In contrast to the AWAI hype promoting their 3-day conference that promises you will get immediate assignments if only you take their courses, Tim Leffel in his book Travel Writing 2.0 takes a much more skeptical view of your prospects. His book is available from http://writersweekly.com/books/4814.html either as an e-book for $9.95 or a paperback book for $17.95. He includes comments from 52 writers that he interviewed plus his own experience.
Like many others, his assessment is that the opportunities for assignments in the traditional print media are declining while the opportunities online are growing. Whether you query the online version of a traditional magazine, an original website, or set up a business account for your own web site or blog, you will still need to network and establish connections in person. One of the disadvantages of the Acrobat version of his book is that it doesn’t remember where you left off in reading the book.
He talks about magazines, newspapers, trade periodicals, guidebooks, books, and corporate writing in the traditional markets; and blogging, webzines, web sites in the digital world. Other income opportunities include Google’s AdSense and various aggregated affiliated advertising co-ops. (I carry ads on my web site but not this blog. On the other hand, I paid Google’s Adwords to drive traffic to my site.) Most of the potential assignments are in periodicals (both in print and online) that are not travel publications per se but have a travel or lifestyle section. He agrees with Jason Clampitt that service articles are the heart of travel writing.
Of course the big controversy in travel writing is whether or not to accept comp travel, that is the sponsor pays for the travel. This can be either as a press tour for a group of writers or as an individually sponsored tour. You have to follow the policy of the periodical where you make your pitch regardless of your opinion.
The second half of the book is devoted to advice on how to succeed as a freelancer more than specifically to travel writing so I will not detail that section here.