Travel writing is a great way to combine the love of travel and the love of writing into a lucrative and rewarding career. Travel writing isn’t rocket science, but it can be a tricky door to break into, and you’ll need to follow some simple guidelines in order to produce a story that publishers will want to run. Travel writing is a little bit of journalism mixed with journaling, topped off with useful information about locations. The best part about travel writing is being able to create your own voice and be honest about the things you’re doing, which is wholly separate from the unbiased rules of reporting.
Things You'll Need
- Language dictionary
- Extra film or memory stick
- Camera batteries
- Laptop (optional)
Determine your audience. Your audience will determine the final article you produce and should be who you have in mind during your experience. Is this for a leisure travel magazine, a college newspaper or an online travel website? Adult travel magazines will likely need a more mature voice and a more upscale itinerary, while college newspapers are looking for more affordable, backpacker-style travel advice. Wherever you plan to publish, do your research by reading plenty of back issues and learning the voice and style of your publication.
Be prepared. Always carry a pen and notebook with you to make important notes and to help remember obscure events. Be sure to include street names, prices for museums and other sites and information on how to get from place to place. Use your personal experience as a guide for what readers need to know. Answer the questions that you had. Keep in mind when you got lost and various things you did wrong, so you don’t allow your reader to make the same mistakes.
Take pictures. You should always have a camera with your when traveling to record the things you are seeing and places you are visiting, if for no one else, but yourself. This will help you to remember things you might have forgotten and could give you an opportunity to publish them with your article. Most travel magazines will use professional photos, but you never know when someone might ask to use yours.
Research your location. Travel articles combine a personal travel story together with a knowledge of the place being visited, so you’ll need to know the important facts and history of the place your are visiting and include them in the article. Add a few historical highlights to the tale of your personal journey to create a cyclical and complete travel article.
Say something new. This is the biggest challenge when it comes to travel writing. There are a multitude of articles covering every location, monument, restaurant and local hangout across the globe, so it’s important that your article provide new information about the place you are visiting. Talk to the locals and try to discover the secret or obscure places that have been relatively untouched by travelers and journalists. You must be willing to experience things rather than merely observe them. Try an unusual cuisine, dance the local dance and get involved in the things around you.
Create a fresh voice. Don’t be afraid to be kitschy, funny or brutally honest in your writing. Travelers look to travel articles as a source and guide for their next trip, so if you’re not honest about a place you visited, people won’t trust that you know what you’re talking about. Everyone has different travel tastes, but there are people out there who have similar tastes to you. Write for them.
Write the facts. Your first draft should get the basic details and important information about the specific journey. Don’t worry if the first draft is dry and bit boring because you’ll edit it later. Make sure you cover all the important information about the location, such as if and when there is a daily siesta, how late banks are open and if you can change money on Sundays. Your readers should be able to follow in your footsteps, so provide addresses and easy-to-follow directions when necessary.
Give your article a kick. Once you have your facts and important information, you’ll want to make your story come alive. Use metaphors and descriptive language to liven it up. If you’re in a foreign country, talk about the local flavor, throw in a few common phrases and try using quotes from other travelers or from books of poetry that were written on the places you’re visiting. The best writer will be able to capture the audience by their writing alone, no matter how dry the subject matter.
Be honest, personal and funny. Tell the reader what you liked or disliked about the location and why. Tell the funny stories and mishaps. People fight change, and traveling forces people to try new things and adjust their comfortable lifestyles, which makes for interesting travel stories. Tell your readers about those funny incidences that occurred on your journey, and they won’t be so surprised when something similar happens to them. People like to identify with others, especially in their travel experiences, so telling your personal story is a great way to connect with your audience.
Edit your work. The last thing you need is to turn in a mediocre article filled with punctuation and grammar mistakes. Also be sure to fact check all of your information to be sure that you have correct addresses, museum prices and local currency. Be extra careful where historical information is concerned. If you’re unsure about anything, don’t include it in the piece.