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How To Write Useful Travel Guides For Readers Of Your Travel Blog

This is a guest post by Jason Demant, the co-founder of Unanchor whom I interviewed back in 2010. Since then, a few things have changed on the site where travelers can create and sell their own personalized itineraries – this is Part 2 on how to write great travel itineraries in a series that covers 3 of my sites. You can catch Part 1: Earn Some Extra Travel Cash By Writing City Guides On Unanchor and see Unanchor in action with Part 3: What To Do In Seoul, South Korea On A 24 Hour Layover.

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As the cofounder of Unanchor.com, I have read over 100 travel itineraries. Through this process I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to write a great itinerary. In today’s post I’d like to offer my advice and tips for any aspiring travel writers on how to write the perfect travel itinerary.

Why Write Itineraries?

The first question you may be wondering is why write a travel itinerary to begin with?

  • Show off your local expertise.
  • Give people a new way to travel and see your favorite city.
  • It’s a great way to complement your travel blog by showing your readers exactly how you traveled a particular city or how you recommend they see your city.

…and of course you can make some extra money by selling them on Unanchor.

big ben london englandHave The Right Mentality – Be Their Tour Guide

The best way to begin the itinerary writing process is to ask yourself what you would do with your close friend if they were visiting your city for the first time.

  • What attractions would you take them to see?
  • What information would you tell them about your city?
  • What restaurants would you go to?
  • Where are the great local gems that you only know about from living in the city?
  • Where do the locals hang out and what do they do?

Give travelers what they want, not what they ask for.

I believe that travelers ask for options but they really want advice and recommendations. When writing an itinerary limit the number of options you give travelers. Don’t forget, you’re the expert. Don’t be bashful, travelers want your recommendations. There’s no harm in giving your recommendations – people can always choose to do their own thing.

Provide Clear Directions

Some people are great at reading maps while others aren’t, so make sure to include both a map and written directions. The best directions are those that constantly give clues that you’re on the right track. This is as easy as identifying landmarks that you’ll pass as you go. Make sure to mention things that they may see if they’ve gone too far as well.

  • Restaurants – These are the exception where giving options is a good idea. However, when recommending multiple restaurants, make sure it’s easy to understand the differences between them. Avoid recommending restaurants that serve the same food in the same price range. Otherwise, how will the traveler be able to understand the differences?

Don’t forget to recommend the best dishes at the restaurants as well. Restaurants are typically known for a dish or two and be sure to mention those.

Don’t Forget The Photos

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Including pictures is a great way to spice up your travel itinerary. But which pictures do you include? The best pictures are used to show the travelers what they’re looking for or that they’re on the right track in the directions. Some good examples:

  • A famous building.
  • The front of the restaurant that you recommend.
  • A tricky, easy to miss turn.

The Format

The itinerary should have a clear and easy-to-read format. You want to lead the traveler through your city, from activity-to-activity as if you’re walking there next to them. If you’re looking for a pre-made template, you can download Unanchor’s itinerary template here [MS Word document]. (If you choose to write for Unanchor, we have an online itinerary generator that takes care of the formatting for you.)

Some Other General Tips

Unless you clearly explain it, try to avoid acronyms, local lingo and nicknames as much as possible. Don’t forget to recommend how to get to the first destination of the day. You won’t know exactly where the traveler is staying, so you’ll want to mention any public transportation stops that are nearby or if it’s easier to just take a taxi.

Thank you Jason for this itinerary power lesson. Students (aka. all of you) can visit UnAnchor, to earn some extra cash by helping out other travelers with your experienced tips. Follow up with Part 1: Earn Some Extra Travel Cash By Writing City Guides On UnAnchor and get a good example in Part 3: What To Do In Seoul, South Korea On A 24 Hour Layover.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Jeff Dobbins April 10, 2012, 15:23

    This is helpful advice. I’ve been writing some of these types of guides for my site (about my hometown: NYC), and it can be a challenge to keep them concise, detailed, and interesting. Thanks for the pointers.

    • Anil P. April 10, 2012, 15:29

      It’s a tough balance between all 3!

  • Jason Demant April 11, 2012, 11:51

    You’re welcome — awesome to hear that this was helpful for you!

  • Christine December 20, 2014, 07:01

    Very interesting post…thanks for the pointers. I’m trying to write a guide for my City nd this is really helpful!

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