Ethnography can lead to your best travel writing

Updated: Mar 18th, 2010

Your best travel writing may happen as the result of traveling to a remote village in Africa or Asia. Instead of going to the Caribbean or Paris, travel to a place where you could help humankind. A great way to do this is through ethnography because it’s closely related to travel writing. According to Wikipedia, “ethnography is a genre of writing that uses fieldwork to provide a descriptive study of human societies.”

Some of your best travel writing can happen when you’re surrounded by the beauty of nature. Africa is known for it’s breathtaking scenery. Picture a pack of lions on the hunt or a group of elephants walking across the land. Wouldn’t this make a great travel article? Complement this with the community of people you stay with and you have the makings of your best travel writing.

Ethnography and travel writing

Here’s an excerpt from WiseGeek, “…The practice of ethnography usually involves fieldwork in which the ethnographer lives among the population being studied. While trying to retain objectivity, the ethnographer lives an ordinary life among the people, working with informants who are particularly knowledgeable or well placed to collect information. This fieldwork may last for extended period of time; usually over a year, and sometimes much longer.”

There are many ways to apply ethnography to your travel writing. Someone may choose to live among indigenous tribes in the Amazon rain forest. Maybe you’ve always want to study nudist colonies in North America. Remember, ethnography is about studying the entirety of the human experience, from gangs in New York City to doctors helping a community in Africa.

Learn, study and write

You may not have any ideas how to apply ethnography to your best travel writing, so here are a few to get your started.

  1. Stay with a nomadic tribe in Asia.
  2. Follow a band on tour — lots of travel involved.
  3. Immerse yourself within a gypsy tribe in Romania.
  4. Stay with a family in Mumbai, India and follow them throughout their day.

If you decide to take the leap of faith and live in a remote village, you will become immersed in a tribe’s culture. This will make a great series of travel articles or an eBook. You can write some of your best travel writing from an experience like this.

Think outside of the normal scope of travel writing and you’ll go far. Your experiences may help you to produce your best travel writing yet. Take advantage of any opportunities that allows you to stretch your travel writing.


Would you consider living with another culture in a remote part of the world?

About Amandah Blackwell 198 Articles

Amandah Blackwell is a creative, freelance and ghost writer for industries that include but are not limited to the arts & entertainment, travel, publishing, real estate, pets, personal and professional development, and much more.

Amandah's personal writing projects include screenplays, teleplays, YA, non-fiction, short stories, and poetry. 

You can find more of her writing at,, and

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  1. Very interesting post. I did not know that travel writing and ethnography are closely related. I’ll look into this. It would make for great travel writing.

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