Or strapping the reader into the rollercoaster seat.
A word of warning here. Not everyone will agree with this, and some editors will possibly regard it as the worst piece of advice in history. But I think the active form of the present continuous tense really lends itself to travel writing.
I’ll demonstrate rather than try to explain. Here are two examples of the same intro. Which do you think reads better?
The huddle was so tight that a scrum could have broken out at any minute. A 17-stone shaven-headed man attempted to barge his way past a couple of ten year olds in order to get a closer view. Other kids tested the shoulder of their weary parents in a bid to get a height advantage.
The huddle is so tight that you half expect a scrum to break out at any minute. A 17-stone shaven-headed man is attempting to barge his way past a couple of ten year olds in order to get a closer view. Other kids are testing the sagging shoulders of their weary parents in a bid to get a height advantage.
Report vs running commentary
I prefer the latter. Others won’t, but I think it has the advantage of taking the reader to the situation and making them feel they are a part of it. Example one is a report of an incident, example two is a running commentary on an incident in progress. It’s the difference between watching breaking news of a major event and a sober studio analysis afterwards; the live match versus the highlights package.
Keeping writing in the active makes it more arresting - it’s more dynamic to read. And using the present continuous straps the reader into the rollercoaster seat rather than allowing them to look on at a distance. This technique isn’t always appropriate, but I feel as though it adds zip to a travel story and offers a better sense of place.