Travel Writing tips: How to become a great travel writer?

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, establish a reliable essay writing service 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

travel writing tips

The first piece of advice 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

travel writing tips

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

or

How sleeping in saved my life during my last trip?

Do you see my point? Don’t make a summary of what happened during your trip.

Instead…

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

travel writing tips

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.

Share your expectations and explain the reality

travel writing tips

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

travel writing tips

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.

 Dig deeper

travel writing tips

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. 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

Kuala Lumpur

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

Nepal forest

An article needs information—the telling—and that’s an essential part of any travel writing. 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

Daniel Kiteski

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

mountain lake

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.

Finally…

Edit, proofread and don’t worry if your first draft is bad

travel writing tips

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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60 thoughts on “Travel Writing tips: How to become a great travel writer?”

  1. Wonderful tips, thank you Daniel..! I need to work more on improving my travel writing. Since English is not my mother tongue, I sometimes fall for the travel cliches, as those are my learnt phrases that I’ve embraced. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between a cliche and a clever phrase. But I’m working on it 🙂 Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Veronika and I’m glad to hear you could get some useful tips from this article. I can relate to your situation as English isn’t my mother tongue either but don’t worry about it. Just keep reading, writing, and improving yourself every day and I’m sure you can accomplish your goals 🙂

      Reply
    • I’d recommend googling the phrase. If there are billions of results, then it’s most definitely a cliche! Living in Republic of Georgia, there are 5000 “Georgia on my mind” posts and posts about peaches, even though both cliches actually literally refer to the state of Georgia in the US…

      Reply
  2. This is a great article for beginners and people who have been writing for ages. It is a good reminder of what good travel writing is. I know for me I tend to be more of an itinerary writer and need to work hard on getting my emotions into an article. Thanks for the great tips.

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  3. Excellent advice! So often its tempting just to write and post but its important to do all these things. I have bookmarked this post so I can use it as a check list next time I start to write 😀 thank you!

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  4. Of all the advice, I think “read more” may be the best one. But not only read more, read better. If your own travel writing is good compared to what you read, then it’s time to up your reading level. I constantly want to read people I think write better than me, if nothing else in hope of osmosis. Some of their quality will rub off. As for the unique angle, I think that’s great in theory but sadly, the most successfully travel bloggers I see don’t have a unique angle at all; they still write titles like “The Ultimate Guide to Slovenia”, or “10 reasons you need to visit Osaka right bloody now holy crap!” And as for the proofreading, the best I can add is to read the story aloud, for nothing better tests how it flows, and your awkward sentences will stand out quickly. And as for jargon, I like the word “eateries”, as it covers everything that “restaurant” does not.

    Reply
    • Absolutely, Tom- reading better is a key ingredient. As for the unique angle, you’re right- most travel bloggers don’t have a unique angle. However, all successful travel bloggers do have a unique angle, even when they write generic articles like the one you mentioned 🙂

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  5. These are all great tips for writing better articles. I will bookmark this and keep referring to this for future writing. I like how you break it down and give great ideas that can be implemented. Thanks for all thee wonderful tips.

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  6. Yes. Agree with them. My travel blogging Achilles heel has been procrastination. I just wish there was a way around it. I also agree that the writer needs to be honest about a place and should not sugar coat his real feelings. That honesty attracts viewers to the blog I guess!

    Reply
    • Well, not that sugarcoating doesn’t attract readers, but not as much as it used to in the past. And yeah, absolutely procrastination is the Achilles heel for a lot of writers 🙂

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  7. I loved these tips. They can do wonder for beginners specially. I am more of a “write from heart” kind of person but do try and follow what you have enlisted above. Since my writing on travel is more about enticing interest in people to travel more & more and helping them with itinerary through my articles, these kinda tips sure help to go a long way.

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  8. Travel blogging is hard but this article sets a good baseline for any new travel bloggers. I love to travel by itineraries and then write them down which can be tedious at times. These are some great tips!

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  9. Great tips! Gonna share this to some friends of mine. The travel bug bit them, and they wanted to start a blog. Another one was thinking of applying to an airline magazine as an article writer. These tips will help. 🙂

    Reply
  10. These are some wonderful tips on travel writing and couldn’t agree more with all the points that you’ve mentioned here. I’m really glad that you mentioned about showcasing reality versus expectations as sometimes the touristy places are overhyped.

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    • Thank you, Ana. Indeed, showcasing reality is an absolute must in my opinion. Anything else results in misguiding your readers.

