Do you dream of being a travel writer but worry you haven’t visited any far-flung destinations to write a feature about? Well, don’t worry. I became a travel writer by first writing about the place where I lived. Now my writing credits include GoNomad, Island Mania, and Eventseeker.
The trick is to see your area as a visitor or tourist. Where are the best places to go, as well as the points of historical importance and natural beauty? You might be surprised how much your local area can sound appealing once you get going. Imagine you have a friend or relative visiting from out of town. You would not just sit at home and watch TV, you would take them out to “see and do.” Straight away you have your first sub-heading for your local travel article, “5 Things to See and Do in XXX.”
I started out writing travelogues of about 150 words or less. The topics were things like restaurants, entertainment, sightseeing, and accommodation, all points of interest just in my local area. It gave me a sense of local pride to be able to highlight key places that would appeal to a tourist.
Here are my tips to start your travel writing career from your own backyard.
1. Think in Travel Titles
Think of your hometown in terms of travel titles. It will help you to see it the way a potential visitor might. Try these:
10 Restaurants to Try in XXX
Travel Guide: 12 hours in XXX
Kid-Friendly Places in XXX
Year-Round Events in XXX
2. Visit the Tourism Office
I dropped into the local tourism office and picked up a bag full of leaflets, a calendar of events, posters, maps, tourist newsletters, stickers and even pencils…every writer’s friend after the keyboard. On the tourism office’s website, you can find even more in-depth up-to-date information at your fingertips. Accommodation, where to go, updated events, shows, and concerts. You may even be overwhelmed with the amount of information you find about your local destination.
3. Use the Yellow Pages
You might think the Yellow Pages is redundant in the age of the internet, but www.yellowpages.com is a valuable and versatile tool for travel writers. The site breaks down your local area into towns and cities. It then provides categories such as arts and entertainment, food and dining, and shopping. Let’s say you click on restaurants, it will provide a list of the various types from Chinese, Indian, etc. Click on Chinese and choose a restaurant and you have the address, opening hours, directions, and recent reviews. It’s a great way to get reliable, basic information on local businesses.
4. Take Photographs
The addition of photographs greatly enhances your chances of being published. A digital camera or even a good phone camera can give you the much-needed photos to complement your travel piece. If you don’t feel that you can take good enough photographs, then check your local tourist board’s official website. Go to Press/Media, then go to media library or photos. You will find high-resolution photos available free to media personnel—that’s you!
5. Use Your Insider Voice
Bear in mind that you have the insider’s voice as a local, so throw in some details that will set your travel article apart from one written by a visitor. Is there any piece of local history that relates to the business you are writing about? You see your town year-round—how do the seasons affect certain attractions? These are details that a writer who is just visiting will have no way of knowing. You now can sell your local destination to the travel industry. You have the insider’s perspective with a unique slant paired with your own supportive photography.
So, don’t plan a vacation to write about, just look outside your window. You’re already there!