Where Are You Going In 2013?

globe_colorfulI don’t mean ‘where are you going?’ in a deep-and-meaningful way. I mean literally, where are you going in 2013?

Butlins? The Great Barrier Reef? Auntie Nora’s place for a wet weekend in Scarborough?

It’s almost that time of year, when the holiday brochures flop through the letter box and the sickly Thomson adverts appear on the TV. But even if you’re not planning a holiday somewhere weird and wonderful (and, let’s face it, most of us aren’t), my advice is, wherever you go, be prepared to write about it!

I’ve just been reading the winners of the Guardian Travel Writing competition, which you may remember, I told you about here.

There were plenty of categories for potentially non-exotic locations, such as ‘my family holiday’ or ‘my crap holiday’. I sent in a couple of entries but I wasn’t particularly hopeful because I was dredging up old memories. (And sure enough, I didn’t win).

I’ve realised something that’s pretty obvious, really: if you’re going to write about a holiday, you need to do it while you’re there – or at the very least, on the plane/bus/train home, while the sights, smells and interesting people are all still fresh in your mind.

If you read the winners of the Guardian competition, you’ll see that most of them read like fiction (they had ‘almost 2000 entries’ and, interestingly, all but one of the winners are men).

Gone are the days when travel articles sounded like travel guides. Travel pieces now have dialogue, interesting characters and they’re often humorous. And don’t think your holiday location won’t be interesting enough to make a travel piece. It really is all in the ‘angle’ – and the writing.

The Guardian will probably run another travel writing competition in October next year. Wouldn’t it be great to have a piece or two already written? (And some suitable photos to accompany it, should you be a winner?).

Alex Gazzola has written an interesting piece on his blog here about travel writing, with some ‘no- nos’ and some tips.

He suggests you research your destination before you go there and try to come up with an interesting angle – or, better still, ask the locals when you’re there.

The Telegraph runs a weekly travel writing competition, ‘Just Back’ and although a lot of the winners focus on faraway lands, I’ve also seen a winning piece about riding the ferry across the Mersey in Liverpool and another about a family splashing about in a Scottish loch.

So, wherever you find yourself next year, remember to take a pad and pen (like I need to remind you!) and try to capture the essence of the place, or find an unusual angle or person to write about.

All being well (I don’t like to tempt fate!) I’m going to Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest in February, to Milan for a weekend in May/June and La Manga in Spain for a tennis holiday in September.

All of those places have been written about a thousand times, so I’m going to have to try to think of a new angle, if I want to come up with something fresh and original. But I’m already starting to think about it…

Let me know where you’re going next year! And ‘Bon Voyage!’ (in advance!)

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19 Responses to Where Are You Going In 2013?

  1. Patsy says:

    I’m hoping to go to lots of places in our campervan. I don’t intend doing any actual travel writing, but I do write whilst traveling.

  2. Edith says:

    The only travelling I’ll be doing next year is in my head! Still on a good day I can see forever !!

  3. I leave for a three week return trip to Rwanda, Africa, in…five days! What a way to start the year:-) I lived and worked there for three years but haven’t been back for six so it’s going to be interesting to see, and write about, what’s changed – and what hasn’t! Thanks for asking:-) I intend to blog about it here: http://beathaandherboys.wordpress.com/

  4. cathos says:

    Hi – I was amazed to get an e-mail saying I was shortlisted for the Guardian Travel Weekend Away category. I didn’t win and so was only featured on website but it was a massive boost for my confidence! I think possibly my canal trip was a bit pedestrian to be main winner. I did write it just when I got back though and had a version of it on the now defunct Simonseeks website so I think it is good advice to write asap.. I would encourage people to send travel tips to Guardian though as I also won a camera through subbing the prize tip, although now I think it’s travel gadgets on offer.

    • Well done Cathy! Out of almost 2000 entries, its no mean feat to be shortlisted in one of the categories so you should be very pleased. I read your entry and enjoyed it. I too have been on a barge holiday and experienced the ‘panic’ of the locks! There’s always a smart Alec too, isn’t there?!

  5. Jackie Sayle says:

    I often write while I’m there, wherever there might be, but it’s often snatches of stuff or keywords or bits of overheard conversation. Sometimes I make something of it and sometimes I leave it too long and look at my notes and think, ‘Wh-aaat?’

  6. Tracy Fells says:

    I had a go at the Guardian competition with a piece on a city break in Berlin – the winner of that category featured Berlin so that makes me feel better. And well done to Cathos above on runner-up. Yes they do read like stories many of them…
    I’m planning to visit some WW1 sites in Europe with teen son in Spring, sounds a bit ghoulish but I’m a volunteer researcher/writer for West Sussex Great War Project and hoping this will help to inspire some pieces on Sussex nurses in the war.

  7. Maggie May says:

    Hotel lounges are great for people watching!

  8. Katja says:

    We’re heading to British Columbia. It’s always nice to see the mountains.

  9. Linda says:

    The only definite plan (so far) is for a few days in Birmingham. It doesn’t sound very exciting but it’s my husband’s home town and he hasn’t been back there for about 20 years so it’ll be interesting to see how much it has changed since then.

    I’ve had a few travel articles published but they’ve all been on places close to home. I find it much easier to write factual pieces about somewhere I know well. When I’m in a strange place I’m more likely to get ideas for fiction!

    • Linda, as a born-and-bred Brummie, may I say that Birmingham is GREAT! (The words that you don’t often hear). But it’s all been revamped since the awfulness of the 60s and 70s and it’s got lots to see and do (Birmingham Hippodrome has West End shows, there’s National Trust ‘Back to Back’ houses just next to the Hippodrome too), great shopping in Mailbox and the Bullring, canalside restaurants …etc etc! Have fun!

      • Linda says:

        Thanks for the tip about the back-to-back houses. The house my husband grew up in was demolished a long time ago but he’s meeting up with a former school friend so I’m sure the conversation will soon turn to ‘the good old days’.

  10. Debbie W says:

    The ‘back to back’ houses are a must see. When you think of all the people who lived in them at any one time, and having to share the toilets must have been awful.

    Helen, if you’re going to Centre Parcs you must hire a bicycle and trundle around Sherwood Pines for an hour or two. It’s great fun.

    Happy New Year.

    • Debbie, I shall be taking my own bike!! (But not the Pashley – it might get nicked! Also, it’s too heavy to ride!)

    • johny141 says:

      Have to agree with Debbie W that the Birmingham “Back-to-Backs” are a must see experience yet the “awful toilets” were not really that bad due to the diligence & sheer hard work of the women ( 6 shared toilets in my yard between 12 adults +17 children) All toilets scalded every 2 days by ladies “doin ther turn”using boling water from their “brewhouse wash”, a neighbourly egalitarian society in which in the innocence of children we actually enjoyed life, nobody told us we were poor so all existed in a natural albeit a lowly state of humanity,,,No locked doors,,now’t to steal, “mind th orseroad” neighbours would protectively call,,,”wotchout them Peaky Blinders will getcha” the grandparents remembering with warnings too (ps Look out for the film),,,Hoping Linda,s hubby ex-
      Bk-to-Bk guy enjoys his reunion with his old School pal, I always enjoy meet-ups with my old cronies & we chuckle at ex Grammar School dinners with different colour tickets,,,but thats another story,,, Fanks Teech

      • Debbie W says:

        Johny141 – Goodness, that is incredibly interesting, thank you. I will pass the info to my sister who met up with me in Birmingham for the day and who I visited the houses with. She’ll be interested too.

  11. johny141 says:

    Boiling,,,erm my spalling is appelling,,,

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