Top 5 reasons you should start travel blogging right now

AKA “Just start the damn blog already!”

Continuing the trend of stream-of-consciousness and self-indulgent narratives the likes of which I have far too few current followers to feel weird about, I’m going to blather on and on about why I should have started this a long time ago.

Spišský Hrad, Slovakia
“Release the hounds.”

For a long time I’d hide in my fortress of solitude instead of peruse through the material written every day by hundreds or thousands of intrepid explorers wandering the world to their heart’s content, sheltering myself from the multitude of fascinating journeys and experiences they were happy to share with anyone and everyone who would listen.

It’s not that I disliked them. It’s that I wanted to be there too!

I can’t live vicariously. When I read stories about amazing travel adventures (or even just a silly post about getting lost in the middle of nowhere on the other side of the planet), I can’t help but want to get out there. I’ve traveled plenty, far more so than the average person in my socioeconomic position, but like any well-seasoned drug dealer knows, it’s the moderate-use junkies that are always on the verge of going overboard with their addiction. For years I couldn’t pass by the travel section of any bookstore without sifting through oceans of guidebooks and mentally planning one adventure after another.

Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
At a crossroads.
Get it? GET IT!?!?

Having fairly recently set out on the path of the digital nomad, I thought I’d be on track to be location-independent within a few years, and just a few years after that, I’d be able to maintain a home base of operations instead of “needing” to be on the road all the time, living cheaply, with no place to call home, and no suit and tie to wear when a wedding for a friend or loved one came to my calendar’s attention. But if I had started this back in my 20s, long-term homeless nomad would have been the perfect life for me. Now it’s a bit trickier, since I want business to go well enough to afford realistic dreams of retirement, as well as have a semi-permanent place to crash.

Ron Swanson's awesome work ethic
Damn right.

So, how does this all relate to procrastination? Well, I’ve always sort of put off the idea of doing a travel blog until I could “really” do it; when I could take off for a few months, do serious work building the site, post an endless stream of mesmerizingly amazing tales of intrepid adventuring, punctuated by hauntingly beautiful specimens of photography, captioned by snappy and hysterical one-liners, the gestalt of which would make readers laugh, cry, and tell their friends.

I always had excuses. Pretty good ones, too. I didn’t know a thing about web design. I didn’t like the idea of just blathering about my own experiences. I didn’t know how much “worthwhile” content I could post before running out of practical tips and just falling back on “look at me, I’m somewhere cool!” There were way too many travel bloggers already anyway. I didn’t know a thing about social media promotion. Twitter didn’t even exist during the earlier trips. I had other stuff going on. I wanted to build up some extra money first.

But you know what? That was all wrong. Totally wrong. Here’s why you should start a travel blog NOW, even if no one’s going to read it, you’ll never make a penny from your work, and it’ll still suck up some of your precious time running it:

1) You’ll remember where you’ve been.

Somewhere in Bulgaria. I'm gonna say Sofia.
“I should just get a damn camera.”

Got any travel photos from way back in the day? Try to name the city. If you’re one of the “I like seeing little towns, too” types of people, those names will just fall out of your head. Especially when they’re in Hungary and they’re spelled Nagyberki Feherviz Termeszetvedelmi Terulet.

I’ve seen way too many churches to remember which is which, and I bet you have too. It’s not like you have to remember them all by name, but if you stick a few favorites into a blog post, you’ll caption them properly and you’ll have a record of them forever.

And it’s not just the places you’ve been, either. They’re usually not the star attraction of the show. What’s even better is…

2) You’ll remember what you did

Croatia. Um, Zagreb maybe?
“Die, foul Forgetfulness Beast!”

Who can forget wild and crazy adventure times with amazing friends and ridiculous shenanigans occurring every day? Everyone, that’s who. You’ll remember plenty, but some of those stories will just fade away. Some people like to keep a journal, but why not just make it digital? You’ll have a permanent record that’ll never get water damaged, and it’ll bring you closer to your experiences. Plus they’ll have fun pictures!

You’d be surprised how easily memories start coming back when you just reminisce about one or two little things. And those are your memories! Who the hell is the Forgetfulness Fairy to think she can just take them away?

Blogging about those experiences makes them that much more memorable. Writing them down and reading through them, even if it’s just skimming a page and glancing at photos while doing site maintenance, will bring those warm and fuzzy memories rushing right back.

