On Travel Writing


There was a time I was considering getting a compass tattooed on the inside of my wrist. I had lofty ideas of travel being the one thing that defined me, and so what better symbol to put on my body. Predictably, I didn’t follow through with the idea, the oh-so-conservative part of my brain telling me I’d regret it. And so I remained – and still remain – inkless.

Travel continues to be the one thing that really excites and inspires me. Just looking at a map fills my brain with all sorts of possibilities. But just like I didn’t feel the need to get that tattoo, I’m also increasingly feeling that I don’t need to blog in-depth about my travels. Google and Wikipedia can tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the logistics of travel, so what is the point of me adding to it?

George Orwell perhaps said it best:

“Modern writing at its worst does not consist of picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images to make their meaning clearer. It consists of gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by somebody else.”

The same can be said of travel writing. Writers regurgitating the same articles over and over again, using the same prose and cliches. I mean, how many “hidden gems” can there really be?

In recent months I have been thinking about my own writing, and how I have been somewhat uninspired (disillusioned?) of late. And I think it is mainly due to me feeling I have to meet some sort of self-imposed or imaginary set of rules: that my readers need or want me to include advice on how to get to a place, practical information and all that sort of stuff. Which, these days, feels more like a chore than a joy.

I need to simply start writing again. Not just providing information. I want to focus more on my own impressions and feelings. What I feel when I visit a place. The sights, the smells, the imagery. For these are the things that are most important.



  1. I lament the dearth of interesting travel writing online. I click away as soon as I see “Top Five Things You Must Do In Chiba!” or “The Best Sushi in Osaka!” – written by someone who’s spent two days there. I find your blog refreshingly unique, genuine, and individual. As a Tokyo-phile in America, I look forward to the little rambles here and there in Japan I enjoy through what you share.

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