Good written travel content is the result of three main factors: an interesting idea, solid research and great writing. Attaining these goals is easier than you think; it’s all about the habits you form. Just as bad habits can ensure bad content, developing good habits can ensure consistency and quality throughout your written travel content.
Here are seven habits that we think are well worth forming…
Read and pay attention to other people’s travel content. Read it every day. Consuming written travel content puts you in the position of the reader. Only by doing this will you begin to understand what works and what doesn’t. It also helps you to keep up-to-date with current travel trends. Best of all, it can inspire you in your own content writing efforts. Good ideas don’t occur in a bubble and exposing yourself to other people’s travel content can often spark new ideas.
2. Create a publishing schedule and stick to it
We’ve all seen travel blogs that begin optimistically with a new post every day. Before long, the number reduces to once a week, then once every few months, until one day the blog simply peters out and dies. Sad, isn’t it?
It’s a simple fact of life that every now and then, the idea mill will run dry. It can be a terrifying moment. When this happens, a looming deadline can be enough to kick start you into action. Having a strict publishing schedule forces you to keep going and sometimes, that’s all you need.
3. Have a plan for each travel article
It doesn’t have to be extremely detailed or even fully sketched, but get into the habit of forming some sort of plan. Even if you just scrawl down a few notes about the points you want to touch on and what format your travel article will take before beginning (see our blog on different types of travel blogs for inspiration). Will it be a list piece or a how to? What issues do you hope to discuss or points do you want to cover? A plan, however vague and flexible, helps concentrate your thoughts and transform them from a meandering, unfocused mess into a readable piece.
4. Always have a pen handy
Successful writers frequently dole out this golden little nugget of advice – and that’s because it works. Even if you’re otherwise engaged, even if you’re busy hiking or even white-water rafting, have a pen within easy reach.
You never know when inspiration will strike. Without a pen, it can all too quickly disappear back to the dark recesses of your mind, never to resurface again. Plus, the notes you take in the moment while you’re doing something have an immediacy that can’t be recreated five hours later in your accommodation. Memory, even short term, is a fickle thing and writing notes straight away can ensure your content is faithful to the experience.
5. Fact check
Always. Even when you are supremely confident that it’s accurate. Especially when you are supremely confident – that’s normally when you’ll be caught out. Things change very quickly in the world of travel, so get into the habit of double checking your facts every time.
6. Read pieces aloud before you publish them
Whether you’ve written the travel piece or whether you’re editing someone else’s words, always try to read it aloud. Preferably, read it very slowly and carefully enunciate each and every word. It’s one of the most effective ways to catch errors and a great habit to develop.
7. Take a step back
When you’re mired in the niggly little details of an article, it can be hard to see the mistakes that are right in front of you. So where possible, try to step away from the article for a few minutes before publishing. Go have a cup of tea. If you have time, try sleeping on it.
Then come back and look at the article it in its entirety. Look at the bigger picture. Are the images in the right place? Do the links work? Does your headline sell the content? It’s amazing what a bit of time away can do and you should be able to spot errors that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.
Have you got any other travel writing habits that work for you? We’d love to hear them. You can share them with us over on Twitter, or you can leave a comment below. For more travel writing advice from the World Words’ expert team, keep an eye on our blog, where we share our latest musings on all things travel writing.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on the World Words blog in October 2014. Read the original here. Here are the blog image credits: The Reading Bench CC image courtesy of David Hodgson via Flickr; Pen & Paper CC image courtesy of Epicantus via Flickr; Manuscript CC image courtesy of Seth Sawyers