Veracruz, Mexico. June 1973. All the descriptions of heavy rain don’t do this one justice. Sheets, pouring, pounding, cats-and-dogs, driving, blinding all are incapable of getting to the essence of this rain. There was no place which was merely damp. Dry was impossible. Everything was suddenly and ruthlessly sodden. The streets gushed with water, the shelter under large trees became ponds, the long sloping eaves of tile roofs gave no refuge below. It was ten at night, and we were in my Ford van, having finished a nice…

Good travel writing, whether a blog, an article, a short story or a full length book, must deal not only with the other conventions of writing but develop the interplay between the location and the traveler. Otherwise, it is reporting. Excellent reporting at times, but without that sense of how travel has affected the traveler in a deeper way than OMG.

Staff writer Ariel Levy’s 4000 word essay in The New Yorker, “Thanksgiving in Mongolia, Adventure and heartbreak at the edge of the earth,” is labeled “Personal History” by the magazine. It is that, and so much more. Travel writing is often seen (and rightly so) as just a grown-up version of the “What I Did On Summer Vacation” essays teachers used to require. They are frequently lists of saw that, ate this, slept there with a frosting of the overused phrases describing some must-see, eponymous, chic, secret hideaway…