Responsible Travel Writing for Travel Media

Travel writing can be problematic.

You are the solution.

Woman standing in lush green forest writing in a notebook

You collect stories and experiences, can never quite remember what time zone you’re in, and always have your passport within arm’s reach. 

As a travel writer, you have that dream job that everyone wants. 

You’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of the farthest corners of the world, but you’ve also seen the dark side of the industry: overcrowding, erasure of local communities, environmental destruction, depletion of natural resources, wildlife exploitation, white saviorism, cultural degradation, and gentrification. 

As an influential conduit between travelers and the destinations they visit, travel writing has contributed to and accelerated many of these problems.

But in the right hands, it can also empower people, support community wellbeing, and help heal the natural environment.

Travel writing can be destructive, but you don’t have to be.

Join this self-paced program to build and refine your skills as an ethically focused writer. Feel 100% confident you aren’t causing harm while pursuing a job you love. By the time you complete this course, you will:

  • Know how to use your professional skills to create a positive impact. Recognize and exert your powerful influence in the tourism industry to minimize environmental damage and support sustainable development.
  • Understand your role in decolonizing travel writing. Ensure that your work contributes to a more equitable and safer world.
  • Feel re-energized and inspired to write about travel topics in a fresh and responsible way. Move beyond the articles that pay the bills but leave you feeling empty.
  • Be confident that your work makes a difference in a world facing a multitude of challenges. Know you’ve acted ethically as a writer, traveler, and global citizen, and know for sure that your writing encourages readers to do the same. 


In this self-paced course, you will learn:

Why current and popular travel writing choices encourage people to engage in dangerous and destructive behavior.

How language choice and article structure can cause harm or, alternatively, be used to empower and educate readers.

How to recognize and acknowledge your personal biases in your writing — and how to use it to your advantage.

The role perspective and subjectivity play in shaping travel content.

How to navigate travel writing ethics related to press trips.

Why responsible travel writing is essential for addressing the climate crisis and supporting global sustainable development.

The connection between travel trends and problematic terminology.

Where and how to find diverse sources that provide more nuanced insights beyond the dominant narrative.

How a history of colonization impacts travel writing, and what you can do to mitigate its damage.

Best practices for responsibly writing about people and places as an outsider.

Best practices for working with editors on sensitive subjects.

New ways to approach travel writing so that you — and your readers — become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Time is of the essence.

Spoiler alert: Your dream job is incredibly important.

Travel is on the brink of a pivotal moment. For years, the tourism industry turned a blind eye to destructive travel activities and practices. And for years, travel writers have been complicit in supporting and promoting this harmful model.

You are an essential link between potential travelers and the places they travel.

As a travel writer, you have a monumental decision to make today:

Churn out content that
“gets the job done.”


Intentionally pursue and develop work that positively impacts local people, regenerates the environment, and sustainably supports your life.

This course is designed for:

Man leaning against a fence and writing


New travel writers who want to learn about the common pitfalls that lead to lazy — and possibly — destructive writing.

Woman smiling and sitting at laptop with food

›› established wrITERS

Seasoned travel writers who want to understand the nuances of the words and article structures they commonly fall back on — and how to change those habits.

Woman at a desk writing on an electronic tablet

››› Editors

Editors who want to understand how to work with writers to source more thoughtful stories and encourage readers to become better travelers.

A Black travel blogger sitting outside and working on a laptop

›››› travel bloggers

Travel bloggers who want to use their personal platforms to tell more responsible, meaningful stories.

This course may not be for you if:

  • You are a tourism service provider creating travel-related content for travel companies or destinations.
  • You are not comfortable learning independently. This entire course is online and self-paced, and there is no opportunity to interact with other people.
  • You need practical skills on how to write. This “big picture” course is focused on how to approach travel writing more responsibly, thoughtfully, and confidently.
  • You want logistical information on how to become a travel writer, such as how to write query letters.
  • You are looking for advice on where to pitch stories and contact information for editors and publications.

