Travel is one of life’s great pleasures. There is nothing like getting out in the world and experiencing new people, places and things. There is a huge appetite among readers for brilliant travel writing. If it’s something you’d like to try, we’ve put together some useful resources to get you started.
Most of us see travelling as an exciting adventure, something we do for pleasure if we are lucky enough to get away. But travelling can be much more than that; travel can be a journey of self-discovery, or the chance to immerse yourself in a world different to your own and learn about other people. Travel has it's downsides as well as its ups, from airport queues, to train delays, and it is worth preparing yourself for the highs and lows.
Alain De Botton turns typical notions of travel upside down in The Art Of Travel, asking why we travel and whether we need to re-think our approach. A worthy read, De Botton will get you pondering your reasons for travelling and what you can gain from writing about it.
Know Your Medium
Travel writing is unlike any other type of writing. The best travel writers inject their voice and insights into their works. It is the personality and perspective of the writer which truly makes a travel book compelling. A perfect example is A Merry Dance Around the World by renowned travel writer, Eric Newby. The book brings together the highlights of a lifetime of travelling with all its disasters and mishaps, all told with a searing wit.
For a totally different voice, try Journey to the Edge of the World by comedian, Billy Connolly as he acts as your personal tour guide. Connolly’s work is compelling for the humour he injects into every experience, as well as his bright enthusiasm and lust for life. Thinking about tone in your travel writing is crucial: do you want to be more like Newby or Connolly? What story do you want to tell and how will you tell it?
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best travel writers make it look easy and effortless, but telling a gripping story takes work. Capturing the essence of a place and the people you meet takes a great deal of skill, making it worthwhile to practice, as well as writing numerous drafts of your escapades to make sure you get it right.
A good place to start is with Annie Caulfield’s Travel Writing: A Practical Guide, which will take you through the basics. For a more in depth look at what defines the medium and some of the complexities inherent in writing about new places and cultures, try Carl Thompson’s Travel Writing: The New Critical Idiom. Here, you will really get to grips with the genre and gain a deeper understanding of where your work might sit amongst your peers and predecessors.
Finally, great travel writing needs to be accompanied by striking photography, which captures the world you are venturing into. For a starter’s guide, try How To Take Great Holiday Photographs by John Hedgecoe to brush up on everything from choosing a subject to perfecting composition.
Get Out There!
The most important bit: travelling! Before you get writing, you need to get out and experience the world first hand. If you’re not sure where to begin, or how to get the best out of your travels, take a look at Make the Most of Your Time on Earth for tips on things you must do and see before you die.
Library members should check out Lonely Planet Traveller magazine to find budget breaks, hidden spots and brilliant adventures to embark on. Discover Britain magazine is also a great resource for those who want to dive into a country with a rich history, amazing architecture and lush landscapes.