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What Is Travel Writing?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 23, 2024
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Travel writing, also sometimes known as tourism writing, is when an individual travels to various destinations around the world and finds a publishable story to tell about that area. There are many different types of travel writing; producing guidebooks about a certain area, for example, is one type. Reviewing resorts or hotels is yet another. Other travel writers will simply travel to different destinations, trying to find hidden stories or a new angle that hasn't been covered yet; generally, these types of pieces are published in travel magazines or online, though newspapers have also been known to publish these types of articles as well. Becoming a travel writer is a lengthy and challenging process, as there is no shortage of professional writers who want to get paid to travel to exotic locales.

One common way to get started doing travel writing now is to start a blog. It is possible to start a blog for free or for a very low cost, and to begin self-publishing travel stories. In lieu of a collection of published clips, which most editors will want to see before giving a writer an assignment or accepting a pitch, a blog can help show editors an individual's writing style and experience. In some ways, a blog can even be a better source of writing examples than published clips, because it shows the editor what the writer is capable of producing on his or her own, without the benefit of an editorial team polishing it up.

Producing guidebooks is another common type of travel writing. This takes more time and effort than producing a single piece for a magazine, but often requires less expense because writers are often hired to produce guidebooks for the areas in which they live. It will be the writer's responsibility to identify the best restaurants, hotels, and attractions in a certain area and to write concise and accurate descriptions of each. Such jobs tend to very competitive, however, and usually require proven experience.

The type of travel writing that most people want to do involves traveling to certain locations and write magazine articles about them. In general, people who want to do this will need to find a unique angle with which to approach the story; simply traveling to a certain locale is rarely enough of a draw for most magazines. It is also important to keep in mind that while some magazines will pay travel expenses, in many cases it is up to the writer to pay his or her own expenses. Travel writing in general, at least for the first few years of doing it, is not a particularly lucrative career.

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Discussion Comments
By pastanaga — On Nov 12, 2013

@Iluviaporos - I love travel writing that gets into history and other facts about the area. I'm a huge fan of Bill Bryson because he always includes that kind of thing.

Although I've heard that he will occasionally spice up the personal side of things, like including fictional characters in his recounting of his own experience in a place. So I guess you have to take all travel writing with a grain of salt.

By lluviaporos — On Nov 11, 2013
@umbra21 - Anyone who wants to be a travel writer should take the time to read as much as they can of modern travel writing as well. You can't know what is unique until you know what is out there.

I would also recommend that you try to go deeper, rather than broader. It's not difficult to travel to a new place these days and a lot of people have been to a lot of places. But it is difficult to really live in a place and get to know the people and the areas that might be off the beaten track.

In my experience, people are hungry for travel writing that goes into history and culture, rather than just listing a bunch of sights and what they look like.

There are plenty of other travel writing tips out there as well, but you should do your research to find them.

By umbra21 — On Nov 11, 2013

I think the best advice for people who want to do this is to find a good angle. The best travel writing is unique and manages to show a different side to a place that people might not have seen before.

I would also strongly recommend that you make sure your writing skills are impeccable. There is a huge amount of competition in this market and even a few spelling errors or bad grammar is going to let you down.

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