Are you ready to be a better travel writer? One of the best ways to do this is to read great travel writing examples from great travel writers.
Writing about travel in a way that keeps your reader reading is not always easy. Knowing how to write an irresistible first paragraph to entice the reader to keep reading is key. Writing a lede paragraph that convinces the reader to finish the article, story or book is great travel writing. This article features travel writing examples from award-winning travel writers, top-selling books, the New York Times Travel section, and award-winning travel blogs.
The writers featured in this article are some of my personal favorite travel writers. I am lucky to have met most of them in person and even luckier to consider many friends. Many I have interviewed on the podcast for this website and have learned writing tips from their years of travel writing, editing and wisdom.
Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission from these links if you order something at no additional cost to you.
11 Great Travel Writing Examples
Writing with feeling, tone, and point of view creates a compelling story. Below are examples of travel writing that include; first paragraphs, middle paragraphs, and final paragraphs for both travel articles as well as travel books.
I hope the below examples of travel writing inspire you to write more, study great travel writing and take your writing to a higher level.
Writing Example of a Travel Book Closing Paragraphs
Don George is the author of the award-winning anthology The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George, and of How to Be a Travel Writer, the best-selling travel writing guide in the world. He is currently Editor at Large for National Geographic Travel, and has been Travel Editor at the San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle, Salon, and Lonely Planet.
I had the wonderful opportunity to see Don speak at Tbex and read from one of his books as well as interview him on this podcast for episode 52: How to Become a Great Travel Writer. You can listen to the full podcast here.
Below is the closing of Don’s story included in the ebook: Wanderlust in the Time of Coronavirus: Dispatches from a Year of Traveling Close to Home
I continued hiking up to Lost Trail and then along Canopy View Trail. Around noon I serendipitously came upon a bench by the side of the trail, parked my backpack, and unpacked my lunch. Along with my sandwiches and carrot sticks, I feasted on the tranquility and serenity, the sequoia-swabbed purity of the air, the bird and brook sounds and sun-baked earth and pine needle smells, the sunlight slanting through the branches, the bright patch of blue sky beyond.
At one point I thought of shinrin-yoku, forest bathing, the Japanese practice that has become widely popular in the U.S. This was a perfect example of shinrin-yoku, I thought: Here I am, alone in this forest, immersed in the sense and spirit of these old-growth redwoods, taking in their tranquility and timelessness, losing myself to their sheer size and age and their wild wisdom that fills the air.
I sat there for an hour, and let all the trials, tremors, and tribulations of the world I had left in the parking lot drift away. I felt grounded, calm, quiet—earth-bound, forest-embraced.
In another hour, or two, I would walk back to the main paved trail, where other pilgrims would be exclaiming in awe at the sacred sequoias, just as I had earlier that day.
But for now, I was content to root right here, on this blessed bench in the middle of nowhere, or rather, in the middle of everywhere, the wind whooshing through me, bird-chirps strung from my boughs, toes spreading under scratchy pine needles into hard-packed earth, sun-warmed canopy reaching for the sky, aging trunk textured by time, deep-pulsing, in the heart of Muir Woods.
You can read the whole story here: Old Growth: Hiking into the Heart of Muir Woods
Please also download Don’s free ebook here: Wanderlust in the Time of Coronavirus
In addition to writing and editing, Don speaks at conferences, lectures on tours around the world, and teaches travel writing workshops through http://www.bookpassage.com.
Writing Example of a Travel Book Intro Paragraphs
Francis Tapon, author of Hike Your Own Hike and The Hidden Europe, is creating a TV series and book called The Unseen Africa, which is based on his five-year journey across all 54 African countries. He is a three-time TEDx speaker. His social media username is always FTapon. I interviewed Francis on episode 37: How to Find An Original Point of View as a Travel Writer. You can listen to the full podcast here.
Below is the opening of Francis’ book, The Hidden Europe:
“This would be a pretty lousy way to die,” I thought.
I was locked in an outhouse with no way out. Outhouses sometimes have two latches—one on the outside and one on the inside. The outside latch keeps the door shut to prevent rodents and other creatures who like hanging out in crap from coming in. Somehow, that outer latch accidentally closed, thereby locking me in this smelly toilet. I was wearing a thin rain jacket. The temperature was rapidly dropping.
“This stinks,” I mumbled. It was midnight, I was above the Arctic Circle, and the temperatures at night would be just above freezing. There was no one around for kilometers. If I didn’t get out, I could freeze to death in this tiny, smelly, fly-infested shithole.
My mom would kill me if I died so disgracefully. She would observe that when Elvis died next to a toilet, he was in Graceland. I, on the other hand, was in Finland, not far from Santa Claus. This Nordic country was a jump board for visiting all 25 nations in Eastern Europe.
You can find his book on Amazon: The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us
For $2 a month, you can get Francis’ book as he writes it: Patreon.com/ftapon
Intro (Lede) Paragraph Example of Great Travel Writing Articles
Former banking executive Michele Peterson is a multi-award-winning travel and food writer who divides her time between Canada, Guatemala, and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach). Her writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s Mexico from the Source cookbook, National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast’s Gold List, the Globe and Mail, Fifty-five Plus and more than 100 other online and print publications.
