Thank you for reading the first week’s notes. It’s my attempt at providing travel writing assistance for those in need.

One thing certain is many people travel, many people have stories, but unfortunately many qualities of nice story telling are unclear.

I’ll do my best to get to the point throughout prepared travel writing readings.  In order for me to help you, with your travel writing, unfortunately, you will have to help yourselves at times. I’ll do my best to provide recommended readings but one issue we may stumble across, is with the issue of copyright laws, restricting me from going ahead and posting material on my site. If I do post material, it may cost the creator, so I’d potentially be the man responsible for breaching copyright laws. I’ll provide reading references and you may have to go about finding the readings through other electronic sources. My own travel writing will also useful sources. If you would like to be a well-equipped travel writer, reading is an essential requirement.

Lets begin.

The genre of traveling writing is a difficult one to outline. Often information given to readers in many newspapers is convenient information, but it can be confused with travel writing, simple based on it being about travel. Most newspaper writing is based on promotional material regarding hotels, flights and recommended tours for your average tourists. When I say “average tourist” I mean those looking for a programmed holiday, or those who don’t have time or patience for mess-ups during their travel. So, we get a bundle of travel information written for this market – its basic information – and it serves its purpose.

If we look at well-rounded travel literature usually puts a story on screen, or paper, using techniques similar those seen in writing fiction. These techniques attempt to put many of the writer’s senses into the story while considering the minds of readers. This writing aims to allow readers to relive an adventure or journey. This form of writing introduces characters, develops scenes, has occasional humour, insight, history, plus more, and attempts to produce a three-dimensional story for its audience. This is different to a basic travel description to promote tourism.

Travel writing, although using many techniques of fiction writing, it must be a product of nonfiction. The use of fiction writing techniques is merely to bring a travel journey off a page. Creative nonfiction is another genre, sharing similar qualities to travel writing, attempting to bring a true story to life. Travel writing can often fall into this genre also but is specifically related to travel. You will often read travel literature and travel writing throughout this course. I generally use both of those to refer to the same genre. I usually think of travel literature as travel writing with minimal flaws. A travel writer who comes to mind who once produced excellent work is Bruce Chatwin. If you haven’t already read In Patagonia (Not a recommended reading for this week; see readings at the end of this document) I believe it’s a must read in the near future to bring your travel writing up to speed.

Travel writing, or travel literature, is often in the form a narrative with subtext. If we look at my writing piece, Never fear Argentina, the ‘Volunteer Worker’ is here, by me, we see a narrative of my journey, the highs and lows of travel, and a ‘volunteer worker,’ who didn’t live up to his title. Throughout this piece of travel writing I attempt to get my thoughts as three-dimensional as possible to recreate my experiences for the reader. Throughout this reading I never mention a business, or try to generate money for tourism, I’m also not afraid to speak negatively. This is travel writing. By no means am I claiming that my work is a masterpiece, I’m merely providing my writing this week, as part of readings, in an attempt to overcome copyright issues and still provide writing for students without spending. As this piece is my work, I’m more than happy to let my readers experience it.

Travel writing as a genre is not easily defined. It can often fall under the genre of creative nonfiction, as I mentioned earlier, but this one way to get your head around what travel writing is. It merely needs to be nonfiction, creative, and a recreated journey with a few dimensions. Hunter S. Thompson is an author, who many may have heard of from, The Rum Diary, although I’ve included an article, which I feel meets requirements to be travel writing – ‘DOOMED LOVE AT THE TACO STAND.’ This writer provides pieces of writing which uses the writing skills of fiction writing to bring his writing to life. Many of his journeys are claimed to be nonfiction, though, whether they are or not is another issue. My point is, this author’s writing has a creative flare, and this is a characteristic required to provide well-structured travel writing. The nonfiction aspect should be respected.

Paul Theroux provides creative flare to his travel writing with The Mosquito Coast.

Homer’s Odyssey is a well known novel some critics have labeled travel writing. Many pieces, such as Marco Polo’s Travels almost fits the genre, although include a fantasy element, or some kind of paranormal element which fails to meet the genre’s requirements.

My suggestion for the coming weeks in my travel writing course is to continue reading my writings, also read other suggested readings, then consider how you might describe travel writing.

Suggested readings:

Discussion questions

Feel free to add your thoughts to the reply section below

  • ·      What does ‘travel writing’ mean to you?
  • ·      What should writing from this genre achieve?
  • ·      Can you think of any authors who you believe are travel writers?


 Gaston Cavalleri is an Australian travel writer, novelist, screenwriter, and jiu-jitsu fighter. To support his travel writing & literature give a “like” to the Facebook page.