Travel writers use simple techniques to turn their adventures into articles they can sell over and over. Here’s how they do it.
If you like to travel and you like to write, then travel writing might be right up your street. Here are five techniques to help you gather information you can turn into saleable articles.
1. Take Everything In
Is the public transport crowded at certain times? Are there spices filling the air and making your taste buds tingle? Can you hear native drums outside your window every evening?
Make use of all your senses: for just as you use your senses to absorb the information in the world around you, so too readers need to know exactly how that world affects you. And the simplest way to show them that is by describing what you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.
2. Make Notes & Crunch Numbers
Get as many facts and figures as you can.
Knowing there are 121 winding steps to the top of a watch tower might seem trivial if you’re young and healthy. But how would a 78-year-old with emphysema cope with that situation? Or someone with a serious case of vertigo?
The devil is in the detail. Sometimes details might be merely useful, and other times they will be amazing. But without them there’s no point writing anything.
Don’t try to remember all of these details. Write them down in your notepad and take plenty of pictures. Even if you don’t use all of the data, it’ll help give you a clearer picture of the place you’re trying to describe, which can only help to make your article better and stronger.
3. Pick up Papers, Pamphlets and Postcards
There’s a source of existing material – usually free – that will help beef up your articles and give them the weight they need.
These are the leaflets, brochures, newspapers, business cards, books of matches etc. you find in restaurants, museums, hotel lobbies, and so on. Pop into local tourist information centers for maps of the area and information on the best places to visit.
Newspapers can be read through in a quick trip to the local library. If you haven’t got time for that, skim through the headlines of as many different papers as you can while shopping or waiting in line.
4. Live Like a Local
No matter how inquisitive you are or how many brochures you collect, there are some things you just can’t discover on your own.
For instance, on a visit to Fredericia in the heart of Denmark’s industrial triangle, a local suggested going to the Pakhus music venue one Friday night. And lo and behold, on the bill that night was the legendary Magic Slim and his band The Teardrops.
This 70-year-old blues guitarist makes his instrument talk. What he was doing in this little Danish town is uncertain: but it was an unforgettable night of quality entertainment. Yet without some local knowledge the venue, tucked away out of sight on Kirkestræde, might never have been visited.
5. Don’t be a Stick in the Mud
Some people go on holiday and never leave the confines of their hotel or complex. As a result, they get a nice break from the ordinary 9 to 5, but learn absolutely nothing about the country or place they’re visiting.
But if you want to be able to transport your readers to your destination, to give them a real taste of what it’s like, you have to get out and see it for yourself. You can’t describe the sunset disappearing behind the horizon and the gradual change of hue on the walls of the Grand Canyon unless you’ve been there. Or the terrifying ride up the narrowest mountain road you’ve ever seen, just to get to the top of the Isle of Capri.
If you’re lucky, you’ll learn some of the things that make a place tick. Keep your eyes open, pay attention, and ask lots of questions; you’ll always find out what you need to know. But you’ve got to decide to take the risk, to go with the flow, to do what the locals do and savor the experience.
And that is, after all, what travel writing is all about.
For more information visit Travel Writing Secrets.