PS has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When she's not traveling and writing, she helps people with web design and development.
Between low airfare and transportation prices and an increasingly globalized economy, travel—both domestic and international—is more popular and accessible than ever. Most of us are bombarded daily with images and stories of friends, influencers, and celebrities alike exploring new places and diving into exotic adventures via social media.
As a result, travel articles, tourist guides, trip reports, exploration journals, and travel memoirs are more popular than ever. This is good news for people who like to travel and write. If you want to get in on this exciting profession, you might be wondering just how to begin.
This article lays out important processes, tips, and strategies that are useful in travel writing. This type of writing can take a number of forms, but the travelogue is the most popular. In this article, we'll discuss what should be included in a travelogue, how it should be structured, and what the research and planning process should involve. Also included are a number of helpful tips and tricks to keep your content fresh and your readers engaged.
- What Is a Travelogue?
- Tips for Travel Writers
- What Should a Travelogue Include?
- How to Choose a Topic
- How to Research and Execute Your Project
- How to Structure Your Article
- Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Writing Resources
- Where to Publish Your Work
- Travel Writing FAQ
What Is a Travelogue?
A travelogue is a diary of a person’s journey to another place. It is both a narrative story describing personal experiences and a collection of factual details that other travelers would find useful. It incorporates practical advice, vivid descriptions, actionable information, and genuine emotion. It walks readers through your trip with words, images, and even videos. A good travelogue is gripping like a story, practical like a guidebook, and visually and emotionally alluring like a magazine article.
Tips for Travel Writers
Travelogues are unique and can be written in a variety formats depending on the type of information you wish to convey to your audience. Here are a few tips that should be helpful in your travel writing regardless of what direction you choose.
Entertain Your Audience
Writing about travel is not at all similar academic writing. Your main objective is to make readers enthusiastic about the location, so your writing needs to be both creative and informational.
A well-written travelogue encourages readers to visit a location place and stimulates their imagination of what that place will be like. Including fun facts and jokes along with practical, actionable advice is a good strategy. Flirt a little with your readers to make your piece personal and exciting.
Write About Your Personal Experiences
Don’t indulge in travel writing if you have not yet visited a location or just know about it from friends, family, or the Internet. If you don't write from your own personal experience, your travel writing will be boring, generic, and unhelpful. When you've actually spent time in a place, had real experiences, taken photos and notes, and figured out how to really enjoy a place, that authenticity comes through in your content and generates life-like images and feelings in the minds of your audience.
Provide Helpful Information
In addition to entertaining and enticing your audience, your travelogue needs equip readers with invaluable practical knowledge. Discuss the culture, cuisine, and local lifestyle. Priovide helpful information about transportation, the cost of activities, and local tipping and service customs so that your readers visit your article again and again. Include details that can't be found elsewhere to make your article the go-to resource for travelers in the area you're covering.
Use the First Person
Your travelogue is about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Third-person narration can sometimes work, but your readers want to know your story. Don't focus too much on yourself, but do focus on your experiences. Make your readers feel like they are right there with you. After all, if they're reading your article, they'll probably be following in your footsteps soon enough.
Use Simple and Straightforward Language
The best language to use when writing about travel is simple, straightforward, and understandable. This doesn't mean you should swear or include fillers like "um" and "err"—just use simple, grammatically correct prose that isn't overly intellectual. Readers should be able to follow along with your journey without picking up a dictionary every time you get carried away.
Make Sure Your Narration Is Well-Structured
Creative writing has no hard-and-fast limitations, but a travelogue is not a novel or a long poem. It is a mixture of practical knowledge with your feelings, beliefs, and experiences. It includes everything your readers need to know to have a successful visit.
Do not exaggerate your thoughts and feelings, but do write in a way that makes your readers part of your journey. Keeping your narrative chronological, interspersing practical advice throughout, and summarizing actionable advice and important information is a good way to stay on track.
What Should a Travelogue Include?
There are countless topics travel writing can cover, but while you're honing your craft, these are some of the major points that you should keep in mind. Most travel readers look for the following information when scanning blogs, magazines, and guides.
discuss all of the interesting places that you think your readers should go while visiting the destination. Make it exhaustive, such that your readers will not have to surf the Internet to look for additional details such as addresses, hours, prices, and other relevant details.
Some places are more pleasant to visit during a certain time of the year. For example, travel to New York and London is more difficult during the winter season, as temperatures can get quite low and there may be delays or other problems with flights, busses, and other transportation options. Similarly, a visit to New Delhi might not be the best idea during the summer months due to the extremely hot weather.
Talk to locals and ask them about seasonal events and climate issues that occur throughout the year. When do most tourists visit? Is it cheaper to visit during the off-season? Describe every season and discuss the pros and cons of visiting at different times during the year.
