So, you want to be a travel writer.

 

Well, there are some things you should know first.

 

When most people think about travel writing, they don’t think about it having a “call to action”. A call to action is a tactic used for getting a reader to do something after reading a blog post.

 

Why travel articles often get pushed to the side of the “call to action” category is beyond my understanding. Travel articles are about personal experiences, yes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t evoke a feeling of inspiration within the reader.

 

In my opinion, feeling inspired is one of the greatest forms of “call to action” that there is.

 

Think about it: how many times have you done something simply because you were inspired?

 

Personally, everything I do derives from a place of inspiration, whether it is a film, YouTube video, commercial, or something my friends say to each other. Inspiration is what keeps me writing, and it is what fuels others to take initiative in their own lives.

 

So, what is it that I’m trying to say, here?

 

Travel writing isn’t all about the adventure. Sure, that is a big part of it, but it is often the smaller parts that make a travel article amazing and effective. By effective, I mean that it is an article that goes viral, that people live by, and that you, yourself, can read over and over again to relive your moment.

 

Today’s article is focused on those little parts that will bring your readers to a call to action.

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What makes me such an expert on the subject?

 

The honest truth is that I’m not. There are thousands of other travel writers out there with more experience, but what I can offer is experience through inexperience.

 

I am having to teach myself how to take the skills I learned in college writing flash fiction and web content, and how to apply those skills to my travel writing.

 

When it comes to formatting an article into more of an honest expose of personal experience, I know how to do that from my previous years of fiction writing. However, writing nonfiction is a whole other side of story writing.

 

The good news is that I’ve made mistakes and learned from them, and now I’m going to share my tips and tricks for more effective travel articles.

 

I can’t guarantee that any of these tips will work, but I can promise that they’ve helped my travel writing. I hope they help yours too!

0.1 Keep a Travel Journal

It may seem like common sense to document your travels, during your travels. However, it is often that even the best travel writer forgets to do so.

 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a travel journal and to update it frequently. Your travel blog cannot be your travel journal. Your travel journal is meant to be a mess – full of your thoughts, hopes, sights, and senses. There is no uniformity to a travel journal, where as a blog is the exact opposite.

 

A travel blog is less of a journal and more of an organized chronicle. You take the mess from your travel journal and turn it into something readable for your blog.

 

Another upside is less stress.

 

Think about it. For me, one of the toughest parts about writing a travel entry is remembering. I was a bad travel writer, and I didn’t adapt a travel journal until recently. So, my past adventures are pulled from my memory.

 

Having a travel journal eliminates the stress of staring at a blank screen, which makes being a travel writer a little easier.

 

So, what kind of travel journal should you buy?

 

Whatever kind you want! Personalize it & make it your own. I highly recommend visiting Amazon to get insanely cheap deals on notebooks.

02. Let Go & Be Vulnerable

Travel writing is a form of nonfiction. That means what you’re writing is true.

 

It means writing about, not only your adventure, but yourself on that adventure.

 

My favorite travel articles are pure, honest and real. I like being able to relate, in some way, to what I’m reading.

 

If there is turmoil and tragedy – write about it.

 

If there is nothing but light and happiness – write about it.

 

The important part is that you’re able to separate the good from the bad, and you’re able to look at your own experience from an outsiders perspective. That’s what separates a great travel writer from the rest.

 

Many writers, not just travel writers, struggle with this part of nonfiction. Many lean toward fiction, because it’s a way of indirectly facing their problems.

 

With nonfiction, it can be hard to write a word, let alone a whole story, depending on what happened on a trip.

 

But, here’s the thing.

 

Readers appreciate honesty. They appreciate being able to be vulnerable with the storyteller.

 

Adventures are meant to be fun, sure. However, we’re all human, and bumps-in-the-road are inevitable.

 

If you want your travel writing to build a community of readers, to inspire beyond the trek and adventure, then you must be willing to let go of your insecurities and write truthfully about your experience.

 

I recently dabbled into my very first travel entry. Like I have said before, I’m learning with you guys. I don’t have a million followers or travel articles published by big magazines. I’m starting from scratch.

 

We’re in this together. Plus, the travel writer community is filled with beautiful souls, and many of them are willing to help us out.

 

Don’t be afraid to tell the truth in your stories, because there are several people in this world that can relate to what you have to say.

03. Use Paragraph Styling to Enhance the Narrative

One of the best pieces of advice I was given in college was to use my paragraph styling to my advantage.

 

What does that mean?

 

Look at this blog post. See how most of the lines are only one, two, or three sentences long? I don’t do that just because. I do that to enhance my readership.

 

Using smaller chunks of text in blog posts is the most SEO friendly way of optimizing a post.

 

But, how does that translate to a story. Stories, like my journal entry, aren’t like blog posts. They aren’t built to be informative. They are built to, well, tell a story.

 

Back in school, the idea of the paragraph is hammered into our minds – 5 to 7 sentences, no less/no more.

 

When it comes to short stories, you – as the author and travel writer- have more leeway to design paragraphs the way you want them to look, which can enhance the emotional punch line of your story.

 

For example, look at how I separate sentences to make more of a dramatic impact with my words in this text:

He shouted at me from a block away.

