Excavating The Travel Essay

Five sessions; January 16, 23, 30 & February 6, 13 // 12-2pm ET





This course is for anyone who wants to write travel essays that are as vivid as they are insightful. We'll mine old travel journals, photos, correspondences, and conduct original research to write a rich and layered essay. Perhaps it's a story of transformation abroad, of a place that moved you or a stranger who changed your life, a journey that still haunts you, or simply of a distant meal you'll never forget. Or maybe it's a story of migration and identity in a foreign landscape. Over five sessions we’ll push the boundaries of the genre while remaining committed to the heart of the story.  


The course begins by reading a broad range of travel essays to understand how different techniques impact the reader. When would an anecdote be more effective than a statistic? How should a writer portray a culture they know little about? We'll break away from the clichés, tropes, and stereotypes that plague travel writing in order to tell an authentic and dynamic story.


Next, we'll dive deep into structure and craft. Whether you're writing a chapter in a memoir, a magazine feature, a letter, or deep captions for a photo essay, we'll cover the pillars of a solid travel story—curiosity, sense of place, a moment in time, local characters, rich context, narrative arc, sensory details—as well as techniques to illustrate it skillfully.


During the course, each participant will write an original travel essay of up to 2,000 words. The stories will be shared with the group and we’ll generate feedback together. Each student will meet virtually with the instructor for comments and edits, including a personalized list of recommendations for places to submit it to.


Between sessions, participants can join the community forum for daily writing exercises, Q+A, and craft discussions led by the instructor.

This course is limited to 10 participants.

*One full scholarship is available for a promising writer with a background historically misrepresented or underrepresented in the

travel writing genre.

Participants receive a 10% discount code that can be used for a private consultation or future workshop.


Crafting the Perfect Pitch

One session; February 27 // 11am - 3pm ET 




What does it take to translate a good story idea into an irresistible pitch? In this workshop we’ll learn how to get an editor to greenlight your pitch by covering the tenets of a solid story and matching it to the right publication. Whether you’re just starting or you’re a seasoned writer aspiring to bigger outlets, this course provides clear guidance on crafting effective pitches for quality publications.

This workshop will survey methods for generating story ideas and tips to make them successful. We’ll cover the essential components of a pitch letter, from a catchy subject line, to a captivating hook, and a walk-off that leaves the editor wanting more. We’ll also discuss editor etiquette, navigating the assignment process, and how to land the best placement for your story. 

Participants receive a 10% discount code that can be used for a private consultation or future workshop.



Image by Adli Wahid

The Frontier of Travel Writing

Master Class

Istanbul + Turquoise Coast

JUNE 2022



See an unfiltered view of one of the world's best cities—Istanbul!—while sharpening your writing skills in this experiential class. This isn't your typical writing workshop: it's designed to cut  through the fluff and explore real issues in travel writing, such as the risks and ethics of writing abroad, and how to craft a truly authentic story that embodies the complexities a place.


Most importantly, we won't do it alone: We'll meet local journalists, see the streets through the eyes of documentary photographers, taste the cuisine of Istanbul's best chefs, and break bread with local communities.


After Istanbul, we'll head to a private seaside retreat to use as our writing studio. The trip culminates with a historic sailing excursion. A writing retreat trip extension will be offered.


This course is structured through writing prompts, on-the-ground reporting, panel discussions, and group workshops to produce a publishable travel feature.  



Detailed health and safety guidelines will be issued in Spring 2022. Private accommodations are available. Local health protocols will be followed. 


Image by Meriç Dağlı

Day 1



Explore Beyoglu

Dinner with a Turkish writer


Image by Daniel Burka

Day 3



Urban photography or sketching class

Custom exhibition with artists

Image by David Monje

Day 7



A local's perspective tour

Travel writing ethics panel


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Day 7



Writing retreat

Group reading


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Day 2



Historian-led Sultanahmet tour

Film screening


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Day 4



Culinary tour

Turkish wine tasting

Dinner with local chef


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Day 6



Fly to Mediteranean town, Kas

Private seaside writing retreat


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Day 8



Sailing trip

Farewell dinner



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A 4-star boutique historic hotel in Istanbul's charming Cihangir neighborhood—home to local writers, journalists, actors, and artists. It has stylish rooms and a rooftop terrace with views of the Bosphorus. 


We have a scenic coastal retreat with stone cottages, a private beach, and organic garden all to ourselves. The host family has lived here for generations and has lots of stories to share with us.


All accommodations
Most breakfasts and dinners
All domestic travel
Guided tours + workshops
Private group writing studio
Personalized writing feedback
A custom reader and workbook
Intimate group size (10 max)

To sign up for a workshop email jenna.scatena[at]


"Jenna offers a game-changing class. The daily prompts helped me focus and generate while delving into this new territory. Not only did I write a substantial draft of an essay during this time (one I have been putting off!), I feel that I can take what I have learned in this class and apply it to my future writing. I would take the class again simply to be in an atmosphere that helps me get the essay out of me. Jenna fosters a collegial and supportive environment where classmates come together to share work and ideas. The class material is well-organized, thorough, and meaningful, and peppered with inspirational words from those who have walked the path before. Plus, Jenna is knowledgeable, sincere, and a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend this class."

—Jennifer Kircher Carr

"Jenna takes the desire to be a travel writer and skillfully plots the course to make it real. In an encouraging , safe and stimulating environment she walks you through at a pace that allows you to develop and flesh out your ideas. Her breadth of knowledge in the field of travel writing allows you to sample writers and be inspired by their techniques.  This is simply the best, most  satisfying , practical  and least pretentious writing course I have ever had the pleasure of joining." —Julia Booth 

"This class was a delight! I'm a beginner and Jenna provided me with enough structured info, examples, daily prompts and community space to feel like a pro. In a short amount of time, she managed to dive deep on aspects of travel writing with refreshing ease. And it was fun! I definitely recommend this class for experienced writers as well as newcomers like me." —Turna Mete

"Jenna's pitch workshop was informative and insightful. I came away from it with actionable advice for how to pitch stories to editors and bigger publications." —Sara

"Jenna's classes and one-on-one writing consultations have become somewhat of an addiction! I feel that she helps me look at my stories in new ways, and I come away from each session thinking about writing with an entirely different perspective. Plus she's always a joy to work with." —Cheryl