Striving to be a good writer or a better writer, whether you call yourself a travel writer, journalist, content creator or blogger is hard work. Working on your prose and developing your writing is one of the most important things you can do for your audience, your future editors, and yourself.
When I signed up for my first journalism class, it gave me the confidence to follow my dream to become a writer. When I realized, I wanted to move towards travel writing, I signed up for two back-to-back travel writing courses with Amanda Castleman. Learning from successful journalists and writers is the best way to improve writing skills, learn how to express yourself with a defined style and self-edit.
I’ve had a lot of inspiring guests share the story of their love affair with travel, how they began their careers as a travel writer, or journalist, or blogger and their tips to become a better travel writer.
I’m excited to bring together some of the guests who have shared their writing tips to give you the tools to up your game as a writer.
This is a “Best of the Break Into Travel Writing Podcast” focusing specifically on guests who spoke about the travel writing process and their top travel writer tips and descriptive writing tips.
Get ready to have your mind blown by some of the most prolific writers, famous travel writers, accomplished travel writers, highly paid travel writers, and travel industry experts. All of them have inspired me to be a better writer.
Break Into Travel Writing: A podcast and website designed to help you build a travel blog your readers love as well as help you achieve your goals as a travel writer or blogger.
Disclosure: Please know that ads are how we pay our bills and keep our blog free for you to enjoy. We also use affiliate links; if you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Travel Writer Tips | Descriptive Writing Tips
This episode features tips from previous podcast episodes from some of the best travel writers today. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the previous 179 podcasts and share travel writer tips and descriptive writing tips from previous guests. This is a “Best of Break Into Travel Writing Podcast”. For this episode, I’m focusing specifically on guests who spoke about the travel writing process and travel journalism.
I feel so fortunate to have had so many great guests and successful travel writers on this podcast and heading back to pull out just one or two tips was not an easy task. I hope this show gives you a great overview of travel writing tips and inspires you to head back and listen to a few of these episodes in their entirety!
“Great travel writing consists of equal parts curiosity, vulnerability and vocabulary. It is not a terrain for know-it-alls or the indecisive. The best of the genre can simply be an elegant natural history essay, a nicely writ sports piece, or a well-turned profile of a bar band and its music. A well-grounded sense of place is the challenge for the writer. We observe, we calculate, we inquire, we look for a link between what we already know and what we’re about to learn. The finest travel writing describes what’s going on when nobody’s looking.” – Tom Miller (author of The Panama Hat Trail, On the Border, Trading with the Enemy, and Jack Ruby’s Kitchen Sink among others).
10 Travel Writers Share How to Become a Better Travel Writer
1. How to Conduct a Meaningful Interview on Location
Bruce Anderson is a journalist and was the Editor at Large for Sunset magazine for many years. He also was editor in chief of VIA, a bimonthly travel magazine for 12 years. He was a reporter for Sports Illustrated for 10 years and has written for other publications including GQ, Life, The Saturday Evening Post and Smithsonian.
Bruce’s tips include why you should not overlook the exit (last paragraph) of your piece and what many travel articles are missing. He also shares why you should be careful if you are the photographer and the writer. Make sure the camera doesn’t get in the way of talking to people. and why it’s not enough to see and taste what’s there.
Bruce was my guest on episode 18 entitled; How to Pitch an Editor with Bruce Anderson from Sunset Magazine
2. How to Add Texture & Authority to Your Travel Writing
Amanda Castleman is a travel journalist and travel writing teacher. Her work has appeared in travel magazines and outlets including MSN, Yahoo, Outside, Sport Diver, The Guardian, Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, Alaska Airlines, Wired, Salon, Islands, Hemispheres, Condé Nast Traveler and The International Herald Tribune, as well as the BBC and the Sunday Express in Britain. She has edited and contributed to more than 30 travel books and travel guides, including Frommer’s, Michelin, The Rough Guides, and National Geographic’s Journeys of a Lifetime.
