How to Write for 'Travel + Leisure'

We tell stories from around the world: stories that are big or small, visually driven or essayistic, first-person or as-told-to or service-oriented.

Our audience is made up of active and passionate travelers — travelers who book an average of seven trips per year, big and small. They're up for anything: adventure, active travel, history, solo trips, luxury, the arts, spa vacations, multi-generational travel, food, wine, RVs, private jets. (Well, some of them take private jets.) Our readers want to learn about people and places around the world, even if they'll never visit those places themselves — to gain a deeper understanding of what's relevant there, and to challenge their own assumptions.

If you want to pitch a story to us, make sure your idea adds something to the conversation. We don't want to have seen that story elsewhere. We love stories about a place that is misunderstood or changing, stories about seeing the world in a new way, and especially stories by writers or photographers who bring a new voice to the conversation about a place or topic.

What We Want From a Pitch

A paragraph encompassing:

  • The topic and angle
  • The scope of the story
  • Why we should cover it
  • Why you are the writer for the job
  • Whether you've traveled yet
  • If not, what kind of editorial support you'd need for travel expenses

If we've never worked with you before, a pitch is your shot at giving us a sense of what your (unedited) writing is like — feel free to show us your voice.

For stories about a particular destination: maybe you have never been to the place before; maybe you went there all the time when you were growing up; maybe you live there now. That part doesn't matter so much as why you are the right person to tell this story, and what particular angle you will bring to the table. For longer, first-person stories, we prefer to have the writer travel on assignment, or write based on a recent trip. If your story will require additional travel, let us know. If you just got back from a trip, or are already planning your own trip, let us know.

If you have never worked with us before, please also include some relevant clips and/or a link to your portfolio. Clips for digital publications are perfectly fine, but if you're pitching print it's also helpful to see what work you've done that's similar in length, style, and scope to what Travel + Leisure does in print.

What We Don't Want From a Pitch

  • A list of places you're going.
  • A forwarded press release, or a copy-and-pasted press release.
  • A couple sentences with no real angle.
  • A pitch that will justify you going on a press trip (even if you don't tell us about the trip, we can usually tell).
  • A story you've already written for someone else.
  • A story that's already appeared recently in Travel + Leisure or on our website, or a competing magazine/website, or even a not-really-competing magazine/website.

Please do not send a pitch to everyone on the team; instead, use the guidelines below to decide who might be the best target for your idea. If an editor says no, it is best practice to not send the same idea to another editor. And if an editor says yes, it's often advisable to try to keep working with them in the future; if they're not the right person for a particular story, they can point you to a colleague. These types of writer-editor relationships are essential and help streamline the pitching process for everyone.

Another thing: we often get asked "what we're looking for" or "what we're currently working on." We totally get it, but we will almost never be able to give you a clear response. The answers to these questions change by the minute, and it's rare that we have a "hole" that we need to fill or a story idea that needs a writer. The best way to start working with us is showing you have unique story ideas that we wouldn't find anywhere else.

What to Expect When You Pitch

Many of us have been on the other side of this conversation (i.e. we've freelanced ourselves, and pitched many other faceless editors) and we know it's often frustrating. Feel free to follow up. If you don't hear back, follow up again! We will never be offended by "if I don't hear back by X date, I'll assume you're not interested and pitch this elsewhere."

Press/FAM Trips and Conflicts of Interest

We are aware that press trips are often a necessity for writers to familiarize themselves with new places, make industry connections, and develop their voice in the travel space. We won't fault anyone for taking press trips, and we don't mind if you pitch something to us based on independent reporting from a past press trip. What's important to us is editorial integrity and fresh storytelling. If you went on the trip for another publication, or have written about it elsewhere, your pitch should be distinctly different from your previous work on the topic. If it was a group trip, your pitch should hinge on your own fresh reporting and angle, not the same itinerary attended by a dozen other writers.

Writers must disclose any and all affiliations with travel companies, tourism boards, or government entities that could present a conflict of interest in their reporting. This includes previously contracted work such as copywriting, social strategy, consulting, or acting as a brand ambassador. If in doubt, point it out! Those who fail to do so will not be considered for future assignments.

It is very, very rare that we actively send writers on press trips for print stories. If your pitch is tied to your attendance on an upcoming press trip — and we can usually tell — we will most likely say no, though we always welcome you to report back afterwards if you find anything interesting.

How to Pitch Us: Digital

Travel never sleeps and neither do we (well, we do sometimes). At travelandleisure.com we write inspirational and instructional stories for passionate travelers. Digital editorial is a mix of short-lead and long-lead story creation. We are looking for all types of travel stories: From practical travel tips and expert advice to inspirational first-person stories and features about a destination or experience. We cover small towns and big cities, beaches, lakes, and rivers (basically if it's a body of water, you'll find us there), mountains and valleys, outdoor adventures and exploring hidden gems, fine dining and speakeasies, and everything in between all over the world.

The Writing and Editing Process: Digital

We commission short-lead and long-lead stories daily. We generally work with regular contributors on our daily stories. Word count varies…a lot. We aren't constrained by page count or, quite, frankly, pages at all — our pages can scroll forever. That said, our news stories are generally 300-500 words. Our general travel stories, first-person storytelling, or listicles can be anywhere from 500 - 2,000+ words.

As you can imagine, we are pitched a lot and don't always have time to respond to every single email (please don't be offended!), so in order to make yours stand out, here's what we suggest:

  1. We are looking for unique stories we don't already have on our site. Please do your research first and make sure the story you're pitching wasn't recently published on travelandleisure.com.
  2. Your story can be a listicle or an in-depth look at a particular activity in a destination so long as there is an inspiration and service element. For example, if you're pitching a story on bird watching in Colombia, please be sure to include in your story the binoculars you used, places that offer the best watching opportunities, and any hotels that may offer this as an experience.
  3. Please don't send a pre-written story — we don't generally accept them. We do however want to read a short blurb about your idea (4-5 sentences) along with a grabby headline. If we are interested, we will reach back out to get more details. But, don't leave out the important bits of your story in the pitch! Remember: How you write your pitch gives us insight into the quality and style of your writing.

We do not pay by word count. We have a flat rate that we pay by type of story. Your editor will share our rate sheet with you. That said, we pay upon receipt of the story and your story must be filed with an invoice. Along with your story, you must also provide press contacts and press releases.

Our daily news writers have a minimum number of stories they write for us each day. If you're interested in becoming a daily news writer, please email christine.burroni@dotdashmdp.com along with recent news clips, why you're interested in becoming a daily news writer, and your expertise in the travel news space.

For everything else, here's who you'll want to pitch:

  • Nina Ruggiero, editorial director, manages daily, SEO, and ecomm stories, and the podcast. nina.ruggiero@dotdashmdp.com
  • Alisha Prakash, associate editorial director, personal essays and first-person narratives, reported features, profiles, evergreen and seasonal SEO stories and roundups, travel tips and trends, and under-the-radar destination spotlights that offer a fresh perspective on a place. alisha.prakash@dotdashmdp.com
  • Christine Burroni, senior news editor, travel news, explainers and first-person experiences that expand upon how timely news is affecting travelers, service pieces, wellness trends and tips for travelers, and celebrity interviews with a travel angle. christine.burroni@dotdashmdp.com
  • Maya Kachroo-Levine, luxury and experiences editor, reported features on hotels, destinations, cruising, aviation, food-and-beverage experiences, art, and architecture, ideally pitched with a timely hook, longer-form profiles and articles on often overlooked communities within the travel realm. maya.kachroo-levine@dotdashmdp.com
  • Sam Lauriello, social editor, all social requests and platforms. samantha.lauriello@dotdashmdp.com
  • Elizabeth Rhodes, special projects editor, all-things Disney, cruising, trip ideas, and over-the-top suites. elizabeth.rhodes@dotdashmdp.com
  • Jamie Aranoff, associate news editor, travel news, skiing, surfing, and outdoor adventure travel. jamie.aranoff@dotdashmdp.com

While we're at it, meet the rest of the Travel + Leisure digital team:

Annie Archer, assistant social editor

Mariah Tyler, visuals editor

Alessandra Amodio, photo editor

Courtney Dennis, producer

Madeline Diamond, ecommerce editor

How to Pitch Us: Print

Travel + Leisure is the only monthly print travel publication in the United States, with a circulation of nearly one million.

Print editors are usually thinking at least three months ahead, and sometimes up to a year or more. Breaking, same-day, or otherwise time-sensitive pitches will not be considered; the T+L digital team is the best point of contact for pitching travel news stories, and social takeovers.

We are also constrained in our assigning by the simple fact of page counts. Pitching for print, by nature, involves a lot of rejections. Maybe we've done a similar story recently, maybe we have something similar in the works, maybe that particular editor just doesn't love the pitch as much as others they've gotten, maybe it's just not right for our audience at the moment but two years from now it would be. It happens all the time, even for those of us on staff, and it's not a referendum on you as a person or the quality of your ideas and reporting.

