Guidelines for Travel Writers

Originally written for a travel website in 2011

BEFORE the travel bug really bit, my natural habitat was a newspaper office (or the pub, the customary watering hole for the journalistic wildlife in the days when regional newspapers actually printed on the date which adorn the front).

Chunks of time were spent wrestling with copy from reporters, freelances and contributors to ensure it was grammatically correct, readable or shoehorned into house style (often all three).

Over the years, several pet peeves emerged that were guaranteed to spark prolonged grumbling if they ever appeared in copy.

Overuse of the words that and ever, without even mentioning the fact that apostrophes and commas don’t appear to be taught nowadays (leaving them all out or putting in so many some of them must be right are not the best way to please a sub-editor, a dying, much-neglected breed).

Sadly, many of those annoyances resurface reading travel blogs. If it is a personal blog, designed purely to capture your trip for posterity, there is very little wrong with that – it is your trip, your blog, your rules.

But if you want anybody else to read and enjoy your blog, it is worth following a few rules.

And you could do a lot worse than follow the Guidelines for Travel Writers article written by David Whitley on his site

One tip amid his advice certainly rang true – the advice to avoid using the first person.

It is said the cricket writer and commentator John Arlott never used the word ‘I’ in his entire written works. Having tried very hard to write this piece working to the same rule, it is extremely difficult.

Certainly several former colleagues found it impossible to get through a couple of paragraphs without using it – some senior ones even inserting reference to themselves back into articles after I had taken a few of them out…

Damn, so nearly did it.




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