Amanda’s tip focuses on what good travel writers do subconsciously with structure, imagery and word choice. She shares how to broaden your experience, so the readers’ experience is more enhanced and visceral. She also explains her crusade of active verb crusade to give a sense of wonder to your readers.
Amanda was my guest on episode 24 entitled; Top Tips to Take Your Writing to a New Level
3. How to Write with Point of View
Perry Garfinkel is a travel journalist, national bestseller author and speaker. He writes for numerous travel publications including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal Asia and National Geographic Magazine. He is the author of “Buddha or Bust,” and “Travel Writing for Profit & Pleasure”, which Arthur Frommer called “the definitive work in the field.
Perry’s Travel Writing Tip I pulled out from the interview focuses on point of view. He shares how to write with a point of view, but that isn’t all about you. He shares how to write without making the piece “all about you”.
Perry shares how to make the travel piece about the place, the people you meet, the food, the cultures you encounter, the music and art. Why he says you should not write about a place without using I, Me or My. He also shares how to turn the focus away from you to point to the place.
Perry was my guest on episode 27 entitled; Finding Your Point Of View
4. Notetaking & Inspiration Tips for Travel Writers
Francis Tapon is a Harvard MBA who left the tech world with the mission to visit every country in the world and share their unique lessons. He is the author of the travelogue Hike Your Own Hike and the travel narrative The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us.
Francis’ tip focuses on notetaking techniques to use for later inspiration in your writing. He also shares his editing techniques and how to use beta readers. Francis also shares why waiting for inspiration to write is B.S.
Francis was my guest on episode 37 entitled; How to Find An Original Point of View as a Travel Writer
5. How to Find Your Unique Voice as a Travel Writer
Paula Froelich is the editor-at-large for Yahoo travel and host of the video series, A Broad Abroad. Paula was a columnist as well as Deputy Editor for Page Six of the New York Post. She was a senior writer at Newsweek and has also written for Playboy, Marie Claire, Digiday and The Daily Beast.
Paula’s tip is if you can’t grab someone in the first two sentences of an article, why bother to write it. Paula also shares her writing process.
Paula was my guest on episode 50 entitled; How to Find Your Unique Voice as a Travel Writer
6. How to Find the Story
Don George is the author of the best-selling travel writing guide on the planet, “The Lonely Planet Guide to Travel Writing”. He is currently Editor at Large and Book Review Columnist for National Geographic Traveler magazine, Special Features Editor and Blogger for BBC Travel, and Editor of Geographic Expedition’s online magazine, Wanderlust: Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler.
Don’s tip is the process and steps for ‘finding the story’. He shares how to hone in on the lesson the location taught you. He also shares his writing process and why he writes in scenes. Ultimately this turns into a road map for the story and why you should focus on what the location taught you so you can bring that depth of story to the reader.
Don was my guest on episode 52 entitled; How to Become a Great Travel Writer with Don George
7. How to Find the Story that Hasn’t Be Told (On a Group Media Trip)
Mike Dunphy is a full-time freelance writer, editor, and teacher who spent 10 years living in Europe and Turkey. He is a New York City freelance writer and editor at Fodor’s and Travel Weekly. He is also an instructor at Gotham Writers Workshop. He has contributed to USA Today’s travel publication RoadWarriorVoices, and his articles and essays have appeared in the Huffington Post, PBS: Next Avenue, American Way, Travel and Leisure, Time Out, Beer Advocate, Hotel Scoop, NewYork.com, and many others.
Mike’s tip is about why ‘the story’ is rarely on the itinerary for media trips and always in the peripherals. He shares why you need to look for the story that hasn’t been told. Mike’s writing process. Why if you write what is interesting to you, you will write with more passion.