She blogs about world cuisine and sun destinations at A Taste for Travel website. I met Michele on my first media trip that took place in Nova Scotia, Canada. I also had the pleasure of interviewing her on episode 5: Why the Odds are in Your Favor if you Want to Become a Travel Writer. You can listen to the full podcast here.
Michele’s Lede Paragraph Travel Writing Example
I’m hiking through a forest of oak trees following a farmer who is bleating like a pied piper. Emerging from a gully is a herd of black Iberian pigs, snuffling in response. If they weren’t so focused on following the swineherd, I would run for the hills. These pigs look nothing like the pink-cheeked Babe of Hollywood fame.
These are the world’s original swine, with lineage dating back to the Paleolithic Stone Age period where the earliest humans decorated Spain’s caves with images of wild boars. Their powerful hoofs stab the earth as they devour their prized food, the Spanish bellota acorn, as fast as the farmer can shake them from the tree with his long wooden staff. My experience is part of a culinary journey exploring the secrets of producingjamón ibérico de Bellota, one of the world’s finest hams.
You can read the full article here: Hunting for Jamón in Spain
Perry Garfinkel has been a journalist and author for an unbelievable 40 years, except for some years of defection into media/PR communications and consulting. He is a contributor to The New York Times since the late ’80s, writing for many sections and departments. He has been an editor for, among others, the Boston Globe, the Middlesex News, and the Martha’s Vineyard Times.
He’s the author of the national bestseller “Buddha or Bust: In Search of the Truth, Meaning, Happiness and the Man Who Found Them All” and “Travel Writing for Profit and Pleasure“. He is at work on “Being Gandhi: My Experiment Following the Mahatma’s Moral Principles in These Immoral Times”. Perry has been a guest on my podcast twice. First, on episode 16: Master Class in Travel Writing & you can listen to the full podcast here. Then on episode 27 when we chatted about How to Find Your Point Of View as a Travel Writer. You can listen to the full episode here.
Perry’s Lede Travel Article Example from the New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO — A block off Grant Avenue in San Francisco’s Chinatown – beyond the well-worn path tourists take past souvenir shops, restaurants and a dive saloon called the Buddha Bar – begins a historical tour of a more spiritual nature. Duck into a nondescript doorway at 125 Waverly Place, ascend five narrow flights and step into the first and oldest Buddhist temple in the United States.
At the Tien Hau Temple, before an intricately carved gilded wooden shrine and ornate Buddha statues, under dozens of paper lanterns, Buddhists in the Chinese tradition still burn pungent incense and leave offerings to the goddess Tien Hau in return for the promise of happiness and a long life.
You can read the full article here: Taking a Buddhist pilgrimage in San Francisco
Elaine Masters apologizes for pissing off fellow travelers while tracking story ideas, cultural clues, and inspiring images but can’t resist ducking in doorways or talking with strangers. She’s recently been spotted driving her hybrid around the North American West Coast and diving cenotes in the Yucatan. Founder of Tripwellgal.com, Elaine covers mindful travel, local food, overlooked destinations and experiences. Elaine was my guest on episode 13 where we spoke about How to Master the CVB Relationship. You can listen to the full podcast here.
Elaine’s Lede Example
I jiggered my luggage onto the escalator crawling up to the street. As it rose into the afternoon light, an immense shadow rose over my shoulder. Stepping onto the sidewalk, I burst into giggles, looking like a madwoman, laughing alone on the busy Barcelona boulevard. The shadow looming overhead was the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. It had mesmerized me forty years earlier and it was the reason I’d finally returned to Spain.
You can read the full article here: Don’t Miss Going Inside Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s Beloved Cathedral
Along with his wife, photographer Mary Gabbett, Bret Love is the Co-Founder/Editor In Chief of Green Global Travel and the Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide. He’s also an award-winning writer whose work has been featured by more than 100 publications around the world, including National Geographic, Rolling Stone, American Way, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.
Bret’s Lede Example
Congo Square is quiet now. Traffic forms a dull drone in the distance. A lone percussionist taps out ancient tribal rhythms on a two-headed drum. An air compressor from Rampart Street road construction provides perfectly syncopated whooshes of accompaniment.
Shaded park benches are surrounded by blooming azaleas, magnolias, and massive live oaks that stretch to provide relief from the blazing midday sun. It’s an oasis of solitude directly across the street from the French Quarter.
Congo Square is quiet now. But it’s here that the seeds of American culture as we know it were sown more than 200 years ago. And the scents, sounds, and sights that originated here have never been more vital to New Orleans than they are now, more than a decade after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.
You can read the full article here: Treme, New Orleans (How Congo Square Was The Birthplace Of American Culture)
Middle Paragraph Examples of Great Travel Writing Articles
Canadian travel writer and blogger Mariellen Ward runs the award-winning travel site Breathedreamgo.com, inspired by her extensive travels in India. She has been published in leading media outlets worldwide and offers custom tours to India through her company India for Beginners. Though Canadian by birth, Mariellen considers India to be her “soul culture” and she is passionate about encouraging mindful travel.
