There are lots of ways to stay connected during your travels, but travel blogs seem to be all the rage across the interwebs these days. What used to be an exclusive club for the tech savvy has blown up, and now anyone who can turn on a computer has the means to start a travel blog. There are literally millions of travel blogs out there now, and even the most technically illiterate person can get in on the fun.
If you love travel and have an affinity for taking pictures and writing, then you may consider joining the scores of people who have set up travel blogs. There are many reasons why one would want to start a travel blog, and while it is becoming easier and easier to set one up and get started, you may want to ask yourself what your reasons are for getting one off the ground.
When most travelers start a blog, it’s typically for the purpose of chronicling their journeys and keeping in touch with family and friends. It has replaced slide shows, photo albums, and mass emails when sharing your travel experiences with your friends and loved ones. Some people also use their blogs to make money or support their travels. While this is something that is possible, it takes tons of time, work, and patience. Mom may think you’re the next Thoreau or Bryson, but – and no offense here – chances are you aren’t. I wouldn’t count on making any money from your site initially to assist you in your travels. Still, there are certain benefits (and challenges) to keeping a blog on your trip.
A blog can keep you connected around the world
The main benefit of starting a travel blog is it makes it super easy to stay in touch with family and friends back home. You can write stories, share pictures, and comment back and forth all in one central place. It sure beats sending out mass emails, and let’s face it, not everyone cares about our travels. If someone is interested, they can check out your new blog for themselves rather than delete an unwanted email.
While journals are great and can be used as a supplement, a blog is a way to keep a journal more organized and pretty looking. Revisiting your blog years down the line will be a great memento and is fun to do. You can get a glimpse into what you were thinking at the time of your trip, and you can re-create memories that you may have forgotten about. It will be a cool thing to show the kids, and it can be accessed from anywhere. All your experiences and memories from your trip are available at your fingertips. I personally love going back to my blog from our RTW trip. It’s a great reminder of what an awesome experience it was, and it helps remind me how lucky we were to have taken this amazing trip.
If you are not a tech savvy person and don’t care about having your own domain name or monetizing your site, then there are easy ways to start a blog. BootsnAll allows you to painlessly start your own blog and get it up and running with a quickness. WordPress.com is a popular platform for blogging if you want a little more freedom. If you want to take it even further and self host, then WordPress.org is the way to go.
A blog can get in the way of travel
On the downside, it takes time to keep up a blog while you’re on the road, even if you have no interest in making it into a business. Blogging can be hard work at times and you need to ask yourself how often you want to sit in an internet café writing blog posts, uploading pictures, and dealing with tech issues? How much time do you want to spend finding accommodations that have Wi-Fi or don’t charge an exorbitant rate for it?
Even though the internet has spread to all parts of the world, it is still very unreliable in some places. If you are traveling in developing countries, you will run into issues that complicate the blogging process. Internet cafes can be very crowded and difficult to concentrate in. Some can be painfully slow and frustration sets in quickly when it takes 20 minutes to upload 2 pictures (all the while paying for your time). Even in some developed countries, internet access can be very expensive and unreliable (hello New Zealand!). While free Wi-Fi can be found, do you really want to spend half your trip in a McDonald’s?
If you’re blogging for friends and family, an hour or two once a week is no big deal. But if you are committed to building your blog as a business, you’ll need to run it as such, and that means a much bigger time commitment. Are you willing to sacrifice travel time for time working on your blog?
A blog can be used to start a business
When starting a travel blog, many travelers check out other popular blogs for inspiration and ideas. The travel blogging community is growing larger by the day, and you’ll probably run across people who make their living through their sites. While this idea is a grand one, the success stories are few and far between. There’s no way around it – making money solely from blogging takes a lot of time and effort.
But the point of this RTW column is to get people thinking outside the box and looking at new ways to live their lives, so I don’t want to discourage you from trying. If you are serious about trying to make a living, or at least make a few extra bucks to boost your travel fund, then you must do your homework and do it the right way. It’s certainly not impossible, but it will take work. And the sooner you get started on it before you even leave, the better.
