7 top tips to be a better travel writer

Travel: A Literary History takes in all the greats, from Marco Polo to Colin Thubron. Take tips from them, says its author Peter Whitfield

6 mins

1. Get serious

This journey may mean something big in your life: if so, what? When you travel you are released into a new form of being. Embrace it, respond to it, analyse it.

2. Get physical

What does it feel like to be alive in a certain place? Is it unnerving, inspiring, frightening? Do you feel anything special in the air or in the people?

3. Get romantic

If you fall in love in a strange place, your perceptions and memories will  be transformed – and you’ll never forget it. If you fall in love with a person, you’ll more-than-likely fall in love with the place. Alternatively take a loved one with you.

4. Get lost

Literally and metaphorically. Follow your nose and your imagination: cross over the train-tracks, wander off the guidebook through streets or forests, and work out later from the map where you have been.

5. Get real

Find out what lies behind the facade. What is the history of this place and how have people lived here? What codes do they live by, what do they love or hate? Are they the same as you, or do you feel alien?

6. Get home

Unpack. Ask yourself what it all meant, what you learnt. Look back through your diaries: is it the same person in those pages or somone new? Find out by writing it all down.

7. Get ruthless

When you have written your travel book, tear it up, metaphorically or literally. Is it truth or just an ego-trip? If it’s truth, write it again, but much better.

Peter Whitfield is the author of Travel: A Literary History (Bodleian Library Publishing, £19.99). Order your copy on Amazon now.

Want more tips on how to improve your travel writing? Join Wanderlust Journeys On Assignment in Istanbul or travel to Berlin for a travel writing weekend packed with inspiration, advice, tips, adventure on-the-ground and so much more.

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