Saturday, January 16, 2010

Off Into the Wild Blue Yonder: Writing a Travel Book

For many writers, and for many travelers, the notion of writing a travel book is the perfect dream. What could be better than combining the love of writing with the love of travel? And in truth, for those who both write and travel, the life is a good one.

Writing a travel book is much like writing a user’s manual, or a cookbook. There is certainly room to exercise your writing skills, but much of the value of the book for the reader is how well researched the destination is, and in how well you are able to write about their particular travel needs within the context of that destination.
Writing a travel book typically starts with selecting a destination. Though there are books written on the broad topic of travel, generally speaking, they focus on a destination spot or region. A good deal of time must be spent at the destination, because a great amount of information must be gathered about lodging, restaurants, local customs, currency issues, laws, travel options, and entertainment venues.
Much of the information about the specifics of hotels, eateries, and so on can be gathered through simple research, and much of that can be done from your computer at home. The real value of a travel book is in providing the readers some sense of what to expect. Is the high-priced hotel worth it? Is the low-priced lunch at the tucked-away restaurant a hidden gem or a land mine? Is the bus that runs out to the countryside dependable or not? These questions are the ones that people who buy travel books want answers to, and the answers to those questions can only be had through direct experience.
Travel books also are enhanced by going beyond the usual listing of food, lodging, and entertainment options. The best of these books provide history, photographs, stories from locals, and other things that give the reader a sense of the place they are about to visit.

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