3) You don’t have to email everyone all the time

Tired of typing dozens of email addresses into the recipient box? Me too. Make everyone else do the work for you by telling them to just follow you on Twitter! Besides, people are plenty more likely to share a fun story if it’s on a site, rather than inside an email. And besides, why bother writing all those emails (or writing in a paper journal) when you can just take the text and post them in a blog? It’ll be there forever, like a wonderful digital diary.

4) It’ll build…

Bucharest, Romania.
“I’m kind of a big deal.”

Feeling weird about starting an entire blog for just a short trip of a month or two? Well, so what? Sooner or later you’ll go on another trip anyway, and everyone getting those updates will see the rest of the record of your crazy adventures too. And they don’t care when you wrote it. Just that it’s fun to read.

And how nice will it be to look back on a decade’s worth of blogging adventures? Chances are if you keep things up you’ll have years’ worth of material, and those old stories will be just as fun to recall as the new ones, and they’ll be right there, like a photo album of your baby pictures, but twice as embarrassing.

And finally…

5) If you build it, they will come

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
“I just focus on quality content, some light social media promotion, and they just show up!”

No one out there recommends chucking your life to run away and become a travel blogger. Any self-employed or self-produced operation is going to take an enormous amount of work, just like any other small business always has. But, chances are, you’ll put as much time into it as you’re comfortable dedicating, and readers tend only to accumulate. Haven’t posted in a year? No big deal. That one random reader you’ve got in the Falklands will still get the update anyway, and he’ll probably be happy to get it. And you’ll smile seeing the readers randomly accumulating from random corners of the Earth. Even if it’s not for the money, that’s probably going to be a good feeling.

So if you’re on the fence, just jump ship. You’ll be emailing your mom anyway to tell her you’re not dead, so you might as well just stick it into a blog post instead. You’ll be glad you did.

About SnarkyNomad

Eytan is a pretentious English major whose rant-laden sarcastic tirades occasionally include budget travel tips and other international nonsense. You can follow his every narcissistic word on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

View all posts by SnarkyNomad

20 Comments on “Top 5 reasons you should start travel blogging right now”

  1. I totally agree, putting all of your thoughts into a blog is a great way to remember your adventures…When I returned from a year long round the world trip I was depressed and suffering from travelers blues. Starting a blog reminding me of better times really helped me to get over it and spurred me on to do some more travel. Great Post :)

    1. Yeah, it definitely pushes you to reminisce about the positives, rather than just the thought of it being all over. For me, anyway.

  2. It’s funny. I had the exact same reservation as you did before I started blogging. What hasn’t been said before? Whatever! It hasn’t been said by me!

    1. Exactly. And there must be SOME people out there that want to read the way I like to write. Right? Hope so, anyway.

  3. I love number 3! I went on a trip to a few countries in Europe this past summer and every day I would post short paragraph on Facebook sharing what I did that day. Finally someone commented and said something along the lines of “write an entire blog post why don’t you.” They were joking, but they were right! So I started a blog.

    Actually, it’s brand new. To me this post was less about why I should start a travel blog, and more about why I should keep up with my travel blog!

    Also, kudos for the Swanson pic.

  4. I TOTALLY agree with you, there is no way I can live vicariously through anyone either! Nope. I want to be there damnit! Thankfully, I’m back out on the road again.. wheeww! Glad I randomly came across your blog.. I’ll be back.

  5. I have really considered doing this, but there are three main reasons why I have not jumped the fence yet:

    1. English is not my native language. A Scandinavien language, which only a few million people can speak is and although I speak and write English so most people can understand it, it doesn’t feel as naturel and the memories don’t come as easily reading something I have written in another language. So either I should practice my English and stick to that or my audience will be limited to the population of Denmark and then I might as well just write those emails.

    2. I don’t have any stories yet. I am not an expert, actually I am as new to travelling as you can be as my first big adventure starts two weeks from now with a three and a half month i Central America. So it seems silly to put up a site without having anything at all… yet!

    3. Don’t you ever feel the need for more private writtings? I mean a blog is like posting your diary on the internet and although I enjoy reading others find it hard to imagine doing so myself?

