Everyone has travelled somewhere, even it is only in their imagination, and reading others stories of travel is fascinating, educational, gripping, tempting… or so the writer hopes. However too often travel writing dies on the page instead of leaps off the page. It’s like when someone tells you about their holidays; with some friends it’s all you can do to keep your eyes open and conceal your yawns, with others you want to hear more and more about their adventures – even if the places they have been to seem relatively dull.
With all our present technology it’s so easy to keep track of where you have been, and by looking at your photos, what you did while you were there. Sometimes, however, there are bits missing – you went to a beautiful church, it was wonderful wandering around inside it and looking at all the things on the walls… but when you got home you realised you hadn’t found anything about the history of it – or you saw a curious memorial to someone and you wondered who they were… with the internet now you can research the places you saw. If you can’t quite remember what was on the menu at a brilliant little café, chances are there will be the menu on-line and you can find out exactly what you ate, and what it was called!
Even if you are just writing for yourself, and don’t intend to share it with anyone, you want it to read well when you yourself look back on it in a few years. There are plenty of tips to help travel writers, here is just a selection:
- it’s interesting to read an account which is a mixture of memories, actual facts, descriptions and personal observations – those of yourself and maybe those of other people you were travelling with to give contrasting opinions
- include stories and little adventures, mishaps, accidents, fortuitous misdirection which took you somewhere unexpectedly splendid
- sometimes it adds to the account by explaining how you chose the destination you have come to – a personal mission to find family history, to see somewhere you have read about/seen a film of/watched a TV programme about which intrigued you, a place you visited as a child and have long wanted to revisit, an off-beat off the beaten-track sort of a place, somewhere to relax, excite, invigorate, delight, mystify/demystify, a pilgrimage religious or otherwise…
- like most pieces of writing it is more satisfactory to read if it feels complete – if it has an introduction and beginning (a funny story, a description, a reason for being there, some dialogue…) and then the filling in the middle, and then a conclusion… not just a tailing off; you might not necessarily want to end with a ‘BANG!’ but you definitely don’t want a….whimper…
- it can bring writing to life to have characters – they don’t have to be weird or extraordinary, but if they are either your fellow travellers or people native to the place you’re visiting it can add depth and interest and an extra dimension to the writing you’re doing
- avoid clichés… that’s it, avoid clichés… and try and write in your normal way of writing – don’t try and write in a famous travel-writer’s way, you are not that famous travel-writer, use you own voice!
- if you can’t remember something about a place or a site – Google it!
As usual, we would love to share you travel stories here on our blog! if you have any travel writing and you’d like to be seen by more people, send it to us! We will copy write it to you, give you all credit, link it to your own blog or website, have your name at the top and bottom of it!