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7 common phrases to avoid in your travel writing

We've all employed a vague, overused turn of phrase in a piece of writing at some stage, but Wanderlust's editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes says now's the time to chuck them in the bin. Here's what to avoid...

Travel writing phrases to avoid include stunning views and land of contrasts (Shutterstock)

1. Land of contrasts

Japan: perhaps the most common 'land of contrasts'? (Shutterstock)

Japan: perhaps the most common 'land of contrasts'? (Shutterstock)

Realistically, just about every city, country or region will have contrasts. Old and new, beautiful and ugly, grass and rock - where would life be without contrasts? Indeed, if you find a city or country without any contrasts, then that really would be something to write about.  

2. Well-appointed hotel room

Being 'well-appointed' is the very least your hotel room can do! (Shutterstock)

Being 'well-appointed' is the very least your hotel room can do! (Shutterstock)

Um, do you even know what the phrase means? People think they do - review sites are full of it. The Cambridge Dictionary describes it as “having a good supply of comfortable or necessary furniture”. You wouldn’t describe your room like that to a friend, so why use it in an article? 

3. Getting 'up close and personal' with wildlife

A lion sings the chorus of 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' by The Police (Shutterstock)

A lion sings the chorus of 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' by The Police (Shutterstock)

You’re telling us that on your safari, you got up close and personal with the lions? Or that when diving you were up close and personal with manta rays? Forgetting any connotations the phrase can have, exactly how close did you get to the wild animal?

Ask yourself this: how did it feel about you being in its space? If you get too close, that brings up issues of ethics and perhaps even danger. If only it had eaten you... now that would be a story.

4. Stunning views

Double whammy: Brazil not only has stunning views, but is also a 'land of contrasts' (Shutterstock)

Double whammy: Brazil not only has stunning views, but is also a 'land of contrasts' (Shutterstock)

Though many views are indeed stunning, this phrase has been so overused that we have become dull to it. It also tells us nothing. Is it a view of a car park, a field or a mountain? Paint a picture of what you can actually see, and how it makes you feel. 

5. Friendly locals

You'll meet warm, friendly, amazing people wherever you go (Shutterstock)

You'll meet warm, friendly, amazing people wherever you go (Shutterstock)

The more we travel the more we find that there are friendly people everywhere in the world, as well as those who aren’t as friendly.

Some cultures may smile more readily than others. Some people working in the hospitality industry may be welcoming early in the season and more jaded by the end. People are people, so tell us more about the individuals you meet. 

6. Hidden gem

Is Hamersley Gorge in Karijini National Park really a 'hidden' gem? (Shutterstock)

Is Hamersley Gorge in Karijini National Park really a 'hidden' gem? (Shutterstock)

We’re all guilty of using this one. Indeed, there may well be recent articles on this very website that use it. But it has become so commonplace to use that the phrase has been demeaned, and perhaps it's time to - to use another common phrase - think outside the box.

Just one look at review sites such as Tripadvisor will make you feel that nearly every restaurant, restaurant, B&B or hotel has been described by someone as a 'hidden gem'. 

7. Offers something for everyone

Costa Rica offers something for everyone. It offered this capuchin a banana (Shutterstock)

Costa Rica offers something for everyone. It offered this capuchin a banana (Shutterstock)

This is a bit like 'land of contrasts' in that it could apply to nearly everywhere. A city or a country will almost certainly offer something for everyone.

Admittedly, we've probably all used this one, too, but for the sake of any future pitches or travel writing competition entries you make - it’s bland, it’s boring and tells us nothing. Time to find a way to show, not tell.

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