Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Art of Travel Blogging

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As a relative newbie to travel blogging, having only written the posts for The Rough Guide to a Lonely Planet (TRGTALP) for just over a year, I am truly fascinated by the different styles of blogs that exists and what piques the interest of those who love to read about travel.  I am also confused at what some travel bloggers constitute of interest to the reading public.  The aim of TRGTALP has always, and always will be, a blog aimed at inspiring people to travel as well as offering advice to the hearty (mostly budget) traveller.

As a traveller myself, I really enjoy reading blogs and websites that provide their readers with useful hints on where to travel, how to travel and information on successfully navigating the tricky elements of soon to be explored destinations.  I am therefore, confused to find a large section of travel blogging community offering their readers posts that merely act as an extended, detailed itinerary-based report of their trip to a particular destination.  These self-indulgent 'trip report' style posts often follow a particular theme such as an experience of the writer's morning watching a local folk dance in Turkey or a mundane day-to-day run through of every aspect of their year exploring the world.  They are also usually accompanied by the writer posting several photos, on Twitter and Instagram, of their latest cocktail or a glass of vino in their said destination.  I am led to believe, from reading the comments attached to such posts and seeing the following many of these bloggers receive on Twitter and Facebook that they are very popular with readers.

Personally, I do not get it!  What benefit is this kind of travel literature to the readers other than a chance to ram it in their face by saying, 'I travel lots!  My life is fabulous!'  Do the readers perhaps enjoy travelling vicariously with the writer?  For me, it borders on insulting.  Harsh, I know.  But to assume that people want to read about YOUR holiday is just odd!  The bland minutiae found within these 'trip report' posts, I find mind-numbingly dull; bringing me to the key point of this post...I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT YOUR HOLIDAY!  I am thrilled you had a fabulous trip to Munich, but I could not care less about all the things you visited, the copious beer steins you drunk and the amount of sausage you ate on your visit.  Aside from the literary merits of these banal posts and blogs, I do not get the point of them.  As a traveller, I believe people want help and advice to allow them to create their own experiences and I enjoy my travel largely for my own sake; not because it will make an 'interesting' blog post.  In addition to this, reading about someone else's trip acts as a spoiler to your own visit there and could possibly ruin any surprises you might have otherwise enjoyed.  The trips I take are often referred to in blog posts, here at TRGTALP, but only to root any help, advice and inspiration I want to offer my readers, not help them to create a carbon copy of my trip.

Of course, from time to time, I (or my wonderful guest posters) may write about destinations that have impressed, but I can assure you I will not be boring you with my 3 day blow-by-blow trip to Valencia or with posts that write at great length about days 1-6, 7-12 and 13-15 of my backpacking adventure around Vietnam.  What The Rough Guide to a Lonely Planet will provide you with is inspiration and help to give YOU the opportunity to explore destinations YOURSELF as part of YOUR own adventure.

One thing, before I go...just remember to include @TRGTALP in your Tweeted picture of that holiday cocktail!

Happy and safe travels!

8 comments:

  1. Completely agree, I have noticed the range of blogs out there too. There are the ones that are the 'look at me and where I have traveled' personal diaries, the 'look at me and where I have traveled' ego blogs that have dillussions of grandeur because they have written a few reviews and try to get advertising revenue, then there are the sites like your own which focus more on providing facts, tips and information. There are of course many sites which attempt to provide plenty of information, but slip all to often back into personal travelogue.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with any type, I just think it is wrong that all are lumped in together under the same banner as 'travel bloggers'.

    My own website for example is specifically focused on inspiring would be and inexperienced backpackers and giving advice, tips and information to allow anyone to be able to travel the world independently, easily and cheaply (sorry, shameless plug), of course I have included details about myself in an about me page to show people where this advice is coming from and occasionally an anecdote or two may slip into a post if it backs up the information I am giving, but I try to keep this to a minimum as I believe my readers want advice and information above all else. Of course within that there is a LITTLE room to provide personal accounts or personal info to build a connection between yourself and the reader, but this should be used sparingly in my opinion. I also have a series of travel books published under the Bemused Backpacker brand, and they have the same aim as the website. So I do not consider myself a 'travel blogger' in the sense that my site and my books are not a travelogue of my own adventures.

    As I said, there is room for all types of website and blog out there, and if people want to create a 'look at my adventures' travelogue then that is fine, but let's start distinguishing between them and other types such as our own and stop lumping everyone together under 'travel bloggers'.

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  2. A very, very interesting and thought provoking post. I suppose my questions to you are 1) what do you want out of your blog and 2) who are you marketing to, if anyone. I think there are more "armchair warriors" out there than people who are ever going to take the leap to travel full time. And if you want ad dollars you need to play to that set. And when I was considering the leap I lapped up the personalities and their travel logs. Some of them are boring and some of them are very charismatic and interesting. I follow people because they have an interesting perspective, not because of their tips or 'inspiration' or itinerary.

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  3. Thank you for your comment, BemusedBackpacker! I agree with what you have said. The whole point of my post was to identify myself as, what I see as, a 'useful' blogger, offering more than the showy trip report style blogs that, I feel, provide the traveller with very little in way of useful information, advice or inspiration. I do agree that there is room for all types of blogs and acknowledge that different people do enjoy different types of travel literature. I just find them a bit tiresome, to be honest.

