Improve Your Travel Writing with these 10 Lessons

Who wouldn’t want to swing in a hammock while writing about their day’s activities and get paid for it? Travel writing is a dream job, and it’s no longer preserved for the “professionals.”

Through a personal travel blog, emails home to friends and even Facebook or Twitter updates, anyone can be a travel writer.

Whether you’re seeking to increase your audience or looking to hold the attention of those back home, here are 10 lessons for successful travel writing:

1) Make the First Sentence Count

“It wasn’t the first time she’d disappointed him…”

How many times have you read the first sentence of a blog or an article then clicked away or turned the page? With an increasing volume of travel content available for consumption, it is ever so important to make your first sentence count.

You need to hook your readers and do it fast, or they’ll be reading elsewhere.

Don’t lose readers—make the first sentence count. Photo by Ed Yourdon.

2) Keep Clear of Clichés

“Caye Caulker has palm-fringed beaches edged with powder-white sands and a town full of friendly locals.”

Yes, such descriptions are often accurate, but there is nothing fresh about clichés. Develop your own voice rather than using once wonderful, now worn-out phrases to do the job for you.

Friendly locals. Photo by izzyplante.

3) Have a Beginning, Middle and End

Wandering freely is fine when you’re traveling, but when you write, meandering can leave you with a piece that is nothing more than a flitting series of thoughts.

You don’t need to stifle creativity entirely, but, before you set off on your writing journey, at least have a beginning, middle and end in mind. Your readers will thank you for it.

Have a beginning, middle and end planned for your writing journey. Photo
by josemanuelerre.

4) Be Relevant

Relevant usually equals interesting in travel-writing terms. It may be a place that is topical or newsworthy, an event that is about to have an anniversary or even something you’ve recently done that your friends and family want to know about.

Make your writing relevant and your readers are likely to find it interesting.

Be relevant. Photo
by InSapphoWeTrust.

5) Add Speech or Quotes

“He regarded himself as an accomplished writer—a clear sign of madness in anyone,” Paul Theroux wrote.

Quotes or speech can add texture to an article and is a particularly useful tool if you find yourself dealing with a lot of facts.

Whether you’re relaying a local’s description of their city, recounting a short exchange during your trip or including a famous quote, you’ll be adding another layer of interest.

Quotes from famous people can add texture. Photo
by Wonderlane.

6) Check, Check and Check Your Facts Again

Some people love to capture details; others would rather gaze off into the distance and absorb the feeling of a place.

Regardless of your writing style, your readers will expect to read facts, and ones that are 100 percent accurate. So, check, check and check again.

Check your facts or you could lead your readers in the wrong direction. Photo
by antwerpenR.

7) Use Your Usual Lingo

Flowery language is still enjoyed by many who read classic literature, but in the modern writing world, purple prose isn’t enjoyed by the reading audience.

Spending hours constructing a complex sentence that blossoms off your tongue may seem appealing, but writing as you speak is easier for both you and your readers.

Swap purple prose for your usual lingo. Photo
by akk_rus.

8) Cut the Fat

An overfilled plate can be intimidating, and an excessively long article or blog can be equally off putting.

Set yourself a word limit relevant to your readership and stick to it. Test every word to see if it is necessary, and if it isn’t, press the delete key.

Cut the fat. Photo by
by Patrick Feller.

9) Know Your Target Audience

Giving your audience what they want is vital to the success of any travel article, blog or even email back home.

Your parents probably don’t want to hear about your antics (uncensored) at a full-moon party, and the budget traveler doesn’t want to hear about Michelin-star restaurants and $500-a-night rooms.

Know your audience. Photo
by Ed Yourdon.

10) Travel Wherever and Whenever You Can

It may be an obvious point but travel writing requires a constant influx of inspiration. That’s not to say you need to spend thousands on exotic vacations.

Traveling around your home town, visiting relatives or going to a local concert will all provide fresh material for you to write about.

Travel as often as you can. Photo
by ~MSL~.

Even with these tips, the most important thing is to keep writing. The skill of writing is like a muscle—it needs to be exercised regularly to keep it strong.

What kind of travel writing do you do? What tips do you have? Let me know in the comments below.

If you liked this article, you might also like: 10 Beautiful Travel Journals to Inspire Your Writing.

Main photo: Being paid to sit in a hammock and write about travels by The Life of Bryan.

4 thoughts on “Improve Your Travel Writing with these 10 Lessons”

  1. I have been writing for quite a while now and have to admit that my writing was also very complex. But with time, experience and a lot of reading, I was successful in adopting a way of writing that connects me with my audience. I mostly share my own experiences, write exactly the way I speak and it works very well to use words that are simple and easy for everyone to understand.

  2. These are all great tips! My personal favourite is to include some quotes or stories from people you’ve met. It gives the writing a real depth and sense of place.

  3. Great tips. I especially agree with trying to avoid clichés… one expression I hate most in travel writing is “must-see”. Yes, there are some places in the world that one probably should visit if you’re in the area (like, if you’re in Agra in India, go to see the Taj Mahal) but somebody’s “must-see” is not necessarily MY “must-see”.

  4. It’s hard to stand out as a travel writer online when just about anyone can enter the blogosphere. I think it’s important for people to stay true to their voice, their experiences, and to allow the rest to fall in place.

    Thanks for the tips! I especially agree with cutting the fat and making your first sentence count. Well done.

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