7 Tips for Luxury Travel Writing for Budding Students
Travel writing is classified under creative non-fiction. It’s a genre where the writer describes their experiences and places where they traveled. It’s often found in blogs, magazines, and online content. There are also times when a writer can compile these writings into a book.
Unlike travel guides, travel books don’t necessarily market a place. Travel books describe the writer’s experience in that particular location. Rather than highlighting the best tourist spots and the like, they mention their interactions with the locals. The writer ruminates about travel and life.
Pico Iyer, for example, published a travel essay about his experience in Japan. He was legally a citizen and married to a Japanese woman. But he was often viewed as a foreigner because of his appearance.
He talks about his encounters with Japanese police asking him for his passport. He also mentions how an old Japanese man asked if their married life wasn’t hard because of the language barrier.
Of course, the approach to a travel essay doesn’t always have to be political, which in Iyer’s case, discusses the issues faced by an immigrant. You can talk about your perspective on life. Tell your readers about the joys and the realizations you encountered. Talk about the people and the place.
Let’s discuss how you can write all of those down!
1: Plot Your Storyline
A travel essay isn’t just about writing every single experience you had on the trip. You need to have a story mapped out in mind. Otherwise, your readers will get bored and you might seem narcissistic.
The trip isn’t the story itself but it does have a collection of tales that you can choose from. For example, would you tell your readers how you barely made it on the bus? Or tell them how you crossed the Grand Canyon?
Plotting your storyline also requires a theme. For example, you can write about how you planned your wedding via travel. Share with your readers the places you took inspiration from for your wedding theme.
Maybe seeing the sights of Europe inspired you to choose a style for your engagement ring. Europe has inspired so many themes for the arts, jewelry-making included. A fairytale-like ring or one inspired by a monarch might suit your style.
Either way, a clear plot will help filter out the details you need in your writing. It will also keep your story coherent and easy to follow.
2: Remember Your Work’s Goal
Sometimes, a trip has a tangible goal. It can be reaching the top of a mountain or seeing an animal you’ve only seen in books. Others might combine food writing with travel writing. These give your work direction and purpose.
However, a lot of journeys don’t have an apparent goal. Some are just about discovering places and meeting their people. So as a writer, you need to make a personal goal. This will help your readers understand where you’re taking them.
For example, you wanted to discover how to overcome the language barrier in a community. This can be actions, words, gestures, and other methods of communication that will help you understand the locals.
3: Fit Your Experience Into Your Story
There’s a reason why it’s called “creative non-fiction”. Your experience is still a story and there are certain allowances to writing it. The characters, dialogue, and plot all need to be shaped to maintain your reader’s attention.
Choose the experiences that will fit the narrative you want to write. You can make a few adjustments to make things more interesting. But remain within the realm of plausibility.
4: Write a Compelling First Paragraph
In any piece of literature, grabbing the reader’s attention is a must. There’s no specific rule to how you begin as long as you achieve that goal. You can use humor, drama, or dialogue. Maybe use all three if you’d like.
You can also start in medias res which means in the middle of the story. And then, you can explain to the readers how you ended up in that situation.
Ask yourself, as a reader, what would hook you to keep reading to the end? You can look up different travel writing prompts to help you get started!
5: Write the Dialogue
Descriptions may give the narrative a more immersive feeling. But dialogues just bring life into the scenes you’re trying to paint. It lets you convey information without having to tell too much from a writer’s voice.
That said, it’s impossible to remember everything that goes on in a conversation. You can opt to take notes of those and how your companions say them. This should make your writing more accurate too.
6: Show Versus Tell
Travel writing involves a lot of first-person narratives. Therefore, a lot of telling tends to happen. This is entirely different from showing, though they are both storytelling techniques.
Here’s the difference. Telling is just moving the story forward. For example, say “we boarded the plane and I took my seat beside the window.” However, showing that will describe how the boarding process went. The writer will describe the atmosphere on the plane. Maybe they’ll even casually mention one of the passengers they noticed.
A good exercise to avoid telling too much is by using verbs instead of adjectives. You’ll slowly notice a shift in your writing style.
This doesn’t mean that telling should be avoided entirely. There should be a balance between the two of them.
7: Write to Entertain, Not Impress
Even if it’s luxury travel, trying to be too impressive might backfire. The same also applies to writing style. Being too grand might overwhelm your reader.
Your goal is to entertain the reader. Get their attention with the first paragraph and then retain it. Rather than showing off your literary prowess, keep your writing simple and comprehensive. Your readers would appreciate that more.
Travel writing is entirely different from what you read in travel guides. It’s not just a compilation of information on a location and what the best sights are. Travel writing involves describing the writer’s experiences and goals during their trip.
There are seven tips discussed earlier on how to write a travel essay. You need to start by plotting your storyline. This will help filter out the experiences unnecessary to your narrative. You need to have a direction for the narrative and edit your experience as necessary.
The first paragraph is an important section of the work because it’s what should get your readers hooked on your content. It needs to be written compellingly. This involves writing dialogue to bring some life into the narrative.
The techniques of show and tell are also common in any piece of literature. Most literature has a rule of “show, don’t tell”, but travel writing needs to balance these two techniques. Finally, your goal in writing this is to entertain your readers, not impress them. They’ll be impressed if they’re entertained.
Travel writing isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes experience and exposure to other writings to be able to filter your experiences best for the narrative. However, it’s not something that consistent practice can’t solve!