The most important thing to realize is monetizing your site won’t happen overnight. Some people work on their blogs for a year or more before they see a penny from it. If you are taking off on an extended adventure and hope to make a little extra cash on the side, then it would be a good idea to start your blog and start building a following before you leave. This will give you an opportunity to actually start making a few bucks while you’re on the road.
Even if you don’t make any money while you’re traveling, it could springboard you into something else after you get home. If you’re interested in writing and/or photography, having your own site can be a great jumping off point into a new career. If you’re on a career break, a blog can be a fantastic resume booster for when you return. While you may not end up making a living from your site, it can potentially help you find work elsewhere (having my own blog helped me land this BootsnAll gig).
Keep in mind that while every Tom, Dick, and Harry can start their own blogs, it’s important to actually have the skills to make your blog a success. Being able to write well and take good, quality photos is a great start, but you also need to know about things like SEO and social media (for business purposes).
Blogging for money is difficult and takes time
The reality of the situation is that it’s difficult to transform this whole venture into a business. There are some who start a site and start making money within a few months, but those people are definitely in the minority. There are also those who actually make their living just from blogging, and those are in an even smaller minority.
If you are hoping to make a living with a travel blog, you need to explore all your options and have other business ideas in place. Most travel bloggers who do this for a living have other sources of income, whether that is niche sites, other writing endeavors, products they sell through their sites, or consulting work. Very few people make a living off their one travel blog.
A blog isn’t the only way to share your stories
If you aren’t setting off on a grand RTW trip for an extended period of time, or you simply don’t want to spend the time necessary that blogging takes, then you have plenty of other options for sharing your journeys and experiences.
- Facebook Fan Pages
Nearly everyone as a Facebook account by now. Sure, you can update your status and upload pictures via Facebook while on the road. But not every one of your friends wants to see those updates from the road (just like you don’t care what color baby Joey’s poop was this morning). Facebook has made it easy to start fan pages, and then anyone who is interested can become a fan. You can make your travel updates from there and have all your details in one, easy to find place.
Twitter has absolutely exploded, and while it has a bit of a learning curve for the newbies, there’s no better place to go for travel information, in my opinion. While this may not be the best way to keep a journal of your trip, it is a fantastic method of keeping everyone up to date of your whereabouts and getting tips about the places you are in.
Most cameras these days come with built in video functions, which can be very fun to use while traveling. It’s possible to get some great video that tells a better story than through pictures. Uploading that video to your YouTube channel can also be a fun way to keep family and friends up to date with your travels, especially if you’re not fond of writing or dealing with difficult tech issues.
- Photo sharing sites
Setting up an account on a photo site like Flickr should be required for all travelers, no matter how long the trip. Flickr and sites like it are places to store all your photos and keep them nice and organized. You can send the link to anyone who is interested, and they can keep up with all your photos while you’re away. This is also a great way to back up all your pictures. You never know when that laptop will crash or your camera and memory cards get lost or stolen. Having an online back up can really save you and gives you a great way to manage all your pictures.
Starting a travel blog isn’t for everyone. If you are only doing it for the fun of it and to keep a record of your journey, then it can be as simple as you wish. But if you hope to someday make some money from it, it’s going to take a lot more time and effort. Though it can be a lot of work and frustrating at times, starting a travel blog is fun and opens yourself up to a whole new community of people who share your same interests.
Do you have a travel blog? Are you thinking of starting one? Comment below to share your blog or ask questions about getting one off the ground, or check out these other resources for bloggers:
- Lessons Every Travel Blogger Can Learn from TBEX
- 15 of the Best Expat Blogs
- Best Round the World Travel Blogs
- 15 Best Travel Photo Blogs
- 6 Online Tools to Enrich Your Offline Travel Experiences