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What makes a good trip report?

I love reading trip reports of every kind, but especially the ones that tell a story. I'm just curious what you guys like to read about in trip reports? Do you like details about hotels and transit? Lists of places visited with reviews? Detailed stories of the entire trip or just a few highlights? I try to write trip reports because I love reading them and want to pay it forward, but I always feel a bit intimidated because I'm such a novice here compared to most of the posters. Just 8 more weeks until our next adventure, and I can't wait! Just curious what details everyone likes to hear about.

Posted by
1464 posts

Good question. I'm a travel blogger, and I often struggle with how to make my posts compelling. For me it's a matter of combining a description of the experiences I had with the right amount of personal insights and historical background. I don't really enjoy reading trip reports that are a straightforward chronicle of what someone did and saw. I want to read about how you felt, and I want to understand the significance of what you saw, both to you and to the residents of the place you're visiting.

Another thing that can be useful when writing a trip report specifically on this forum is to share what advice you got here that turned out to be useful, and what new advice you can share for the benefit of future travelers.

Posted by
5006 posts

I try to give people an overall picture of what the trip was like, especially on a RS tour, but I love reading the more personal reports some people post. Some folks get downright poetic!

I especially enjoy the posts that are filled with joy and enthusiasm. Keep on traveling!

Posted by
2173 posts

I love to read trip reports too. I also find they can be a great way to get tips and insights. For me, I don't like to get too bogged down reading the details. For example, your flight was delayed etc etc.
I like the highlights, recommendations or places or things that did not work out as planned. Also, personal stories are great, what made the trip etc.
What is your next adventure?
Please write a trip report.........not enough people do and although I was selective on the countries I read, I got back to page 39 on the trip reports forum. Ha! I need more reading material!
If you look at my profile, I tried my hand at an online scrapbook/blog on our trip to Ireland this past summer. I think it turned out good, I included some pics and music clips.

Posted by
6634 posts

What I like to read are reports where there has been some reflection and analysis on what was done rather than just a chronological list of everything that happened. I am always looking for instructive, useful information, rather than just superlatives or negatives.

Posted by
2133 posts

I, like Lane, blog my travels. My posts are usually self-deprecating, I'm generous with the details of my failures and I try to include a few pictures of myself taking on something I'm not good at. I do feel that, in my specific writing style, I am able to convey lots of travel strategy and planning insight, well hidden within the recap of my adventures. Although my blog is public, I write with an eye towards the friends and family I know that follow me and my (mis)adventures.

Posted by
1176 posts

I enjoy reading trip reports and found some that I am more interested than others and as you said due to what is included and what is not included in the trip report makes all the difference in keeping the reader's attention. Knowing what you ate for breakfast, lunch or dinner does not interest me. What does interest me is if the hotel as a good breakfast or a poor one than I would like to know as that may help in deciding where to stay. But I don't need to know what you ate every day. Interested if you went to a particular restaurant and it stands out and you want to recommend it. Don't need to know that you stopped off at a coffee shop on your way to a museum.

Do want to know what hotels you stayed in and if you would recommend them and if they were in a good location, near a museum or most importantly near public transporation. Don't need to know how much everything cost, how much a train ticket was for every time you went somewhere. But knowing how to get around a city is important if one is considering visiting a city, ie: London, Rome, Paris. Enjoy reading that you met people along the way or that the locals were helpful and that you had some favorite highlights or stories. Don't need to know where you are every minute of the day or what time you got to places unless it is important to the reader.

Knowing that you had to make reservations for a restaurant or musuem or whatever you are visiting is important. I had no idea that many restaurants in Paris are closed on a Sunday night. This may be changing but when I went a few years ago, it was a big problem, had I known then I could have made a reservation a head of time. It all worked out and I did find in the RS guide book a wonderful restaurant to go to. But things like that are important to know.

Knowing that you had a great time, recommend you see a museum and why or someplace hidden you found that would be worthwhile is really a great thing to read. I know a lot of people know about the Sir John's Sloane house museum but I don't read about it that much. It really was a true hidden gem in my opinion and very worthwhile visiting. But everyone is going to the major museums in London and rightfully so but there are smaller museums no one visits or knows about and that is what I am looking for when I read a trip report.

