If you’re one of those people who’ve been fortunate enough to travel to many places, you may find yourself with albums and albums of photographs. If you’re like me, you may have some trouble remembering where the photos are from and what year you may have travelled. How to organise all that lived experience? Writing a travel memoir about your travels and learnings may be the best way to preserve and present your adventures to the people in your family.
Imagine your family going through your book at family gatherings, birthdays, holidays and Christmas. What a fun new tradition you would instil into the routine of the same old at family gatherings.
So what makes a travel memoir compelling? We spoke with some avid readers and writers of travel books and here’s what’s come up.
“I like travel memoirs to be as much about uncovering what makes a place tick as they are about an individual’s journey. Travel can be transformational for people, so it’s great if a travel memoir reflects this. I love learning about a country through the protagonist, but in an engaging hands-on way (rather than a history lesson). The location should be as much a “character” as the people in the book.” says Sandra, author of “Our Green Change”.
It helps to incorporate within your narrative what captures your fancy upon arrival. Was it the lovely demeanour of the natives? The balmy air? Scents and spices in the air? Icy stares from the locals? Give the reader a flavour of the country or the region by engaging the senses.
Colours & Tastes
Some countries are renowned for their culinary traditions. In describing the recipes and the flavours, you can draw the reader in to explore further. Some countries have spectacular colours, be it the aqua of the waters, lagoons or the navy of the oceans or the hot pink sunsets, show your reader what makes a place special and what feelings came up for you while visiting these lands. Warm colours like orange and red are usually associated with heat and vitality whereas cool colours like blue and green evoke calmness in the readers’ minds.
History & Mystery
“For me, a good travel memoir is personalised and relatable. I like it when not everything goes to plan and the travel goes in a direction that the writer didn’t always expect. It’s fun to read about things going wrong as well. And I also enjoy learning something I didn’t know before such as some history of the country that’s being visited.” says Frances, a seasoned traveller who gives talks about the countries she’s visited.
It’s also good to show the views of different people if you travelled with family or a group of people. Action is good to push the plot forward and sometimes mishaps can happen while traveling. It’s interesting to readers to see how someone who’s outside of their culture can find help when faced with unusual circumstances.
History of a place or the mystery surrounding some of its artifacts or culture can be used to pique the curiosity of the readers. Remember to relive the romance and adventure of your travels while writing. Ultimately, your enthusiasm for your travels and the lessons learnt the hard way will capture your readers.
Over to you…
What’s a memorable travel destination you’d like to write about?