Emma Siemasko is a writer, storyteller, and content marketer. She founded Stories by Emma to help companies tell their stories through copy and content. She specializes in content marketing, freelance writing, SEO, and general marketing consulting.
I wouldn't focus on charging per word either, though this can be helpful once someone gets more specific with you about what they're looking for.
When you're giving a price, think about 1. how much research the piece requires 2. how much time it will take you to do this research 3. how much insight you'll need to have about the site's "personal" brand 4. how specific and original the work will be 5. how much experience you have writing pieces like this. 6. how many revisions you are willing to do.
1,000 words off the cuff is a lot different than 1,000 words that have been well-researched, edited, and revised.
My feeling is that you're asking how much you should charge for travel writing in general. For a 500 word travel blog post that required "light research", I would charge at least $100.
When you're starting out, it's really good to comment on other people's posts who are writing about similar things. Do all you can to connect with people writing about similar issues as you, whether that's in blog comments, email exchanges, guest posting, or in forums. I also think content exchanges can be great- guest posts and that sort of thing.
Showing your authority can be helpful, too. Go on Quora and find all questions you can answer. Don't necessarily link to your posts, but get people curious about you and what you do. If you're providing them with relevant information on Quora, they'll be likely to check out your blog.