What Makes A Great Trip Report?

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by eightblack, Feb 17, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. eightblack
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    eightblack Silver Member

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    I don't profess to know everything there is to writing trip reports. And no, I'm not a professional writer. There would also have to be a queue a mile long of people who are far more qualified than I am to give this advice - but since the nice men who run MP want us all to be warm and cuddly with each other, I'd like to go first (and hope many seasoned Trip Reporters will also chime in).

    Ok, yes, I've written a few. Trip Reports that is. And everyone (including me), likes their 15-minutes of fame. Especially if people read your content, reply positively and the thread picks up momentum.

    I've also read my fair share of reports. I love living vicariously through other people - especially when it comes to premium travel and the fabulous wine lists on offer. But if I see one more picture of a glass of diet coke in a First Class cabin, I'm going to stick my head in an oven.

    So, if you'll permit me the stage for a moment, I'd like to share with you my pet peeves...and then my humble hints on what I think works. In no particular order. In fact, I think I've mixed everything together. Stuff it. You'll get the idea.

    Ok, here they are:

    1. Images: Learn how to post images (and the right-sized images). There's nothing worse than opening a trip report and the thing taking 15-mins to load because the images are enormous. Learn how to use a site like Imageshack if you don't know which one to use. Or ask a teenager. But figure it out. And be consistent with sizes the whole way thru. And another thing - if the photo is of poor quality - toss it.
    2. Tell a story: Your story. Through your eyes. Don't try and be someone else. Write as if you were having a coffee (or a beer) with someone and telling them what happened on your trip. I try and write that way all the time. In fact, it's the only way I know how. It's just between you and me.
    3. Layout: You know, it's not illegal to use the "return" key on your PC or laptop. Some white space is nice, don't you think? I lose the will to live quickly if I see a screen full of text.
    4. Humour: This is a tough one. Actually, no it's not. You're either funny or you're not. Period. Look, most people I know have a sense of humour. Somewhere. Even my mother-in-law. If people tell you that you have a dry wit, be like that. If people tell you your sarcasm is one of your best traits, use that. But if you're not Billy Connolly or Michael McIntyre, leave the humour alone. For now.

    Anyway, here's some of my favourite TR's.

    Great examples of individuality. Good trip reports make you want to call the airline to redeem the miles to do exactly what you've just read about. And I'm sorry that these reports are over on "the other site" but for now, that's where the bulk of the content is. So shoot me. And if I have offended any of you by not including your TR, my humble apologies.

    Here they are...

    a. This TR is technical perfection. The attention to detail is amazing. The effort must have been stupendous. The guy should give a class.
    b. Excellent story. Excellent photography. Excellent engagement. Just great.
    c. One of my all time favourites. This TR is almost 12-months old. 184 replies and over 35,000 views. And not a picture in sight!
    d. One of the best, most inspiring stories you'll read. About courage, about honesty and above all, about being the best parents you can be. Bravo!
    e. This Kiwi is an old pro. Too many reports to mention. Start somewhere. Anywhere. You'll get the idea soon enough why he's so good.
     
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  2. nime01
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    nime01 Gold Member

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    Thanks for providing some great ideas of how to write a trip report. [​IMG]
    I'm thinking of writing one from our upcoming trip to the Seychelles.
     
  3. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    i just wonder if sitting for drinks with eightblack is as entertaining as reading the stories.
     
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  4. tahewett
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    tahewett Silver Member

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    I think he should host a "Drinks with eightblack DO" so we can find out.
     
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  5. Tinkerer
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    Tinkerer Gold Member

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    Methinks you forgot were too humble to add these 2 absolutely fantastic trip reports:

    Part 1: Home For Xmas (and my first award flight)
    Part 2: FNT-PNH (ie a long, long, way...)

    As a result of which I echo the previous 2 posters comments ;)
     
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  6. tahewett
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    tahewett Silver Member

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    AGREED! I had to get a new keyboard at work after making the mistake of trying to drink coffee whilst reading the first one. Not at all kidding.
     
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  7. Junca
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    Junca Silver Member

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    As a reader, not a writer (yet), I am a little more lenient. I agree with the advice of throwing out bad photos and using paragraphs (!), but I think much is in the eye of the beholder.

    For instance, I don't need to see another glass of champagne in F any more than I need to see a glass of diet coke. But I like both! (sometimes I really, really want a cold diet coke [​IMG]). But I will probably have that photo of champagne in my *A F trip report later this year, if I feel bold enough to put it together. It does give a sense of "F". However, they all look the same and for non-drinkers it may be "meh."

    I actually love some trip reports that are very simple, even in Y (!), yet go on a unique airline, to a unique or interesting place, or for a unique or interesting activity.

