How To Be A Travel Writer When You’re Not Traveling?

How to Be a Travel Writer When You’re Not Traveling

If a travel writer isn’t traveling, that doesn’t mean they can’t be writing stories about travel. We merely need to think outside the typical 'I went here' tales and dig into stories that we can tell while we're at home - stories that we haven't shared before, reflecting on past travel experiences that often open up fresh opportunities for us, or maybe interviewing people virtually, to see the world from their viewpoint.

“How do you even write about travel/create travel content when you’re not traveling?”

That’s a question many people have on their minds when they see others sharing travel photos on Instagram, or probably working as a travel writer while we’re living in a lockdown, struggling through the second wave of the pandemic. And then there are people I know, who are writing the most beautiful & inspiring travel stories, keeping the wanderlust alive in them as well as their readers.

The fact is, work (creating travel content) for us doesn’t stop even though we’re staying indoors, with our wings clipped.

If you’ve been contemplating about getting started as a travel content creator or looking forward to starting your own travel blog amidst the pandemic and wondering how to curate enough content to write while you’re mostly indoors, then it’s time to think differently! Truth be told, it’s not always necessary to be on the roads or live a nomadic life in order to create amazing travel content. Especially when the world is still waging a war against the Coronavirus, the best move, for now, would be to stay at home. And while you do so, here are some ideas that I would love to share with you, hoping that you can let the words weave breathtaking tales to delight the hodophile in you!

1) Write more about the place that’s close to your heart.

There’s nothing more satisfying than writing about home – the place where you’ve been born & brought up, or the place where you’re living currently. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are – because to someone, that place is an interesting & exotic destination. As your journeys are now restricted, it’s the best time to shift your focus from only writing about places that you’ve traveled to and start writing about the destination that’s close to your heart. There are so many things that you probably know about the city you’re living in – from the hidden gems to the hole-in-the-wall eateries, from the best souvenir shops to local hideouts – pour your emotions into writing articles that describe the place from where you belong.

Victoria Memorial, Kolkata, India.

2) Unearth a new story from previous journeys.

One trip can give birth to various stories! You just need to make sure that you get more posts out of your previous journeys, rather than concentrating on writing just one piece. Reflecting on past travel experiences can open up fresh opportunities – and you can break up your experiences into smaller posts that would be easy to read as well as engaging. You can focus on writing an article about the best places to eat; another one on the accommodations you opted for; and another one sharing some of the most popular spots that one can visit in that particular destination. For example: When I decided to write about our trip to Cambodia, I essentially wrote separate articles about the itinerary we followed, the things to do in Siem Reap other than exploring the Angkor Wat, and some of our personal experiences as well.

From my personal experience, I’ve realized that readers often don’t like to be overwhelmed with information but if you’ve broken down your experiences into smaller articles, then people won’t feel like they are getting too much at once. It entirely depends on you, how you want to narrate your stories and perhaps, there’s a story you haven’t told earlier & it’s relevant now more than ever!

3)Interview people virtually and write their stories.

What can be better than talking to other travelers during this pandemic, and getting to know more about them & their journeys? Interviewing people virtually will let you shift your focus and look at the world from their perspective.

Recently, I interviewed an American couple – Annette & Daniel – who got stuck in Thailand last year, and gave birth to a baby amidst the Corona chaos! Well yeah, I couldn’t have asked for a better conversation with folks who utilized their entire lockdown to make YouTube videos from their previous explorations, sharing their day-to-day lives and also about the trips they took once domestic traveling was allowed in the country. Although I’ve been to Thailand before, it felt like I was rediscovering each place while talking to them – and maybe, someday I’d wanna go back and do things that I’ve missed out in Thailand.

I also wrote about a friend, Sharada,  who was born and brought up in Goa – a popular tourist destination in India, often considered to be the Hippies’ Paradise! Through her words, she took me for a walk along the beaches, made me taste the local cuisine, and told me tales of the encounters she had with tourists since childhood. For me, it wasn’t just a charming rendezvous with Goa, but I did get to know my friend a little more closely.

4) Find a unique spin & write about that.

It’s essential for a travel writer to find a unique spin and work on that! Concentrating on curating niche articles will surely open up more topics to write about and encourage you to research things that are of your interest. For example, if you are someone who’s absolutely in love with the mountains (like me!) and enjoy going for treks, then you can write about the best treks that one can do, what to pack for a trek, advice for first time trekkers, so on and so forth. And if you’re someone who’s an absolute foodie – go ahead and write on the various cuisines across the world, or the best places to eat in a particular city, or maybe about a traditional dish of a region, or about a forgotten recipe of an unknown land! Once you find your niche and have a clear voice, there would be no dearth of topics and you’ll be amazed by the knowledge you’d gather while you’re at home!

While I’ve been working as a travel writer for almost a couple of years now, I’ve realized that my niche is volunteering trips, sustainable journeys, eco-tourism, and responsible tourism. Needless to say, it gives me enough joy and a sense of satisfaction to meet people from across the globe, who are keen to set out for meaningful journeys, in order to make this world a better place to live.

kenya cover open letter
Sharing a moment of laughter with a Maasai lady!

5) Go looking for your inspiration.

I know that it’s not always easy to curate travel-related topics, especially at a time when all your plans have either been canceled or are at a halt. But I’d suggest you go looking for inspiration – whether it’s reading a book where the author takes you through the dense forests of the Amazon Basin or watching a movie that leaves you dreaming about the cobbled streets of Bruges!

As I was struggling to dig out fresh themes for my articles and look beyond my clichéd vocabulary, I attended a Travel Writing Workshop hosted by Saumia Bhatnagar – and she helped me to go back to the basics, brushed up the old lessons of figurative language, and encouraged me to scroll through old photographs, amidst which I found new stories.

Over the years , I’ve realized that travel writing isn’t just about telling people ‘I went here’ and ‘I did this’ – but it’s more about sharing our encounters with various places, people, culture, heritage, history, and dispelling stereotypes about the world.  It’s about portraying our journey through our words, in order to let the readers experience the same.

And now that we’re all at a pause, maybe this is the time to look deep within ourselves and go inward, write about our personal take on why we want to travel the world or what traveling really means to us, or maybe about the lessons that traveling has taught us or probably how our journeys have changed us. 

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