7 Travel Copywriting Tips You Need to Know
There are a million travel bloggers and copywriters out there. But often it feels like there’s a lot less.
Why is that?
Because a good many of them sound exactly the same.
They might as well have all been written by one person. Not even a person—a machine learning computer that converts the Instagram posts of c-tier celebrity influencers into saccharine, sentimental blogs filled with buzzwords, “eye-opening experiences,” and dripping with nostalgia but lacking substance to set them apart.
It’s understandable why people love to write about travel. For many, it’s a transformative experience. Venturing to beautiful locales, encountering exciting new cultures and people, while dining on incredible food and wine makes for fond memories.
Memories we want to share.
So how do you do this in a way that doesn’t make you sound like a mindless automaton? How do you kindle an excitement and buzz around a destination, hotel, or restaurant that not only causes your reader to bookmark it for later but makes them book a trip right then and there?
Here are 7 travel copywriting tips that should help you with that.
Copywriting for Travel Industry
The following are 7 tips you should consider if you want to excel at travel blogging:
- The name is just as important as the blog
- Define yourself and sharpen your voice
- Do your due diligence, despite it being personal
- Think about your syntax
- Read, read, read
It Starts With The Name
The opening of C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has one of the more memorable lines in all of English literature: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” It’s a brilliantly hilarious way to introduce the book’s unlikely and unlikable protagonist.
With just his name you can picture who he is, where he came from, and what he’s like.
Names Have Power
Historically, names held deep significant meaning, particularly for Western cultures. As Romeo famously opined, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
When you select a name for your travel copywriting blog, you have to pick a good one. We live in a fast-paced digital world that typically prefers headlines to paragraphs. Attention spans are short. You’ve only got a few seconds to convince someone to read your stuff—the wrong name could be all that it takes to dissuade them of the notion.
People are looking for excuses to keep scrolling. Don’t give them one.
Ideally, your name should convey who you are and what the blog post is about. And for godsakes, stay away from words like:
They’ve all been used ad nauseum. The top travel bloggers have already staked their claim and established a reputation as their audience’s personal destination guide. Cede them their territory and instead forge your own path with something that hasn’t been done before. As one travel blogger writes: “Here are a few great examples of blogs whose names are descriptive enough to sum up what their blog is all about.
All of these blogs immediately tell you what you can expect when visiting their website.”
Find Your Niche
Similar to your name, there needs to be something about your travel copywriting that makes it stand out. To be a successful travel writer, you have to give your audience a reason to care, a reason to keep coming back for more tales of your travel.
What will you do to make your travel writing pop? How will the reader benefit? Ostensibly, they’re giving you 5-10 minutes of their time. You had better be giving them something of equal if not greater value in return.
To do that, you need to know what type of travel blogger you are and select a target audience.
Are you funny? Do you tell great stories? Are you knowledgeable about history and cultures? Do you have a refined palette and a love for cuisine? Have you discovered the best activities and screaming deals?
Narrow it down—find your niche in the travel industry. And whatever you land on, stick to that (at least while you’re growing).
Travel A Bunch
It’s hard to write a cookbook if you can’t cook; it’s difficult to talk about a time period if you don’t know the history. Although you can write about places you’ve never been, it’s much much harder to do so convincingly. Especially in such a way as to not tip off those who have been to that specific location.
If you can, you need to go to the places you write about. This is the fun part of being a travel copywriter. And while you do travel, be sure to do the following:
- Go off the beaten path — Everyone’s been to the Sistine Chapel or the Eiffel Tower. They’ve been written about a zillion times. Find cool and interesting places that less fewer people have been to. Discover hole-in-the-walls. Wander and will yourself to get lost in your destination.
- Keep record – Memory is a fickle thing. You might think that you’ll never forget that incredible hike through Lauterbrunnen or that one WWII museum in London. But, over time, those memories will likely fade to warm and fuzzy things, lacking the important details. So, throughout your travel experience, take notes. Journal about your day and the things you saw and did. Take pictures and videos. You’d be amazed how just the name of a street or a picture can help bring you back to that time and place.
- Be bold – No one will be envious of a trip that was boring. It’s called an adventure for a reason. It should be exciting, daring, and push you out of your comfort zone. Be open to new experiences. If you don’t, you’ll give yourself scant material to distinguish your travel content from any other travel blog post.
