Tuesday, 9 September 2008

#9 – If you want to write about travel, do some travelling

Or get off your arse and do it.

Stop waiting for tourist boards and PR companies
This seems remarkably obvious, but there are many wannabe travel writers that will sit around waiting to be sent on assignment. They’ll wait for tourist boards and PR companies to send them on press trips, and rule out going pretty much anywhere because they fear not being able to make a profit if they go.

Speculate to accumulate
This is nothing short of idiocy, and it’s why I’m not a total fan of the theory that the best way to start out is writing about where you live. It isn’t – the best way is going somewhere. Initially, it really is a case of speculating to accumulate.

Stay in hostels and guesthouses
If you do things on the cheap – stay in hostels and guest houses, stay off the booze, skip lunch and explore on foot – it’s easy to spend a week or more away for under £500/ US$1,000. And it’s possible to get enough material for at least a story a day while you’re there.

It may require a bit of pre-planning, but that will pay dividends. Research a route that involves a cheap flight into one place and back from another. Research train and bus timetables so that you can get between the two, perhaps stopping at another destination or two on the way. Read up on what there is to see and what’s new.

Notepad and camera
And while you’re there, be prepared to put in the hard yards. Cram in as much as possible. Pound the streets with notepad in hand and camera at the ready. You’ll be surprised how much material you’ll gather, even if you’re exhausted by the end of the trip. And this can be where those first, all important stories will probably come from.

No comments: