Great newspaper travel sections
Newspaper travel sections are full of information about their own regions and the world
There's a gold mine of totally free travel info out there written (largely) by professional travel writers. Your hometown daily isn't the only newspaper with a "travel" supplement in the Sunday section, or that runs vacations stories as an adjunct to the Lifestyle section.
True, most newspaper travel sections are skewed toward the local audience—which means that "weekend getaways" pieces will be close to home only for the folks in that city, and the article on Peru in the Miami Herald will include prices for airfares from Miami, whereas the Peru piece in the Dallas Morning News will price things out of DFW. Either way, though, you're going to get a boatload on info on Machu Picchu out of either article.
Major newspaper travel sections
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Dallas Morning News
Detroit Free Press
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Minneapolis Star Tribune
New York Newsday
New York Post
New York Times
San Jose Mercury
Salt Lake Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle
South Florida Sentinel
Tampa Bay Times
Also, newspapers—with 52 sections to fill each year—have the opportunity to publish tons of in-depth articles, often on highly focused and offbeat subjects, far more than other travel media.
Most guidebooks go to route of the encyclopedia—brief blurbs on a bit of everything—and magazines only put out 10-12 issues a year, so the odds are against you that one of those dozen issues will have a feature on Peru.
Of course, because of budgets and the nature of the two media, as a general rule magazine articles are often illustrated by better pictures than newspaper pieces, and often the quality of the writing is higher in magazines. This is true if for no other reason than that magazines pay writers $1 to $2 a word (so a 2,000-word feature pays $2,000), whereas newspapers will pay $200 to $500 for the same article. (In newspapers, the writer makes her living by selling the same piece to 10 newspapers in different markets.)
That said, some of the best travel writers I know write almost exclusive for papers, and I, a former magazine editor, am the first to admit that, as a genre, magazines can print some real stinkers on that expensive, glossy paper. Also, I am often jealous of the quality and quantity of information found in some of the better newspaper travel sections each week.
A list linking to many of the major U.S. newspaper travel sections is above on the right. The Wall Street Journal is absent because you need a paid subscription to access it. Those in bold are merely the ones kind enough to have published my works in the past. Below are resources for finding other newspapers.
ipl.org - A tremendous selection of links from around the world, easy to navigate especially if all you know is the region you'll be in and not the specific name of a local paper.
Onlinenewspapers.com - One of the better, more user-friendly sites, on which you choose a country and it pops up with a list of links directly to the homepages of individual papers.
Newslink.org - Particularly strong in its variety of US papers; you can search by state and it includes not only the familiar rags serving major metropolitan areas but also alternative papers.
Customwire.ap.org - You can zero in on any news organizations (newspaper, radio, whatever) that uses the Associated Press newswire service, which is almost all of the major ones.
Newspapers.com - It has the best Web address name, and includes U.S. and international papers, but the search engine is dastardly difficult to use. The info's all in there, but you have to fight to pry it out sometimes.
World-newspapers.com - Straightforward, but slightly odd, selection broken down by country. Concentrates on ex-pat rags and other local periodicals written in English, sometimes with the national news service (the local equivalent of AP or Reuters) thrown in as well.
Whatsonwhen.com - Not a newspaper link page, true, but useful for some of the same reasons, this service is an index of cultural events around the globe. You can search by location, date, and type of festivity.