Travel Writing

Here’s a destination most people will never see in person.  No, it’s not my picture, darn it.  This is Everest, the world’s tallest mountain.  At 29,035 feet, it’s the highest point on earth above sea level.

Aspiring freelance writers who love to jaunt about the earth may consider travel writing.  Most newspapers have travel columns or will consider features in that vein.  There is one in my local paper every Sunday.  A blog is another place to post articles, with pictures too.  Although there won’t be any pay in the latter, it’s a good place to start.  Magazines, both local and national, publish travel articles all the time.

Effective articles have several elements.  First, they should establish a sense of the place visited, enough to give the reader a glimpse.  Most people want to hear about sights, food and accommodation.  Vivid descriptions and a personal touch help make the writing entertaining.

A good way to make articles unique is focus on less famous elements of a well-known place.  Telling people about restaurants that are off the beaten path, little-known attractions that aren’t in most guidebooks or encounters with locals will give them the feeling they are in the know after reading your article.

Second, the article needs to inform.  Puzzling local traditions or places to avoid aren’t usually known to those checking out a new destination, so they will appreciate your efforts to warn them if needed.  Some places may be tricky to navigate.  Any helpful hints you can include will make planning a trip easier.  Consider a section on what to bring and what to leave behind.

Third, the reader should finish the article wanting to go there.  A completely negative account of a visit might be good for a laugh, or if it’s really awful, can keep someone from getting fleeced or worse.  But most travel articles are meant to encourage tourism, not scare people away.

Keep notes, using a voice recorder if you need to.  Most travelers who write have a journal or take a small computer with them, so they can upload pictures or record impressions at the end of their day.   It’s important to get those down as quickly as possible to retain their magic.

There are numerous wi-fi connections around Everest, so if you’re climbing (I hate you) you can even report from the summit.  I can’t afford it and don’t know mountaineering (yet), so I have to settle for this:

Click this to be amazed.  Do it full screen for even more fabulousness. 

Yes, those are clouds below the photographers.  An awesome sight.  Travel writing can be rewarding on its own, and you may find unexpected inspiration in the nooks and crannies of the earth.

If you could go anywhere in the world and cost or training and equipment were no object, where would YOU go?  Would you write about it?  Share in the comments.

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