Similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, travel writing can be depicted in similar hierarchical tiers.
It begins with the most basic motivational need, the human desire to explore.
Travel writing lets readers go to far away destinations that they may never see. Renowned travel writer Pico Iyer shared advice he was once given by his editor, “The reader wants to travel beside you.” Travel writing on a very basic level takes the reader with you. It can also serve to prepare the reader. It can inform and educate the reader about how to travel, when to travel and where to travel.
As in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, once the most basic level is fulfilled, we continue to reach for the next levels up. Travel writing inspires the reader. It lures the reader with insightful observations to escape their own world and lose themselves in the intriguing unknown.
Travel writing’s next level of purpose enlightens the reader about different cultures and helps the reader gain an appreciation for the differences in customs around the world.
It can broaden awareness and can introduce the reader to the diversity in people. It can transform the reader to a more empathetic and more compassionate human being. It can help remove biases, prejudices and stereotypes we develop through the narrow lenses of our limited experiences. It can improve the reader’s awareness, tolerance and acceptance.
Travel writing can make a reader less fearful. It can make a reader more engaged with the world. It can make the reader wiser. You may not read travel stories with the intent to understand others better, but you will. Travel stories broaden a reader’s perspective. Travel writing brings the reader and the world together. As Rick Steves shared, “The flip side of fear is understanding. Your world views change when you meet others who feel their world view is different than yours. Travel changes your ethnocentrisms.”
Travel writing can be great for self-discovery, for appreciating nature and the aesthetic beauty of the world. Travel writing can also help the reader evaluate priorities in life. Finally travel writing can create a connection to each other. A reader can vicariously feel connected to a person, a place and an experience which then enriches and expands them.
Ultimately at the top of the hierarchy of human needs, travel writing creates an influence and an effect on the reader. The reader can become a better human being for having read a travel story.
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