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The following books are the best travel writing books currently available. They cover topics ranging from craft to careers, from pitching to press-trips, and from blogging to breaking into the business. While many of the books on the list have overlapping information, each one offers something unique that will help you better understand the realities of travel writing in the early 21st century. The books are listed in alphabetical order.
A Sense of Place: Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives, and Inspiration by Michael Shapiro
What better way to learn than from the masters? Not so much a how-to guide than the stories and advice of successful authors, A Sense of Place is a who’s-who list of the world’s greatest travel writers interviewed by Michael Shapiro. Among the writers Michel interviewed are Jan Morris, Bill Bryson, Pico Iyer, and Paul Theroux (the two latter authors I interviewed on the Travel Writing World Podcast).
Beth Blair is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer whose book, Break Into Travel Writing, has useful advice on starting a career in travel writing and blogging. And, having won a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award for her blog, she would be a good person to learn from.
How to Be a Travel Writer by Don George
Don George is one of the most revered travel writers today. A writer for more than 40 years, editor for some of the top travel magazines, and founder of one of the best travel writing conferences, Don knows a thing or two about the business. In How to Be a Travel Writer, Don George distilled his more in-depth guide to travel writing (see below) and updated it for the new media landscape.
Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George
This is the second Don George book on the list. While his other book is billed as an “updated version,” Don’s Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing (2013) dives much deeper into discussions on the art and craft of travel writing. It might be a good idea to read both books.
A Field Guide for Immersion Writing by Robin Hemley
Robin Hemley is a prolific writer, professor of English at the University of Iowa, and former director of the Nonfiction Writing Program. This handy (and snarky) book will help you think about injecting yourself into your stories, be they memoir, journalistic, or travel-related. It is also handy in helping you conceptualize various forms of travel books and stories. Highly recommended and unlike any other book on this page.
The Six-Figure Travel Writing Road Map: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pitching Your Way to Better Pay by Gabi Logan
Gabi Logan is the founder of the helpful website “Dream of Travel Writing,” which includes a magazine database designed to help travel writers pitch articles to editors. Her book, The Six-Figure Travel Writing Road Map, instructs would-be travel writers on how to cultivate the mindset of a travel writer, get clips in magazines, pitch to editors, and establish an online presence.
The Travel Writer’s Way: Turn Your Travels into Stories by Jonathan Lorie
The most recent book on this list and perhaps one of the prettiest, Jonathan Lorie’s The Travel Writer’s Way is also one of the most in-depth when it comes to the craft of travel writing. Like a good teacher, he gives assignments to help you sharpen your travel writing skills.
Travel Writing (The New Critical Idiom) by Carl Thompson
Less of a how-to guide on travel writing than an academic and critical treatment of the genre, Carl Thompson’s Travel Writing will help you understand the nature, problems, and history of travel writing. A must-read!
Travel Writing 2.0 by Tim Leffel
Last updated in 2016, Tim Leffel’s Travel Writing 2.0 is one of the best as it relates to leveraging online and digital opportunities in the new media landscape. It is also packed full of down-to-earth advice on making a career out of travel writing. Listen to Tim Leffel talk about travel writing in an ALL OVER THE PLACE Podcast interview.
Travel Writing: See the World, Sell the Story by L. Peat O’Neil
Originally published in 2000, L. Peat O’Neil’s Travel Writing is much like many of the more recent books above in that she treats the subject from a wide perspective, touching upon topics like craft, techniques, and being a professional writer. It may, however, be a bit outdated when compared to the more recent books above.
Have you read any of these books? Which ones are your favorites? Also, if we missed any other obvious books on the subject, please let us know in the comments.