My feet kicked up hot dog wrappers, receipts and sewage as I blazed past Tara’s Beauty Parlor.

“Get back here!”

See how I altered lines of text to switch perspectives between the narrator and her chaser? This keeps the text organized and succinct, giving it a little more pizazz.

 

You can do this with your travel writing as well.

***Sidenote: I was thinking about developing a modern, story-telling course for my website. However, as much as I want to do it, I need to know if there is an audience for it. If you find this article insightful and would like a whole course on my tips for writing great stories, leave a comment and let me know!

04. Avoid Passive Voice

A big no-no in the writing community – especially the short story writing community – is passive voice.

 

Passive voice is when your character passively does something. It is when phrasing is less concrete and less active.

 

What you want to have is active voice, which is actually a lot easier to achieve than you would think.

 

Here is an example of passive voice:

The cow started to jump over the moon.

 

Here is how you would make that sentence active:

The cow jumped over the moon.

 

Rather than the cow starting to do something, the cow just does it.

 

Passive Voice VS Active Voice is simple but can be confusing in the beginning. I recommend checking out these books and finding one to use as a reference guide. Just remember, practice makes perfect. I know I didn’t get better at active voice until I repeatedly wrote from prompts every day to get better.

 

Why use Active Voice?

 

Active Voice not only helps your writing read better and flow better, but it puts your reader straight into the moment. It is a great way to have your audience connect.

 

As a travel writer, you will find that Active Voice will recreate your adventures in a way that has yourself reliving them in the moment. I, personally, find that Active Voice makes statements more profound.

05. Have an End Goal in Mind

This is something I have struggled with as a writer since I was eleven. I have always sat down and written something until I found the natural end to it. While this may work for some stories, it doesn’t for most.

 

Having an end goal in your head as your writing will keep you from straying off-topic and make your writing more precise.

 

As a travel writer writing up a new adventure story, you have to narrow in on the specific moment you want to write about and remember what happened in those last minutes. This is, again, where your travel journal will come in handy.

 

With nonfiction, I find that creating an end goal is not as difficult as fiction. With fiction, the possibilities are endless for the resolution of the story. With nonfiction, the ending has already happened and been set in stone.

 

The most important thing to remember when writing your ending is – despite the fact that life continues past the end moment – it should be completely concrete. It shouldn’t come off as a cliff hanger, unless you plan on writing consecutive stories on the same timeline.

 

Having a concrete resolution will satisfy your reader. Ambiguous endings can be fun to toy around with, and if you want to have an ambiguous ending, make sure you have a concrete moral or theme attached to the ambiguity.

 

Here are some books on nonfiction resolution writing. Check them out for some further details on the topic.

06. Appeal to All Five Senses

Sight. Touch. Smell. Taste. Sound.

 

All of these should take place within your travel writing.

 

Out of all nonfiction writing, in my opinion, travel writing has the strongest sense of place. You are literally writing specifically about a location. You’re writing about the way the wind pushed dirt against your ankles, the way the sun blocked your vision as you tumbled into a marsh of foul-smelling, slimy mud.

 

Appealing to your five senses will take your travel writing to the next level, especially if you pair it with all of the other tips I’ve mentioned in this article.

 

The five senses are part of what makes us human. They allow readers to be present in the moment and to feel what you felt as you ran into a spider web or jumped off a cliff into the ocean. Emotions and thoughts are great, but they aren’t as tangible as the senses.

 

You want your reader to be able to close his or her eyes and be placed in your story.

 

Here are some examples of travel articles I found that truly embody the five senses:

  • Experience Quebec – This travel article is split into each of the five senses as they relate to Quebec. It is a great example of how to use the senses in travel writing, even if it isn’t a story and just an article or blog post.
  • World Hum – This website is filled to the brim with great travel short stories. I recommend browsing through some and maybe picking one to read before bed, during lunch hour, or just whenever.
  • A Picked Pocket – This short story is written by Tamar Honig. She uses several sensory images to tell her story.

07. Have More Than One Person Read Your Work

Last, but certainly not least, is a thorough edit of your story/article.

 

Something that irks me is when I’m reading a popular travel blog and find multiple grammatical mistakes. The editor in me cringes, and I questions how in the world that travel writer managed to gain such a huge audience with such ill writing.

 

To avoid mistakes in your writing, it is a great idea to have more than one person read and edit your work.

 

I find that it is a good idea to send your piece to a friend that’s super into grammar, but also send it to an unbiased reader that can tell you if you’ve nailed your theme or not. To do this, give no information upfront. Just give them your story and wait for their feedback. If they don’t get out of it what you were trying to convey, you may need to do some tweaking.

 

Currently, my on-the-side gig is copy editing manuscripts of nonfiction. I can honestly say that having a great editor can make or break a great story. Finding that connection, someone who will be there to look over your things when they can, is a must as a travel writer.

That’s it for this week’s post in the “Road to Becoming a Travel Writer” blog series. I hope you found it insightful, and I hope you’ll come back next week! I try to put out the new post on either Tuesday or Thursday, but I ALWAYS update my readers through social media on the exact date and time. Be sure to follow me and subscribe to stay updated!

 

If you missed last week’s post, check it out here.

Always,Jinapher J. Hoffman

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