Mike was my guest on episode 62 entitled; How to Become a Full Time Journalist with Mike Dunphy
8. How Reading Great Travel Literature Makes You a Better Writer
Tim Leffel is a multi-award-winning travel destinations expert who has been in the travel writing game for almost two decades. He focuses on how to travel well on a budget, where to find the best travel deals on the planet and the entrepreneurial world of blogging. He is the founder and editor of Perceptive Travel, an award-winning online travel magazine for independent travelers. He is also the founder of Cheapest Destinations Blog which is one of the most popular single-writer travel blogs in the world, with more than 150,000 monthly page views. He is also the author of 5 travel books including his newly revised Travel Writing 2.0: Earning Money From Your Travels in the New Media Landscape.
Tim’s tip focuses on why reading stories that have won travel awards will improve your writing. He also shares how to write with a critical eye and how to use all five senses when writing. Why ‘good writing’ isn’t only sharing what you’ve seen. (Don’t write self-centered).
Tim was my guest on episode 77 entitled; How to Turn Your Travel Blog into a Business with Tim Leffel
9. How Research a Destination Before The Trip
Joe Baur is an American travel author, writer, filmmaker and podcaster whose work has appeared in a variety of domestic and international outlets, including travel sections for Matador Network, BBC Travel, Viator, and CraftBeer.com. He’s the man behind the mic for the Without A Path travel podcast and Trivago podcast. He’s the author of various Falcon Guide titles and Talking Tico: (Mis)adventures of a gringo traveling Costa Rica and Central America.
Joe’s tip is the importance of doing research in advance to find a unique story angle and his process to find a story that hasn’t been written. Why it’s important to tell a story you are excited to share. Why Joe seeks out locals to find unique stories and don’t forget to read your work out loud….. it’s a great first step in self-editing.
Joe was my guest on episode 110 entitled; How to Find Unique Travel Stories with Joe Baur
10. How to Write Faster
Rachel Cavanaugh has been in media and journalism for 14 years. She started her career as a print newspaper reporter. Today she is an outdoor, travel, and adventure writer with a focus on outdoor sports and adventure destinations. Rachel is a staff commerce writer for Bustle Digital Group which includes Bustle, Elite Daily, Mic, and Inverse as well as a freelance writer for various outlets including Men’s Journal, MSN, The Hollywood Reporter, 57 Hours, Matador Network, Digital Trends, Gear Junkie, and KimKim.
Rachel’s tip is to write faster by dropping the perfectionism and using a timer to “get it on the page”. She also chats about outlines vs no outline and practical tips on writing quickly and more efficiently.
Rachel was my guest on episode 150 entitled; 11 Keys To Long-term Success as a Freelance Travel Writer with Rachel Cavanaugh (Part 2)
I hope this post and podcast offer the good ideas and best practices you need to give your blog posts, creative writing, and travel pieces better. If you are an aspiring writer, I hope this was an inspiration for you to take the leap to your world travel dream job!
To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:
Additional Great Resources
I hope these 10 travel writers have inspired you to take your travel writing to the next level. If you are looking for more inspiration, below are some of my favorite articles focused on becoming a better writer.
- Learn How to Start an Article with a Great Lede on episode 172
- How to Write Faster | for Travel Writers and Bloggers
- How to Use Descriptive Navigation to Improve Rankings and User Engagement
- 11 Great Travel Writing Examples
- Looking for Travel Writing Jobs? Check out 50+ Magazines and Websites That Pay for Travel Writing
3 Ways to Guest Post or be a Guest on this Podcast
Learn about all the ways you can become a guest writer or podcast guest here: https://breakintotravelwriting.com/podcast-guest-post-writing-guidelines/
Connect with Break Into Travel Writing
Feedback on the Podcast If you have any suggestions for upcoming shows or a question for an upcoming episode, leave a comment below. If you enjoyed this podcast, I’d be extremely grateful if you would take a second and leave me a review and rating over on iTunes. Your taking a minute to do this allows me to help more people with this podcast, so I really appreciate it (once on that page, simply click on the “View in iTunes” button to leave your review — thanks very much!)