Inside a Travel Writers Conference

Don George and Tim Cahill at Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference August 2009
Updated: Aug 15th, 2009

If you’re on my newsletter list, or follow me on Twitter, you’ll know where I am as I write this post. It’s a little past 10pm on Thursday evening, and I’m in Corte Madera, California attending the 18th Annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference.

I’m here because for a very long time I’ve been telling writers (through email conversations, this blog, and our forum) that there is no better education than what they will find at writers’ conferences. The opportunity to network is priceless, and some contacts will turn into lifelong friends, but the nuggets of wisdom that you’ll get from those more experienced than yourself is what makes it well worth the cost and the effort to participate. And yet, hard to believe, I’ve never been to this particular (and prestigious) annual event.

I made the decision to attend on Sunday, after having JUST arrived home from two months in Idaho, so my things from my last trip are not yet unpacked (tip: have more than one set of luggage, and keep a toiletries kit fully stocked and ready to go for those last-minute trips!), and as much as I would’ve liked to have had a few weeks rest before running off again, I was fully convinced that I couldn’t afford to miss this event (again) this year.

Over the next couple of days I’ll be updating you with some insights gleaned from the plethora of hard-to-choose-between sessions and my informal chats with some of the other attendees and the authors whose attention I might capture for a few moments – there is a very good turnout of friendly and eager students all vying to learn as much as they can from the great lineup of faculty, and elbowing them out of my way might seem…..well, rude. That’s just not me. Not unless I absolutely have to, of course. :)

I will share with you one of the “nuggets” I alluded to above – the opening session this morning, given by the inimitable Georgia Hesse (“Introduction to Travel Writing”) produced this pearl of wisdom, and some of the truest words you’ll hear from any experienced writer:

“Don’t write what has already been written. Write about your experience.”

Think about that when you travel……what your readers don’t need is another brochure…..those are freely available anywhere….what they need is your opinion, your insights, your memories, your guidance.

So stay tuned – there’s lots more really good stuff to come tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday!


Have you attended writers conferences? Share your experience!

About Trisha Miller 116 Articles
Trisha Miller Editor-in-Chief, - Trisha joined the Travel Industry in 1996 with a background in telecommunications and helped to build (and later sell) one of the industry's top inbound call centers specializing in air travel. Her career in Travel Writing began with creating destination-specific content for a corporate travel intranet, and continued as she contributed content to a large number of travel-related companies that were establishing an online presence throughout the late '90's and early '00's. Currently she is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, and a former Board Member of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association (2009-2015).  Still a frequent world traveler, and occasional guest-blogger on a number of other Travel Blogs, Trisha writes about travel and technology, sometimes both at the same time. You can follow Trisha on Twitter at:


  1. Trisha,

    I hope you’re enjoying California (great state) and the conference. Can’t wait to hear all about it. I like Georgia Hesse’s advice, “write about your experience.” So true…

  2. Thanks for reporting on the Book Passages Travel Writers Conference. I’m anxiously waiting for the tips you are willing to pass on. I can see that this is a conference that should be on any travel writer’s list.

  3. Very good advice, Trisha!

    I attended the Travellers Tales Festival in London in Feb/Mar with heaps of great speakers sharing their stories and giving out tips (Alexander McCall-Smith, Colin Thubron, William Dalrymple, Sarah Wheeler and many others) – very inspiring!

  4. @Wifey – so glad you’re enjoying it! I’ll be posting more tomorrow and Monday – stay tuned!

    @Anne-Sophie – wow that sounds like a great travel writers conference too – I’ll have to see if I can get there in 2010…..and thanks for your kind words!

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