Hotels, restaurants, museums, a boat ride, a play all worthwhile knowing about.

I know I may sound more critical than I intend and found reading all the trip reports worthwhile and can very well see that people have really worked hard on their trip reports. I am not bashing anyone's trip reports by any means, just stating what I am trying to gather information when reading one's trip report. And no, I don't write any due to the fact that it is a lot of hard work and takes time to write one. I think that everyone does a great job.

I think that whatever you write will be informative and interesting. You will have alot to write about and it will enable you to relive a wonderful adventure as you put it. I too am looking forward to my adventure at the end of the summer! Don't feel a bit intimidated, we are all here to find out information and happy that everyone is having a really great time on their travels.

Have a wonderful and safe trip. I hope this helps.

Posted by
10053 posts

diveloonie and Stan portrayed my thoughts. Not too much detail, but a narrative, some anecdotes, what worked, what did you like, what went wrong. No need for an hour-by-hour digest.

Posted by
489 posts

Good question...
I'd like to know places you found that are NOT in travel books, but were memorable/ awesome!
I'd like to hear experiences with the culture and local people that you will remember.
I'd like to hear what gave you that WOW moment.
And if you clearly flubbed up.. then how your experience can help others from making the same mistake.

Listing day by day, stop by stop may turn off many readers.
Have fun.. Where are you going in 8 weeks? We are heading for a 30 day road trip thru Portugal, Northern Spain and into Southern France and if I get any more books around me to read and reference... I might go crazy. This one is entirely by ourselves. I've planned and booked the entire thing... Makes taking RS tours mighty appealing. Haha!

Posted by
11288 posts

I read almost all trip reports, so anything you decide to post is good. I do wish more people would post them - anything is better than nothing.

That said, I agree that some of the hour-by-hour posts are too much detail for me - but I am happy to skim them to get to the other parts.

I have particularly enjoyed trip reports from first time visitors to places I know, as they highlight things I take for granted or have missed (I like reading New York City trip reports for these reasons). At the opposite end, I also enjoy trip reports from places that aren't well known. For instance, there was a recent report on southern Italy, with all kinds of places I either had never heard of, or had heard of but knew little about.

Of course, I am writing this as I am still procrastinating on my report on my Switzerland trip from September 2017. I'll do it soon, I swear.

Posted by
2018 posts

Aww, c'mon, Harold; please write that report! Much like Harold, I like to read just about any and all trip reports and find something to take from each one. I like knowing the cost of things and personal recommendations because I never know from day to day exactly what I might be interested in seeing, doing or eating. I love the "lessons learned" reports and the good, bad and ugly of trip experiences. I also love hearing about all the personal encounters with folks while on your travels, whether they be locals or fellow travelers; everyone has a story! Also like Harold, I enjoy reading reports of places I've been (new ideas, new perspectives) and places that pique my interest. I appreciate everyone who has written one and please, don't stop posting them!

Posted by
2318 posts

I like to know details, and even better if it's done humorously, a la Mike Beebe. As a solo traveler I'm always especially interested in the experiences of others like me, and a brief synopsis of various attractions is always welcome, as well as anything they did that is off the beaten path or more personal.

Posted by
5159 posts

I don't want to read your packing list. I don't care what was packed unless there was an item that was surprisingly useful that you feel might benefit others.

Posted by
3681 posts

Bottom line: Please include links for hotels, restaurants, attractions, all of which you have properly named.
Philosophy: You write a travel diary for yourself. For the public, eliminate all that could only appeal to yourself (such as how you felt getting up early, the sniffles on the airplane) and report on the essential -- and, if lucky, unusual -- events. To repeat: Write for the reader, not your own memories.

Posted by
4462 posts

I appreciate if they list their lodging name and experience, so we can search on those later. My favorite part of a trip report are the adventure stories when we can also picture ourselves traveling with them through the humorous incident, etc.

I really appreciate if the writer shares unique activities, I.e. cooking classes, Vespa tour, etc. for ideas for future trips.