Another thing: If you are used to digital timelines, please manage your expectations for print. Our internal pitching process is rigorous. If the editor you pitched likes your idea, it still has to get past a number of other people. Sometimes those people will say no. You may be grumpy about this, and understandably so! Your editor is probably grumpy, too.

Most positive responses look like: "This is such a cool idea! I'd love to run it past our executive editor to see what she thinks." or "Hey, I love this idea and I think it could be a good fit for our Discoveries section. I'll bring it up with the section editor, and if she likes it too, she will propose it to our editor-in-chief at their next meeting." At that point, we hope that you won't pitch the story around while you're waiting for next steps. Sometimes we'll be able to get an answer for you after a few days; sometimes, depending on the story, it could be a month or longer. Feel free to follow up if you're curious about where we're at, and if you're getting antsy and considering pulling the piece, let your editor know!

The Writing and Editing Process: Print

Travel + Leisure is the only monthly print travel publication in the United States, with a circulation of nearly one million. We tell stories from around the world: stories that are big or small, visually driven or essayistic, first-person or as-told-to or service-oriented.

Our audience is made up of active and passionate travelers—travelers who book an average of seven trips per year, big and small. They're up for anything: adventure, active travel, history, solo trips, luxury, the arts, spa vacations, multi-generational travel, food, wine, RVs, private jets. (Well, some of them take private jets.) Our readers want to learn about people and places around the world, even if they'll never visit those places themselves—to gain a deeper understanding of what's relevant there, and to challenge their own assumptions.

If you want to pitch a story to us, make sure your idea adds something to the conversation. We don't want to have seen that story elsewhere. We love stories about a place that is misunderstood or changing, stories about seeing the world in a new way, and especially stories by writers or photographers who bring a new voice to the conversation about a place or topic.

Print editors are usually thinking at least three months ahead, and sometimes up to a year or more. Breaking, same-day, or otherwise time-sensitive pitches will not be considered; the T+L digital team is the best point of contact for pitching travel news stories and social takeovers.

The Sections of the Magazine

While you don't need to have a section in mind when pitching a print story, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with them. It's a cliche for a reason: The best way to have success with a pitch is to get to know the magazine well. If you can't see a story idea fitting into any of these, it's probably not right for us. All editors on our team can slot their stories into any of these sections, but each has one or more dedicated editors who oversee the general mix of stories.

Discoveries

A globetrotter's guide to the latest in travel.

Our front-of-book opener section, made up of stories that are often bitsy and news-driven. A great place to break into the magazine.

Story Formats: Short news-driven write-throughs, roundups, Q&As, step-by-step itineraries, neighborhood guide maps, short blurbs with a collection of beautiful pictures, etc.

Story Length: 100-600 words, though the shortest pieces are usually staff written.

Experiences

Travelers' tales, from near and far.

First-person travel narratives, often with a literary bent, as well as the occasional photo essay. Where appropriate, we try to incorporate relevant travel news (e.g. new hotels, restaurants, shops, galleries, etc.) or a "why now" element.

Story Formats: Essays and written-through travelogues, occasionally broken out into itinerary form, almost always first-person.

Story Lengths: ~700-1,500 words

Intelligent Traveler

Tips and tricks to help you travel smarter.

Travel hacks and insider info on the logistics and process of travel: innovations in the industry, trends in how we're traveling, tips to help you plan ahead and save money while doing it, cool gear you should have on your radar, and news about planes, trains, and automobiles.

Story Formats: A mix of written-through pieces and broken out roundups; they are generally not first-person or based deeply in a personal experience, but rather synthesize trends or give directions. (It's okay to use a first-person experience as a jumping-off point to discuss something larger in the industry.)

Story Lengths: Under 600 words.

Features

The longest stories in the magazine, which live in the "well"—no ads, just beautiful images and thoughtful writing. Most of these are place-based stories—usually a city or a route around a particular state, island, or country—with a literary approach and with plenty of historical and social context. These types of features always include a fairly comprehensive "how to do it" sidebar for readers who want to replicate the journey. Sometimes, we will run travel essays or commentary that aren't about a particular trip, or we'll want to showcase an outstanding photo portfolio and will commission an essay to accompany it.

