The first few months were so romantic. Dinner at all the best restaurants, drinks in all the coolest bars and moonlit walks along cobbled streets. But, over time, the relationship began to fizzle out. Without realising it, you’ve ended up spending your evenings in, only venturing out to pick up the occasional pint of milk from the local corner shop.
Sound familiar? It probably does if you’re a travel writer trying to write a piece about your home town. The day-to-day routine of living in a busy metropolis can turn the bright spark that made you fall for a city into a damp squib.
How can we rekindle the magic that once made our stomping ground so alluring? How can we write as if seeing the highlights of our city for the first time? Here are some tips from the experienced travel writers at World Words.
Know your city inside out
Everything you read is raving about the hip neighbourhood of the moment, but you’re unconvinced because you still remember when it was a less than salubrious locale with a cast of dubious characters. It is time throw off your old assumptions and see the area for what it is now. Venture out to its host of trendy bars or walk along its streets, which may be teeming with an assortment of new shops to explore. Editors will want to know that you are up-to-speed with everything that is going on, so it is important not to let old prejudices cloud your current judgement.
Your personality may also dictate that you avoid certain areas of town. For example, you never go into the city centre as you dislike the chain stores and tourist traps. Well, now is the time has come to go back. After all, you don’t want to be ill-prepared if asked to write a round-up of the best shopping outlets or mainstream attractions.
Treat yourself regularly
It is easy to treat yourself when you are on holiday. You save up all year and have cash to splash. But people tend to be more spendthrift when at home, where everyday concerns like electricity and internet bills become the main priority. Although it can be difficult, try and budget to enjoy at least one treat a month in your home town. Use the money to go to that bakery that has always caught your eye on the way home, or to get a fancy cocktail from one of the hipster hangouts. Not only will you get a little pick me up, but you will see a little more of the place you live in and perhaps even gain a new perspective on the city as a whole. It’s invaluable for your travel content writing.
Play tour guide in your city
Have you got a friend coming to town? Time to play tour guide. If not, create an imaginary itinerary for a visitor to your home. Think about where you would take someone if you were trying to capture the essence of where you live. Of course, there will be the major tourists sites easily found on Google, but your insider knowledge is bound to give you an edge. Combine the must-sees with a smattering of attractions off-the-beaten-track, and you’ll have a ready-made list to impress editors the next time you pitch a piece centred around your home turf. If you have managed to rope a friend into your project, note their impressions of the sites to help gauge their wider appeal.
Always keep up-to-date
Many cities have multiple publications dedicated to local events. Whether it’s weekend family activities or late-night live music, the information is likely to be compiled somewhere online or in print, so always keep the latest copies of these guides handy. Although many travel writing assignments call for evergreen content, others will specifically ask you to cover seasonal events or current trends. That’s when these guides can be indispensable.
It also pays to keep your eyes and ears open. If you see a restaurant being refurbished on your way to work, if you overhear people talking about a new club, or if you read in the local newspaper about a new museum exhibition, make a note. These are all things that may interest readers in the months to come.
Re-evaluate your daily routine
Get up. Go to work. Buy dinner. Walk home. Watch TV. Go to bed. Does this sound like your routine? If so, you need to take a step back and think about how you spend your day. Try and build in some time to interact with your city more. It can be as simple was walking through a local park during your lunch hour. You never know, you may discover the perfect picnic spot to include in a future article. Try picking up your weekly shop from smaller local outlets – you could find a fantastic food market that will greatly appeal to your readers. Arranging to meet a friend for a coffee or a beer after work could have a similar outcome; the discovery of a somewhere new to recommend to tourists. You might also find you fall in love with you home town all over again.
Have you written about your home turf? Do you have any tips to impart? Leave your comments below the line or share your thoughts via Twitter. You will also find a portfolio of travel content by our brilliant writers here.