Monday, August 15, 2011

Top Travel Writing Tips

At the end of July I was at the Caerleon Writers Holiday and one of the workshops I attended was on travel writing, by Solange Hando.

I thought I'd share with you some of the useful tips that travel writers need to consider when writing travel-related articles.

Before You Go:
  1. Buy a recent guidebook and read it. Find out about the places that people recommend visiting. It might also enable you to create a feature about great places to go that the guidebooks miss out on!

  2. Research previous travel articles. (What's changed since they were written? Can you write an updated version?)

  3. Jot down any ideas in your notebook that come to you as you read through the guidebook.

  4. Look for any special approaching anniversaries.

  5. Check out when there are any special market days or festivities. Find out about them in adavance and plan going to them.

  6. Learn a little about local customs in order to become friendly with the locals. Once the locals appreciate that you have made an effort to understand their culture, they are more likely to open up to you and share knowledge with you.

  7. Research your target market before you go. (If one magazine prefers photos of views, whereas another magazine prefers pictures with lots of people in them, you can then ensure you take the right type of photos for each market.)

  8. Check to see whether the publication uses a picture of the writer 'on location'. If so - make sure you ask a passer-by to take your photo of you 'on location'!

When You Are There:
  1. Keep a diary. Don't write down the information that you have in the guidebook, write down your personal experiences, what you see, feel, taste, smell and hear.

  2. Whilst out and about, don't write copious notes - write enough to help jog your memory for when it's time to write up your notes at the end of the day. (Solange gave us an example: Monk + Crash Helmet and from that she recounted an interested anecdote! But those three words were enough to trigger the memories.)

  3. Make a note of a dominant colour. Lanzerote is white because of the houses. Wales is green, because of the hills. (Actually, I think its green because of the rain, but still.)

  4. Talk to people. At first, Solange thought the food in one place was very cheap, but it wasn't until she began talking to people at the adjacent table that she learned the alcoholic drinks were immensely expensive. What she was going to call a good place out for a cheap meal, suddenly became a venue that needed to be selected with care.

  5. Make a note of email addresses and contact details of anyone official at any organisation or attraction you visit. It's useful to have this back-up to drop someone an email to check out a fact.

  6. Collect everything you can - leaflets, postcards, business cards.

  7. If you have a tape recorder, don't just use it for interviews - use it to record any sounds - it helps with atmosphere. Record a few minutes of the bells peeling in a local church, or the sound of a busy market place.

  8. Look up! We spend too much time looking around places, but we often forget to look up. You just don't know what you could be missing out on!

Good luck.