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What Exactly IS Travel Writing?

I spent the better part of this past Sunday morning finally getting caught up on a number of my favorite travel blogs that I try to follow regularly. I also chatted briefly with a friend, who asked, when I told her what I was doing, about the travel blogs I follow, so I told her which ones they were, and what they were “about”. She, being the fairly persnickety “keeper-of-the-rules” person that she is, said “those aren’t travel writers!…..those blogs aren’t even about traveling!“……so I (because I like a good debate), of course, took the time to educate her as to what, exactly, is “Travel Writing”.….and what makes a good Travel Blog.

After spending more time that I cared to convincing her to see things my way (after all, I did have more reading I wanted to get back to), it occurred to me that perhaps there are others out there in the vast universe of cyberspace who might also not understand what, exactly, qualifies as “Travel Writing”, so here goes……

If a person writes about what’s going on in their hometown (say for example, Washington DC happenings [1]), is that travel writing? If someone writes about a grand adventure like bicycling around the world [2], or hiking the Continental Divide Trail [3], is that travel writing? What about if someone combines poetry with music, and then takes that message on a road trip [4] to inspire young people around that world…..is that a travel writing?

My answer is YES! All of those websites are good examples of travel writing. Not because any of them are about “travel” (they’re not), but because they make people want to travel. Take just a moment to think about that — what is the point of travel writing after all? Isn’t it to paint such a vivid picture with your words that they make someone feel as if they are there? Or better yet, to make them want to go there? Yes, photos accompanying your article are great (and required these days), but it’s the words that should really light a spark in others. That should always be your goal when you write about anything, but it’s most important when you’re writing about a destination or event or adventure.

I love TheDCTraveler blog – it makes me wish I still lived in that area of the country, and I’m actually planning a fall trip there after reading about all the fun I’m missing out on! And even though I am not much into bicycling or hiking, I must admit that Tom’s RideEarth website and The Adventures of Nowhere Man and Walking Carrot make me wish I were along on their adventures with them. And THAT is precisely what makes good travel writing – when you inspire others to tag along (vicariously) on your journey, or to take a journey of their own.

Oh and my persnickety friend? She did eventually agree with me 🙂


What’s your opinion on what makes for good travel writing? Tell us about your favorite Travel Blogs!