What Makes for Good Travel Writing

Published 7/3/14
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“Anyone and everyone taking a writing class knows that the secret of good writing is to cut it back, pare it down, winnow, chop, hack, prune, and trim, remove every superfluous word, compress, compress, compress.” – Author Nick Hornby

Travel writing is easier said than done. Crafting travel stories that inspire travelers to visit a particular destination takes a lot of work. Even in the days of writing being referred to as “content,” we always strive to make it better. Internally, several Miles folks have been working together to find ways to improve our writing.

Here are a few:

Understand why people like a place and use that. Think about who should be interested in reading your travel article and why. People like different places for different reasons, so sometimes you have to dig around to find the appeal in a destination. You really need to know your audience and take their needs into consideration to be effective at writing travel content.

Research, research, research. Find out what people are saying about a place. Travel reviews can provide inspiration and details that can help you paint a vivid picture of your destination. In-market salespeople and your clients also provide great insights that will help you develop the right message for the right audience.

Fact check, fact check, fact check. This is huge. Travelers look to our clients as the people who know their destinations best, so all the details have to be right. (Check out my previous post on the importance of getting your facts straight here.)

Highlight specific details and describe them colorfully. Use different “lenses” to paint a picture of the destination: wide angle (an overall, big picture focus), zoom (an up-close-and-personal look) and a happy medium.

Take care with your words — they can inspire. Don’t be too wordy (you’re going to lose someone if you go on and on and on). Avoid over-used words/phrases like “unique,” “beautiful,” etc. Your colorful details should paint such an amazing picture that those words/phrases are not necessary.

Read great writing as often as possible. Publications such as Travel + Leisure, Fodor's and Conde Nast Traveler are good bets. But don’t limit yourself to travel sites and publications. One hidden gem of great writing: The Wall Street Journal. It may not appear to be the sexiest stuff to read, but the writers can make the most mundane topics fascinating.