Mariellen’s Middle Paragraph Example
While the festival atmosphere swirled around me, I imbued my diya with hope for personal transformation. I had come to India because a river of loss had run through my life, and I had struggled with grief, despair and depression for eight years. I felt I was clinging to the bank, but the effort was wearing me out. Deciding to leave my life and go to India was like letting go of the bank and going with the flow of the river. I had no idea where it would lead me, what I would learn or how I would change. I only knew that it was going to be big.
You can read the full article here: The River: A tale of grief and healing in India
Joe Baur is an author and filmmaker from Cleveland currently based in Berlin. His work has appeared in a variety of international publications, including BBC Travel, National Geographic, and Deutsche Welle. He regularly reports for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and is the author of Talking Tico detailing his year of living in Costa Rica and traveling around Central America. Joe was my guest on episode 13 where we spoke about How to Find Unique Travel Stories. You can listen to the full podcast here.
Joe Baur’s Middle Paragraph Example
I first became aware of the Harz mountains and the Brocken when reading the works of some of Germany’s great writers, like Goethe and Heinrich Heine. Legends of witches congregating with the devil being the main theme of the mountain’s mythology. I, however, was more interested in a refreshing time spent in nature rather than reveling with the devil.
The first stage from Osterode to Buntenbock was a warm-up to the more rigorous stages ahead. It began on sidewalks before sliding into the forest sporting a healthy shade of green — a gentle jaunt that made my hiking boots feel a bit like overkill given the dry, pleasant weather.
You can read the full article here: Follow the witch through the forest: 5 days hiking Germany’s Harz
Samantha is a freelance travel writer with bylines in Matador Network, GoNomad and more. She also runs the travel blog Intentional Detours which provides thorough guides and tales related to offbeat adventure travel in South Asia and beyond. When she’s not writing she enjoys cycling, hiking, the beach, as well as language learning.
Samantha Shea’s Middle Paragraph Example
Suddenly, the spark of a match pulsed through the early-fall afternoon and my head snapped towards the men. Amir touched the flame to an unidentifiable object that seconds later made itself known by the deep earthy scent of Pakistani hashish.
Amir’s ice blue eyes focused intently on his creation: a combination of tobacco and nuggets of greenish-brown charas. He forced the mixture back into the cigarette, before bringing it to his pursed lips, flicking the match, and setting flame to his high.
I reached out from the cot to take my turn and took a deep inhale, acutely pleased. I savored the familiar burn of the drag, the rows and rows of corn and apple plants in front of me, the stuttered cacophony of animal exclamations behind me, and the generosity of the men to my left, some of whom we had just met an hour before.
You can read the full article here: Thall Tales: A Hazy Afternoon in Thall, Pakistan
Final Paragraph Example of Great Travel Writing Articles
Cassie is a travel writer who has solo backpacked around Asia and the Balkans, and is currently based in Auckland. Alongside in-depth destination guides, her blog has a particular focus on storytelling, mental health, and neurodiversity.
Cassie’s Final Paragraphs Example
So my goal is to feel, I guess. And I don’t mean that in a dirty way (although obvz I do mean that in a dirty way too). This is why we travel, right? To taste crazy new foods and to feel the sea breeze against our skin or the burn on the back of our legs on the way down a mountain. We want to feel like shite getting off night buses at 4am and the sting of mosquito bites. We know we’re going to feel lost or frustrated or overwhelmed but we do it anyway. Because we know it’s worth it for the ecstasy of seeing a perfect view or making a new connection or finding shitty wine after a bad day.
My goal is never to become numb to all of this. To never kid myself into settling for less than everything our bodies allow us to perceive. I’m after the full human experience; every bit, every feeling.
You can read the full article here: Goals inspired by life as a solo backpacker
Lydia Carey is a freelance writer and translator based out of Mexico City who spends her time mangling the Spanish language, scouring the country for true stories and “researching” every taco stand in her neighborhood. She is the author of “Mexico City Streets: La Roma,” a guide to one of Mexico City’s most eclectic neighborhoods and she chronicles her life in the city on her blog MexicoCityStreets.com.
Lydia’s Final Paragraphs Example
Guys from the barrio huddle around their motorcycles smoking weed and drinking forties. Entire families, each dressed as St. Jude, eat tacos al pastor and grilled corn on a stick. Police stand at a distance, keeping an eye on the crowd but trying not to get too involved.
After this celebration, many of the pilgrims will travel on to Puebla where they will visit some of the religious relics on display in the San Judas church there. But many more will simply go back to their trades—legal and illegal—hoping that their attendance will mean that San Judas protects them for another year, and that he has their back in this monster of a city.
I hope you enjoyed these examples of travel writing and they have inspired you to want to write more and write better! The next article that will be published is a follow-up to this and will include travel writing examples from my first travel writing teacher, Amanda Castleman. This article will include travel writing tips from Amanda and travel writing examples from her students as well as one from her own writing.
You can read the full article here: San Judas de Tadeo: Mexico’s Defender of Lost Causes