Posted by
116 posts

In the old Rick Steves review format, there used to be a question that asked about what the traveler would have liked to have known that would have been helpful to them. I like when trip reports provide such helpful hints. I appreciate knowing the ease of getting from the airport to the center of town, e.g., is there a 5 euro bus that will get me there as opposed to paying for a taxi? If the traveler stumbled on a really great hotel, restaurant or adventure, I'd like the details. I like hearing not only about the wow moments, but also about what, in their opinion, was not worth the time or the money to see or experience.

Posted by
608 posts

Thank you all for your tips and suggestions! I don't think I have it in me to be poetic and entertaining, but I will try! Ha! Perhaps I will make my husband write it, he is far more entertaining than I am.

Diveloonie - we are leaving on April 13th for 3 nights in Paris, 2 nights in Bruges, 3 nights in Amsterdam and then the RS Greece tour for 2 weeks. I'm really excited! Every place but Paris is a new destination for us. These last few weeks are always the longest for me, although I still have a lot to do! I kind of procrastinate on some of the planning so I can keep myself busy until the end.

Tgreen - wow, that is quite the trip! It sounds incredible! I hope you write about it when you get back. I can't imagine the amount of planning that goes into that.

Carol - you don't have to worry about me talking about packing. I am not a great packer - I cram way too much stuff I don't need into a carry-on sized bag and wrestle with getting the thing to close for the entire trip!

Posted by
2329 posts

Hmmmm. What do I really like in a trip report? I would say especially these two things: (1) good writing with enthusiasm, including fulfilling cultural experiences, so much fun to read; (2) information and experiences that might really to be helpful, to me, and to others. This means very little about the principal, famous sites, in every guide book, unless you have special tips for how to enjoy them most, but more about little-known sites, and why you found them so satisfying (or not). Same for hotels and restaurants, don’t need every detail about most, but yes for little-known surprising gems, or for disappointing aspects of the losers. Being a lover of quaint neighborhoods and small towns, I always especially appreciate stories and tips about off-the-beaten track neighborhoods and small town stops or day trips that I would not easily learn about in other sources. Also, suggestions for great day tours, which I often enjoy, especially to places I would not likely get to on my own.

Posted by
9706 posts

I love to read Trip Reports and I love to write them. Then I like to go back and read what I wrote several years down the line to relive the trip, haha!!

I usually write what I would want to know and sorry to others but that includes a packing list. I really love to see what other people took - number of shirts, pants, shoes etc. , what worked, what didn't, what you should have taken that you left out at the last minute. I want to know how your purse worked, how your luggage did.

Usually my reports are centered around a Rick Steves tour and I want to include enough detail so it might help someone decide to take that particular tour...or not. A time or two I've done reports on Road Scholar tours and try to include why I chose those over a Rick tour, even though it makes me feel I am cheating on Rick!

Tamara, your excellent and comprehensive GAS Trip Report was what sold me on the GAS tour! Your Paris report prior to the GAS tour also gave me the idea to do my pre-tour days that way as well. I wouldn't change a thing on how you've done your previous reports. They were wonderful and I love your writing style.

Harold - get cracking on that report. I loved your report on the Basque Country trip and your analysis of what worked for you and what didn't. You made me think about a number of things I had never considered when picking a destination. You write so well and I enjoy reading your trip reports even if they are not areas that are high on my list to visit!

Posted by
996 posts

I'm not sure if I'm adding anything new, but I will endorse many of the comments made above. I like to know what worked AND what didn't work for you. I also like to assume that someone else reading my trip report might also be going someplace for the very first time. Is there something you learned that would make this trip easier if you did it a second time, now that you know the way something works? Is there something you WISH that someone - anyone - would have told you before you arrived?

Having said that, I love to read trip reports. I am already looking forward to yours. Hope you have a wonderful time!

Posted by
608 posts

Pam, you are so kind!! Thank you! I always feel like I just ramble so much, I am trying to work to refine this a bit!

Thank you all for your encouragement! I love the enthusiasm for travel on this board, as I know very few people in my regular life who care about it at all.

Posted by
546 posts

This is a good thread for sure...
I would just say that too many TR's are more like those "What I did On My Summer Vacation" essays one had to write in 5th and 6th grade. Those I just have to pass up.

I like it when a Writer does not approach a subject in a linear fashion. In other words start with an incident halfway through the trip then flash back later to the beginning to illustrate how you got there. Humour and self deprecation is good and I think that a critical analysis of not just the good but the bad is very important, a'la Paul Theroux.

But this approach is rare.

To all who are writing or will travel I encourage you to definitely write that trip report.

I will be leaving on a 5 month trip to Europe in Mid April and will include trip reports as I go. I will also be doing a blog with photos. (I do wish they would update this site to accommodate photos)

So keep writing.

Posted by
11288 posts

Carol's post, about not wanting to read others' packing lists, reminds me of two very important things.

1) Post your report in paragraphs, with one topic to a paragraph! That way:

a) The report is readable. The only reports I admit to not even wanting to read are the ones all in one run-on mess of words, with no paragraphs.
b) If a paragraph is on a topic of less interest to me, I can skip it.

Looking at my past reports, I see that I separate itinerary, flights, hotels, packing, actual city experiences, etc.. This way, someone who is only interested in some of these topics can skip the others easily.

2) Post the report all on one thread! Reply to yourself to continue the report. The reports in separate threads quickly get separated and become impossible to find.

Posted by
2173 posts

Tamara, I am now sure your trip report will be an enjoyable read. Your comment about cramming too much stuff into your carry-on and then struggling to close it for the entire trip made me laugh out loud as I got a great visual of times when I have done the same! Over-packers Unite!!!!

Posted by
9706 posts

I love Harold's suggestions and completely agree about including the whole trip in one thread, even if you are traveling and writing the TR in real time so the different parts of your report are separated by days. It's much easier to have continuity and follow your trip that way.

Also agree with paragraphs!

Posted by
1071 posts

I would like to add another thank you for starting this thread. I think it was great that you asked what people are interested in hearing about and how. The answers are useful to me.

I would like to add though that I like to read lots of different kinds of trip reports. I generally glean some good information even if the person isn't funny or creative (although of course that is a bonus). If there is someone out there contemplating a trip report and worried about its reception, please don't be. It will get read and it will be appreciated. The way the trip report is set up tells its own story. What is important to the writer?

I wish more people would share their experiences.
I consider it payback for all of the information that I gain from the site, but I can understand people being hesitant about being judged. There was a similar thread about the scrapbooks. Anyone that would criticize a person's trip report or scrapbook based on style or amount of work put it is not worth pleasing. Please, more reports, more scrapbooks. They get me from my last trip to my next one.

Posted by
6483 posts

Agree with Harold, readability is important. I especially like to see the whole report in one thread. Trying to follow a person's trip in several threads and make some sense of the order is confusing.

I enjoy reading trip reports but I am one that prefers they not be too long and too detailed to the point that they lose my interest before I'm finished reading them. I love reading about personal experiences and what really thrilled you and why you recommend it to others. I don't need to know about day to day trivial items, like what you had for breakfast each day, etc. It's okay to mention hotel or restaurant names if you were very pleased with them, but detailed reviews of these (good or bad) are best posted separately in the 'review' part of the forum.

Humor is always good too in a trip report.

Posted by
681 posts

After reading this, I may be too intimidated to do another trip report. I enjoyed the thread and reading all the trip reports. It just gets me dreaming...

Posted by
3024 posts

Count me among those who love this thread. I've written a handful of trip reports and have found myself wondering what people really want to read. I have a 10-day trip to Berlin coming up in May. It's the third straight May that I have spent at least a week there, so I'm venturing further and further away from the "I've got to 2 days in Berlin, what should I do?" activities. We'll see how the next trip report turns out...

Posted by
416 posts

Trying to follow a person's trip in several threads and make some sense of the order is confusing.

Guilty as charged!!

Someone said that to me in a comment on one of mine. I broke it down into day by day reports but every comment pushes it back up to the top and the order gets all mixed up.

Sorry they were confusing or annoying or whatever else the readers think... I still have my final day to post. Should I tack it on to my last one, or does it not really matter now?? Any way to link them all together in one thread, or has that ship already sailed??

