Writing the Perfect Destination Review

Writing the perfect destination review
Updated: Feb 11th, 2021


As a follow up to her earlier Guest Article….

Writing The Perfect Lodging Review“,

…well-known professional travel writer and Uptake Lodging Editor Nancy D. Brown takes a break from her perpetual traveling to share with us more of her sage advice on writing travel reviews.


Here are her tips on writing that perfect destination review:

Set the Hook – Draw the Reader In

“As the train pulled into the station, it appeared strangely quiet in Bordeaux, France. Grabbing our backpacks, we walked into town to secure lodging for the night. After numerous rejections from French pensions, we turned our attention toward food. Certainly we could find a room at an Inn serving local wine country cuisine, right?”

The above paragraph is from an article I wrote for Diablo magazine about how food relates to travel.

Painting a picture for the reader will draw them in.

The introduction to the article is an example of a nut graf; which is editorial slang for defining the news value in a story. The descriptive lede (yes, more journalism speak) is meant to draw the reader into the story. Ideally, your lede should paint a picture for the reader; draw them in and, set the hook, so to speak.

This is a much better approach to writing a vacation destination review than, “Our train stopped in Bordeaux, France. We went to look for lodging. We couldn’t find any restaurants that were open.”

Vacation Destination as Service Piece

Service pieces, such as “Insider Tips” or “Things to See and Do” for specific travel destinations, are meant as informational articles for the reader. Similar to writing a lodging review, it is vital to include the five Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and, whenever possible, how much) as those are the typical questions a reader needs answered before determining their vacation destination.

  • “The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, amazing trails right in downtown with views of mountain ranges, and the waters of Cook Inlet, and along the trail Earthquake Park.”
  • “When I crave a local brewpub I turn to Glacier BrewHouse, FireTap Alehouse or Snow Goose Restaurant, where I can dine on local favorites like the fresh catch of the day, a wood-fired pizza, and wash it all down with a local microbrew.”
  • “To escape work I head for the trails the wind through Anchorage Parks and greenbelts for a run, a bike, or a quick cross-country ski.”

The above “Insider Tips” were taken from a post I wrote on the “Best Things to See and Do in Anchorage, Alaska“, for my “What a Trip” blog.

Convention & Visitor Bureaus and PR Professionals as Partners

As a public relations professional and travel writer, I work both sides of the media fence. As a PR pro, part of my job is to provide information about my clients to members of the media. As a working journalist, I LOVE working with professional PR folks.

As Lisa Gerber of Big Leap Creative says in her article Why I Fired A Travel Writer, “You have an editor and/or a readership that you answer to, and I have a client that I answer to. Mutual understanding of our respective business models gets us so much more out of life.”

In fact, many of my “Insider Tips” columns are written in conjunction with public relations pros and Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) PRs. It is mutually beneficial to understand how to work with travel writers and bloggers and PR pros.

Position Yourself as a Vacation Destination Review Expert

Case in point, I was asked by the Chicago Tribune to write a service piece on “How to Watch the Iditarod Sled Dog Race” while visiting Alaska. The travel editor found me online through one of the many vacation destination reviews I had written about Alaska.

I had successfully positioned myself as an expert in the field.

Be a Destination Review Expert in Your Backyard

If you are new to travel writing or travel blogging, I strongly suggest you toil in your own vineyard, initially. After all, who is more qualified to write a vacation destination review on your hometown? Establish yourself as a local expert, write a column for your local newspaper and then venture outside the box to wider ranging vacation destination venues.

Select Your Travel Writing Style

Your travel writing style will depend on the publication or editorial outlet where your vacation destination review will appear.

In newspapers and magazine, articles are typically written in third person. Quotes from outside sources are important to bring credibility and differing perspectives to your article.

First person perspective is more commonly found when writing for travel blogs. Entire vacation destination reviews are often written from the travel blogger’s point of view.

What type of travel writing speaks to you? Select some of your favorite travel writers and publications and craft your vacation destination reviews in a similar fashion.

Eventually, you will find your own voice and writing style that fits your personality.

~ Nancy

Do you write destination reviews? Share your tips!

About Nancy D. Brown 3 Articles

Nancy Brown is a lover of all things travel-related.  She has combined her passion for travel with her professional writing career. 

Nancy writes a travel column, “What a Trip” for the Contra Costa Times Lamorinda Sun, a publication of Media News Group.  She is the Lodging Editor for Uptake.com. She writes an on-line travel column for Diablo magazine and the "Traveler Making a Difference" column for Escapes magazine. 

Horse lovers will find her on the Writing Horseback blog. She is a BootsnAll Insider for California and has contributed to InsideBayArea, Uptake.com and Write to Travel blogs.  She is a member of Bay Area Travel Writers (BATW), BlogHer, Matador and Travelwriters.com.  She also owns a public relations consulting business.


    • I think you pretty much covered the main points. I like how you pointed out how the first paragraph needs to draw the reader into the story. This point is often overlooked by writers, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

  1. Since it is important to me personally, I also include if a place is kid-friendly (and how), and about the disability access. Not everyone wants to know this, but many people do.

    Great article!

  2. Hi Nancy: I like this post. It is like Travel Writing 101, brief but concise.

    As a journalist, I can’t emphasize the need for a nut graf – as it functions like a thesis statement. It keeps your writing focused and tight.

  3. Great tips and very useful. It sounds pretty much like writing news when providing information. Tricky part is keeping your write up lively and enticing to the readers.

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