Elaine Bertolotti is an artist and the author of several travel memoirs. Originally from the US, Elaine first moved to Florence and now lives in the Province of Turin in the Piedmont region of Italy.

Her “…and Me” series includes Florence and Me, Turin and Me, Hawaii and Me as well as Athens and Me.

Elaine kindly agreed to share some of her writing tips with us. Find out how to trigger and use travel memories in your writing…

For years my great passion has been to travel. I was a great note-taker on my trips and these became the building blocks for my travel memoirs.

When you travel it seems that there is an ever present influx of information. We visit monuments, eat new foods, meet people and absorb everything around us. As a traveler, you often find yourself overwhelmed by everything.

“Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

He seems to sum it all up. Key words: see, remember.

Here are my tips on getting together a travel memoir:

1. Make sure you have notebook and pen on hand, or more technologically, your tablet.

2. Jot down what you’ve seen in a diary form.

3. At the end of the day go back over the events and write down any interesting thing that happened. I like to take quick notes that will bring the event back to mind without writing the entire thing down all at once. A final copy isn’t needed here.

4. Take lots of photos. It’s amazing how something comes alive again once you have a photo in front of you.

5. Make a list of any particular food you enjoyed and, of course, names of restaurants you liked. It’s terrible coming home after a trip, recalling a fantastic place you had dinner in and forgetting the name of the restaurant.

6. When you meet kindred people on your trip ask for their addresses. You never know when you can get in touch with them or even meet them again after your trip. You’ll enjoy reminiscing about your trip together and perhaps they too can add some interesting facts they came across.

7. Keep a collection of brochures from hotels, museums etc. They will refresh your memory when you want to write about them.

8. Warning: don’t go too much into details. Leave the reader wanting to learn a little more. You just might even motivate someone to do their own travel writing.

9.You can write all about your misadventures as well as your fabulous adventures, but don’t leave the reader with the sense of “I’ll never go there”.

10. Talk, talk, talk about your trip. I often find that telling people about my travel adventures brings to mind things I thought I’d forgotten!

I believe the first thing you must tackle is how you want to organize your memoir.

  • Will you write mainly about experiences or will you center on places rather than people?
  • Will you recount it in a diary form or an overall “this is how I felt there” optic?
  • Will you stress the customs you observed or talk about the food?

No matter what you choose or even if you choose to talk about all of them, I’d suggest adding some interesting facts about the places you’ve visited. Enough to whet readers’ appetite but not too much to seem like a guide book. You can weave them into your personal story. This way you can make your readers truly feel a part of your adventure.

It’s important to have an attractive cover to present your memoir. The cover is an ideal way of introducing your book. I personally draw my own when possible. It adds an author’s personal touch which is a great way to attract readers. We want to entice our readers to read what we have to say. Focus on the background: a sketch or a photo of the place or places you’re talking about, for example. If you can design it yourself, that’s wonderful. Otherwise seek help from the many handy sites for creating covers.how to write a travel memoir

Note: if you are planning on writing a series of travel memoirs try to keep a common factor in each of your covers to distinguish your other works. That could be a certain layout or color scheme. It’s even wise to have a title that can make it understood that they are part of your series.

Last but not least don’t forget to add some humor to your memoir. Giving the readers a chuckle is a nice gift.

Writing your travel memoirs should be a joyous experience for you. Take out all your photos, re-examine those travel brochures, and read over all your notes. You have an awesome opportunity to re-live your trips.

You’re ready to share your travels with others! Wishing you the best of luck in your writing endeavor.

Buon viaggio, bon voyage and have a great trip!
All good wishes for your next travel adventure.

If you’d like to connect with Elaine, head on over to Facebook and Goodreads.

Hi, I'm H.E, a TCK and the author of Culture Shock - A Practical Guide. Love the outdoors. Motto: onwards and forwards! In search of perspective. If you'd like to get to know me a little better, head on over to the menu and click "For readers".