    1. Good points! There are certainly some challenges, including these.

      1) It’s certainly true that it’ll feel less “natural” if you write it in a second language, but it might be worth thinking about the idea of making it less of a personal diary, and more of a language-learning project. It might not have the sense of humor or interesting use of words that it could in a native language, but it’ll be valuable for other reasons. There are quite a few travel bloggers out there who write in a second language (and in some cases, they write each post in English, plus their own language), and you can see that many of them have been pretty successful:
      eTramping
      Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler
      Off the Path
      Flipnomad
      (There are a lot of smaller ones as well; Kami and the Rest of the World, Null and Full, 25travels, Sateless Suitcase, to name a few).

      2) Several successful bloggers started their sites far in advance of their travels (Getting Stamped, Never Ending Footsteps). Instead of writing about the places, they wrote about the anticipation, the planning, the excitement and fear, the costs, and all sorts of other pre-trip information. It’s useful information for readers, and that makes it good enough to write.

      3) Different people have different levels of comfort when it comes to how much they want to expose. Plenty of people get a lot more personal than others, but it doesn’t make them more or less successful. Some people want to read funny stories; some people want helpful tips; some people want meaningful, heartfelt experiences, and so on. You can write at whatever level is most comfortable, and that’ll probably make the writing better, since it’ll be exactly what you want. Not every travel blog has to be soul-searching.

      So I hope that’s helpful. I don’t want to be the one to make the decision for you, but just wanted to point out that it seems that a lot of people have dealt with these exact problems, and it might be useful to see how they dealt with them.

      1. Okay, maybe I am a little more convinced, but now what? I have never made a blog before and know nothing about making a website? When I visited Blogspot it seemed pretty easy to use, but you are using WordPress? When I visited their site, my impression was that everything costed money?

        1. Kind of. This is one of the problems with starting a blog; all the options are flawed. This site is running WordPress, but there are a million things about WordPress that annoy the hell out of me. Unfortunately, it seems to be the best option, since it has been around for a long time and has accumulated support and plugins that other platforms have not. Blogspot is incredibly limited in what you can do, as is Tumblr, and many people just eventually switch to WordPress after they’ve started with the others, though it’s not necessarily a bad idea to start there, although migration to WordPress can be challenging.

          You can actually start your blog at WordPress.com for free (it’ll look like this: mysite.wordpress.com instead of mysite.com) and then migrate someday to having your own WordPress site with your own domain name, which is done by signing up with a hosting company (this can be around $8 a month or less if you sign up for a longer contract), plus the cost of the domain, which might be $20 to $40 depending on several things.

          I wish it were simpler, but unfortunately the world is in the bizarre predicament of the internet being amazingly popular, but no site building options being ideal. Plenty of them are promising, but the bottom line is simply that you’ll have to learn to deal with the quirks of whatever platform you choose. I can’t see anything being better than WordPress for blogging purposes, plus there are a billion themes and plugins, but it has its weird nuisances too. The most annoying things are the fact that you write the posts and manage the sites through the WordPress interface, so you can’t see what it looks like on your specific theme; you have to save and click “preview” any time you want to evaluate what a blog post will look like. Once you get the hang of it you won’t need to view it anymore, but it’s just kinda dumb.

          I’d recommend watching some video tutorials on using WordPress, see how things look, and start with the free version if you’re unsure if it’ll be a permanent investment on your part. I wish I had some get-things-started tutorials, but that’s not how I did things, so I don’t know of a certain place to go. Hope that helps, but it’s gonna be tricky.

          I like Weebly (it’s more of a web design platform in general, rather than just a blogging platform), since it’s the easiest to use of anything I’ve seen, and if you don’t need all the fancy shmancy plugins, it can be fine. But it has far fewer plugin options, so it’s tough for a non-programmer to modify the site if necessary.

    1. Yeah, I think back to when I first started seriously traveling, and I’d have a blog 7 or 8 years old right now. I’d be the king of the world by now!

  6. Great post! I started one for fun just to document my travels and it was wayyyy easier than emailing, calling, posting pics all the time for friends and family. I’m amazed at how it’s turned out though! Blogging is more fun than I thought :)

  7. I’m off for the first time very shortly and this is something that has entered my mind previously but I am not much of a writer. I think I am now on the verge of starting one just before I leave but just need something to push me over the edge…

    1. There are plenty of reasons to do it, and plenty of different personal goals…but I think the easiest way to get started is just to do it as a diary for your friends and family to enjoy. It takes up some time, but it might save time mass-emailing everyone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.