Posted by
6634 posts

Judy, as long as you continue using the specific locations you're covering in the title of the post, I think you should still post it. If I want to go back and Search for posts on "Boppard" for example, I am not going to want to see the whole trip report anyway. I think that is better than Germany Part I, Germany Part II, etc., as a title.

Posted by
416 posts

Stan thanks. Our trip went Munich to Berchtesgaden to Garmisch to Rothenburg to Boppard. Each place was 3 or 4 days so I would title it, 'Munich Day 2' or 'Munich Day 3' for example. But each time someone would comment on one of them, and not the other, that one would jump back up to the top and now they're all out of order. So I get what people mean. Live and learn. On our last day in Boppard, we inturrupred a drug deal. How's that for a trip report. Lol.

Posted by
9706 posts

Laughing...Judy, you should definitely add that! I would add the last day onto the last thread and then you can edit the title of your thread if you want.

To add all the other pieces, just put links to the other threads in the last post. I would probably open all your previous threads in new tabs on your browser, then cut and paste the URL and close each tab as you go so you don't get confused. (Or maybe only I would get confused if I did that, lolol!)

I've enjoyed your reports!

"After reading this, I may be too intimidated to do another trip report. I enjoyed the thread and reading all the trip reports. It just gets me dreaming..."

Nancy, I hope this thread doesn't put you off! As you can see most of us love to read Trip Reports so just tell us what and how feels comfortable for you. And yes, they get me dreaming too!

Posted by
608 posts

Dave - I hope you do write a trip report! We are visiting Berlin for the first time in September for 4 nights, 3 of which are on the Berlin, Prague and Vienna tour. Berlin is a city that I dont know a ton about and for some reason did not rank super high on my wish list of places to see, so I'm looking forward to learning more about it. You obviously love it.

Posted by
14908 posts

A good trip report for me is one of two:

  1. A place that wasn't on my radar but the trip report makes me want to go there. So I guess it would be lots of enthusiasm and detail of what made you love it.

  2. A place I am planning to see. Then I want practical details - tips on sightseeing, experiences, transportation, and any special things you did.

Posted by
3024 posts

Tamara--

While I hesitate to post these on a thread about what makes a good trip report, here are my trip reports that include Berlin...

Trip Report for Germany/Austria May 2016 -- first 8 days are Berlin

Trip Report for Germany May 2017 -- first 9 days are Berlin.

Note that one of the lines in the second report is...

I always wonder how much people want to read in these trip reviews.
For anyone who is interested in the daily activities, here’s the
blow-by-blow report…

Posted by
546 posts

I agree with much of what has been written here however I have to disagree with some here especially about doing one large trip report as opposed to breaking it up into separate posts.

Some trips, like my upcoming 5 month odyssey through Europe would be way too long and cumbersome to do in one post. And frankly many shorter trips are too long for one post. A country by country approach can be a good separation point for a longer blog.

One point I agree upon completely is using good grammar, spelling (spell check it!) and of course proper paragraphing is absolutely necessary for ease of reading.

I am thinking of starting my Trip report in the planning stage and using a country by country approach (I will be in 9 countries) a couple for more than a month. And so what I have planned is an ongoing report by linking the trip reports together.

You first must understand the difference between a trip report, travel story or a memoir

I like my trip reports the same as a write them. First of all very honest. But no every minute detail. For example in my last report several things happened that were not a positive but I only remarked in detail on the one thing that almost ended the trip. I go in chronological order. At the end of each section I include relevant details like links, mileage, costs, ta reviews etc. I think this makes an informative and fun read.

I have a pet peeve on TR ... but not exactly the report .. it's the forum its in. When people quote the report or pictures in their reply .... ugh drives me nuts and make sthread longer to go through.

Posted by
88 posts

It's a good question. I've wondered what I should/shouldn't include.

I hesitate to be too critical. I just wish more people would write them even if they aren't perfect. So many people ask questions on the forum and after you give advice you never hear how it went. At the very least maybe come back and make a short comment in your thread where you asked a question. Was the advice helpful? Did you make it back in one piece?

