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Travel Writing - Ten Easy Steps to Get You Started

By: Nina Padolf, PhD - Associate Faculty, General Education Department

July 5, 2017

Travel Writer
Dublin, Ireland - June 2016 - Nina Padolf

Did you ever wonder what it takes to become a travel writer?  Well, the good news is that it can be a fun way to not just learn about the ins and outs of a specific location, but a way to keep track of your experiences while you are there. In addition to taking photos, consider the cuisine, the fashion trends, the lay out of the buildings, and how environmentally friendly is the area for possible ways to incorporate this into your portfolio for future projects. Taking notes and interviewing locals is a great way to capture your traveling experience. 

So how do you get started?  According to George Stone, National Geographic, there are ten secret tips that he recommends:

1. Assign yourself a task. Travel writers do this to make sure that they accomplish things. Come up with a mission that defines your trip or at least a day. It should lead the way to gathering information.

2. Ask a million questions. This helps create a list of valuable facts and information. It also helps narrow down what interests you.

3. Hire a guide. Consider the wealth of information you will get by doing so. If you are on a tight budget, take the taxi or bus. Oftentimes, taxi drivers not only may direct you to places to go, but they tend to have a wealth of information about locations, the history of the area, and other interesting facts.

4. Skid the grid. Wondering off the map allows you to sidestep the crowds, and sharpens your senses for new perceptions.

5. Get dirty and do plenty of walking. The closer you are to the ground, the more likely you will get to know the place.

6. Get coffee. Find a good local café and figure on staying there for a few hours. Be social.
 
7. Take notes. Keeping notes will help you collect information, and have something to later reflect back on, as well.

8. Take a break. Chill out. You want to enjoy the moments so relax and take breaks.

9. Embrace change. Having a plan is good, but being able to adapt is also a positive approach to take. Embrace the unexpected.

10. Let go. Simply embrace the moment. Travel light and leave your emotional baggage at home. 

Now that you have a game plan, the key is to enjoy yourself. The more fun you have, the easier it will be to gather your thoughts and write about it later. Consider what sets this place apart. Use your senses to write descriptive notes. What does it smell like? What do you see? What do the locals like to do? What about this place do you think would interest others?

Whether or not you are writing about this place just for your own personal experience, or because you may want to try to publish an article down the road, remember, most of the best writing comes when you are open to take it all in and enjoy yourself.

Another good tip, save your work! The last thing you want to have happen is that you lose your writing in an airport, or it doesn’t get saved on your computer.

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By: Nina Padolf, PhD - Associate Faculty, General Education Department

July 5, 2017