Friday, July 8, 2011

Travel Writing--Personal Essays and Articles

Ken and me in Germany

Summertime often means vacation time. We're ready to get away from our everyday routine, and for writers, that means a break from the keyboard. No matter what our jobs or daily routines involve, we all need a little time off to recharge our batteries. Half the fun of a vacation lies in the planning, and we probably spend a good many hours doing so. 

So, off you go to your vacation spot. Maybe it's the mountains or the seashore. Perhaps you're crossing an ocean to another continent. Wherever you go, keep your writer's mind active so that you can write some personal essays or travel articles when you return home. Keep a daily journal on any trip you take. It will be invaluable once you're home and want to write about the places you've been. Reading your travel journal will trigger other memories of your visit and help in recreating it for readers.

There are many different angles to use when writing about your travels. You can make it very personal when you visit the land of your ancestors, or maybe a place where you grew up but haven't seen in years. You might consider writing about only the food, or only the places where you lay your head each night--hotel, B&B, or resort. You could write about the transportation you used. Or the weather--was it the coldest the place has ever seen, or the hottest? Maybe the wettest. Somehow, weather allows for a lot of interesting writing. Maybe you experienced a horrendous storm while in the Caribbean. Tell the world what it was like. 

I started writing travel pieces when we first began overseas journeys. Family and friends at home all wanted to know about our trip, so rather than write a number of letters via e-mail, I chose to write one and send it to those interested. It wasn't long until I saw that I had the skeleton of a travel article in these missives. All I had to do was flesh them out and head to a market. Now, when Ken and I travel, I look with they eyes of both traveler and writer. 

Earlier this week, I recorded seven more stories for the internet radio station located here in my community. This is the third session they've asked me to do, so I decided to use travel essays and articles. One was about finding my roots in Ireland, another about a special place we stayed in South Africa. A contest winner about a Hungarian hotel in Germany was next, followed by an article about pub fare in the UK and Ireland. I read a personal essay about our visit to Lahr, Germany where Ken's grandfather Kopp grew up. Another personal essay detailed our visit to Blarney Castle in Ireland, where I had to decide whether to kiss the Blarney Stone or not. And the final one told about two of the Czech Exchange students at Kansas State University coming to the USA for the first time. You can see the great variety of things I found to write about on my travels. It needn't be overseas travel either. If you only go to a lake cottage an hour from home, you should be able to write about it. 

You can read the highlighted stories above which were published in other places but also posted at a website where writers post.

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