Travel Writing: The Importance of Research - article

An essential part of being a good travel writer is doing research. First of all, what kind of stories is the market looking for? There’s no point in climbing Mt. Everest if the subject has been overdone and you’re unlikely to find a buyer for your work. So, you can approach it one of two ways. You can decide what you want to write about and search for a buyer, or you can research buyers and see what travel destinations are hot topics. Either way is fine, but those who find their buyer first definitely have a leg up.

So, once you’ve decided where you’re going, do you just show up? That is certainly not the recommended approach. No one wants to read a travel article from a writer who might actually know less about the destination than the writer’s intended audience. To truly write a professional and marketable travel piece, you need to do some serious prep and follow up work on things like:

  • What’s the best way to get there?
    The reader is going to place extra value on your piece if you can add some insight into logistics and help him or her or they avoid travel nightmares.
  • What’s the best place to stay, and why?
    Again, no one enjoys a trip if the place they are staying is dirty, unsafe or unpleasant in any way. Nothing wrecks a trip like an unsatisfactory abode.
  • What kind of budget does the traveler need?
    The traveler should and does expect to get some insights on expenses, currency exchange arrangements and the like.
  • What’s the weather going to be like when you get there, and for that matter, what’s the overall climate?
    You need to mention what the extremes are, just in case. If the average temperature is 64 F, but the all-time low for that time of the year is 20 F, let the traveler decide if he or she wants to pack gloves and long underwear.
  • While you may not be a food critic, a bit of research on the local cuisine can go a long way in making your article relevant and enjoyable.
  • Are there any “hidden gems” at your destination?
    If you can come up with a couple of pearls that no one else has written about, it can make your article more marketable.
  • What are the people like? Is it a traveler-friendly culture, or are there security concerns?
    If the latter, you certainly want to make your readers aware of precautions that need to be taken.

It’s impossible to do too much research on a travel topic or destination. The more research you do, the better you’ll be able to write with the authority and credibility of an expert. And, as you research, it may help you decide on the most appropriate target for your marketing efforts, or it may help you avoid wasting your time and money on a dubious destination.

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