How To Write the Perfect Travel Article
|Writing a travel
article is part craft and part art.
Travel writing is part reporting, part
diary, and part providing traveler information. Travel writers
create their art using a multitude of different styles and
techniques but the best stories generally share certain
1) Clear writing style,
without affectation, used by a writer who
knows the point of the story, gets to it quickly and
gets it across to the reader strongly and with brevity
2) Strong sense of the writer’s
personality, ideally demonstrating intelligence,
wit and style.
3) Use of the writer’s
personal experiences, other anecdotes and
quotations to add life to the piece.
4) Vivid reporting — the
ability of the writer to convey to readers, using as
many of the senses as possible, the travel experience
through the use of words alone.
5) High literary quality
and the accurate use of grammar and syntax.
6) Meaty, practical and accurate
information that is useful to the reader.
Give your story a fresh point of view
and, if at all possible, cover some out-of-the-ordinary
subject matter. Be creative in your writing. Strive for
the best and strongest use of English and the most original
and powerful metaphors and similes.
Take your own approach to a location
you’ve visited, an activity you’ve tried or
an adventure that thrilled you. What was it that really
excited or inspired you? Identify it and get it across to
To stand out from the crowd, your story
must have a personal voice and point of view. Remember that
most places you write about will already have been written
about before. Your challenge is to find something new and
original to say.
Travel writing should mostly have a
light, bright, lively and fun tone. Travel, the process
of leaving the familiar to go to the foreign and unfamiliar,
is often rich in comedy and comical events. Incorporate
comedy into your writing where appropriate and don’t
be afraid to make your readers laugh. Also, don’t
be afraid to incorporate mishaps into your pieces. These
can be just as worth reading about, maybe more so, particularly
if they also incorporate an element of comedy or humor.
Surprise your reader. Give the reader
something out of the ordinary; something that only someone
who has been to the location would know. Do this by trying
unusual activities, meeting new people, and getting involved
in strange scenes as you travel.
Travel writing must blend your personal
observations, descriptions and commentary with practical
information that is useful to your readers. The precise
balance depends on the outlet you are aiming your story
at but rarely should a good travel piece comprise more facts
than description. Two-thirds or even three-quarters colorful
description to one-third or one-quarter facts would be a
reasonable guideline to start from.
Be a Quoter
Work in quotes from visitors to locations,
or participants in activities. Let them express their thoughts
about how they feel about a place or activity. Quotes lift
Think Like Your Reader
You need to develop as clear an impression
as possible of what readers of the publications you are
targeting want to read, their travel aspirations, how they
like articles written and what information they want to
know. You want to be able to think like your reader. Only
then will you be able to identify how you can help your
reader. Only then should you start writing your article.
The Big Picture: What is the Main
Point You Want to Get Across to Your Reader?
Good travel stories have a definite,
central theme and it will greatly improve your writing if
you can identify the central themes of your articles before
you try to write them. Decide at the outset what main point
about a location or activity you want to convey. This is
the “big picture” and you then work your impressions
and facts around it. Identifying the big picture early on
will also help you structure your piece sensibly and help
you decide what information you need to include and, equally
importantly, what you can and should leave out.
This article is an extract from
The Insider Secrets of Freelance Travel Writing.
Martin Li is a
travel writer and photographer based in London.