Becoming a better travel writer can seem like a daunting task. From finding the time to actually write to struggling to find the inspiration to battling writer’s block to tracking down publications, it can be overwhelming to actually know how to make progress as a travel writer. But before you can even think about pitching editors and finding freelance gigs you’ll need to sharpen your skills as a writer. While professional travel writer (and teacher of our travel writing course) David Farley shared some of his top writing tips in a previous post, we felt it was time to update his list and share some additional travel writing tips to help you step up your game and hone those writing skills.
While becoming a better travel writer is a process that takes time, there are also a lot of simple tips and strategies you can implement today to help you improve quicker. As long as you’re willing to put in the time, these tips will help you kick-start your writing and get you on your way to becoming a better travel writer.
6 Tips to Improve Your Travel Writing
1. Be consistent. The only way you will improve as a travel writer (or any type of writer for that matter) is with practice. Spend time working on your craft every day. Even if what you’re writing is garbage, it’s better to write something than nothing! Get into the habit of writing as often and as consistently as possible. You won’t always be inspired to write the best content, but that’s ok. You need to embrace the idea that becoming a travel writer is a job, and jobs need to get done whether you’re ‘in the zone’ or not. So, work at being consistent in your writing.
2. Keep a journal. Spend 5 minutes writing each morning or evening. It doesn’t have to be anything noteworthy, just write down your thoughts or feelings. It doesn’t even need to be travel related, either. Doing this will help clear your head so you won’t be as prone to writer’s block. It will also get you into the habit of writing daily, reinforcing the importance of consistency.
3. Pay for an Editor. Having your friends and family read your work is a great way to get a second opinion on your writing. But that will only work for so long. Eventually, you will want a more critical perspective from someone who knows the difference between good writing and great writing. Invest in your travel writing by hiring an editor to review your work. Websites like upwork.com are great resources for finding affordable editors. Even just paying someone to review 1 or 2 articles can make a huge difference, offering you a chance to get a professional and critical opinion. I’ve been writing for over a decade now and I still hire an editor to review my blog posts. That’s how helpful they are!
4. Use your senses. Too often I’ll read travel articles where the author simply tells us what is happening. “I saw this, I saw that.” Don’t just tell us — show us! Use the five senses to re-create the atmosphere. Describe how your destination smelled, describe the sounds and ambience. Bring your destination to life by doing more than just telling us what you saw. By incorporating all 5 senses, you’re travel writing will have more nuance and depth, giving your readers a much more enticing experience.
5. Avoid clichés. When it comes to travel writing, you’ll often see some of the same phrases repeated. Some common offenders are:
- Bustling markets
- Nestled in the hills
- Azure sky/sea
- Friendly locals
- Breathtaking or jaw-dropping
- Charming or quaint
These are just a few examples of some of the overused language you’ll often find in travel writing. If you find yourself using some of these phrases, look for an alternative. Get beyond generic descriptors and go into more detail. Don’t just say the market was bustling, show us! Use your senses to describe the scene and paint as a unique, vivid portrait. Remember, your readers have never been to your destination. You have to bring the place to life for them, and the only way you can do that is to use precise, evocative language.
6. Take a course. Most local colleges offer writing courses, and there are plenty of private courses available online or in person as well. If you’re serious about improving your skills as a writer, taking a course is a valuable investment. You’ll learn tons of helpful skills that will give you a leg up when it comes to writing great content and getting your work published. While reading often, writing daily, and hiring an editor are great ways to improve the quality of your writing, few things can compare to having an actual teacher explain the processes involved in successful travel writing. Moreover, it’s a great opportunity to get feedback from a paid professional in the industry. While this is definitely a much larger commitment (both time-wise and financially), if you’re looking to become a professional writer then this is a path worth considering.