THE ORIGINAL PIECE, 10 words and phrases we never want to see in travel writing again, got a big response.
Some readers argued that travel writing clichés can be necessary and useful in certain mainstream publications. Others felt that we should stop whining, that no word should be declared off-limits.
And lots and lots of readers had lists of their own hated and despised travel writing words. What can we say? We love to whine about bad writing. So here are five more words we’d just as soon never see again in travel writing:
1. “Perched” / “nestled”
These words are just too, too adorable when used in reference to towns or buildings. Form the picture in your head of an oh-so-charming, thatch-roofed country inn. Now picture it…nestling. Ugh. Save these words for birds and fluffy little puppies.
Mecca is of course an actual place you might travel to or make reference to, and in either of those cases, it’s a perfectly appropriate word to use. But a “shopping mecca”? A “snowboarding mecca”? Really?
Would you ever refer to a “shopping Vatican City?” Or a “snowboarding Konark Sun Temple?” Sounds dumb, right? Okay, then.
Whether it’s shrouded in mystery or shrouded in fog, this seems like a strangely morbid word choice in most situations. A shroud, after all, wraps a corpse. Do you mean to imply that San Francisco, “shrouded in fog,” is dead and awaiting burial? Probably not.
4. “Spartan” / “rustic”
Our problem with these words is when they’re used for ‘spin’ purposes. If the toilet is an open ditch out back, you have to bring your own toilet paper, and yes, those are bedbugs — well, “rustic” is perhaps bordering on dishonesty.
Just imagine how goofy you’d sound if you used “eatery” in conversation. “I don’t feel like cooking — let’s go to an eatery!” Try saying that out loud and see if you don’t giggle.
(And don’t worry: If someone was silly enough to actually name their restaurant “The Brown Cow Eatery” or some such thing, we won’t hold you responsible.)
* Learn more about how to avoid clichés in the MatadorU Travel Writing program.
* This post was originally published on August 1, 2009.