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  11. What a great post! I agree with pretty much all of your points. You are absolutely right about finding a unique angle and presenting something new that other bloggers haven’t touched on yet. My best-performing posts are the ones featuring the most “obscure” destinations, so that’s one idea! However, I still enjoy writing about large cities I visit even if I know those posts won’t be viewed as often. You’ve got some great tips here and I think the best thing any blogger can do is practice and as you said, edit and proofread! 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind words, Kevin. Absolutely, obscure destinations work because of people’s curiosity. That curiosity is the main reason why I mostly travel off the beaten track 🙂

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  12. Reading this post has surely helped me and habe picked a few tips already. I’m looking at going back into pists that perform well and updating them for sure as even with a few months things can change and adding more or cutting out stuff from it as you learn with experience. Visuals do add a lot of meaning to posts I must say but the most important one I guess is getting and interesting title. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • That’s a great thing to do, Amar. A lot of people forget about it but it’s surprising how much editing your old posts can help in attracting new readers. I’m glad you highlighted that in the comments.

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  13. As a travel writer myself, I found this very helpful. Especially about the tip of including dialogue. I love to read posts that include some actual conversation because it adds character and brings you into a moment. You have some really helpful tips here that I am going to start incorporating, Thanks!

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    • Thank you, Cecilia. Yes, I definitely recommend trying to use more dialogues. And let me know how it goes and whether it helped 🙂

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  14. I would love to give you a big five for this article before I express my gratitude for writing this article. Being a travel writer myself, I agree that I still have so much to learn. I guess that being authentic will be respected, since we choose to embrace what originality really is. Thank you so much for sharing this post with us. Truly, this is such a great help for me.

    Reply
    • One can always learn more, no matter how experienced they are 🙂 Thank you for your kind words, it really means a lot to me!

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  15. This is a very helpful piece for beginners. I unconsciously use the words nestled in and bustling with but I guess I have to make a conscious effort to reduce the usage. A strong intro makes a big difference.

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  16. Thanks for sharing some travel writing tips as it is very confusing that readers will like or like not. I too believe that being original and compelling in the first paragraph is essential. Also discovering and exploring something unique like culture or hidden gems and then writing about it also plays an important role. Photographs and that too real ones add a lot of importance to the article. You encouraged to write more.

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  17. Great post. Most people think that what we write comes from a straightforward flow and they can’t be more wrong. More often than not, we spend more time editing than actually “writing” (editing is a big part of writing anyway). There is labor behind every post.

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  18. I also do a travel blog and some times find it hard to write a good post. Not sure if it’s about my feeling atm or I have no idea where to start.
    Thanks to this post, I can easily organize the steps and have more idea to finish a post, even though I’m finding some tips to boost my feeling for writing but this post helped a lot anw.

    Reply
    • thank you very much for sharing your opinion, I really appreciate it and I’m glad you could find some useful tips in this article

      Reply
  19. Some good tips, though I think you missed the biggest tip: relax and have fun. And do it for the fun and not for the money. Only a very very small percentage of travel bloggers are going to earn a respectable income from travel writing, and it doesn’t mean you’re a failure if you don’t. If you enjoy doing it, then so what if you don’t have the exact right mix needed for the time and trend? A lot of that is dumb luck anyway.

    Reply
    • Having fun sure is important and one should definitely enjoy writing. I didn’t mention it because well, why would someone want to become a travel writer if they don’t like it? I always encourage people to chase their dream and do what makes them happy. So, yeah I agree with everything you said, except “a lot of that is dumb luck anyway”. It’s mostly hard work and dedication 🙂

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  20. Great tips! Because I identify with them.

    The only thing I would add is, follow the suggestions even if you don’t plan on submitting the piece for publication.

    Trips are like grocery shopping. You come home with all these experiences. It’s my least favorite part of the grocery store. Items are spread everywhere. I finding myself rearranging for space, taking items to different rooms, pulling out the step ladder, washing produce and opening packages.

    And, sorting through what experience you’ve had, helps organize your thoughts better for writing.

    When you pass along your piece to an editor, and you haven’t clarified nor checked facts, it’s like asking them to put away your groceries, to sort through your experience for clarity.

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  21. I’ll leave a second comment. I think it’s difficult for some to find the conflict of their story, because they weren’t held at gunpoint.

    But when you draw a timeline it helps you see the conflict. After a recent trip to Versailles, I mapped out the day on a timeline. Then, I saw the conflicts or quests we encountered, and I was able to pick and choose which quest I wanted to tell about.

    And, you realize you just didn’t breeze through a trip.

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    • Thank you for stopping by and giving your two cents on the topic, Diana. I really like the grocery shopping comparison. You explained it perfectly. I also agree with your point about deadlines. They are very important when it comes to writing.

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  22. This is just an amazing list! One of my favorite quotes is: “It is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”Nice inspirational images with a nice line. I really appreciate your work.

    Reply
  23. Amazing resource, new to content marketing for the tour and travel niche! I love the idea of first reading a number of resources as this helps to broaden ones mind and article layouts. This will be of great resource to me! Thanks much..

    Reply

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