Finding the right modes of transportation can be one of the biggest headaches that travelers face. Mention all of the possible ways your readers can travel across the country, state, or city and include prices, travel time, potential destinations, and safety information
There's plenty of generic information out there about most places someone might want to visit. Your readers will be delighted if you include small, specific details that can't be found elsewhere. Make sure to explain what you've learned in an interesting manner and include a touch of humor or personality.
Cultural information is important to include in your writing. Figure out what's important for visitors to know to make the most of their visit, experience the local culture, and avoid making mistakes around local customs when dining, tipping, and asking questions.
A To-Do List
Show your readers the best way to enjoy the beauty of their destination. Think having a glass of wine at the Eiffel Tower, eating the best curry in New Delhi, or playing roulette in Las Vegas. Highlight activities that your readers can do only in the particular area you're discussing. What's special about the local cuisine? You can eat dosa anywhere, but for the most authentic and delicious, you can't beat South India.
Laws and customs vary, and you want to help your readers avoid getting involved in anything dangerous or illegal. Every place has its own rules and regulations, and these apply to everyone, including tourists. Discuss the most important dos and don'ts of the area. Help your readers avoid being disrespectful or falling into commons traps or scams.
Sydney is known for its opera; India is known for its fairs; Las Vegas is known for its parties, shows, and casinos. Educate your readers about the special events that their destination is known for, and be sure to mention whether these events take place year-round or only during a particular season. This will help them plan their budget and decide the appropriate time to visit.
A True Story
Include a short story about your visit. It can be anout your favorite moment from your trip, or it can be a cautionary tale with information readers need to know to avoid an unfortunate situation.
Important Contacts and Resources
Do not forget to add the phone numbers and emails of emergency resources like ambulances, police, food delivery, auto rental, and so on. Consider including a table of useful resources that your readers can refer to at a glance.
How to Choose a Topic
Since there are so many travel blogs and magazines online, finding content that distinguishes you from others can be relatively difficult.
It all begins with choosing the appropriate topic and elaborating on it in an interesting manner. You can begin it with whatever you found most interesting, unforgettable, or adorable about a particular region (like an incredibly unique dish or something you noticed about the architecture).
Your article can cover a variety of useful topics or focus narrowly on one particular aspect of a destination. Here are some possible topics to focus on.
What Can a Niche Travelogue Focus On?
- Cuisine: street food vs. higher-end restaurants
- The history of a city as told through its architecture
- Local customs and traditions (including interviews)
- Entertainment and experiences
- Budget travel: cheap and free activities
- Transportation and lodging
How to Plan and Execute Your Project
It's one thing to pour out your thoughts on a piece of paper, but composing a successful travel article requires a bit more planning than the average journal entry or blog post. Though there are no strict guidelines to follow, having a plan in place can help you ensure your final article has all of the elements it needs to be successful. Following this list of steps is one way to write a thorough, accurate, and entertaining travelogue.
1. State Your Purpose
The purpose of your article should have a major influence on both your traveling style and your writing style. Decide on a clear purpose for your article before you plan your travels.
Do you want to share your personal story with friends and readers? Do you want to discover and highlight lesser-known historical landmarks that people can visit? Do you want to figure out the best way to explore a region while spending as little money as possible? Your purpose will inform the way you travel, take notes, and eventually write your article.
2. Conduct Background Research
Do plenty of research about your destination before you leave. Learn about interesting locations and events that are likely to happen when you visit. Talk to travel agents, friends who have been there, or other contacts to make things easier. This is important because what you read about a particular place isn't always the complete truth.
3. Take Notes, Photos, and Recordings While You travel
Use a diary to record record the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes you experience while traveling to different locations. It is important to give your readers sensory descriptions that will transport them virtually to their intended destination. Taking notes and photos will help make your impressions of a place more permanent. Do not forget to collect brochures, guides, and tourism maps while you travel.
Take pictures that don’t resemble the ones available elsewhere online. Make your trip feel real. It doesn't matter if you don't write about or photograph famous historical landmarks. Photos of crowded streets, relaxed locals, and street food being prepared work just as well (if not better) to give your readers a real sense of an area. Anyone can see pictures of well-known landmarks on the internet. Show your audience something they wouldn't have the opportunity to see unless they were right there with you.
4. Review Your Notes and Recordings
Sort out your recordings by date, topic, and importance. Choose the most captivating material that best reflects the most interesting aspects of your journey. Travel comes with a sense of wonder and adventure, and that’s what readers have in mind when they search for travel-related content. Be sure to deliver something wonderful and unforgettable.
5. Craft an Outline
Pull out important points from your travel summary. This doesn’t need to be a final report, but it will help you create a structure upon which to build your final copy.
