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Travel Writing Courses - A Review of MatadorU New Media School

Updated on September 5, 2012

A Career in Travel Writing

Are you just starting out as a writer? Are you an experienced professional writer looking for a new direction or inspiration in your career? If you love to travel and explore the world, even if that world is limited to your home region, taking a travel writing course can prepare you for a career that most people only dream about.

I began searching for writing courses because I needed to find a new direction in my writing career. Boredom was killing my creativity. I wanted to sharpen my skills as a writer. I wanted a program that could give me real skills, not just theory. I wanted to explore a new genre of writing. I was considered courses in everything from travel and memoir to romance and fiction.

I decided on travel and place based writing because it was like a childhood dream that I never tried to follow. As a mom of three, I knew I wouldn't be able to jet off to the South Pacific for weeks on end, but I also knew that I could write about my area of the world (New England) and possibly participate in a press trip or two to destinations in the US, Mexico or Canada.

I chose the travel writing course at Matador U - New Media School for Travelers after exploring every option I could find. Matador U offers two tracks (at the moment) - one for writers and one for travel photographers. I enrolled in the travel writing program and hope that upon completion I will have the time to give the photography course a try.

Being a travel writer is not always glamorous.
Being a travel writer is not always glamorous.

Comparing Travel Writing Courses

I took a look around at courses carefully before making a decision. I started with the Gotham Writer's Workshop, based in New York City. They offer traditional classroom courses as well as a few classes in an online format. Gotham has a fantasitc reputation and is a top choice for writers seeking to expand their skills and perfect their craft. At the time I was investigating classes (and when I checked recently) they were not offering their travel writing program online. Although I live in the New York area, I wanted a program that could be completed on my schedule. They are currently offering an online program for advanced trvel writing. The cost is $495. An outline of the offering can be found here. It is an 11 week course and includes critiques of two of your articles by a New York Times writer.

Travel Writing: From Press Trips to Punctured Tires isa 10 week class from which offers lessons and discussion online for $320. The above course doesn't include topics like developing your pitch, approaching editors or building and using social media to advance your career.

A quiet but sought after destination in Autumn:  Hudson, New York.
A quiet but sought after destination in Autumn: Hudson, New York. | Source

An Overview of the Matador U Program

Matador U Specializes in travel writing and photography. That's all they do and their team is lead by expierienced travel writers. All twelve assignments are reviewed and critiqued and feedback is given quickly.

They start with the basics of travel writing and techniques to make your writing more interesting, then move students through market research, pitching an editor, using social media, travel blogging and handling press trips.

You'll find a vibrant community of supportive writers in the forums, and they provide you with your own wordpress blog for getting started. When you complete the twelve chapter course, you have access to pro-modules, which are expanded upon regularly.

Matador's Market Blog offers students opportunities to get real travel writing wexpereince, sometimes being mentored through a press trip by an experiened writer, at no cost. Some of the exlusive opportunities that I have seen on the market blog include trips to Samoa, Belize, Mexico, Maine, California, China, and Laos.

The cost for this program is $350, but they allow you to test drive the program for a week to see if it is a good fit for you for $10. If it isn't what you wanted or hoped for, no problem. You can easily cancel.

Here is an example of one of my assignments, using techniques taught in the first few lessons of the course: Strawberry Fields Forever.

When you open your eyes and start looking around as a travel writer, you realize that there are stories everywhere. There are photos begging to be taken and subtle experiences asking to be written and explored. And often, where you are right now is a wonderful place to begin.

Want to take a closer look at the program? See Matador U Travel Writing Course.

Do you think an online program can prepare you for a career in travel writing?

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    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 3 years ago from California

      I've been looking into travel writing lately because it combines two loves of my life - travel and writing. Found an online course from Writer's Digest University. 6 weeks, $350, and you learn all the basics plus how to submit your query. But this one sounds good too! Now I'm torn :-)

    • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

      Stephanie Launiu 5 years ago from Hawai'i

      Thanks so much for this info. I'm definitely planning on checking it out. Voted up, interesting, useful, tweeted and pinned. Aloha, Stephanie

    • profile image

      JRobin0681 5 years ago

      Good article. I just joined Hubpages:-) I finished my first article on creative writing and decided to see what other Hubbers were writing about. It's interesting I found yours since I am getting in to travel writing, also. I checked out Matador but can't afford it right now. It does look like a great program and I know other travel writers that used it and loved it. I just came back from a month in Ireland so I am ready to travel more and write all about it! Lol.

      I already started a travel blog about my travels so I will keep at that for now until I can scrounge up the funds to do the course. Thanks for the info!

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 5 years ago from Connecticut

      Hi Tony - I have been a journalist and freelance writer for years and I found that making the switch to travel writing required a bit of guidance. That is what I gained from the course at Matador. It helped me see things in a different way and explore techniques in writing that I had never tried before. Good luck!

      Hi Cher - I'm glad you enjoyed my article! Both courses are top quality and I'm sure you would be happy with either decision. If your budget allows you to do both, go for it! Please stop by here and let me know how it goes. :)

    • profile image

      Cher 5 years ago

      Hi Amy Jane,

      I saw your article on the web in search of a comparison between Gotham and Matador. I was thinking Gotham and then I was thinking Matador. Am so torn. But maybe I'll end up following both. Because just like Tony here, I've certainly spent that much money on far worse ways too!

      Good luck with your writing. The article (Strawberry Fields Forever) is a nice read. :-)



    • profile image

      Tony 5 years ago

      Amy Jane,

      I live in northeast Thailand and can't help but think there are hundreds of stories waiting to be written. Even though I teach English at a major university and have done a lot of academic writing, I'm doing some searching for something that would help me prepare to be a decent travel writer. That's how I ran across MatadorU and your site.

      I may give it a try. It seems to be well rated and I've certainly spent that much money in far worse ways!


    • CreateHubpages profile image

      CreateHubpages 6 years ago

      Interesting hub. I love to travel but kinda have no time.

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 6 years ago from Tumkur

      It is true that courses help.But no course can give talent. It can only develop.Good article

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 6 years ago from Yorkshire

      Hi amyjane,

      good, interersting hub, one of my other hub friends and I are talking about writing more regional hubs reviewing our own home towns, I suppose that is a good place to begin. I have travelled a great deal and photographed as I've travelled and it is a dream to be a travel writer, so I think I might look into the site you promote here.

      good luck,,, tony

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks proudgrandpa! I'm glad you enjoyed this.

    • proudgrandpa profile image

      proudgrandpa 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Great food for thought. You have convinced me that there is a story on every corner all over the world. Your hub is inspiring for an aspiring writer. Thanks

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Robie! I don't know that I will be going anywhere exotic anytime soon, but the opportunities are certainly out there!

      Thanks all, for reading. Glad you found this informative.

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 6 years ago from Texas

      This is fascinating - informative. Glad I spotted it.

    • Bbudoyono profile image

      Bbudoyono 6 years ago

      Interesting new information for me. Thanks.

    • HendrikDB profile image

      HendrikDB 6 years ago

      Good advice!

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 6 years ago from Central New Jersey

      I'm thinking Matador U is probably not only good for sharpening travel writing skills, but probably not a bad place to network for travel assignments and tips-- ditto The Gotham Writr's Workshop in NYC. Sounds great and I'm hoping you are soon off to wonderful exotic places.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Keith! I really love this program. It inspired me to grow as a writer - which was exactly what I needed!

    • KeithTax profile image

      Keith Schroeder 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      An excellent guide for writers of any genre. I like your style and clear voice. Education is so important in success. MatadorU sounds like a good venue.