- Make do – If you’re on a limited budget, travel locally or find inventive ways to keep visiting new destinations. There are likely places just a few miles from you that you’ve never been to. Give them a try and you might discover something completely new and unexpected.
If You Can’t Travel, Do Your Research
There will undoubtedly be times when you don’t have the luxury of going to the place you have to write about. It’s an unfortunate part of the business, but an inevitable one. Although it’s better to share from personal experience, there are ways to write about foreign travel destinations, even if you haven’t been.
That starts with doing a TON of research.
There are dozens of ways you can find out more about a place including:
- Read books/blogs/articles about the history, architecture, sites, and cuisine
- Watch YouTube videos
- Ask residents who live there about their cities or countries on forums such as Reddit
- Check out review and travel sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp
- Speak to your client and ask for any relevant information they can share
Once you’ve completed your exhaustive research, you'll be ready to start outlining. From there, you can flesh it out and make it come alive.
Don’t Be a Hype Man
Be wary of the oversell. Not every place is the most beautiful or the best to visit. Readers will be less than happy (to put it lightly) if you convince them to go somewhere and then they arrive only to find that they’ve been deceived about the travel experience.
People hate being oversold. When you hype something up, you might leave a reader disappointed. Also, if you’re writing on behalf of a hospitality or travel business—they need to deliver on your promise. So don’t let your mouth cash checks your client can’t backbone. Set reasonable expectations.
Paint a picture. Make it vivid. But make it realistic.
Don’t be a hype man.
Be Descriptive, Engage the Imagination
Your travel copy should not only help them visualize a place in their mind’s eye, it should engage all of their senses. Your goal as a writer is to make them feel as if they were there with you. To do this, keep the following tips in mind:
- Use descriptive language
- Vary sentence length
- Include sensory-rich adjectives and verbs
- Paint small details
- Be funny
- Tell stories
- Find your tone of voice
- Don’t be attached to linear writing
Finally, if you want to help both your writing and learn, it’s important that you read—a lot.
Read A Ton
Books can be your free—or at least significantly discounted—passport to somewhere new and exciting. A good book can make a person fall in love with a place they’ve never been or a person they’ve never met. As the late great Pat Conroy once wrote, books have the power to transport us to a whole new world:
The world of literature has everything in it, and it refuses to leave anything out. I have read like a man on fire my whole life because the genius of English teachers touched me with the dazzling beauty of language. Because of them I rode with Don Quixote and danced with Anna Karenina at a ball in St. Petersburg and lassoed a steer in "Lonesome Dove" and had nightmares about slavery in "Beloved" and walked the streets of Dublin in "Ulysses" and made up a hundred stories in the Arabian nights and saw my mother killed by a baseball in "A Prayer for Owen Meany." I've been in ten thousand cities and have introduced myself to a hundred thousand strangers in my exuberant reading career.
Even if you can’t travel, you can read about the places you want to go to. So read fiction, non-fiction, travel guides, and regional books. Doing so will not only acquaint you with the place, people, and sites, but will also improve your travel writing and diction.
Put simply, an avid reading life will pay significant dividends.
Copycat Copywriters, Your Travel Buddy(s)
Now, not everyone is suited for travel copywriting. It’s a hard task. And for non-writers it may seem like a herculean one.
That’s where Copycat comes in.
If you need experts, we’re your guys and gals—your in-house writing team. We’ve got a stable of rip-roaring, wayfaring travel enthusiasts who are more than happy to assist.
Writing is an art form. It takes time, practice, and—most importantly—talent. At Copycat, we’ve got that in spades. But we don’t simply know how to write web copy. We know how to market it; how to position your brand; how to optimize website content for SEO.
If you want to take your copywriting to the next level, if you want to summit uncharted peaks, you’ll need a trusted expert. You’ll need a Sherpa.
Are you packed and ready to go? We are.
Adventure In You. How to Choose a Kick-Ass Travel Blog Name (And Which Ones to Avoid). https://www.adventureinyou.com/blogging/travel-blog-names/
Association of America Publishers. Remembering Pat Conroy - Fierce Defender of the Freedom to Read. https://newsroom.publishers.org/remembering-pat-conroy---fierce-defender-of-the-freedom-to-read/
Forbes. Top Travel Bloggers Opine on Today’s Travel Environment. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogersands/2020/04/24/top-travel-bloggers-opine-on-todays-travel-environment/#1aee4246b51c