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Nine meaningless travel expressions and how to avoid them

Travel writing is not an easy task. There’s often so much to talk about and just not enough space to include everything. It’s important to add value with every word you use and give the reader something to take away. That’s your aim as a travel writer; to inform and educate people about an area they might not know much about. Assume they know nothing and you are their guide. Keep it simple and think about what you would want to read if you were booking a holiday.

Here’s some useful clichés to avoid where possible:

Travel back in time – This just isn’t possible. And if you are able to time travel you should probably share that with the world. Something like ‘take a glimpse into the past’ is a more realistic aim for holidaymakers.

Try the ‘local cuisine’ – Travel writing is all about the details, so be specific and tell the reader what they will be eating rather than a generic description. Argentinian steak with chimichurri or a plate of Spanish patatas bravas sounds much more appetising than ‘home-made delicacies.’

Off the beaten path – This just doesn’t mean anything. What even is a beaten path?

Best-kept secret – If you're writing about something then it is no longer a secret. And it’s certainly not very well kept if you’re about to tell the world.

Leafy – Rather than informing the reader that the trees have leaves, describe what trees are there and why they are so impressive. Adding a few eucalypti or sycamores can really bring the copy to life.

Nestled within – If a hotel/restaurant/bar is nestled within something this means it is hidden. Most of the above won’t be hidden. Equally bad is perched. Birds perch on rocks, but hotels don’t.

Colourful markets – Again this could mean anything. Find out what makes the market so attractive and tell the reader. We can see colours by watching television.

Exotic – Exoticness is relative and therefore it varies from person to person. Concentrate on explaining what is on offer and let the reader decide whether they think it's exotic or not.

Boasting stunning architecture/untouched beaches etc – Cities or regions don’t boast about anything, they simply have things. If it’s that good the residents will boast about it when you get there but leave that to them.

Are there any travel expressions that you think are unnecessary? Share them with us by commenting below or tweeting us @strattoncraig.

  1. Simon Tyler : 8th June 2015 at 10:14 am

    Very good article! Here are some comments on the voiceover for the TV programme "Harbour Lives" with Ben Fogle presenting.

    "Dorset sits on one of the UK's most dramatic coastlines…"
    Sits on?

    "A few miles north of the harbour [Poole Harbour!] lies Shaftesbury, one of the oldest and highest towns in Britain" [cue standard nice piano and violin music].
    Actually it's 25 miles, 45 minutes' drive, nowhere near the harbour and it shouldn't be included in a programme called "Harbour Lives". Blandford Forum is closer but still nowhere near.

    "Nowadays the community started by King Alfred is still as prevalent as ever and it's something the locals are very proud of."
    The community is PREVALENT? They're proud of being PREVALENT?

    ITV needs you Stratton Craig!

  2. Will : 9th June 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Very amusing Simon! Prevalent in particular made me chuckle. I assume the harbour is a well kept secret perched on the coast…

  3. Jeremiah Magone : 9th June 2015 at 7:54 pm

    The word 'Experience' shouldn't be the beginning of every sentence in travel copy. Unfortunately, we see it everywhere. In one advertisement (unrelated to travel, even) they began with the evocative, "Experience our drive-through oil change." Wow. Obviously, writers, searching for something deeper, are prone to grab for this word, even though 'enjoy' would work just as well.

    It was a great experience. As a noun, that's fine.
    Are you experienced? Thanks, Jimi, that's even better.
    Experience our beaches… No. Why not tell us a story of how much fun your beaches are instead?! That way you can stop watering down your descriptions so they sound like every other advertisement.

    I'm not saying that YOU would so such a thing. No, never.
    It's just my axe to grind.

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