I prefer a shorter report that doesn't give every detail. Though, upon reflection, mine for our first trip to London and Eastbourne was probably too short. I just basically wanted to let everyone know that we had returned and had a good time and didn't want to bore anyone. Next time I will try to add more detail about what worked and what didn't, etc. I think I even forgot to mention going to a play and meeting two of my favorite actors at the stage doors after the play.

I also agree with making paragraphs or bullets instead of one long never-ending paragraph and prefer when longer reports are in one thread instead of broken up.

Posted by
12886 posts

@ Dave....Great trip report on Berlin in 2017. You covered a lot of ground in the 2017 Berlin trip. Good that you visited the Kollwitz Museum...poignant. Since you were at the Museum in Berlin-Karlshorst, you must have seen my comments in the visitor's book.

Posted by
384 posts

Y'know what I love in a trip report? Little details.

Example: I visited the cathedral in Reims. Sure, that fact is interesting to me, but you're already yawning. I could mention it's an old cathedral and dimly-lit and by now your insomnia is cured. I could further mention that the stained glass is beautiful, which is it, and you could care less.

Now let me give you another view:

What I will never forget about the cathedral in Reims is a single date scratched into the faded marble base of a pillar by some bored miscreant. Now bathed in oceanic blue light filtered through the passion of Christ as told in stained glass by Marc Chagall, this ancient graffiti told me that in 1648 someone also felt the urge to anchor their mark in time before fading into oblivion. Perhaps they too felt the pull of eternity that these ancient churches inspire, or perhaps the sermon was a bit long that day almost a century and a half before my nation was founded, but either way the vandal of 1648, and the Germans of 1914, both left their marks and in the lifespan of this edifice, neither date is far removed from the other.

Sure, it's a bit flowery, but doesn't it bring you into the place and the moment? Little details tell big stories. Pepper your trip reports with them; spice your writing with moments of awe and amazement, but think of the atoms of the moment that made up your experience. Share those with us and bring us into your world.

Posted by
681 posts

Mike
Are you going anywhere this year? I miss your trip reports.

Posted by
384 posts

Hi Nancy,

Yes: Carson City, Nevada. Possibly Kelowna, Canada (beautiful place)

Then, in September 2019, I return to Europe and will be writing more adventures!

Thank you for reading my stuff, too!

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
608 posts

I enjoy your reports too, Mike. Not everyone has a knack for writing like that! You have a unique talent.

Posted by
4690 posts

Tamara,

Thanks for posting this question!

I've read all the replies and actually share Nancy's response:

After reading this, I may be too intimidated to do another trip report. I enjoyed the thread and reading all the trip reports. It just gets me dreaming...

I've been pondering with the idea of writing a trip report for my recent trip.

Some of you mentioned that you like trip reports that are written in a single thread, rather than separate threads.

What do you suggest when one wants to write about each individual destination separately?

Adding a link at the bottom of each report would work, right?
I wonder if it's too late to do this for my trip reports from last October...?

Thanks! ; )

Posted by
11288 posts

"What do you suggest when one wants to write about each individual destination separately? "

That depends. If the destinations are not too disparate (say, London and Dublin), I still prefer they be posted as one thread. Just put each city in a separate section, so people can easily skip past the parts they aren't interested in.

If the destinations are really disparate (say, Rome and Oslo), put them in separate threads, and just add a link in each thread to the other one.

That's my suggestion, but I whatever works best for you is fine.

Posted by
14908 posts

Priscilla, your descriptions are so great, I'll read them in whatever form you post. And I just got around to reading Tamara's RS Greece tour report and loved it. I can't say whether it would be useful to someone planning a trip there, but for someone, like me, who's taken the tour, it brought back floods of wonderful memories.

Thanks to everyone who reports in any fashion on places they've been. So many of them have been useful to me in the past, and I look forward to using them on new destinations in the future.

Posted by
82 posts

I love reading trip reports...the more detailed the better! I love reading it in the format of a day by day, including how the travel went. I even love paragraphs on packing. I especially love being linked to a blog so I can see pictures. I bookmarked the 2 in this thread that said they have blogs...If anyone else has one, I'd love a link to it!

You guys have inspired me to write up my recent trip (Paris, the first week of May). I'll have to see if I can find some time to do that.