How To Write the Perfect Travel Article
by Martin Li
Travel writing is part reporting, part diary and part providing traveller
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 and clarity.
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
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
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 your readers.
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
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 humour.
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're aiming your story at but rarely
should a good travel piece comprise more facts than description. Two-thirds or
even three-quarters colourful 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 stories.
Think Like Your Reader
You need to develop as clear an impression as possible of what readers of the
publications you're 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
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.
About the Author
Martin Li is a London-based travel writer and photographer. He writes for
Travel Intelligence (http://www.travelintelligence.net/wsd/writers/writ_1112.html)
and freelances for various magazines. Martin wrote Adventure Guide to Scotland
(Hunter Publishing) and won the Wilderness Award for his expedition The Rise and
Fall of the Incas.
Travel Writing could be called the
Ultimate Dream Job
Imagine traveling the world and getting paid to tell
about your experiences … or sharing your favorite local
spots with readers across the country …. or even being
offered special treatment and complimentary travel. So
how do you turn your vacation fun into a money-making
profession? How to Break In as a Travel Writer will
tell you what it’s really like to be a travel writer,
where and how to sell your travel material, and how
much you can expect to earn. Current active travel
writers will share with you their experiences and their
inside tips on how you can be a successful travel
writer. And Your Game Plan will get you started today,
with a step-by-step action plan.
Below, you will meet some people who are doing it
Norm Sklarewitz - freelance travel writer
Norm lives in Los Angeles, California. He has written
thousands of magazine and newspaper articles and
columns since being engaged exclusively as a freelance
journalist. He also has been Los Angeles Bureau Chief
for U.S. News & World Report, and a staff reporter for
the Wall Street Journal, which included a stint for the
paper while based in Tokyo.
Here’s our conversation with Norm -
** What is your daily schedule? **
Actually, there really is no one typical day. Some days
can be making a lot of phone calls, researching, and writing, while other days can be 25-50 percent
administrative in writing queries and responding to
questions from editors regarding assignments and
stories already turned in. I check my email frequently,
probably compulsively. I find that email has taken over
90 percent of communication. Faxes have almost stopped.
And some days involve meetings, interviews out of my
office at home, and going to industry functions. But no
day is like a nine to five day. I often work late into
the night and start early as well. To reach someone on
the East Coast I have to make calls early. I work
heavily with Asian sources, and their day begins around
four to five p.m. my time, so I'm working till 10 p.m. to make sure I get what I need before I go to bed.
** Why do you enjoy being a freelance writer? **
Total independence, which is both a big plus and big
minus. You have the freedom to succeed or fail on your
own ability. But you have to recognize that there isn't
any job security or benefits as with a full time job.
You often work more hours than in a normal work week,
but you have the flexibility to work at your own pace.
** How did you become a writer? **
All I ever wanted to be was a reporter. I wrote for my
high school paper and wrote some freelance articles at
the University of Indiana. I was an Army corespondent
in Europe. Subsequently, I worked for City News in
Chicago and then some other publications.
**What would you do differently if starting over as a
I would probably be more aggressive in going after the
top markets without sacrificing the smaller markets.
Sometimes articles may be more apropos for smaller
publications. I'd really set my sights on selling to
larger and more difficult to sell markets.
Jack Adler, the author of How to get started as a Travel Writer, has over 25
years’ experience writing about
travel. Four books he’s written are: Consumer's Guide
To Travel, Exploring Historic California, Companion
Guide To Southern India, and Travel Safety
(co-authored). Numerous of his articles have run in
various newspapers and magazines. He has been a
columnist, on a freelance but weekly basis, for the Los
Angeles Times' travel section. His columns have also
run in the San Francisco Examiner; Westways Magazine,
and Cruise Travel Magazine. He also was a columnist/editorial writer for Better Business Travel, a
nationally distributed newsletter; and a columnist for
TravelAssist, an electronic magazine. Currently, he's
the leader/chief content provider for Prodigy's travel
bulletin board and a columnist for Travel World
International, an electronic magazine. He is a member
of the Society of American Travel Writers and the North
American Travel Journalists Association. He has taught
a course in Travel Journalism for many years at UCLA
Extension, and a course in Feature Writer for the
Writer's Digest School.
If you would like to try your hand at this ultimate dream job - pick up the
ebook at www.DreamJobsToGo.com.