Anyone who loves to travel dreams of being a travel writer. There really doesn’t seem to be anything better than being paid to travel the world and share your experiences with others. Yet, with the proliferation and ease of blogging, it seems like everyone these days is laying out their global experiences on the web. From big names like Lonely Planet and National Geographic to rising bloggers, such as Nomadic Matt and Adventurous Kate, it seems the continents and seas have already been poured over and scrutinized.
So that leaves the big questions: Is it worth even writing about your travels when the market is already so saturated? Why would someone choose to read your thoughts when there’s already so much noise out there on the Internet? Should you waste your time with travel writing?
Travel writing still matters in 2017, and here’s why:
Cartographers and explorers may have paved the way, but access to new corners of the Earth are always becoming clearer for the average tourist. Whether with newly developed infrastructure or with revitalized diplomatic partnerships, travelers are gaining access to uncharted territories that are yet to be fully detailed and explained for the more wary tourist. As a travel writer, these developments are signals for stories that are waiting to be told.
For example, the United States and Cuba just started to normalize relations in 2014 before President Obama’s official visit to Cuba in 2016. For the first time since 1963, an American president traveled to Cuba and relieved the travel tension between these two neighboring nations. Although citizens of other countries have played tourist in Cuba for years, the first American adventurers to Cuba in the coming years will have a unique perspective given the complicated context of these new visits. With new access to new places, travel writers have the opportunities to shed the light of their unique perspective on the ever-changing places in our world.
There’s no doubt social media, blogging, and crowdsourced websites have gained credibility when it comes to making decisions about anything from your next dinner out to your next international excursion. Many argue that trusting the opinion of your friend, family member, or other average person is just as reliable, or even more so, than experts or traditional media sources. Even though breaking into the big leagues of travel writing will take time, adding a personal travel blog to your freelance activities or your list of side projects outside of work can have a big impact on the people that are more closely related to you.
Start small with simply convincing those in your closest network to get a passport or get out of their comfort zones. With each travel story you write, you have the chance to inspire someone else or change their preconceived notion about a place or a people. Even though there are seemingly too many travel writers already out there, your personal experience matters and it especially matters more to the people who know you well. Take advantage of this increasing trust in individual experience to start attracting an audience to your voice.
Yes, there are already a gazillion Instagrams of the Eiffel Tower and the sunrise at Angkor Wat. However, travel writing still matters in 2017 because of the intimate stories that arise when you travel with intention. With so many places to go and 6 billion people on our planet to meet, it might be tempting to rush around to cover as much ground as possible. However, this does not make for great travel writing. With increasing opportunities to travel meaningfully both through programs and general access, focus your time and energy on a few experiences that you can dive deep into in your writing. While you might not be on track to document a whole city guide, you can share a unique story that will grab people’s attention and immerse them within your travel experience.
Start by researching your destination and then ways to interact with the culture and the people for that location. GoAbroad.com is a great resource for program listings around the world that promote strong engagement throughout your travels. Whether choosing a program and signing up or simply letting these offers guide your plans, you’ll be on your way to finding the undiscovered travel experience that you can share with the world in 2017.
As technology continues to blow our minds with leaps and bounds, incorporate these new digital media tools into your travel writing and storytelling. Between new Instagram filters, Snapchat geotags, blogging platforms, and the rise of virtual reality, sharing your experiences around the globe just got much more up-close-and-personal and much more creative! Even if traditional travel writing wasn’t your jam, there are plenty of new ways to document your adventures that will engage and attract your unique audience. Explore these new innovations in media to best express yourself in your travel writing and showcase your media talents beyond your writing skills.
With these innovations, travel writers have so many tools at their disposal to create connections around the globe. Although there are many of tourists out there around the world, many people in the world still do not have access to travel opportunities and many do not even have a passport. Even in 2017, the ability to travel to different parts of the world or your home country and to meet people from different walks of life is something special. As a travel writer, you have the opportunity to share these experiences of the places you go and the people you meet in a way that makes them familiar and provides a connection to the people there. In an era where the world is constantly struggling between increased integration/globalization and nationalism the ability to humanize people in the other group or country is an invaluable tool.
Use the layout of your storytelling to highlight intimate aspects of culture as you travel or interactions you have with different people. Experiment with photo essays, boxed text to highlight anecdotes and conversations that inspire you, or creating videos to immerse your audience in the lifestyle of wherever your destination may be. By showcasing the humanity that you meet along your journey, you have the opportunity to make the foreign relatable to those who follow you from far away.
The trend of travel writing might seem so 2016, but 2017 presents a whole new page in your creative career. Get started with your words of wisdom and let your media mastermind do the rest. With the combination of your rich experiences and the digital tools out there, have fun experimenting with how to show-off and inspire others with the travel adventures you’re planning for the new year.