How to write a travel guide: ’48 Hours in’
This article is a step-by-step guide showing you how to write a travel guide for the 48 Hours in series of travel guides.
I am subdiving this writing guide into three chapters that cover (i) the aspiration of a 48 Hour guide, (ii) its structure and (iii) its content
Chapter #1: 48 Hours guides are authentic
Each episode of the 48 Hours in series wants to introduce one city to the single male traveler from the point of view of a local. Just think about what kind of advice and tips you would give to a single male friend who is coming to your city for the very first time and you have all you need in order to write a good guide.
For the 48 hours in guides it is the local’s perspective that makes them so interesting. The episodes are no tourist brochures that tell you what sights are a “must”. If you do a Google search for “what to do in Paris” you will come across millions of articles telling you that you should visit Eiffel Tower and the Louvre — nice, but who really wants to read that?
In a 48 hour in guide local tells things how they are, mentioning the good and the bad.
If you were writing about a city where most hotels/apartments have bad service, but high prices then you should mention that (see my article on Kiev hotels). And if you were writing about a city that, in your opinion, is nicer, cleaner and more lively than any other city in the country then you should mention that as well.
Here’s an example of authentic writing:
In the 48 hour guide to Wroclaw Poland I had to find a hotel in the middle of the night when almost all hotels were booked.
What I did was walk to the main railway station and enter the first hotel I saw in the hope they had a spare room. As the hotel was across the railway station where drunks were bumbling around I didnt expect much. To my surprise the hotel was not only cheap, but also newly refurbished. It could easily pass as a 4-star hotel in Munich or London and cost just 44€ for the night.
I added a nice picture of the hotel room and then put the mini-anecote into the guide. Here is what it looks like:
People liked it. Why did they? Because it is authentic. The main thing is to give the reader little insights that stem from your own personal experience. This makes it so much easier for the reader to relate to what you are saying.
Chapter #2: The structure of the guide
All guides follow a simple 3-step structure. Each step is about a specific topic. These are:
- The city & places to stay
Let’s start with the first topic titled “How to get there”:
“How to get there” – The most common way to reach your city?
In most cases this will be by airplane. Flying to your city can, however, not always be the most usual means of transportation. If you were writing about, say, Malta then ferries and boats will play a big role, too. Write about them! If your city can be reached easily by coach then do write about that.
“The City of [Name] [Country]” – brief outline of the city and hotels & apartments?
Name the total population of your city. Put your city into perspective by comparing its size, its history or whatever aspect you prefer to other cities.Then write about what it’s like to book an apartment or a hotel room in your city. The majority of our readers prefer apartments over hotels as they offer more privacy and freeedom (housekeeping won’t hassle you when you sleep in after a big night out etc.). Again, try to be authentic. If you know of a hotel that always has special offers or if renting apartments in your city is highly unusual then do mention it.
“What to do” – Best daytime actitives & nightlife venues?
This is the most creative part. Think of your male friend coming to town and tell him about the ins and outs of your city: What is interesting to do during the day time?
This is not so much about sightseeing, but more about the lesser known spots in your city.For example, the guide to Varna Bulgaria tells you everything about the number one daytime activity in Varna, the beaches. But it also tells you about everything Varna’s Retro Museum with Soviet memorabilia that is not located in oldtown Varna, but somewhat hidden inside a shopping mall.
Then write about the nightlife venues of your city. Try to compare things with other cities/cultures by writing about the characteristics of your city. Can you drink in public places? Are cover charges for nightclub high/low/average? What’s the standard price for a beer/cocktail/londrink? Mention those nightclubs, bars and venues that you have the most to say about and that you know best.
Chapter #3: The content of the guides
Now that we know the structure all we need to do is fill it with information. Here are some guidelines to what information the three chapters should contain:
How to get there
Here, you need to do some research by looking up prices on the websites of airlines, bus services etc.:
- Name 3-5 airlines that offer cheap flights to your city and link their names to their websites.
- Name 1-3 bus services that offer cheap rides to your city and link their names to their websites (if applicable).
- State the airlines’ prices for roundtrip-tickets to your city. Choose another major European city as the point of departure so readers get a vivid example of much a flight costs. My friend Pramod Kanakath has done a great job with this in his Jakarta Indonesia guide. When I was editing his guide I went to the website of Tiger Air to check upon some prices. Once there I found a special offer for a flight to Jakarta for just $60. I put this information into the guide and added a screenshot from Tiger Air’s website:
Note that you do not need to put any screenshots of city maps/special offers/nice apartments/great hotels into your guide. I will do that for you. However, what you need to do is tell me where these special offers can be found so I can implement them.
The City of [XYZ]
- What is traffic in the city like? Is there good public transport? What is a good part of the city to stay in?
- How much is a taxi ride from A to B?
There is a local smartphone app that everybody uses to order taxis? There is? Great, mention it and write about it!
- Write about some good offers that you see on apartment sites like Airbnb.com or booking.com and name 3-5 good hotels. Link their websites to their names.
- Look up the prices for a night in a hotel room/apartment and add the price after the hotel’s nameAnother very important factor is communication:
- What does a local SIM card cost?
- With a local SIM card: What’s the average price level for calls/texts/internet?
What to do
- Write a continuous text that describes your experience with about 3 daytime activities. This can be anything from spending a day at the beach to the picturesque old town or the area with the best local food.
- In your text, add 5-8 links to the names of popular daytime locations.
- Have a look at the other 48 hours in guides for inspiration.
- Write a continuous text that describes your experience with about 3 nightlife venues.
- In your text, add 5-8 links to the names of popular daytime locations.
- Again, have a look at the other 48 hours in guides for inspiration.
And last but not least:
- Send in 10 high quality pictures of your city that you took yourself. If you can then send in more than 10. Actually, send in as many high quality pictures as you can! Choosing the cream of the crop from a large pool is always nicer.
In total, your 48 Hour guide will now have 1200-1600 words and is ready for editing.
Do not forget to give me your Twitter, Instagram and a short bio if you like and then allow me some time to do the editing. And before you know it your travel guide will go live on euromentravel.com.
This short synopsis on how to write a travel guide for the ’48 hours in’ series should cover most of your questions. If you have any other questions, do not hesitate do contact us via the form below.
See you around and happy traveling!