No matter what skills or interests you possess – and regardless if you get paid for them or not – it's indeed possible to learn something new about any and all of them. For instance, though I make my living as a travel writer, I fully admit that my knowledge of travel writing will always be a work-in-progress. Even as I continually labor on guidebooks, magazine articles, and my American Nomad  travel blog, I try to make time for learning new aspects of my field, whether that means attending professional development sessions through the Society of American Travel Writers , reading reference books like The Travel Writer's Handbook , escaping into travel memoirs like Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods , or perusing numerous travel websites, such as Chris Around the World .
So, back in September, when I spotted a post on the Tripbase blog  entitled “Improve Your Travel Writing with These 10 Lessons,”  I eagerly read every word. And despite having been a professional travel writer since the late 1990s, I fully appreciated the refresher course.
As the author, Jo Fitzsimons , states, “Travel writing is a dream job, and it's no longer preserved for the 'professionals.'” So, whether you're interested in writing guidebooks, building an audience for your personal travel blog, or just chronicling your adventures via emails or Facebook updates, Jo has offered the following 10 ways (albeit a bit abbreviated by me) to make your travel writing more successful:
ᴥ Make the First Sentence Count: With an increasing volume of travel content available for consumption, it is ever so important to make your first sentence count. You need to hook your readers and do it fast, or they'll be reading elsewhere.
ᴥ Keep Clear of Clichés: Develop your own voice rather than using once wonderful, now worn-out phrases to do the job for you.
ᴥ Have a Beginning, Middle, and End: Wandering freely is fine when you're traveling, but when you write, meandering can leave you with a piece that is nothing more than a flitting series of thoughts. You don't need to stifle creativity entirely, but before you set off on your writing journey, at least have a beginning, middle, and end in mind. Your readers will thank you for it.
ᴥ Be Relevant: It may be a place that is topical or newsworthy, an event that is about to have an anniversary, or even something you've recently done that your friends and family want to know about. Make your writing relevant and your readers are likely to find it interesting.
ᴥ Add Speech or Quotes: Quotes or speech can add texture to an article and is a particularly useful tool if you find yourself dealing with a lot of facts. Whether you're relaying a local's description of their city, recounting a short exchange during your trip, or including a famous quote, you'll be adding another layer of interest.
ᴥ Check, Check, and Check Your Facts Again: Some people love to capture details; others would rather gaze off into the distance and absorb the feeling of a place. Regardless of your writing style, your readers will expect to read facts, and ones that are 100 percent accurate.
ᴥ Use Your Usual Lingo: Spending hours constructing a complex sentence that blossoms off your tongue may seem appealing, but writing as you speak is easier for both you and your readers.
ᴥ Cut the Fat: An overfilled plate can be intimidating, and an excessively long article or blog can be equally off-putting. Set yourself a word limit relevant to your readership and stick to it. Test every word to see if it is necessary, and if it isn't, press the delete key.
ᴥ Know Your Target Audience: Giving your audience what they want is vital to the success of any travel article, blog, or even email back home. Your parents probably don't want to hear about your antics (uncensored) at a full-moon party, and the budget traveler doesn't want to hear about Michelin-star restaurants and $500-a-night rooms.
ᴥ Travel Wherever and Whenever You Can: It may be an obvious point but travel writing requires a constant influx of inspiration. That's not to say you need to spend thousands on exotic vacations. Traveling around your home town, visiting relatives, or going to a local concert will all provide fresh material for you to write about.
Of course, “even with these tips,” Jo advises, “the most important thing is to keep writing. The skill of writing is like a muscle – it needs to be exercised regularly to keep it strong.” Amen to that!
So, what kind of travel writing do you do – and do you have any additional tips to offer budding and veteran travel writers alike?
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below, contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com, or connect with me on Facebook  and Twitter .
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of Tahquamenon Falls State Park  © 2012 Daniel Martone / Text © 2012 Laura Martone