The obvious purpose of a travel information guide is to aid the traveller as they journey throughout their destination and to help them do that as effortlessly as possible. The ultimate purpose for a writer of a travel information guide is for that guide to become the traveller’s best friend. Their pocket companion, without which they are convinced they cannot properly traverse their destination. So it pays to create a formula that you, as the writer can adhere to when compiling travel guides for areas that you have been commissioned to write about or, having travelled yourself, feel that a destination is lacking the right guide for the traveller.
The following seven tips are basic fundamentals to take into consideration when developing your template for a formula for incredibly user-friendly information guides.
Tip 1. Something of Interest.
In every travel piece, there should be “something of interest” to the reader. Local knowledge cannot be beaten in this area, but well-researched useful tidbits will cover that if you are writing of places that you are yet to experience. First things first. Don’t start on what to avoid or the dangers of the place, give them the direct route to finding out how to travel around the city or area. Where they buy their public transport tickets, what is the best use of their time etc.
Tip 2. Be generally specific.
Cities do not stay still because a travel writer has written about them. Lonely Planet are the first to recognise this and they do an amazing job of keeping their sources up-to-date. However the average travel writer does not have the massive team of travellers sending back hot tips, new information etc. The best thing is to keep your references general, such as: “some tour operators will include” and not try to list which tour offers what. So be specific in what tours can be sourced but general in what they offer.
Tip 3. Use lots of sub-headings.
Your travel information guide is a mini-directory, and sub-headings work as your dividing page. When there is time, all of your guide may be read from the first word to the last but mostly the traveller wants to zero in on what they are looking for as soon as possible. So think like a traveller when you are putting your sub-headings together. Some suggestions are: What is there to do?; What will I need? How do I get there? Shopping Hot Spots. Leisure activities etc.
Tip 4. Reference the experts.
Reference a lot of your more detailed information. Encourage participation of as many tourist facilities in that area as you can. By connecting tourism services together in your guide, you become the “Go To” person for the traveller but your references do all the booking, planning and meeting the traveller’s ongoing needs. If you can’t find a reference for something, make a note. That could be another travel guide for your writing skills. A great idea is to create a Quick Reference Guide at the end, in the form of a list that includes websites and contact details.
Tip 5. So What?
Read through your first draft of the guide and see if everything you have written answers the questions “So What?”. Is every sentence valuable or relevant? Is there an underlying contagious excitement that will spur the traveller on to do great exploits? Does it make you want to go straight out and visit the area you are writing about?
Tip 6. Watch your language.
It is true that most travel guides across the world are translated into English as so many tourist are either English-speaking or have English as their second language. But, when writing your guide, bear in mind that simple sentences will be the best way to go. Also if your information guide is to be translated into a second language, simple statements will make that translation easier.
Tip 7. Use local icons.
Your information guide will be passed on to others if you create a technique of referencing your information with the use of local landmarks. Locating landmarks such as skytowers, museums, cathedrals, ferry terminals, internationally known restaurant chains will quickly orientate a traveller so that they can get their bearings and then be able to keep track of their location. This is especially valuable when travelling in countries where most of the signage in not in their own language.
The ideal outcome would be that by reading your information guide, a traveller now feels their holiday has begun.