWAI or Matador U over one r the other. I can’t decide which one to go with. I am kind of leaning towards AWAI because their is more on them online. Thanks so much Brittany

    • FutureExpat says:

      Hi Brittany, I have loads of experience with AWAI and can recommend them wholeheartedly. I don’t have personal experience with Matador U, although they have a very fine reputation. Are you looking specifically for a travel writing program?

Speak Your Mind


3 × 2 =


Please type the text above: