Thursday, 12 September 2019

How I write my travel posts

You may have wondered how I can get so much detail into my travel posts. Simple: I make most of it up.

No, that's not true. I won't pretend that I can remember everything precisely after I return and start writing the blog posts. I'm too old and my brain too alcohol riddled for that. So I've developed a few techniques to help my faulty recollection.

I take lots of photos
Just shy of 400 on my last trip with the kids to Japan and South Korea. I use photos both to jog my memory about events, but also as a lazy way of taking notes. For example, by photographing a menu or a meal. Then there's a vague chance that I might remember what I ate and drank. Photos are also good for keeping events is sequence, as they're date and time stamped.

Of course, I also need photos to illustrate the posts. The more I take, the better. But I still usually return wishing I’d taken more. It doesn’t help when the kids keep telling me off for snapping away.

I write notes by hand
I have to admit that this is pretty erratic. Not wanting to be a twat and spoil a good time with friends, I usually only put pen to paper when I’m on my own. Mostly sitting at a bar somewhere. Often in an airport. I just scribble down any old crap that comes into my head and hope that I’ll be able to read it later.

Quite often, I’ll transcribe and use it exactly as written. Because, rather than notes in the true sense, it tends to be my observations of what I see around me. Or impressions of the trip so far. Occasionally I will note something down that I don’t want to forget. But that’s more the exception.

I write electronic notes
At the start or the end of the day, while I’m in my hotel, I’ll dash off some notes about what I’ve been up to on my travel laptop. Mostly this is just in the form of notes. A few sentences about places and events. Though sometimes I’ll write whole paragraphs that end up pretty much intact on the blog.

Some of my electronic notes were copied from emails to Dolores. I was sending her reasonably long reports on what the kids were up to as the holiday progressed. Quite big chunks of these emails, in slightly modified form, ended up in the blog posts.

I returned from Asia with a couple of thousand words in a text document. This formed the skeleton of the blog posts.

I write in parallel
Once I’ve returned, I try and flesh out each post with as much detail as I can remember. As I recall stuff, I quickly write it down. Which usually entails jumping around the timeline of the trip as events from different days pop into my head.

It’s quite an anarchic way to write, but I find that it works well for me. Obviously, the emphasis is on getting the early days of a trip completed first. But sometimes I have finished the beginning and end of a trip before I’ve done the middle.

This travel writing takes up a lot of my time. Yesterday I returned to my current book project for the first time in five weeks. Just as well I’m not working to a deadline.


TimOfNewbury said...

Agree that photos are very useful reminders and important material for blog posts. I usually write blog posts after a break of at least a week from the trip and forget a lot of detail so also attempt to make some notes in a small pocket notebook (which I cannot always find when I want to refer to it). I also put some notes on my phone with simplenote as this is often easier than using a notebook. Untappd can be useful for retrieving beer details and possibly extra details like price noted at the time for untappd. Agree also that it can take a long time to write a blog post as writing does not come easily for me (I would rather be editing!). Cheers!

Anonymous said...

What kind if camera/cell phone do you use for your photos?

Anyone ever get touchy about having their picture taken?

Ron Pattinson said...


I usually use a panasonic Lumix camera. But I'm having problems with that so last time I used my wife's camera, which is a cheap Ricoh job.

I mostly don't photograph people other than my family.