    Mel...thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I hope you like my blog! As for the blog itself and me...I do not want anything out of my blog. My blog is not for me. It is for the people who enjoy reading it. I am not here to garner advertising revenue, get a stint on the Lonely Planet Magazine. These things would be nice, but I'm not deluded enough to think they are possible at this current moment in time. I market my blog to travellers. The blog is primarily concerned with the budget traveller and those that travel solo. But, the things I post are potentially of interest to those who do not travel alone and are simply interested in travel. I am confident that my blog will grow organically. People, who like the blog, I hope will pass the link to it onto friends, family, colleagues etc they think might find something of interest from it. You talk of blogs with an 'interesting perspective'. I've yet to find a travel blog that does fulfil that criteria; would you be able to add some links here for some of those blogs you like and regularly enjoy?

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  4. I do enjoy your blog.

    I think you and I are at radically different life-stages (I'm a female, beating back 50 with the short end of the stick, making a life change after many years in the corporate world and traveling alone on the cheap) and so I don't know that we would have the same taste in blogs. I will spare you some of my recommendations but I will suggest wanderingearl.com as perhaps one of the best in your age group. He is insightful, helpful, brings new perspective and really connects with his readers. I really enjoy his posts and I always learn something, even though I'm not getting tips from him or interested in the same geographic area or looking to him for inspiration.

    For example, once I posted about how to deal with hagglers abroad and my advice was hard ass - don't look at them, yell at them, take their picture to freak them out (not actual advice, just for tone) and then a week later wandering earl wrote a post about the same topic and it was brilliant - more in line with understanding the perspective of the haggler and connecting with them to disarm them. It was so good and taught me so much and really made me think.

    Love him!

    So he's not really about giving advice or "inspiring" but giving a different perspective.

    There are a few out there. Every traveler thinks they can write a brilliant blog and only 2% or so make it. Most get bored of their blog after a few months and stop posting - in some cases it's quite the pity. I wish you lots of luck TRGTALP and I hope you are one of the lucky ones! You have made me think about posting more quality material on my blog, so I thank you very much and look forward to your next post!

    Get a facebook page for TRGTALP!

    internationalmel.com :)

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  5. hye MikeW,
    i have been to london and paris to visit my friend who doing PHD there. and that was my first experience to travel. i was scared, u know this is my first time! oo my god!! going to a place which is u are not familiar with..i was scared with the people and the place..but, u know what!! it was amazing, awesome... hahhahhaahha... ooo my god!! it was unbelievable!! u know what..one thing that i love the most, is when u are in a place and the people around u was using different language..hahahhahahha..it was like heard an alien language.. i love that!! hahhahhhhhhaa...
    come in back from the short trip, i was planning to make another trip next time.. then, i browse through on the internet about solo backpacking and i found ur bolg..i like to read ur blog MikeW... ^_^... so many, information and very inspired me to make another trip once again.. ur writing was very helpful..
    (oooppsss.. i am sorry if there's something u cannot understandi what i was written..i am not very good in english...)... ^_^..

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  6. InternationalMel! Thank you! And, yes, I have read Wandering Earl! I really like his blog too. I know what you mean. He's clearly a very well travelled guy with some really thought-provoking information he highlights to his readers. It's good to see he gets the traveller thinking about how they travel and what they do when they travel. I am so pleased to hear I have made an impression on you and that you are enjoying the posts that I am writing!

    I took your advice, Mel, and have set up a Facebook page for The Rough Guide to a Lonely Planet - www.facebook.com/TRGTALP I would be thrilled if you could share it on your various social media platforms. Thank you!

    MikeW :D

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  7. Hi ani_dipsy! Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I really enjoyed reading about you overcame your fears about travelling solo and made, what sounds like, a great trip to Europe! I am also so touched to think my writing has inspired you to travel! I am always amazed that people read my blog posts and actually enjoy them! So, a big THANK YOU! Get planning the next trip, ani_dipsy!

    MikeW :D

    PS - Your English is great!

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  8. Personally I am inspired more by the persons individual journey (in the metaphorical sense, not literally). I.e. why are they a traveller? Did they pack up their life after a messy divorce? Did they save up for years for Law School but decide to follow their real dream instead? These appeal to me the most and are, for me, an "inspiration". On the flip side, the blogs such as "Getting stamped" and a whole multitude of others that tend to be quite young bloggers on round-the-world trips who spend perhaps a few days in a country at a time.......... these bug the hell out of me. I don't understand the race to "do" as many places as physically possible in a year. I value slow travel- which is why I live and work in each country I visit (so far anyway). But at the end of the day; each to their own.

    I think the issue here is the difference between 1) people who make travel their life (either ex-pats of full time travel writers / whole other range of occupations which can be done from ones computer), and 2) travel bloggers who take holidays. Nevertheless, good content can definitely be found in both styles, just depends what the reader is looking for at the particular time.

    Here's my favourites at the moment. I really enjoy their writing style - very frank and humorous and not always just an account of what they saw and where. For example I really liked a post on just1wayticket.com where she took about 50 individual photos of different Indian men who themselves were holding a camera to their eye and taking a photo of her. It was to make a point that in India you get stared a lot.

    www.leaveyourdailyhell.com
    www.jessieonajourney.com
    www.just1wayticket.com
    www.breakawaybackpacker.com
    www.girlinflorence.com

    But I admire you a lot for wanting to separate yourself from the others, to try and offer something different, also to really want to inspire others. I'm still in the really early stages of my blog- its only about a month or two old and I keep not finding the time to write.. but it's something I really want to get my teeth stuck into, so here's hoping!

    P.S I'm the same girl who you had a brief conversation on twitter with about domains. Notice all the sites I listed have their own domain name. I think you should definitely see if "www.roughguidetoalonelyplanet.com is available or if not think about a new design something that really explains you and your perspective. www.notjustanothertravelblog.com could be a fun one.

    All the best

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