Travel Writing Can Be Problematic.

You Are The Solution...

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 contributed to and accelerated many of these problems.

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


Travel Writing:

A Course for Content Creators

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 influence for good. Recognize and exert your powerful influence in the tourism industry to minimize environmental damage and support sustainable development.
  • Understand what your role is 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. 

It’s true: You do have a dream job.

But what people don’t see are all those questions that tug at the corners of your mind:

  • How do your professional decisions impact the actions and behavior of millions of readers (and potential travelers)?
  • Does writing about a remote community of people put them in danger of being overrun by travelers?
  • Do the words you’ve chosen accurately provide context — or do they perpetuate misunderstanding?
  • Are you using your publishing platform in a way that amplifies silenced voices — or are you contributing to systemic erasure?
  • Do you think critically about how your worldview influences what and how you write?
  • How can consumer-facing travel media balance readers’ desires, writers’ constraints, and local communities’ expectations?
  • Is it possible to justify flying halfway around the world for an assignment?
  • How can you do a better job of diversifying your sources and subjects?
  • Who benefits from what you write?
  • Does the colonial gaze negatively impact the stories you want to tell?
  • How can you write about a troubling travel trend without exacerbating the problem?
  • Is it actually possible to be objective when writing about experiences on a press trip?
  • What is the right way to talk with an editor concerning questionable changes made to an article?
  • Are you doing more harm than good through your work as a travel writer?

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.

What we say and do matters. 

Our words, images, editorial decisions, and social media posts carry weight. Every choice you make with your public-facing content makes a difference — especially in the travel industry.

What you include and exclude, the words and images you choose, the point of view you use, the voices you seek out and stories you amplify, the content structure you select — it all makes a difference.

As a travel writer, you can turn your back on the world’s problems and contribute to the destructive side of tourism, or you can use your powerful influence for good.

Click to play

Lola akinmadE

- Award-Winning Writer and Photographer -

When you know better, you should do better and my colleague JoAnna's course on responsible travel writing is arguably the most comprehensive resource I have come across on the topic.

Beyond practicing what she preaches in terms of ethical storytelling that challenges us to think deeper and reevaluate our collective actions, JoAnna brings over a decade of industrywide experience as a writer and thought-leader within the realm of sustainable tourism and impactful travel writing.

Needless to say, having worked with and enjoyed JoAnna's profound work for years, I highly recommend her course.

Jill K. RobinsoN

- Award-Winning Traveling Writer -

Traveling and experiencing the culture of another place is a key to understanding the world beyond your doorstep. Doing so responsibly and encouraging readers to follow in your footsteps is an essential consideration for travel journalists who want to inspire and educate people, as well as deepen their own value as a writer.

Especially now, when the world has taken a pause to reassess what travel means in modern times — with pandemics, climate change, and the overdue need to recognize the entirety of the world's population — JoAnna's course in Responsible Travel Writing is well-timed and highlights excellent tools and techniques to make responsible decisions in your writing.

In-depth content, tools, and guidance in three key areas:

Background Context and Coverage

Before you actually put any words on the page you make countless decisions that ultimately impact local people and the destinations you write about. Unpack the complexity of:

  • Perspective and bias
  • Subjectivity
  • Colonialism and oppression
  • Ethical interviewing
  • Research and sourcing

Writing and Publishing Process

Decisions made during the actual writing and publishing process shape readers’ expectations, behavior, and actions. Get a better understanding of:

  • Word choice
  • Article format
  • Point of view
  • Headlines

Conduct as a Global Citizen

As a travel content creator with a highly influential and public-facing platform, how you carry out your work as a writer, traveler, and global citizen matters. Ensure your actions are responsibly aligned with:

  • The climate emergency
  • Press trip ethics
  • Professional relationships and partnerships with editors
  • Worldwide sustainable development
  • Social media usage


In this self-paced course, you will learn:

Why current and popular travel writing choices encourage dangerous and destructive behavior choices on behalf of readers.

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 bias and perspective — and how to use it to your advantage.

The role perspective and subjectivity play in shaping travel content.

How to navigate travel writing ethics like press trips and the climate crisis.

Best practices for working with editors on sensitive subjects.

The connection between travel trends and problematic terminology.

Where and how to find diverse voices that empower people rather than oppress them.

