How to Pitch: Transitions Abroad

Extras — By on July 11, 2011 at 6:00 am

Transitions Abroad was founded in 1977 by Dr. Clayton Hubbs, winner of NAFSA’sHomer Higbee and Education Abroad Leadership Award.

Dr. Hubbs was particularly knowledgeable about educational travel options, and for more than 30 years, Transitions Abroad magazine was the only printed publication dedicated to work, study, living, and cultural immersion travel abroad. Its purpose was the dissemination of practical information leading to a greater understanding of other cultures through direct participation in the daily life of the host community.

Starting in 2008, Transitions Abroad ceased the printing of the magazine and moved all content to the website, A webzine, TAzine, picked up where the magazine left off while the website also provides listings for the best international travel, study, volunteer, and work programs of all kinds along with resources for living abroad. Here, Isabel B, assistant to the editor in chief at Transitions Abroad, talks about how to pitch the site:

What sections are open to freelancers for pitching?

Due to our mission and the nature of our coverage (work, volunteering, study, travel, and living abroad), our notion of travel writing is broader in scope than most other publications and websites who have imitated aspects of our editorial. In general, we are looking for usable, practical information gained from first-hand experience for readers who travel to immerse themselves abroad. Our articles inspire others to enjoy and explore off-the-beaten track travel, which respects the local culture, people and environment.

Basically, Transitions Abroad has the following categories with their own set of guidelines:

* Cultural Travel
* The Working Traveler
* Living Abroad
* Student Travel, Work, Study and Living Guides.

Is there a particular format and style you prefer when it comes to freelance work? Are you more interested in narrative pieces, “list” articles, guides, etc.?

Content must be information-based and gained from first-hand experience. Thus, feel free to narrate your respective experiences abroad. Be as concise as possible and do not hesitate to offer your critical evaluations.

Sidebars should include resources not in the body of the article: e.g. websites, email addresses, contact names, telephone numbers, and costs. Well-researched supporting material and annotated web links in sidebars greatly increase the chance of getting published. Also, bullet points, lists, and even tables work very well for writing on the web.

What makes a great pitch? What’s the right way to pitch it for your site?

Successful queries and/or manuscripts come from writers who have obviously read the guidelines and have taken the time to become familiar with the Transitions Abroad mission. To get started, take a look at the winners of our past writing contests in the following categories:

* Narrative Travel Writing Contest
* Student Writing Contest
* Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest

Save your time and ours by browsing through some of our featured articles. You can also read my past columns as the Student Advisor, here.

What doesn’t make a good pitch (i.e., things that freelancers do that would kill their chances for writing for you)?

What we do not want are:

* Sightseeing or “destination” pieces that focus on what to see rather than on the people and culture
* Information that is readily available in guidebooks, on the Web, or from government tourist offices
* Articles that represent travel as a form of consumption and objectify the people of other countries
* Personal travelogues or lengthy descriptions of personal experiences (unless readers can use the practical details in your account to make their own travel plans)

Similarly, what are the most common mistakes made by freelancers when pitching?

We’ve recently had a slew of previously published material sent to us without disclosure. Please only submit articles and photos that have not been published before. We purchase first-time worldwide rights only—rights revert to writers six months after publication. However, we reserve the right to reprint published print articles in part or whole on our website or in our newsletter with the author’s permission.

If you have a stellar idea, which editor should you send it to? Can you provide the names and email addresses of the right people to connect with?

Manuscripts should be sent electronically and addressed to Editor in Chief Gregory Hubbs oversees the submission process.

Please attach only Microsoft Word documents. If you use a different format, cut and paste your article into the text portion of your email message. Again, please be as concise as possible and use sidebars, bullet points, lists and/or tables. The author’s name, address, phone and fax numbers, and email address should appear on the first page of the manuscript of the attached document.  Also, please include a short biographical note at the end of each submission. You may include a headshot photo of yourself, and link(s) to your blog/website.

We greatly prefer that you have at least one photo available with your article, as even a single photo adds visual context for your article. If you do have photos available, please send  digital photos or scanned photographs in .jpg format via email after acceptance of your piece to Even better, you may use Google’s Picasa program to store and provide access to the travel photos you wish to publish.

All material is submitted on speculation. Please DO NOT submit materials that have already been published.

Should you pitch before you leave for your trip—or after you get back?

Given that Transitions Abroad is all about the learning experience abroad, you will generally have a much better idea of what you learned after you returned (unless you are a perpetual traveler, study long-term, or live abroad).

Does the site pay for articles? If so, how much?

For publication in Transitions Abroad’s website and our webzine (TAzine), payment is on acceptance, ranging from $50 to $150 (the average payment is $100) based upon how much traffic we believe the submission will generate over time from our audience while following our editorial guidelines. Payment for first-time submissions is made via check or PayPal. You can see a sample agreement here.

Transitions Abroad also hosts three annual writing contests. The deadlines for 2011 have passed, but keep your eyes and ears open for 2012. Prizes for this year were as follows:

  • First place: $500
  • Second place: $150
  • Third place: $100
  • Runner-up: $50

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@TransAbroad) to find out about current articles and upcoming contests.

Finally, what sets Transitions Abroad apart from other travel websites that are available? Is there anything in particular about the site’s background that would be important for freelancers to keep in mind before pitching?

I will end by going back to the beginning: Transitions Abroad is not the usual travel website. Following the legacy of Dr. Hubbs, the mission of Transitions Abroad is to distribute practical information leading to a greater understanding of other cultures through direct participation in the daily life of the host community. Their notion of cultural immersion is linked to the idea that meaningful travel in the broadest sense is both educational and respectful to the host community whose homes and land you are visiting. The content of the website reflects this mission at all times. Practical and inspirational information is key, and first-hand reports form the core of the Transitions Abroad content. Articles by regular expert, experienced columnists serve to provide a resource framework for participant reports.


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