As a travel blogger or a writer, you probably figured that in order to be successful, you need to constantly keep improving yourself. Writing demands you to keep improving and even be a perfectionist at times. Oftentimes, I go through my old (well-performing) posts and change and correct dozens of things, sometimes even wondering “How could I write this”? That shows me that I have grown and improved as time passed by. But that wasn’t always the case. I learned (the hard way) a few things throughout my blogging career that helped me reach this level and I would like to share some of them with you today. Whether you’re looking to enter a travel writing competition or just improve your writing skills, keep reading. Here are 12 travel writing tips that will help you become a great travel writer!
First of many travel writing tips: read more
One of the first travel writing tips I can give you on improving your writing skills is: read more! Read stories and articles written by good writers. Read and absorb. You’ll be surprised by the results. Before I started blogging, I spent a month reading articles of some of the best travel writers out there and when I started writing I was actually surprised by how much my writing has improved. To that extent that I couldn’t believe I wrote that. My point here is, writing is a craft, and just like any craft- you should learn from the best.
Find your unique angle
The first thing your story needs is a point. No one will want to read a long article that describes a lot of events but doesn’t anchor around a specific point. But with the increased number of bloggers and articles circulating on the internet, having a point isn’t enough anymore. You need to be unique. If you’re writing an article about a destination you visited, chances are a lot of people already wrote about it.
You have to make sure you show your readers how and why your article is different and why they should read it starting from the title. Create a unique title that describes your article and write an article with a different perspective. Let’s put this into practice. Which of these two titles are you more likely to click on?
What Happened When I Traveled in Kashmir
Do you see my point? Don’t make a summary of what happened during your trip.
Write about a quest
Travel is a journey, and framing your travel story around a quest is a great way to give your piece structure and create a sense of intrigue and suspense. You want your readers to become invested in your story, so giving them an objective to want to see you achieve is a great way to guide them through the essay. This quest can be literal ”trying to reach a specific destination and the hardships you overcame to get there ”or it can be figurative ”such as trying to have a specific experience. Either way, finding out whether you made it to your destination and how you got there will make your readers interested in your story and will keep them reading to the end.
Explain what made it special and why will your article gives the reader a different perspective that they won’t find anywhere else. It’s not that hard. Just summarize your trip in your mind and show what made it special. Did you motorbike around Vietnam? Discovered a hidden island? Tell your readers about it. Or alternatively, share your trip while giving your readers a unique insight, like telling them about things you wish you knew before visiting Laos.
Begin with a compelling first paragraph
A travel story lives and dies with its first paragraph. If your audience doesn’t get excited by the first thing you write, then they probably won’t stick around to read the rest of your story. You want to create interest right from the start. One of the most effective ways to open a travel essay is to start in media res, or in the middle of things, by describing a particularly colorful, exciting, unusual, or compelling thing that happened to you on your trip. After telling that story, you would then go back to explain how you got into that situation in the first place.
Many people have an impression in mind about what a place is like. They have fantasies and stereotypes. Chances are you have ideas too, about what you thought you would encounter when you arrived at your destination. But many times, the reality doesn’t live up to the marketing hype. When you write about what you and your audience imagined a place to be like and what you found when you got there, you provide your audience with valuable information that will help your readers think about the world around them and how they imagine it. A great way to do this is to.
Add some dialogue for color
When you break up a long piece of writing with some quotations from the people you met on your journey, it gives a spark of excitement to your writing and helps to keep the audience’s attention. For example, consider these sentences: “’Look out! The rock is falling!’ the guide shouted at me before a boulder crashed through the rickety bridge.” And this: “A rock fell down and broke through the rickety bridge.” One conveys much more excitement, immediacy, and drama than the other.
Traveling is all about learning. Learning about new cultures, new ways of doing things, and opening new horizons. Learn as much as you can about the people, their way of life, their religions, about what makes them unique. And be curious; this is one of the most important travel writing tips I can give you.
Read academic journals. Dig deeper. See how that place is unique and then again, go deeper, but not just because you want to write a good story. Dig deeper for the sake of your curiosity. Make interviews, learn about emotions, habits, cultural psychology. Live the culture, learn about the mentality of the people, and show all of that in your PERSONAL STORIES.
But at the same time…
Educate Your Readers
Never forget that the point of your article is to help your audience in some way whether you want to tell them about hidden places in Florence or want to tell your readers about the life lessons India taught you. Just stick to your unique angle and develop your story around it. Educational articles are always more likely to drive social shares and engagement than non-educational articles because you give the audience something useful, and more importantly, something that they can’t find elsewhere.
Paint a picture with words
An article needs information (”the telling ”) and this is one of the most basic travel writing tips I can give you. But it shouldn’t be all of it. If you rely mostly on telling, then you are writing an encyclopedia entry rather than an essay. You need to be sure that you are showing the reader something about the place you’ve visited by painting a word picture, providing anecdotes and examples that illustrate key ideas, or otherwise using language to create an impression of what it feels like being in the place you’ve visited. Make the place you’re describing come alive for your readers. Paint a picture by making the reader smell the scent in the air, make them see the sun setting, make them feel the humidity in the air.
But be original in the process
Don’t use travel cliches and words you don’t use in your everyday communication. Readers are tired of overused words that lost their meaning, such as “boasts”, “nestled between”, “eateries”, “bustling markets” and so on. Don’t try to come across as clever or too formal. Don’t forget that you’re writing a travel article, not an academic essay. Be original and give readers a slice of your authenticity. Use the words you use every day. The point of your story is to make the reader see it through your eyes, not through some overused travel cliches. Use descriptions that sound natural, have personality, and most importantly have meaning.
Accompany your text with some great pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words. And no matter how good your new article is, the right pictures can make it even better. Don’t forget that it is the visual elements that keep your reader on your page. Take a lot of pictures while traveling; you never know what you might use in your future articles. No matter how good you are in describing things, having a picture to augment the reader’s imagination is always useful. However, this doesn’t mean that a photo can replace writing. It can only emphasize it.
Edit, proofread and don’t worry if your first draft is bad
Finally, we round up this travel writing tips with editing and proofreading. This part is what separates professional writers from amateurs. Sure, it’s not the most exciting part of writing but a necessary one, especially if you want to get your work published. Don’t stress if you’re not happy with the first draft. Ernest Hemingway said “The first draft of anything is shit” and he was right. You need to read your article at least 4-5 times and (probably) make numerous changes to make sure the story flows the way you want it to, it’s accurate and understandable for the reader.
After the editing, comes the most boring part, proofreading. Even though tools like Grammarly make this part easier, you can’t completely rely on them, as they are based on an algorithm that not always makes sense. With so much competition in the travel writing field today, you have to make sure you write the best pieces possible and to do that, editing and proofreading are necessary.
Did you like these travel writing tips? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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