Make no mistake about it, travel writing is one of the most exciting types of writing there is …. and one of the very best ways to make a part or even a full time income from writing.
Whatever type of travel writing you’d like to do – more about the many different types shortly – we hope you will find this article an interesting and rewarding introduction into the world of travel writing.
Is Travel Writing for You ?
First of all let’s have a look at whether travel writing is for you. It could be if:
* You have an enquiring mind. You need to be able to seek out those little details that other people might overlook. Things that a traveller new to a destination will want to know.
* You have a sense of adventure. Not just for travelling, but in your writing. The best new travel articles and guides often cover locations, and do things, that few people have been an done before. Or cover existing locations with a new and different angle.
* You have great attention to detail. Detail is what readers really love about good travel writing. Plus, errors in travel writing can cause your readers a lot of inconvenience or even risk. It’s essential it is accurate.
What’s the Market for Travel Writing Like ?
* The market for travel writing is vast! It is probably one of the largest individual markets for non-fiction writing. There are an estimated 50,000+ travel-related books and new editions published in English alone each year! That doesn’t even include articles and online publishing.
* The market for travel writing is competitive. Travel publishers are keen to publish on the latest destinations and new travel trends. It’s important to keep up to date with the latest developments.
* The market for travel writing is changing fast. For example, since the recession, budget travel is back in fashion. People want to know about exciting places they can go without spending too much money. So you can never stand still for long. (In the process this creates a continuous demand for new travel writing.)
* The market for travel writing is global. No longer do English speaking travellers from the USA and UK dominate the tourist statistics. Today’s outbound travellers are just as likely to be from countries like China, South Korea, Japan, Russia or Brazil. These markets have massive potential. Your writing could get published in other countries, or even in other languages eventually.
The Different Styles of Travel Writing – Narrative and Journalistic
Before you get started, it’s very important that you know about the two main types of travel writing – and decide whether you’re going to write both or focus on one.
Travel writing is mostly either narrative or journalistic.
* Narrative travel writing usually tells the story of the writer’s own travels. It’s meant to be entertaining rather than informative. It’s most often bought by the armchair traveller – someone who most likely has no intention of travelling to the places you talk about.
Bill Bryson’s famous ‘Notes From A Small Island’ is probably one of the most well known contemporary pieces of narrative travel writing. Good though it is, you almost certainly wouldn’t use it as a travel guide.
* Journalistic travel writing is aimed fairly and squarely at readers who intend to travel to the places concerned. It is expected to be factual and informative. It can be entertaining or even humorous but that must not get in the way of practicality.
You can write both journalistic and narrative travel writing but they should never be both combined in the same piece of writing!
Journalistic travel writing is probably the easier type of travel writing to get started – and get published – with.
The Main Types of Travel Writing – Articles, Reviews and Guides
There are broadly three main types of travel writing. These are travel articles, travel reviews and travel guides.
* Articles are short pieces of travel writing which are intended to be published by a newspaper or magazine or similar. Traditionally they were for print but increasingly nowadays they may be published electronically. They are typically 300-3,000 words in length or thereabouts.
* Reviews are short articles giving your opinions on a particular travel destination or facility. This is an area of travel writing that has expanded fast with the expansion of electronic publishing. When written by a professional travel writer they should be objective and informative. They may or may not be critiques. They are typically 100-2,000 words in length.
* Guides and books are longer pieces of travel writing giving a more comprehensive description of a country or location. They are typically 25,000 words plus – although shorter guides are found in some niches. They are still mainly print publications but the market for ebooks is growing rapidly at the moment.
You can write any or all of these types of travel writing. However, you should try to keep them distinct in each case. For example, avoid creating a piece of writing that is too long to be an article but not long enough to be a guide – it will be tricky to sell.
Travel Writer’s Tip: Learn to walk before you try to run! Try writing articles and reviews on your chosen location or type of travel first. If they prove popular consider writing a guide on the same subject.
This article is extracted from my Professional Travel Writing Course. If you’d like to learn how to become a successful travel writer you can find out more here.
PS. Take a closer look at the photo above, which I took to accompany a travel article I sold. If you know where it is can you spot what’s slightly worrying about it?