As a teenager living in New York, my experience with travel has been severely limited to the East Coast. So, it was with great eagerness that I ventured to the journalism workshop with a copy of Food & Wine tucked under my arm.
There is a certain appeal to traveling abroad, experiencing the art and food, absorbing the culture. However, Heidi Mitchell, an editor and writer for numerous travel magazines, explained that travel writing is more than just a collection of descriptions; it’s more about depicting the lifestyle of a place.
She started the workshop with one of her own pieces, a story about her learning how to ride a galloping horse in Argentina. It reminded me of the fact that there is a personal touch in everything we write — in Mitchell’s case, the gallop took her back to her Midwestern roots. Her story highlighted the importance of personal experience and taking notes while things are fresh in your mind. Both make a story that can transport the reader from feeling the metallic background of a New York City subway to the hot, sweet sun of Argentina.
A travel story must also have a purpose, so it’s important to thoroughly research a destination and find out what makes it appealing to your audience. Tie that together with “clips” (small, exciting personal snippets), and you’ve got a compelling piece.
“The serendipity of your trip is going to be the core of your piece,” Mitchell said. There’s excitement in allowing things to run their course, especially in a place like New York, and the workshop proved how important it is to live in the unexpected. As I learned, it always leads to the best stories.