Travel Writing

Course Fee: $20
S4320 - 3 points
Summer 2017
Porter Fox

How does a traveler become a travel writer? What makes good travel writing? Why does it matter today? This course examines and breaks down the very specific craft of travel writing.


Travel writing is narrative nonfiction, with an emphasis on setting. Concrete detail, evocative writing, character development and a solid narrative arc are all essential. This class will talk about outlining, writing in blocks, withholding, revealing and chronology. Weekly assignments will cover dialog, digression, modifiers, POV, active verbs, pacing, research, voice and present action. We will learn about ledes, nut grafs, cliffhangers and kickers while avoiding cliche, nostalgia, blocking, overwriting and the many traps mainstream travel writers fall into today.


This class uses action writing and on-location exercises to help create unique and compelling description. We will read and analyze classic travel writing—from Mary McCarthy to Holiday Magazine to John McPhee, then explore local neighborhoods and create winning story pitches to send to editors. The final project is a complete travel story, ready for publication.


Great travel stories don't tell a reader how amazing a place is. They reveal what it is like to be there. The lessons, exercises, readings and final project in this class show students how to do just that.


For course schedule and location, please visit the School of Professional Studies summer site here.



Current Columbia students can review tuition and fees here.
Visiting students can review tuition and fees here.




For questions about School of the Arts summer courses, including those concerning admissions, registration, and billing, please contact the School of Professional Studies summer team at or 212-854-9666. With questions about specific course content, please contact Writing Departmental Representative Dorothea Lasky at