Expert advice from Ben Ross

BEN ROSS is the Deputy Head of Travel Editorial at the Telegraph Media Group. He teaches on our Bradt Travel Writing Seminar.

What do you look for in a travel article?

There’s a myth that the best travel articles are all about people doing something extraordinary, like carrying a fridge across the Sahara. In fact, writing about travel for a national newspaper tends to be focused on inspiring people to go on happy, stimulating holidays. Sure, there’s room for some derring-do, but I’m just as excited about being able to tell my readers about a secret spot in Spain, or how to make the most of a driving holiday in Italy, or how to reinvent a family trip to New Zealand. It’s often hard to nd that new angle, but that’s the joy of the job. In an ideal world, readers would be dazzled by your piece, then immediately go and book a trip along the lines of the one you’ve described.

What do you look for in a successful pitch?

A clear understanding of the destination, with a sense that you have some expertise that you can share. Perhaps you’ve lived there in the past, have a family connection, or have travelled around the region extensively. Or maybe you have specialist knowledge of a theme you’d like to explore. Then deliver a brief outline of the way you see the story going, so that I know exactly what you’re proposing and can make a decision. A news angle is always helpful: anything from a new ight route, to a cycle path opening, or an anniversary. In essence, explain why this is a great story, and why you are the perfect person to write it.

Are there any soft entry points to travel journalism?

I’m not sure about the idea of a ‘soft’ entry point. In my experience, people come to travel journalism from a huge variety of backgrounds and with a wide range of experience. But the common thread among successful travel writers is an ability to write well and interestingly about a place. You need to ‘get’ travel, of course, to have an understanding of how it works, and what other people reading your story would be most interested in. So the rst thing you should do is get out there and explore your fascination with the wider world.

Extract from The Travel Writer’s Way, copyright Jonathan Lorie 2019.