    There are many very excellent TRs on other forums, just like the ones you use as examples. Those are fantastic to read. But I don't want to discourage others from giving it a shot (me included).

    Also ... I think a "how to" on adding photos to a TR or any other post at MP would be excellent. I agree that good formatting of photos makes reading TRs much easier.
     
  8. eightblack
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    eightblack Silver Member

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    I am. In Dubai. Called The Dubai Do. See the link in my signature. But everyones being far too kind. I'm grumpy in real life. Just ask my wife and kids. Here, I'll go wake them up...just wait. You'll see.
     
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  9. Tinkerer
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    Tinkerer Gold Member

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    If you enjoyed those, it is soooo worth putting the coffee away (unless you don't like your current keyboard) and reading TEMPO 15025G35KT 0100 +SN FZFG OVC000 SNOCLO.

    I believe it should be mandatory reading for anyone complaining during IRROPs.
     
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  10. tahewett
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    tahewett Silver Member

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    That looks like fun, but sadly I don't think Dubai is on my travel calendar this year... [​IMG] Maybe you should host one at a bar in Michigan next time you're over to meet your inlaws. No doubt you'll need a drink then. [​IMG]
     
  11. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    I'd like to see some details on the actual destination(s), couldn't really care about another lounge or menu list in F.
     
  12. sc801
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    sc801 Gold Member

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    Yes Sweet Willie! Don't mind a summary of meals.... and photos of food. But soooo many menus.... however, each to his own. Still gonna help with a Low Country Do?
     
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  13. sc801
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    sc801 Gold Member

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    I think you will be able to do just that at his Dubai Do in June. (oops - didn't see he had answered that himself). I met eightblack at the Chicago seminar as he sat typing away on his laptop.... and look forward to a chat in Prague!
     
  14. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Well eightblack i do like writing TRs-mostly on Australian Frequent Flyer as my idiosyncratic method of photo posting works there.It doesnt work on FT.Wonder of wonders it also works on MP.I have to be honest though my TRs are mainly for my benefit and do contain lots of boring pictures of food and lounges.I probably make every mistake in the book.However I do learn from my mistakes and can confidently repeat each and every one.
    Unfortunately I dont have your flair for words but then there really can only be one Eightblack.
     
  15. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Firstoff, I must say that OP's reports are among the most excellent I've ever seen. But I have to point out that there are two components only to trip reportage - the trip as seen by the poster and as the poster wishes to have it conveyed to a readership. Humor and photos, well and good, but perfectly fine trip reports have been offered with relatively little of either - I for one have never posted a photo in a report. Layout, I tend to agree, though I am #1 Mr. Guilty in that regard. A good trip report is one that communicates whatever the hell the poster wants to communicate. Ding, ding is rather shallow, don't you think?
     
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  16. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    It wouldn't matter if eigthblack took those flights or not. It could be a HS Thompson drug induced haze for all I care. Those are some damn entertaining stories.....
     
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  17. eightblack
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    eightblack Silver Member

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    Actually, I've been thinking about my OP and thinking it may have come across as remarkably arrogant. I am a mere amateur at writing trip reports. I will categorically say right here and now that everything I write about is true - in terms of how I see and view the experience. And besides you couldn't make up half the stuff that happens to us on the road!

    My humble opinion is this. The most important aspect for everyone who either is thinking of writing a TR, has written one or wants to keep writing more is making sure that you enjoy the process. Ignore my previous advice. It is nothing but pomposity run amok.

    Our contributions are all equal.
     
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  18. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    I'm sure it wasn't arrogance or pomposity that prompted your original post; I just wanted to point out that making a set of criteria for good reports is not likely to actually improve the situation according to any standard.
     
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  19. CT-UK
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    CT-UK Silver Member

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    I like TR reports that are written after a few drinks have been taken ;)
    Mine tend to be written, photographed and put together on the fly and then just posted as soon as I get a connection that way they are oftern in the present rather than the past.

    Eightblack has a fantastic way of writing and I really enjoy the read.
     
  20. magic111
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    magic111 Silver Member

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    I actually enjoy reading trip reports that allow/make me visualize what is being read.

    The reports that have another picture every 10 paces through the airport do not interest me. So a picture says a thousand words but would anyone read a thousand words on the entrance to XYZ airport. Now having said that I could make up something that actually was a thousand words long about the stories the doorway to XYZ airport has seen. Or might do it in only 26 words.

    I do like the destination details and those skilled writers who combine it with the flight such as the bus driver from Denali are my favorite. Some might have had numerous posts at FT But if you read all his trip reports you read about a half million words that managed to put you in a familar airplane seat, a winding alleyway, or even a political street demonstration in some far off country.

    And nobody can describe a half ounce bag of peanuts better than violist
     

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