What this course includes:

  • 15 modules
  • 60+ lessons 
  • 35+ videos (3 hours)
  • Written content and graphics
  • Pre-recorded webinars and interviews with industry experts
  • Advice and insight from editors on how to navigate professional relationships in the travel writing space
  • Recommended readings to enhance learning
  • Print-friendly, downloadable workbook with reflection questions
  • Ability to access course materials for one year

Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll learn in the course:

Module 1: Introduction

Welcome to Responsible Travel Writing for Travel Media! Get an overview of what this course covers, download your workbook, and let’s dive in!

Module 2: Travel and Tourism 101

Travel writers play an essential role in the tourism industry. They should have a solid understanding of how and why the tourism industry operates because this reflects upon the experiences travel writers have and share with others. This brief overview offers insights on the relationship between tourism and colonialism, tourism’s positive and negative impacts on destinations and people, and how travel trends affect traveler decisions.

Module 3: The Tourism-Travel Writing Connection

Responsible travel content creation plays a big role in the tourism industry’s efforts to promote a safer, more equitable, and more sustainable tourism model. For this to happen, content creators must be able to recognize how tourism, and, by extension, travel writing, have caused harm in the past so they can correct these problems in the future.

Module 4: The Travel Writing Ecosystem

Travel writing has a romantic flair about it. This has helped shape how travel publications operate, how travel content creators pursue their work, how readers approach content, and, ultimately, the decisions travelers make when they venture out. This module provides insight on how and why the current travel writing ecosystem operates the way it does while providing the foundation for approaching it in a new way.

Module 5: Approaching Travel Writing Work - Understanding Yourself

Every travel writer carries their own history and story into their work, whether they mean to or not. When they reflect upon how their own personal perspective, biases, and purpose influence their travel writing work, content creators can use this knowledge to be honest and inclusive when they begin writing.

Module 6: Approaching Travel Writing Work - Complexities of Place

At the heart of travel are the places people visit. Yet, a lot of travel storytelling flattens places into two-dimensional backdrops, and it avoids those features that make them dynamic, complex, and interesting. Content creators tend to be well traveled but they can’t become complacent. They must learn to approach destinations with a discerning eye, sense of curiosity, and appreciation for place-based details every time they touch down somewhere new.

Module 7: Approaching Travel Writing Work - On The Ground

There’s more to successful, responsible travel writing than just showing up for an assignment. Preparation is as important as the actual writing itself. This means travel writers must think in advance about how to visit a destination, who to seek out, what questions to ask, and how to manage privilege.

Module 8: Approaching Travel Writing Work - Writing About People

Places are unique in large part because of the people who live there and who have shaped a place’s culture and story over time. It is important to consider their perspectives and points of view in developing travel content, and writers must avoid extracting and exploiting others’ stories for personal satisfaction and professional gain. Learning how to appropriately incorporate people into storytelling while averting harm is at the heart of responsible travel writing.

Module 9: Writing and Publishing Process - Language and Word Choices

Ultimately, travel writers must choose words in order to share their stories with readers. The impact of these language and terminology choices is significant, but, unfortunately, there isn’t an easy checklist of words to use and avoid. Content creators must learn to think critically about what they want readers to understand, believe, and feel, and evaluate the consequences of choosing certain words over others.

Module 10: Writing and Publishing Process - Travel Trends and Language

Though travel writers might be familiar with topical tourism issues and common buzzwords, not all readers will be. Writers must consider how they approach these topics and meet readers where they are while avoiding potential confusion or harm. This module uses several examples to illustrate better practices for approaching trends and tactics used in travel-related writing.

Module 11: Writing and Publishing Process - Content Choices

Beyond the actual words travel writers choose, they must be mindful about how their articles are formatted and presented as a package for prospective readers. Making content choices that intentionally and responsibly present their stories bolsters readers’ ability to appropriately prepare for the places they’ll visit and the people they’ll meet. Conversely, failing to consider content choices like headlines and imagery can undermine the integrity of an entire article.

