Ten top tips on travel writing by Sarah Tucker

Sarah TuckerSarah Tucker is freelance travel journalist, features writer and columnist for Traveller Magazine. She’s written numerous family travel books including Have Baby Will Travel and Have Toddler Will Travel She spoke at BritMums Live 2013. Here, she gives her tips for travel bloggers on creating great travel posts.

  1. Write about what you feel and think as opposed to what you see and do. It’s what makes the journey unique and inspiring. Otherwise it becomes a guidebook.
  2. Be honest about your subjectivity. All travel writing is written as though it’s the God’s truth about the place, the hotel, the journey, the lot. It’s just your opinion. So having some compassion and self deprecation is as worthwhile as having a passionate opinion about liking or disliking something. For example in HAVE TODDLER WILL TRAVEL (Hodder) I said Alton Towers was a waste of money for toddlers and children under the age of four. I contacted Alton Towers to tell them I would be publishing this and they agreed with me.   I then put their quote in as well!
  3. Take note of the really funny things your kids say. Not just what you think is funny but try the stories out on strangers. If they don’t think it’s funny – it’s not funny.
  4. Think of it as a radio report. Soundbites and keeping it very visual. Be a pithy storyteller, as though you’re going down in a lift and you have thirty seconds to tell and sell your story and after the 30 seconds it’s done.   It’s a good way to realise what is important to you and what you remember.
  5. Sounds stupid, but your journey doesn’t have to start at the beginning. It starts with a a ha moment, the falling off the cliff moment, the moment that sends a shiver down your (and your readers spine).  And then lead into how this one moment fits into and punctuates the journey
  6. Don’t ramble, don’t waffle, don’t mention too many people but treat those you meet like characters in a book (tell us what you THINK about them not just who they are and what they do) That’s much more interesting.
  7. And please buy my book HAVE TEENAGER WILL TRAVEL, HAVE TODDLER WILL TRAVEL and HAVE BABY WILL TRAVEL!    Teenager involves a whole section on why teenagers of today make much better and fulfilled travellers than their parents and why they will find their role models while travelling not at home or at work.
  8. Develop your own style. Don’t copy someone else’s.
  9. Keep it pithy and pertinent. Celebrities are used a lot on TV to sell a destination but most of those I met do it for the money not the passion.
  10. Have fun with it and keep the journeys to 800 words max. I was asked to write about France in 800 words and it’s the best article I’ve ever written.  Less is more even with travel writing.
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  1. 24 June 2013 / 11:40

    Brilliant tips, Sarah. Number 5 in particular is something I mentioned on the Travel Panel at BritMums Live on Saturday. I totally agree about keeping things short, pithy, funny and not always starting at the beginning.

    Having a teenager myself, I’m nodding here at number 7 too.

  2. 24 June 2013 / 18:38

    Great, wise tips. Thanks very much

  3. 25 June 2013 / 12:42

    Thank you for sharing these excellent tips. I love the Alton Towers anecdote!

  4. 25 June 2013 / 13:18

    Absolutely brilliant, thanks for the advice!