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What Is Travel Writing?

Travel writing is an enchanting blend of storytelling, journalism, and personal reflection, capturing the essence of places and experiences. It transports readers, offering insights into diverse cultures and landscapes. This genre can inspire your next adventure or simply provide an escape. Curious about the world's hidden gems and the tales behind them? Let's embark on a literary journey together. What destinations await within these pages?
B. Miller
B. Miller

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.

Travel writers can provide stories about and guides to far away places, like the Forbidden City in China.
Travel writers can provide stories about and guides to far away places, like the Forbidden City in China.

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.

Travel writers might seek out unusual locations.
Travel writers might seek out unusual locations.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary purpose of travel writing?

Laptops and the internet have made it increasingly easier to write on-the-go while traveling.
Laptops and the internet have made it increasingly easier to write on-the-go while traveling.

Travel writing serves to inform, inspire, and transport readers to different places through vivid descriptions and storytelling. It often provides insights into the culture, history, and experiences of a destination, aiming to give readers a sense of what it would be like to visit. Good travel writing can influence travel decisions and spark wanderlust, while also offering practical information and tips for potential travelers.

How does travel writing benefit the tourism industry?

Travel writers usually visit picturesque locations suited to their interests.
Travel writers usually visit picturesque locations suited to their interests.

Travel writing benefits the tourism industry by showcasing destinations and generating interest among potential travelers. According to a study by the Adventure Travel Trade Association, well-crafted travel articles can lead to a 20% increase in tourism to the featured location. By highlighting attractions, accommodations, and unique experiences, travel writing can boost local economies and promote sustainable tourism practices.

What distinguishes travel writing from other forms of journalism?

Magazines sometimes publish travel stories that fit in with that edition's theme.
Magazines sometimes publish travel stories that fit in with that edition's theme.

Travel writing is distinct from other forms of journalism due to its focus on place, experience, and personal perspective. While traditional journalism prioritizes objectivity and news reporting, travel writing often includes the writer's subjective experiences and emotions, aiming to evoke a sense of place and connect with the reader on a personal level. It blends factual information with narrative techniques to create engaging and immersive stories.

Can travel writing be a full-time career?

Travel writers may review hotel accommodations.
Travel writers may review hotel accommodations.

Travel writing can be a full-time career, but it often requires versatility and entrepreneurship. Successful travel writers may diversify their income through freelance writing, blogging, social media, book publishing, and public speaking. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors, a category that includes travel writers, had a median income of $67,120 in 2020. However, breaking into the field can be competitive, and many travel writers supplement their income with other related activities.

What skills are essential for a travel writer?

Travel writers often produce guidebooks for certain cities.
Travel writers often produce guidebooks for certain cities.

An effective travel writer must possess strong writing skills, a keen eye for detail, and the ability to tell a compelling story. They should also have a sense of curiosity, cultural sensitivity, and adaptability to navigate different environments. Research skills are crucial for providing accurate information, and photography or multimedia skills can enhance their storytelling. Networking and marketing abilities are also important for promoting their work and building a readership.

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Discussion Comments

pastanaga

@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.

lluviaporos
@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.

umbra21

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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    • Travel writers can provide stories about and guides to far away places, like the Forbidden City in China.
      By: alexxich
      Travel writers can provide stories about and guides to far away places, like the Forbidden City in China.
    • Travel writers might seek out unusual locations.
      By: stefanolunardi
      Travel writers might seek out unusual locations.
    • Laptops and the internet have made it increasingly easier to write on-the-go while traveling.
      By: karelnoppe
      Laptops and the internet have made it increasingly easier to write on-the-go while traveling.
    • Travel writers usually visit picturesque locations suited to their interests.
      By: LuciaP
      Travel writers usually visit picturesque locations suited to their interests.
    • Magazines sometimes publish travel stories that fit in with that edition's theme.
      By: romantsubin
      Magazines sometimes publish travel stories that fit in with that edition's theme.
    • Travel writers may review hotel accommodations.
      By: Offscreen
      Travel writers may review hotel accommodations.
    • Travel writers often produce guidebooks for certain cities.
      By: dmitrimaruta
      Travel writers often produce guidebooks for certain cities.
    • Travel writers may try to delve deeper into the history of popular attractions like the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt.
      By: mrahmo
      Travel writers may try to delve deeper into the history of popular attractions like the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt.
    • Travel writers might help vacationers determine the best airlines to use.
      By: Pavel Losevsky
      Travel writers might help vacationers determine the best airlines to use.
    • Travel writers might speculate about the cultures involved in creating prehistoric structures like the Newgrange tombs.
      By: phtphoto
      Travel writers might speculate about the cultures involved in creating prehistoric structures like the Newgrange tombs.