For my travel writing class we started the class by writing a definition of travel writing. I posted the original definition earlier on the blog. At the end of the class, we had to revise our definition based on our experiences reading and writing about travel. My definition remained fundamentally the same, but I did change a few sentences. Here is the revised version from the end of the course.
What is a traveler? What is travel writing?
To answer these questions, I first start by asking myself an even more basic question: What is travel? We use the word all the time, but what does it really mean? In the most fundamental sense, it means physically moving one’s body from one location to another. That seems pretty simple really. But is there more than that? Yes, of course there is more. How else could there be a whole genre of writing centered on the topic? Beyond that basic definition, travel involves the mind and soul as well as the body. It both pulls us outside of ourselves and roots us even deeper into our own being. It transports us to the past and makes us even more aware of the present. When we use the word travel, are we using a word that means movement or a word that means “new place?” This is a word that cannot be static; it cannot be sedentary. It must be full of transition and growth. Now, back to one of the original questions: What is a traveler? A traveler is someone who actively seeks this change of place, this change of mindset. A traveler is a person who seeks the new to make better sense of the old. A traveler is a person who takes a journey so that they can move and learn. Finally, the real question: What is travel writing? Travel writing is a record of this journey, this step, this adventure, this change. It is a way to process the experience externally and share it with those who don’t live inside your head. It is an opportunity to answer a larger question through the triviality of your own experience. It is a journey of its own and it may possibly end up a different story than you initially intended.