Monday, 15 August 2011

Top Travel Writing Tips

At the end of July I was at the Caerleon Writers Holiday and one of the workshops I attended was on travel writing, by Solange Hando.

I thought I'd share with you some of the useful tips that travel writers need to consider when writing travel-related articles.

Before You Go:
  1. Buy a recent guidebook and read it. Find out about the places that people recommend visiting. It might also enable you to create a feature about great places to go that the guidebooks miss out on!
  2. Research previous travel articles. (What's changed since they were written? Can you write an updated version?)
  3. Jot down any ideas in your notebook that come to you as you read through the guidebook.
  4. Look for any special approaching anniversaries.
  5. Check out when there are any special market days or festivities. Find out about them in adavance and plan going to them.
  6. Learn a little about local customs in order to become friendly with the locals. Once the locals appreciate that you have made an effort to understand their culture, they are more likely to open up to you and share knowledge with you.
  7. Research your target market before you go. (If one magazine prefers photos of views, whereas another magazine prefers pictures with lots of people in them, you can then ensure you take the right type of photos for each market.)
  8. Check to see whether the publication uses a picture of the writer 'on location'. If so - make sure you ask a passer-by to take your photo of you 'on location'!
When You Are There:
  1. Keep a diary. Don't write down the information that you have in the guidebook, write down your personal experiences, what you see, feel, taste, smell and hear.
  2. Whilst out and about, don't write copious notes - write enough to help jog your memory for when it's time to write up your notes at the end of the day. (Solange gave us an example: Monk + Crash Helmet and from that she recounted an interested anecdote! But those three words were enough to trigger the memories.)
  3. Make a note of a dominant colour. Lanzerote is white because of the houses. Wales is green, because of the hills. (Actually, I think its green because of the rain, but still.)
  4. Talk to people. At first, Solange thought the food in one place was very cheap, but it wasn't until she began talking to people at the adjacent table that she learned the alcoholic drinks were immensely expensive. What she was going to call a good place out for a cheap meal, suddenly became a venue that needed to be selected with care.
  5. Make a note of email addresses and contact details of anyone official at any organisation or attraction you visit. It's useful to have this back-up to drop someone an email to check out a fact.
  6. Collect everything you can - leaflets, postcards, business cards.
  7. If you have a tape recorder, don't just use it for interviews - use it to record any sounds - it helps with atmosphere. Record a few minutes of the bells peeling in a local church, or the sound of a busy market place.
  8. Look up! We spend too much time looking around places, but we often forget to look up. You just don't know what you could be missing out on!
Good luck.


  1. Great tips, thank you for sharing these. The trouble with travel writing is that it makes it hard to go on a proper holiday because you start seeing everything in terms of the feature it might make. I was in a hotel with my kids last week which turned out to be really interesting, so I was rushing round taking pics of the room before the kids could mess it up!

  2. It's not just travel writing that happens with - but any kind of writing, Joanne. Whenever I do anything, I start wondering, "should I be taking pictures of this? I might need them to illustrate an article!"

    Hope you manage to develop your idea inspired by your hotel!


  3. Travel doesn't have to mean abroad either, Simon. The UK, even your own locality, is a destination to countless others. Taking a camera out in your own locality often pays dividends.

  4. Quite agree with you Ann. I write travel features and I don't go abroad! Everywhere is a visitor destination to somebody!

  5. Id like to invite you folks to come to Amish Stories for a recipe for "Famous Pennsylvania Dutch Sticky Cinnamon Buns" along with a book signing schedule for Amish fiction writer Wanda Brunstetter for Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as a contest to meet her. I hope everyone so far is having a great weekend. Thanks everyone. Richard from Amish Stories.