travel writing

Travel Writing: How to Embark on an Exciting Journey

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

October 23, 2023

Are you interested in travel writing? Becoming a travel writer is a dream many writers share. The opportunity to travel the world and get paid for it sounds irresistible. The field is very competitive, but there is always room for a talented newcomer. If you have a gift for relating your travel experiences and the ability to make any destination sound intriguing, you can find success as a travel writer.

Polish Your Travel Writing Skills

Like all niche writing areas, travel writing requires a specific style. Travel writers know how to focus on the details that bring their descriptions to life. They can identify the unique characteristics of a place that make readers want to visit it. They’re also expert at conveying the emotions of places and activities.

How do you get good at that? Start by studying the work of travel writers. Read travel magazines, travel blogs, and brochures for tourism bureaus. You’ll see that certain themes and topics repeatedly come up. Study the way these writers use vivid descriptions, photo captions, and “insider” tips.

Understand the Different Types of Travel Writing

Although you may think all travel writing is the same, there are some differences in article types. Here’s a rundown of the different articles you may end up writing for magazines and tourism boards.

How-To Guide

This is a detailed manual that explains basic travel information to people who want to visit a destination. In this type of guide, you would explain how to get there, and which places you should put at the top of your must-visit list.

The goal of a how-to article is to answer all the practical questions a traveler might have before heading to a new place: How do I get there? Where should I stay? Where should I eat? What are the best things to see and do there?

This article might contain information about:

  • Airports at the destination, and how to get from the airport to the main downtown area. This section should discuss where the traveler can pick up flights to the city in question, answering questions about whether direct flights are available or if the traveler must change planes at some point.
  • Ferries, buses, and trains that arrive there, and how to get from these ports to the main areas.
  • How to get around town: Is there a good public transportation system that’s easy to understand? This section should include information about how to pay for buses and trains, and it should highlight which stops are close to which important landmarks.
  • Basic information about major cities or neighborhoods of the city: Where are the best places to stay, based on what the traveler wants to do? Are there full-service hotels, motels, or guest lodgings? This section should include reviews of these different lodging areas by the writer or by others who have stayed there.
  • Food: Where are the best places to eat, and how much is a typical meal? This section should include fine dining options, quick bites, street food, and casual meals. Are there specific foods that are unique to the destination? Like the reviews of lodging options, reviews of restaurants should be done by those who have eaten there around the time of publication.
  • Activities: These can range from museum visits to beachside parties. A good how-to travel guide includes reviews of these activities from those who did them and can rate them honestly.

Travel Writing: Itinerary

An itinerary is a day-by-day, hour-by-hour article that offers a premade plan for a new visitor. It starts with the traveler’s arrival at their destination, details their travel to their hotel, and lists the cities and activities the traveler will see.

Travelers like itineraries because all the work of planning and scheduling their time has been done for them. Some itineraries focus on one-day, two-day, or three-day visits. These are helpful for visitors who only have limited travel time but want to be sure they see the highlights. Itineraries are put together by people who are experts in the location. Some travel sites specialize in these itineraries. If you can write them well, you will be in demand for this type of travel writing.

A sample two-day itinerary for a visit to Charleston, South Carolina might look like this:

  • Arrive at the Charleston International Airport in the morning and take a 20-minute cab ride to downtown historic Charleston.
  • Stay at the Francis Marion Hotel, a historic old hotel in the middle of downtown.
  • After lunch at one of Charleston’s best restaurants, take a 2-hour historic Charleston guided walking tour.
  • Visit the Old Slave Mart Museum on Chalmers Street.
  • Stop for dinner at Poogan’s Porch, Charleston’s oldest independent restaurant.
  • In the evening, take a haunted evening horse and carriage tour.
  • The next day, start off with breakfast or brunch at Eli’s Table, which offers southern-style breakfast and brunch classics.
  • Head to the Gibbes Museum of Art, a beautiful building that houses a permanent art collection and gorgeous Charleston memorabilia.
  • Enjoy lunch at Hyman’s Seafood, a popular Charleston spot.
  • Hop on a ferry for a Charleston harbor tour.
  • End your day at the Rooftop Bar Charleston, located in the historic French Quarter and offering lunch, dinner, and specialty cocktails.

An itinerary like this is ideal for travelers who aren’t familiar with a city and want to be sure they see as many of its best offerings as they can fit into one or two days.

Travel Writing: Top 10 and “Best of” Articles

Everyone likes listicles, and that’s true of travel blogs and travel readers, too. In this article, you list the top 10 things to do or the “best of” a particular place. You can also write an article that offers reasons to do something or roundups of tips. Here are some titles from actual travel magazines and blogs:

  • Top 17 Rooftop Restaurants in Charleston
  • My 30 Best Travel Tips After 8 Years Traveling the World
  • 12 Absolutely Beautiful Virginia State Parks You Must Visit
  • 10 Reasons You Should Travel to Pakistan
  • 12 Things Not to Do When You Travel
  • Backpacking in Transnistria: Top 12 Sights in Tiraspol
  • The 13 Most Common Scams in Southeast Asia and How to Avoid Them

Travel memoir

This is the most personal type of travel article. It details what the travel writer experienced and how that experience changed them or helped them see the world in a new way. These articles feature elegant prose, intriguing insights, and other details that lift them above the standard travel writing article. If you can write compellingly about the way travel affects you, readers will flock to your memoir-style writing.

Take a Travel Writing Course

You can learn a lot about travel writing by reading about it online, but the most efficient way to get the knowledge and training you need is by taking a course. There are several online courses that teach you the basics of writing for travel magazines and blogs. Here are some to consider.

  • Travel Writing Overdrive: Designed by travel writer Tim Leffel, this self-study course teaches writers how to increase their income from writing, primarily by focusing on smaller, lesser-known outlets that are looking for content. The course includes the opportunity to take a higher-level Mastermind course for those that have some experience and want to ramp up their income and opportunities.
  • Writers Workshop: This company offers online and in-person classes that focus on specific niches of writing, including travel writing. Students share travel experiences, and the instructors offer hands-on editing.
  • Gotham Writer’s Workshop: Direct from New York City, this course is taught by one of the country’s leading schools for writers. The online course is available to residents of any state. Class size is limited to a small group each session.
  • Travel Writing and Marketing Master Class: This thorough course was designed by travel writer Roy Stevenson. It consists of 63 recorded sessions from Stevenson’s master classes on travel writing.
  • American Writers and Artists, Inc: The creator of the “Barefoot Writer” workshops offers online training in copywriting, direct mail writing, and travel writing. It has classes at all levels from beginners to advanced.
  • Writer’s Village University: This online site offers high-level writing courses and workshops from all over the world. You can earn certificates in many different niches. A membership fee entitles you to take all the courses you want.

Have Laptop, Will Travel

As a successful travel writer, all you need is a laptop and an airline ticket. You’ll be on the road writing about your travels while getting paid. With some determination, training, and luck, that future can be yours. And once you’re ready to print your travel adventures, be sure to contact Publishing Xpress.

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