Our specialists turn their hand to travel writing
Traveling - it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.Ibn Battuta
We love to recount our travel stories, and to hear all about the wonderful experiences you’ve had on your trips.
We recently welcomed travel writer Richard Green to the Audley offices to share his advice for how to tell the most memorable travel stories. He also set our specialists a challenge to create the most scene-setting introductory paragraph to one of their many treasured travel tales.
We’ve selected three of the best entries, below, and would love to hear what you think. Visit us on Facebook and comment on which entry has you eager to find out what happens next.
The winning entry will be made into a full length article on our blog so you can enjoy it from start to finish.
Travel tale one: specialist Nicki Hollamby on an early morning trek into the Borneo rainforest
“It’s 3.30am; the roosters are still snoring, but the questionable local coffee is brewing and my host family kick me out of bed so that we can set off to do the morning rubber collection before the sun comes up.
"I didn’t even know there was a 3.30am until now. But off we march, me in my walking boots and leech socks, them in their flip flops, their Marlboroughs glowing in the darkness like little red fireflies.
"After about 20 minutes of me stumbling through the night like a true, noisy Brit, we turn left at the notorious Indonesian border post, past the guards; half asleep with their AK47s cradled in their arms.
"We walk for what seems like hours, the rainforest is almost moving with life and I have this weird feeling we are being watched by something that wants its breakfast as much as I do…”
Trekking in Borneo
Travel tale two: specialist Mark Gillies recounts chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda
"Sometimes it is not the clear sighting that thrills, the lazy eye-full reminiscent of a television show, too easily clicked on - and off. Sometimes you have to work to shape a memory - aching legs, heaving lungs and all.
"These thoughts occurred to me one morning in March as I propelled myself on all fours up through the leaf litter of a steep incline, mud-spattered and muttering.
"That was great, but it was my first snatched glimpse that I will never forget. A long-armed silhouette swinging through the trees, quickly out of sight, the last echoes of its booming call caught still in the cloud through which we had stumbled..."
Chimpanzee in Rwanda
Travel tale three: specialist Ben Colbridge remembers a border crossing into Kyrgyzstan
"Leaving Kashgar and the chaos, uncertainty and dubious currency changers of the Chinese immigration post behind us, our driver tore into the rough gravel road of the Torugart Pass, sending a spray of small stones skitter-skattering out from behind our impractical sedan. On-coming trucks showered our windscreen with dust.
"The border into Kyrgyzstan, normally only open to the steady stream of trucks carrying goods and scrap metal between the two countries, had been opened especially for us. Our Uighur guide, Ali, was now keen to ensure we reached the crossing before someone in China changed their mind again.
"At the top of the pass we were met by two young Chinese border guards, who watched as we unloaded our bags and walked the last 10 metres to the border itself. On the other side of the locked barbed-wire gate was the promise of Central Asia, but the Kyrgyz guards were eating their sandwiches and we were going to have to wait..."
Richard Green’s top 5 tips to travel writing:
1. It’s vital, and fun, to read books if you've the intention to do some travel writing yourself. And even better if they're set in the place that you're travelling to. There are so many cracking novels, history and contemporary non–fiction books that are set geographically, and reading an appropriate book helps reveal other aspects of a place as seen through someone else's eyes, but also reveals what sort of writing you enjoy most.
2. It’s tempting to try and copy a style of writing that you particularly like, or work by a favourite author, but it's essential to use your own writing voice. Anything else will appear false. Tell the story as though you were speaking to a friend and it will come across far more entertaining, informative and genuine.
3. Avoid using clichés like ‘hidden gems’ and ‘bustling markets’. They do pop into your mind when writing, but it’s important to steer clear of them. Use writing as an opportunity to pair words and create phrases that are instead fun and fresh.
4. Don’t be afraid to reveal something of yourself in your writing. This will draw the reader into your story and has more power than a purely descriptive piece. It’s more rewarding to write, and to read, if you inject some of your personality, skills, experiences, and feelings into your writing.
5. Pay attention to the word count that you've been asked to produce. Sending in something twice as long as asked for makes extra work, while sending in something that falls short in length looks as though there wasn’t enough to say. As a guide, you should aim to file a piece at about 10 per cent more words than required.
Share your travel stories with us
If our specialists travel stories have left you feeling inspired to share yours, we’d love to hear them. Please send them to us, along with any accompanying images.