Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to introduce your own — or any — city to a visitor, tell them the best places to visit, eat, and stay. You have 24 hours. Good luck.
Being a travel writer is not all about fancy hotels and gourmet cuisine. Sometimes it can be a challenge to come up with an interesting and unique angle — especially if you are in a country where you don’t speak the language.
That’s why I like writing for sections with titles like: “24 hours in …” or “A perfect day in …”
These stories are a great way for new writers to get published for the first time, or even break into airline magazines.
Earlier in my writing career, I wrote many of these articles for publications in China, where I’m based. At the end of last year, I wrote “24 hours Guangzhou” for Ethiopian Airlines’ magazine Selamta which appears in the current May/June edition. (See below.)
The Selamta piece runs at four pages, but often this type of article is only a one-pager.
Word count is usually in the region of 600-800 words, and sometimes you can make extra by selling pictures to accompany the article – certainly always offer your pictures if they’re good enough. Here’s what the article looked like when they printed it…
You don’t need an encyclopaedic knowledge of the city you are writing about. Of course, while the information goes little beyond what you can find in guidebooks and on the Internet, you do actually need to visit the city!
What would you tell a friend if they only had 24 hours to spend in your town? Find the bones of your story by considering where your reader will go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and where they’ll sleep. Then fill in the rest with fun activities they could do in a day.
Each magazine has its individual style for laying out the article, such as how a time is shown for each activity or whether one is shown at all, so it’s a good idea to read a few articles from past issues to get a feel for how you’ll write your piece.
Many travel publications feature articles along these lines, though the timeframes may be different.
For example, United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine’s top travel feature, Three Perfect Days, uses the same kind of bone structure although it’s far more of a travel narrative.
Also, as you’re mentioning restaurants and hotels, if you do your homework beforehand, you can score some complimentary stays and meals – and that really is the travel writer’s life.