World traveler? Jump in your car and head down the highway for a spell visitor? Walk the streets of your hometown voyeur? However you approach travel, there are certain elements that make travel writing interesting. Yup, this blog post is about travel writing. I have loved travel writing ever since I was a young girl. The National Geographic setting on the wicker clothes hamper in my Grandma’s bathroom caught my attention early on. I loved the photography and the stories about all things foreign to me. As I look back and continue to read as an adult, one thing jumps out at me. In travel writing, the element of discovery is prevalent. However, it is not the landscape or the visuals that capture the reader, but the moments of realization, human connection, and life changing events that make the piece compelling.
We don’t have to limit travel writing to far-off lands or even to the seasoned pros. Many literary journals are looking to publish writing about interesting places, cultures, and happenings. And writers don’t have to travel far to find research for a great travel story, because ideas do come from life experience after all. What fun, quirky, historical, or weird stuff is going on right where you live? What goes on in your environment that doesn’t happen anywhere else? Think about these things as you begin to write about the local flavor.
Be sure to stick to specific moments and you will see a greater impact in your storytelling. Don’t leave out the background setting details, because it is important to transport your reader to an unfamiliar place. However, you don’t want it to be the focus of your piece, just a supporting role. I was reminded of this when I read the piece “Where You Go” by Lee Olsen, which was published in the first issue of Blotterature, as he takes the reader on a drive through a foreign country in a cab. It is the observations, conversations, and interactions with people that make his work special.
And read a variety of pieces in publications that specialize in travel writing. Of course read National Geographic, but a few others to consider are Trainless Magazine and Nowhere Magazine. Both offer a wide variety of story themes and beautiful visuals. Study the writers and their use of technique to help improve your work. Good luck and happy travels.