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.

Why responsible travel writing is an essential part of global sustainable development.

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

Travel is a force for good.

During your own travels, you’ve likely encountered many moments of kindness, goodwill, education, and awe that only the travel experience can provide. You’ve met people you’ll never forget, had conversations you still remember, been fortunate enough to learn lessons you only could have learned on the road.

Those are powerful moments — the moments we refer to when we talk about travel as a force for good.

Now amplify those moments in a way that leaves a lasting, positive impact long after you’ve submitted an assignment:

Inspire and educate readers so their actions and behavior also have a positive impact.

Ensure your actions don’t cause undue stress on the environment.

Amplify local people, businesses, and organizations that encourage sustainable development.

Provide a platform so that people who have historically had their voices silenced can tell their stories.

Create long-lasting relationships with editors who can count on you to ethically and responsibly deliver quality content every single time.

Support and promote activities and practices that encourage biodiversity and wildlife to flourish.

Who is this course for?


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

›› established wrITERS

Seasoned travel writers who want to understand the nuances of the words and article structures they commonly fall back on — and how they can write more responsibly moving forward.

››› Editors

Editors who want a better understanding of how travel media can mitigate harm through its editorial decisions.

›››› 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 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 is a higher-level, theoretical course focused on how to approach travel writing more responsibly, thoughtfully, and confidently.
  • You want information on how to become a travel writer.
  • You are looking for advice on where to pitch stories and contact information for editors and publications.

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

Module 1: Introduction

Welcome to Responsible Travel Writing: A Course for Content Creators! Get a big-picture overview of what this course covers, download your workbook, and let’s dive in!

Module 2: What is Responsible Travel Writing?

It’s important to realize how travel writing fits into the larger tourism industry ecosystem — and why that matters. With a thorough understanding of the current state of travel media, it’s time to rethink the way we approach traditional travel writing.

Module 3: Connecting Storytelling and Sustainability

Responsible travel writing plays an integral role in how readers perceive and act in the destinations where they travel. Your job is to recognize tourism’s problematic practices and use your skills to minimize harm and maximize benefit to local people and their communities.

Module 4: Colonization and Travel Writing

It’s time to acknowledge the influence colonization has had — and continues to have — on the way travel, destinations, and experiences are shaped, packaged, interpreted, and shared. Learn to recognize how colonialism is reflected in travel writing and how to begin dismantling it.

Module 5: Perspective and Subjectivity

Understand how your perspective influences what you write and how that impacts the way readers interpret your words. Learn how to think critically about each word, observation, and turn of phrase you include in your travel writing.

Module 6: Travel Trends and Problematic Language

Popular trends often define the travel experience, but writing about them should be approached with care. Take a deep dive into consumer psychology and learn how the language you use can help exacerbate or mitigate travel trends.

Module 7: Article Structures and Editorial Choices

Some of the most problematic article structures are also the most popular. Learn how to use these article structures in a way so they are less destructive.

Module 8: Writing About Place

Travel writing largely focuses on destinations, so let’s start untangling the complexities of writing about places you may not know well. Identify some of the traps travel writers fall into so you can help your readers become better, more responsible travelers.

Module 9: Rethinking Writing About Destinations

Begin broadening your idea of travel writing with new ways to approach destination coverage. These ideas and techniques offer fresh ideas for travel writing that can also be applied to other genres and contexts.

Module 10: Writing About People

People are at the heart of the destinations promoted through your writing. Learn to identify diverse sources and ethically approach interviews in a way that amplifies unheard stories in a mutually beneficial, respectful, and safe manner.

Module 11: Travel Writing Ethics

From press trips to the climate crisis, travel writing is awash with ethical considerations. Feel confident with your decision-making with a series of self-reflective questions, insight from experts, and advice from editors.

Bonus Module 12: Social Media and Its Influence

Begin applying what you’ve learned about responsible travel writing to your social media platforms. Plus, harness the power of social media to go one step further and encourage responsible behavior on behalf of your friends and followers.

What this course includes:

  • 11 modules
  • 50+ lessons including videos and written content
  • Pre-recorded webinars and interviews with industry experts
  • Recommended reading within each module
  • Question prompts in a downloadable workbook so you can apply what you learn to your work right away
  • All material reviewed by a sensitivity reader
  • Lifetime access to course materials

Elevate your travel writing career with extra content!