Story Lengths: typically 2,500–4,000 words

A Note About Feature Assignments: It's tricky to break into T+L with a feature—they're costly to produce, we run fewer of them each year than other kinds of stories, and rarely assign them to new-to-us writers unless there's significant evidence (generally in the form of multiple feature-length bylines and/or a book) that said writer can tackle something of that scope. That's not to say it never happens, just that you may get more traction with your T+L pitches in another section of the magazine, at least until we get to know you and your work.

Back Page

"Your Best Shot." On this page, we spotlight an outstanding photo from one of our readers, accompanied by a short interview about their experience getting the shot. This is not a paid opportunity, but rather a prize for our Photo of the Day contest. If you're interested, you can submit your best shots HERE for the chance to be featured on this page in a future issue.

Who to Pitch on Print

Every print editor works on all sorts of things and can direct you to the right person if it's not them. But we each focus on certain sections, themes, and geographical areas, and for new writers, those will help you decide to whom to direct your ideas.

Here's the breakdown:

  • Paul Brady, articles editor, edits the Intelligent Traveler section and is our point person for stories about cruise, aviation, and loyalty programs, as well as East, West, and Southern Africa; the Polar Regions; the Maldives; and the Mountain West. paul.brady@dotdashmdp.com
  • Sarah Bruning, senior editor, curates our Experiences section as well as our coverage of the West Coast; Mexico and Central America; Australia and New Zealand; and Portugal and Spain. She also oversees our annual World's Best Awards and helps spearhead the Global Vision Awards. sarah.bruning@dotdashmdp.com
  • Liz Cantrell, associate editor, edits stories in many sections with a focus on outdoor and adventure travel, as well as Canada, Northern Europe, and the Southeastern U.S. She also helps edit the T+L A-List of top travel advisors. liz.cantrell@dotdashmdp.com
  • Samantha Falewée, associate editor, edits stories for Discoveries and Experiences with a focus on South America; Fiji and French Polynesia; Arizona and New Mexico; and culinary, cultural, and shopping travel. She helps with the annual It List of the best new hotels and the T+L A-List of top travel advisors. samantha.falewee@dotdashmdp.com
  • Tim Latterner, senior editor, focuses on art and design coverage and also edits narrative stories for Experiences and the features well, with an emphasis on Scandinavia, East Asia, and Texas. timothy.latterner@dotdashmdp.com
  • Flora Stubbs, executive editor, has a hand in everything, but focuses mainly on South Asia and East, West, and Southern Africa. flora.stubbs@dotdashmdp.com
  • Peter Terzian, features editor, oversees our features well and handles our coverage of the Northeastern U.S. and Italy, Greece, the U.K., and Ireland. peter.terzian@dotdashmdp.com
  • Hannah Walhout, senior editor, edits the Discoveries section as well as longer-form stories on food/wine/spirits; France; South Asia; the Middle East; and Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Russia. She also helps with the annual Global Vision Awards. hannah.walhout@dotdashmdp.com
  • John Wogan, special projects editor, focuses on our hotels coverage, including the annual It List of the world's best new hotels, as well as stories related to the Mid-Atlantic, the Caribbean, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. john.wogan@dotdashmdp.com

Meet the rest of the Travel + Leisure print team:

Jacqueline Gifford, editor in chief

LaToya Valmont, managing editor

Tim Latterner, senior editor

Ray Isle, wine and spirits editor

Erin Agostinelli, editorial operations manager

Fryda Lidor, art director

Devin Traineau, associate photo editor

Griffin Plonchak, production manager

Kathy Roberson, copy and research chief

Kevin Ford, associate research editor

How to Pitch Us: Social

Travel + Leisure has over 15M followers across its social channels. On Instagram, we share awe-inspiring destination images, first-person travel experiences, and educational articles. On TikTok, we post travel vlogs, hotel suite tours, destination roundups, and more. Overall, we use compelling photos and videos to inspire our audience to explore the world.

We want pitches for:

  • Instagram takeovers highlighting a recent travel experience
  • Personality-driven TikTok vlogs recapping a trip
  • TikTok series that aim to either educate or entertain (bonus points if you can do both)

What pitches should include:

  • The topic and angle
  • Why we should cover it
  • For TikToks, why it has viral potential
  • Whether you've traveled yet (or whether the trip is already booked)
  • A timeframe for when you could have the assets ready to go live
  • 1-2 examples of your past social media work (takeovers, TikToks, photography, videography, etc.)

Please send social pitches to samantha.lauriello@dotdashmdp.com.

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