the detour is the story


We have a hunch: that the best travel stories haven’t been told. That the most compelling world journeys don’t make it into print. That the way a writer digresses from a plan or pitch is precisely what warrants telling. Helmed by a collective of global writers, Off Assignment is a call for travel journalists, essayists with a sense of place, reporters with swollen notebooks, poets who wander, food writers with street cart taste—to go rogue. To write about what stuck and what haunts and what mattered most to their lives. We’re not here to guide vacations. We don’t cover spas or centennials. We care about voice and place and story. We want the writer back on the page—sweating, tripping, and telling a tale.

There is no Off Assignment "house style," just a taste for offbeat places, and a keen interest in "what surrounds the story," as journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski put it: "the atmosphere of the street, the feeling of the people, the gossip of the town, the smell; the thousand, thousand elements of reality that are part of the event you read about in 600 words in your morning paper." Watch this short video for inspiration.

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Please send all submissions to offassignment@gmail.com with the following format:

Subject Line: "Submission: [Name], [Title of Story]"

Body: A short bio of 2-3 sentences, followed by a short description of your essay. We prefer to read completed drafts, which you can attach as a Word or Google Doc.

We solicit essays for the following columns:

"Letter to a Stranger"

Write a letter to a stranger you met while traveling; someone who haunts you, someone you’ll never see again, but who holds a place in your memory.

In your email, please give three headline options, in the format, "to the [x] who [y]." Word count: 800-1200.

See: To my Arctic Vardøger by Alexander Lumans

"Behind the Feature"

Writers don’t often get the chance to share everything that happened while they were on an assignment. We invite writers to revisit the stories that stuck with them, the happenings that didn’t fit in their original assignment.

What did a book writer leave out of their upcoming book? What happened when a writer reported about someone or something that didn’t fit into their assigned piece? Word count: 1,500-2,500.

See: Goodbye Dominican Republic, Goodbye Baseball by Jorge Arangure

"No Equivalent"

Some words in other languages just can’t be captured in English. We want your lyric meditations into untranslatable words. Word count: 500-700.

See: Pajogan by Amber Meadow Adams

"Under the Influence"

What about the times we travel using writers, artists, or chefs or whom and what ever as our guide, whether actual or spiritual? Consider this an account of your pilgrimage to a place under the influence of an artist. Word Count: 800-1200.

See: Joan Didion's California by Sophie Haigney


Please pitch us a writer whose book, feature, or photos you love, only if you feel comfortable interviewing them or have the means to put us in touch.

See: Behind the Briefings: Tara Palmeri by Elaina Plott


We accept simultaneous submissions, as long as you immediately notify us that your piece has been accepted elsewhere.

We are interested only in original essays and interviews. Your work must not have been published elsewhere. Allow at least four weeks for a response. We provide modest honoraria for pieces we choose to publish.

We control exclusive first worldwide rights to publish your work, as well as all unpaid magazine, syndication, newspaper, and electronic publication rights.