The University of Iowa

What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: Writing about Travel

Weekend July 18 to July 19 2020

You don’t have to cruise the Caribbean, tour Europe, or climb Mt. Everest to write vividly or viscerally about your travel experiences. Whenever you depart from your normal, daily routine to try out a new place, say, a different park, forest, or beach, or even the same place, but with different eyes; or whenever you move from place to place differently than you do every day on foot or by car—perhaps by hiking, biking, running, skiing, kayaking, swimming, horseback riding, with crutches, or in spiked heels—that can be a trip worth writing about, especially if it challenges you, involves a conflict, and changes your mindset in some way.


In this workshop we will generate new writing by responding to prompts focusing on place, people, conflict, expectations for a trip (met and unmet), and moments of revelation. You will have the option of turning one of these exercises into a more complete draft, whose insights and implications might go beyond your own travel experience to explore a theme such as the parameters of cross-cultural exchange or the journey through life itself.


We will workshop these short exercises and the longer drafts. You can also bring a short piece of your own travel writing to workshop for feedback. We will read published literary travel essays as models and inspiration and to learn about common travel writing essay types, for example, the Bad Trip essay, the Arrival Narrative, and the Heritage Travel essay. We’ll be writing about travel as a subgenre of creative non-fiction. This weekend “trip” is for all writers of all levels of experience.


In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments; critique writing you bring from home; provide feedback on writing you produce in our weekend.