Expert tips on becoming a travel writer

Posted by Ondela Mlandu on 10 August 2018 Tags:

If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug and want to document your experiences, but realise you’re not a strong writer, don’t fear – all is not lost.

Image: Vivek Kumar

Travel writing is by no means an easy career. Some journalists spend years honing in on their travel knowledge before even attempting to write on the subject.

You’re in luck though, Getaway Magazine’s very own Associate Editor, Caroline Webb shared a few tips for consideration if you ever want to mix your passion for travel with words.

Patience is the key word. ‘Be flexible when you’re on assignment, as things can take longer than expected. You have to be able to change plans in case of an emergency,’ she says.

Caroline also emphasised the importance of speaking to people in an area, to get a good story and not relying on your own opinion and research. The locals know more about what is happening around them than what you’ll find on the internet.


Here are a few practical ways you can take action:

1. Take a short course in Feature Writing

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You can access short courses, through accredited universities, who provide you with the necessary knowledge in the comfort of your own home. In South Africa, GetSmarter offers a UCT Feature Writing online course. This will give you insight into the world of feature journalism. These short courses also teach you skills and techniques needed to write for various media platforms.

2. Read, read, read

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Start reading and don’t ever stop. As my editor Justin Fox says, ‘It’s important to read travel articles by all of the ‘greats’ but don’t skip the more obscure writers’. This year, I got a library card and it has changed my life. Do the same, unless you prefer downloading books, in which case you should check out Google Books. Destination guides, hotel reviews, travel books – soak up all the knowledge, it will give you a better understanding of the world.


3. Join a travel network

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The internet has opened up the world and created ways for people to learn from each other in ways that weren’t possible before. With global community networks such as Travel Massive, you can now connect with industry leaders, startup companies, content creators, marketers and destinations in 180 countries to collaborate and help shape the future of travel. There might even be local groups you can join to understand what people want from travel stories.


4. Sharpen your photography skills

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Travel content relies heavily on photography, and these days even videography. It is essential to sharpen your skills as a photographer. Many editors are more likely to buy your work if you can accompany it with high-resolution photographs.