  • BONUS module on applying responsible travel writing principles to social media
  • Advice and insight from editors on how to navigate professional relationships in the travel writing space
  • Additional resources and readings to support ongoing learning

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 will help you use your travel writing skills in a more thoughtful way that inspires and educates travelers while minimizing damage to people, the environment, and the very destinations you write about

I am a writer and editor with nearly 900 articles published in more than 60 publications including BBC Travel, AFAR, Adventure.com, Wizz Air Magazine, American Way, Vegas Magazine, Fast Company, Backpacker, and Modern Luxury. I wrote a travel column for the Orange County Register for many years and also worked as an editor for TravelWeekly and AdventureTravelNews.

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

The Tricky Questions

As a consumer-facing travel writer, I traveled on assignment to dozens of countries. Along the way, I found myself asking lots of questions related to ethics and responsibility:

  • How could I describe an experience that didn’t rely on stereotypes my readers already understood?
  • Did I have to write something positive about a mediocre — but comped — hotel or meal?
  • Was it okay to swim with dolphins?
  • What, exactly, did it mean when writers followed a don’t-ask-don’t-tell press trip policy … and was it okay to do the same?
  • What was the right way to use my voice to tell someone else’s story?

Throughout my years of experience, I leaned on wonderful mentors and educators to learn about responsible and ethical travel writing. I also made a lot of mistakes so you don’t have to. 

Founder of Rooted

I am also the founder of Rooted, a solutions platform at the intersection of sustainable tourism, storytelling, and social impact. My mission through Rooted is to responsibly document, support, celebrate, and share sustainable travel initiatives that put communities first — and to help others do the same. I have worked in the travel industry for more than a decade and can’t wait to help you become a more responsible travel writer!

Meera DattanI

- Freelance Journalist, Travel Writer, Editor, and Online Events Organizer -

“I first worked with JoAnna when she pitched a feature idea for Adventure.com and I was so impressed with the thought, awareness of ethics, and commitment she put into a fantastic feature about how rafting had transformed the lives of a group of former FARC fighters in Colombia. It was clear that writing responsibly about travel is important to her as well as telling a good story. Setting up Rooted, which brilliantly combines sustainable travel, , conservation, and community advocacy, also shows her commitment to these topics.”

Jeremy Smith

- Writer, Speaker, and Co-Founder of Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency -

"JoAnna is one of the few travel writers whose articles I always read. She doesn't only tell stories (and tell them well), she uses her stories to explore vital issues, while also maintaining a deep belief in the value of travel done well. This course is a wonderful chance to learn from her years of experience — and from other thoughtful writers in our industry — and to help ensure your travel writing has purpose and contributes towards a better travel future for your readers and for the destinations we love to visit."

Get ahead professionally and make a positive impact

Travel writing is a competitive sector, but you can stand out and know you aren’t causing undue harm while pursuing a job you love.

By the time you complete this course, you will:

  • Be able to identify problematic language and article structures.
  • Understand how to use your writing to advocate for more sustainable travel practices.
  • Be able to confidently approach editors to ensure your writing maintains integrity and accurately represents the people you amplify and the destinations you visit.
  • Have insight on how to approach people and places with a more thoughtful mindset.
  • Know how to find and frame travel-related stories that highlight solutions supporting sustainable development.
  • Understand how colonization negatively impacts travel writing — and how to recognize and correct it in your work.
  • Understand how to approach writing in a way that centers local people while encouraging responsible behavior on behalf of travelers.
  • Be equipped to navigate ethically questionable and tricky travel writing situations.
  • Confidently cover unfamiliar places and people so they are appropriately represented and supported.
  • Know how to recognize and manage your personal bias.
  • Know how to reframe travel-related stories in a way that appeals to more general interest and niche audiences — opening the door to more publications that want your writing!
  • Have the tools and techniques to work conscientiously within the constraints and questionably moral framework of traditional travel media.
  • Feel hopeful and optimistic about a genre that previously left you feeling depleted, jaded, and burnt out.
  • Be able to put what you’ve learned into action immediately so your work has a positive impact right away.


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 lifetime access to 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 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 will help you identify, better understand, and correct some of the bad habits you may have picked up during the course of your career. 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? 

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