So, you think you’d like to be a travel writer. Or perhaps you envy those who seemingly fly around the world, stay for free and have all their meals paid for. That’s fair, but there is a lot more to it. These are the biggest myths about travel journalists and travel writers.1. It’s a vacationThis is by far the biggest misconception about travel journalists and writers. Typically, the days will start early and not finish until late in the evening, regardless of what you’re doing or where you’re going. We do not sit around sipping coffee. We follow itineraries that are often jam-packed with events, excursions and meeting people. Paulo Basso Jr. who writes for Viaje Mais Magazine in Brazil, says: “After 15 years, I still have people saying my job is like a vacation. It’s not true. You need to pay attention to all the details — people don’t realize how much work it is. You get up early, you go to bed late — it’s not for free. It is a job.”Some participants decide to decline excursions or events once they are at the destination, perhaps they think they can pick and choose. Wrong. On one press trip, a writer decided not to attend an event in the evening, and the next day was presented with a return airfare ticket home from the PR rep. If you don’t want to participate, you can’t just do as you please. Savvy agencies or public relations teams that organize these trips are starting to cut loose those who won’t participate. Travel journalists are typically up early and continue working well into the evening. [Kaitlyn Baker/Unsplash]2. Can you bring someone?Most people think that travel journalists can bring friends on trips. You wouldn’t ask to come to a press conference, or to a fire that is destroying someone’s home if we are covering news. So, no. We can’t bring you on that trip to Paris. We’d love to bring friends but, frankly, you probably wouldn’t like the pace.4. You get to travel all over the worldYes, but it’s not what you might choose if you were travelling on your own. Your days are dictated by representatives of tourism companies, hotels or any area businesses — and you are on. You may miss a flight, or be in a rental car and miss an appointment because a highway is closed and you need to detour. You may feel poorly, or have altitude sickness and a constant headache, or be dehydrated. And then there is jet lag, for which you don’t have a day to take it easy and get over it. The next day is an early start — you just do it and hope for the best. You still have to be on and wear a smile. Basso says: “You have to be focused and able to change the focus during the trip. You don’t know what is going happen.” You may have one idea for a story, but discover several different angles. And you hope you’ve taken the photos for every option you consider.Travel journalists pack for many situations and are always looking for the gems of stories. [Thomas Schweighofer]5. You don’t work that hardA recent press trip had James Stevenson, who with his partner populates BeautifulBooze.com, working until after midnight and long after the press events had finished. Stevenson was going through his photos — dozens and dozens of them — looking for the perfect one, then editing and creating the post.“The main thing is quality over quantity. I’d rather not post something than have something substandard. I’m not just pushing it out there.” And as for those who think Stevenson has had incredible luck with a site and impressive following, it’s not magical. “I’ve worked my ass off — it’s not luck,” he says.6. You write about yourselfJournalists rarely write a first-person, day-by-day, travel itinerary story. We try to find the little gems and personalities that give readers a connection and something that they can’t get elsewhere. We are not TripAdvisor.Italian journalist Barbara Digiglio sums it up: “You write the story for everyone. It’s never your story. You have to get a lot of information — it’s not just what I like.”Kiran Mehta, an Indian journalist who writes for worldwide publications, including the Times of India, says it’s a constant learning process. “I have enormous respect for someone else’s culture and it still surprises me what I learn from this. It’s experiential travel.”7. Stories are easy to writeIs there a hidden gem of a story? You ask endless questions. Then ask some more, all the while keeping an eye on photo opportunities. Most often, journalists suffer from too much information on trips and the amount of information you receive and from interviews you conduct can be overwhelming. It takes a deft storyteller to distill all the information into a story that engages readers and provides pertinent information. Sure, sometimes it’s easier, but journalists often joke that we need to invent some new adjectives so we don’t pepper a story with the usual “amazing,” “wonderful,” or even “sublime” descriptions.And finally, yes, it is a fun job. We get to undertake some incredible experiences and taste unique foods and wines. The best part? We meet fellow journalists and writers and tourism representatives — and some of them become lifelong friends. And that is the best part.