Module 12: Writing and Publishing Process - Fresh Approaches to Travel Writing

As travel writers begin their journey toward more responsible journalistic practices, they’ll need to navigate commonly assigned but problematic article formats. This is an opportunity to find new ways to approach travel content creation while remaining aware of potential areas of concern. Doing so boosts writers’ confidence for taking on challenging topics, expands their professional toolkit, and opens the door to new kinds of assignments.

Module 13: Writing and Publishing Process - Ethics and Editor Relationships

The travel content creation space is ripe with ethical quandaries. Responsible writers need to learn how to navigate these sticky situations so they don’t mislead readers or misrepresent the places and people about which they write. Among their greatest allies in this area are their editors, who serve as gatekeepers to the final published articles.

Module 14: Mindfulness as a Global Citizen

All travel writers are also citizens of Planet Earth. As visible and influential members of society, their responsibility doesn’t end when an article is published. In our increasingly interconnected world, travel writers must consider how their behavior and content align with each other — and whether their commitment to responsible content creation is performative or genuine.

Module 15: Social Media and Its Influence

Social media plays an increasingly important role in the way people perceive the world and the decisions they make. Though indirectly tied to travel writing, social media’s role in content creation and dissemination is vital to understand — especially because it is a (mostly) self-controlled environment. If travel writers are active on social media, they should keep several things in mind on their journey to becoming more responsible and intentional in their work.

Get the Course

Our three-tiered pricing is based on the World Bank’s Country and Lending Group data.

Please select the pricing structure that's most relevant to your situation.
Learn more about Rooted’s tiered pricing structure.

14-Day Money Back Guarantee

If, for any reason, you are dissatisfied with the course, you can get a full refund anytime within 14 days after your purchase. If you have any issues, just get in touch with our friendly support team and they'll either help you out until you get the results you need or give you a swift refund.

Meet Your Instructor

JoAnna Haugen

As your instructor, I'm here to support you as you develop your travel writing skills in a more thoughtful way. I will give you the information and tools you need to inspire and educate travelers while minimizing damage to people, the environment, and the destinations you write about.

I am a writer and editor with nearly 1,000 articles published in more than 60 publications including BBC Travel, AFAR, Adventure.com, Wizz Air Magazine, American Way, Sustainable Brands, Fast Company, and Backpacker. I wrote a travel column for the Orange County Register for many years, have updated guidebooks, and worked as an editor for TravelWeekly and AdventureTravelNews.

I am also the founder of Rooted, a solutions platform that helps tourism professionals decolonize travel experiences and support sustainability through ethical marketing and strategic storytelling.

Just a Few of the Companies I've Worked With:


Frequently asked questions

What is a self-paced course?

You are free to start and end this course on your own time. You can complete the modules in any order at any pace comfortable to you. You have one year to complete the course, so you can revisit content at any time.

Because it is self-paced, there is no direct interaction with the instructor or other students.

I am new to travel writing. Is this course for me?

Yes! It is never too early to understand the details of the industry you work in. This is the perfect time to put good habits into place so that you can confidently develop relationships with editors, produce ethical travel-related content, and advance your career as a travel writer.

I am already a travel writer. Is this course for me?

Absolutely! You’ve likely bumped into some of the problematic aspects of travel writing already, but there is always more to learn. This course provides background information on why the travel writing sector functions the way it does, and then will help you identify, better understand, and correct some of the bad habits you may have picked up during the course of your career as a result. You already yield a lot of influence — now you can confidently know your work is maximizing good and minimizing harm.

What is your refund policy?

I want you to be 100% completely satisfied with your purchase. If you are not, you have up to 14 days (two weeks) after you’ve purchased the course to request a full refund.

What is tiered pricing?

Are you ready to become a more responsible travel writer?