6. Write the Article
After you have clearly sorted out your main points and outline, it's time to craft your travelogue. Travel diaries need to be interesting and contain factual details. Start with what made you visit the place. Your description should make your readers see and feel the area as if they were there.
7. Revise, Edit, and Proofread
This is very important. After writing several pages, it's easy to feel reluctant to proofread our work, but this is essential. Take a break and then come back to your copy with fresh eyes. Have a friend or stranger take a look and tell you if anything is unclear, or confusing. You want to be totally happy with the state of your article before it finds its way in front of any readers.
How to Structure Your Article
Travelogues are often written like essays, so they usually consist of three major sections—an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. This is not to say that you can't include subsections, headers, lists, bullet points, or tables of resources—you can and you should—but the general arc of your article will still follow the three-section format. Here are some ideas about what to include in each section.
An attractive introduction can persuade readers to read your whole article. Make it sensory, descriptive, precise, and catchy. Use a thrilling photo (not of your face) that speaks of your journey.
This is the heart and soul of your journey. Avoid writing long paragraphs. Instead, use smaller sections with attractive headings. You can pull catchy, poetic quotes from your article into callout-style headlines about landscapes, people, and other sights.
Once you've covered everything, express your gratitude to the locals and any friends or contacts you made there. Talk about their hospitality. End your travelogue on a positive note. Avoid criticism. Encourage your readers to take their own journey and tell them what you're looking forward to on your next visit. This is also a great place to include a summary of any practical and useful information you included elsewhere in the article. This can be a bulleted list titled "Things to Remember" of a highlighted box filled with important reference info.
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- Try not to focus too extensively on factual details. Don't omit important information, but do keep your writing fun, readable, and stimulation
- Try not to be too over-enthusiastic in describing your views and feelings. If something was truly thrilling, definitely express that, but don't fill your article with exclamation points and hyperbolic statements.
- Try not to rely on memory when writing about your trip. Always take notes, photos, and videos, and make voice recordings so you can review conversations.
- Try not to write with too much awe or extensive criticism. Keep it reasonable.
- Your writing should not focus only on the landmarks you visited and the exotic food you got to taste. This is a boring and monotonous story that readers must have heard elsewhere. Invent a central idea around which your article revolves. Tie your travelogue to a captivating narrative.
- Do not indulge too much in common tourist destinations. Do your own exploration so you can find fresh content for your readers. Unique and interesting content and gives readers a reason to check out your blog or magazine post rather than another.
- If in doubt, follow the essay structure. Begin with some background information about the place and then introduce your photos and recordings. Share your findings and give a reason for your readers to visit that place themselves. Persuade them to follow your journey.
- Do not talk just about the attractiveness of a destination. Danger, problems, and strange incidents are informative and help make the content more readable.
- Don't include too many selfies—your readers want to see a region they hope to explore, not just your pretty face.
- Do not judge people or their environment. Avoid creating any prejudice. Everyone's experience, background, and culture are unique to them, and you don't have to understand them to respect them.
- Never ever use an existing travel guidebook to create your travelogue. Indulge in an original experience and then write about it.
Writing tools can offer a lot of help when you're trying to compose an error-free travelogue. They can help you catch spellings and grammatical errors and polish your prose before you submit it. Here are some resources that you might find helpful.
- Grammar Checker: Checks your grammar, identifies errors, and provides solutions
- EssayPro: Helps you design and structure your article like an essay
- Word Counter: Counts the words in your article and shows you the keyword density of your travelogue
- UKWritings: Offers writing services and provides you a unique and final redesign of your content
Where to Publish Your Work
If you want to freelance, the following sites are good places to check for available gigs.
- Matador Network
- WestJet Magazine
- Go World Travel
- The Expeditioner
This last section answers some of the most common questions aspiring travel writers ask. Do you have additional questions? Post them in the comments below.
How Much Money Do Travel Writers Make?
Most successful travel writers earn a median salary of $61,000 per annum. A few even make even six-figure incomes based on their experience and exposure.
What Level of Education Do Travel Writers Need?
Most companies and agencies prefer experience and samples over degree. But having a bachelor's degree in journalism or a related field is recommended.
How Difficult Is It to Become Successful and Be Paid to Travel?
Travel writing is a competitive field, and it can really be quite difficult to get a foothold. There are many established travel writers with extensive bodies of published work who you will be competing against. The best way to find success is to differentiate yourself. Find your niche and do something other writers aren't doing. If you travel to popular destinations and write about places and events that have been written about a thousand times over, it's unlikely that your work will find a home.
Kelly Ann Christensen from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas on December 25, 2019:
This is an insightful and informative article on a topic that seems to me would be quite enjoyable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insight. Keep up the good work!
Shaloo Walia from India on September 17, 2019:
A detailed and we'll written hub!