DON’T OVERLOOK THE OBVIOUS WHEN YOU’RE WRITING ABOUT HOME
by Roberta Beach Jacobson in Karpathos, Greece
I’m certainly no know-it-all. But in the 30-plus years I’ve lived in Europe I’ve amassed a huge amount of travel information. For the past eight years, my husband and I have stayed put on the tiny Greek island of Karpathos where we make our home.
Occasionally someone finds my name at a travel website and asks me a few tourist-related questions. How much does a week at a seaside hotel on our island cost? What meal offerings are available for vegetarians?
After I answer the questions, usually I toss in a few personal tips. If the traveler is a hiking fan, I tell her to be sure to bring sunglasses and a sturdy hat that ties (the wind here is crazy). Don’t forget the sun screen and always carry a bottle of drinking water. For those of us who live in southern Greece, it’s a given that the intensity of the sun is no laughing matter, regardless of the season.
The last note I answered got me thinking how much of an expert about Greek islands I’ve become over the years. I’m so close to the subject matter that I don’t even give a thought to a hotel not offering breakfast (as 70% of the hotels on our island do not), for example. Greeks, you see, don’t eat breakfast. Travelers can chose from dozens of harbor cafes for whatever style of breakfast they desire (American, continental, English, etc.).
Another topic I covered recently was credit cards. Greeks in small places deal in cash. (Yes, you get receipts.) I can count on two hands the number of hotels on our island that accept credit cards. Restaurants, I only need one hand. Shops? Forget it! Visitors must have cash at the ready.
The wheels in my head started turning. Much of this insider knowledge I’ve acquired would make worthwhile sidebars to my travel articles. Or fillers. Or informative articles in and of themselves.
I suspect I’m not alone in this neglect of what is, to me, just everyday stuff. So next time you’re writing about your hometown, pause for a moment and ask yourself:
** Where is someplace I go that I never see tourists?
** When friends come to visit, what’s the one thing they inevitably comment on? (Like the wind here in Karpathos.)
** Are there any great resources I rely on in my everyday life that visitors might find equally as useful? (Maybe it’s the guy who sells great roasted peppers at the farmer’s market or a bike path that isn’t on most tourist maps.)
When you’re writing about where you live, think not just about the hot spots — a new trendy restaurant or a great shop — but also about those “everyday” places and include some of your local know-how. Nobody else is as qualified as you to do that. You’re the expert. Don’t forget to share that expertise.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]