How to Tell a Great Travel Story
We’ve all been there—you take an amazing trip and want to share your experiences, but when you go to put them on paper there’s just something missing. A story may never be the same as the real adventure, but here are a few tips to help you put the “wow” factor into your tales of travel.
Find a Unique Starting Point
All travel stories technically start the same way, but nobody will be hooked on a story that starts with your arrival by plane, train, or car. Unless you literally skydived onto the roof of your hotel, the beginning of the trip shouldn’t be the beginning of the narrative.
Instead, think of a focal point that can serve as a solid foundation for the entire account. It could be a teaser of something that happened on your last day, or a defining moment from somewhere in the middle of your trip. The timeline is much less important than conveying fascination. The way you start your story defines what the story will be about; so if you want the story to be great then the jumping off point should be great, too.
Gather Your Biggest Elements
So many things happen while traveling that it can be easy to forget about the little delights that make your experience unique. Before sitting down to put your story into words, make note of all the magical elements that you want to be sure to remember.
Jotting down key details will help you stay on track, so you don’t end up with a 300-word tangent about the museum you went to or the “crazy” experience you had in the airport. (Spoiler alert: We’ve all heard the delayed flight/missed layover story. Most of us have even lived it, so it’s probably best to leave that one out.) Making a list of events or details you want to include in your story will also help narrow down your topic if it starts getting a little too broad.
Give It a Truly Personal Touch
What makes your travel style different? How do you react to the world around you that might be interesting to others? What passions do you have that shape your choices in travel activities? These are all great questions to consider when it comes to crafting a memorable story. No two trips are ever completely alike, because no two travelers are the same. Think about what makes your trip special through the lens of what makes you special, and that will make for a much more interesting tale.
Are you great at making people laugh with your funny descriptions of odd everyday events? Does your compassion lead you to make personal connections with locals or other travelers? Maybe you’re a daredevil and often find yourself making wild memories on the road less traveled. Whatever it is that makes you unique, lean into that and let it shine through in your story.
Consider the Details
A great travel story is not the same as a meticulously detailed travel diary. While you may love to look back on the pictures of every single thing you ate, every shop you visited, every museum you wandered through, and every transportation snafu you encountered, it’s almost a guarantee that the person reading your story will not care as much about the day-to-day particulars. To keep your story from being boring, be ruthless with yourself and really curate that aforementioned list of key elements.
It’s also a good idea to come into crafting your story with a clear idea of what you want your focus to be and to use the details to hone that focus. If it’s a story about the local food, for example, then recounting every morsel you put in your mouth might be just the ticket. However, if you’re trying to tell a story about your outdoor adventures or that one short friendship you made that changed your life, those food details won’t contribute a whole lot.
Give People a Connection Point
This may sound obvious—of course a story is meant to be interesting to those hearing it, and if they can’t connect with it then they probably won’t be interested. But the best travel stories are the ones that provide some level of personal inspiration through connection. You want to inspire people to add your trip to their bucket list. You want to give them the “wow” factor.
Maybe you were lucky enough to go on a luxury trip where every element boasted that once-in-a-lifetime feeling, or maybe you encountered an experience in your travels that changed your life so dramatically that you can’t stop talking about it. Even commonplace travel can have a magnetic element that inspires wanderlust in those who read about it. Figure out the unique component of your story that makes you want to share it, and I bet you’ll find your “wow” factor.
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