Do You Travel to Blog or Blog to Travel?

If you consider yourself a travel blogger, I have a question for you: Do your travels determine your blogging? Or does your blogging determine your travels?

In other words, does your blogging life – your online persona and community – actively play a role in how you choose your travel destinations and activities?

Digital Nomad, Audrey on Laptop - Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Not a bad place to work. Rio Dulce, Guatemala

If you are not in the travel blogging world, but you happen to be in the metaphor business, a similar question applies to you: How much of what you do is motivated from within?

If this looks like a twist on the career advice, “Do what you love and the rest (i.e., the satisfaction, success, money, etc.) will follow,” it is.

What the heck is the metaphor business?It’s one in which, as you have an experience, you undertake and capture it in a way that can somehow be shared or monetized later. If you are a travel writer, travel photographer, lifestyle writer, or food writer, you’ll probably know what I mean.

The Travel Blogger Example

We once assumed that most travel bloggers do as we do: choose an itinerary based on their own interests and write about their experiences. But a few articles came across our RSS readers earlier this year in fact underscoring that others take a wholly different approach. They actively choose and tune their travel trajectory based on what they perceive will be of interest to their readers, even if other destinations or activities may be of greater interest or better suited to them.

This is a deliberate choice, but it does cast light on the relationship between an experience, reflections on that experience, the consumption of those reflections by an audience and the influence of audience reaction on future decisions.

Our Approach

We began this blog to share our around-the-world journey. Along the way, we hoped to use and hone our writing and photography skills to engage readers in travel as a gateway to understanding our world (and hopefully becoming less fearful of it). As we’ve executed, we’ve made inroads into the travel blogging world — and in turn we’ve realized that there are myriad approaches to and reasons for travel blogging. And as our understanding of the blogging world evolves, we regularly examine and question our own approach.

Although we occasionally call out to our community for guidance, we generally make itinerary choices based on what we believe will engage us and teach us something.

We understand that we sometimes do this to our own online peril. For example, an article about kids working the mines in Bolivia is interesting to some and a meaningful issue that we believe both deserves attention and accurately reflects our travel experience. To us, it’s worth the effort to write. However, we’re aware that it’s not a particularly hot travel topic primed for viral success.

Asking You

Tomato-throwing caveat: One approach to travel blogging is not inherently better than another; each has value and satisfies different needs. I ask the question below not with a specific answer in mind, but as an open inquiry. I’m curious about the relationship between the experiences you choose and your audience.

Do you travel to blog or do you blog to travel?

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Comments

  1. says

    We travel based upon what we think we will find interesting. That is the benefit for not trying to monetize your site, you are free to do what you like, go where you want and write about what you find interesting. If others find it interesting/helpful/inspiring, that makes us happy. If not I am sure they will find another travel blog.

  2. says

    Good question. Because my blog focuses on Latin America and my family is only willing to take the same type of vacation so many times, I’d have to say my blogging determines my travels.

    But the whole reason I blog about Latin America is because I like visiting there so much. The blog is just one more big reason to go there.

  3. Jay Alexis says

    I dont blog but my travels are somewhat influenced by what people say on their blogs. Especially those ones with photos uploaded. Photos are really inviting. What the blogger lacks in words, photos fill them up.

  4. says

    For me, it works both ways. Because our focus is on family travel, there are some topics that naturally flow from every day activities, such as going to the zoo, a museum or other kid friendly activity. On the flip side, we also direct some of our travel based upon popular topics or other projects we have going on. For example, we’re working on a book that is driving several upcoming trips. The goal is always to service the reader.

  5. says

    Interesting question, and timely. I’m in the planning stages for a lifestyle change focused on travel blogging, and as I’m working through possible destinations the thought of “what will readers find interesting/new/fresh” is crossing my mind.

    I am resisting. I can’t go someplace in which I have no intrinsic interest. I have to believe that good writing and interesting topics will carry the day over interesting destinations.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  6. says

    I actually created my blog so that I would have an excuse to travel!

    I find, being an entrepreneurial sort, I get stressed out if I feel like I’m not being productive. Starting Exile Lifestyle gave me the excuse – to myself and to others – to do a lot of the crazy stuff that I do these days.

    Because honestly, if you tell someone you travel around the world, getting into wild scrapes and conducting a series of lifestyle experiments for a blog, people get it. If you say you do this just because, you seem like kind of an oddball.

    So I guess you could say my blog serves the double-purpose of keeping my from going crazy AND keeping me from seeming crazy :)

  7. says

    This is the first travel blog post that I’ve read which has made me sad.

    We’ve been talking about, saving for and planning our trip for years. I want us to remember and enjoy everything about a trip that we’ve worked so hard for.

    This post has made me sit up and realise that I *never* want our trip determi ed by what makes a good post.

    For me the travel blog is about recording and sharing our experiences, honing my writing skills and if any pennies are made from advertising revenue (!) that’s a bonus.

    I think everyone who has a travel blog should read this post, thank you.

  8. says

    @ Colin When you travel on a bicycle you don’t seem to need a blog to not seem crazy. You just seem weird but cool.

    @ everbody else I started travelling before email so I can say I don’t really do it so others know about it. I love it, I live it. Now I started a blog to see what it can do for me and what I can do for you.

    Ciao!

  9. says

    a bit of both. sometimes the destination chooses you for example, in the course of work. work sends me far and wide, if it turns out to be a beautiful place and worth blogging about, then that is a bonus. Other than that, of course I would chose an interesting destination that I would want to blog about and that i think ppl might want to read about.

  10. says

    I’m new to travelling long term and blogging (just over a month since I started travel), but so far I’ve just been blogging about what I do, not doing stuff just to blog. There’s been times where I’d rather spend the day sitting in a park reading, or sipping coffee at a café for hours… these are times I’d never want to give up just to ‘chase a story’.

    With that said, I could see myself trying things I’d be too afraid of otherwise, the blog being a gentle nudge that I may need occasionally. Part of the reason I’m out travelling is to face up to some fears & to learn new things, the blog may help push me ahead by keeping me accountable for that.

  11. says

    On our Journey, blogging is just a means of sharing our travels. Ot doesn’t influence our travels as we pretty much want to see as much as we can regardless of the blog…hence ‘Journey’ in Trans-Americas Journey

  12. says

    It works both ways for us. We choose our destinations because we want to go there, but we keep our blog in mind when writing our articles. We loved sitting on the beach in Goa for 10 days, but our readers wouldn’t exactly be interested in reading about what we ate and drank during our time on the beach, so we didn’t write about it. When we ran out of interesting content for the blog, we decided moved on. In a way it helps to keep us in check. It keeps us moving along and seeing the sites.
    We travel because we love to travel and we love to blog so I don’t see anything wrong with keeping the blog in mind when traveling.
    I am trying to figure out why Sean finds this post sad? Some people love to blog just as much as they love to travel.
    We are those people. We love blogging and traveling. It keeps life interesting. We have traveled for years before running a blog and found that we lost our purpose in life when we were simply wandering aimlessly. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, but we love having the blog now to keep a purpose and focus. The blog helps us to afford our travels, so I don’t see anything wrong with keeping posts interesting.
    Great question thanks.

  13. says

    Having a blog does push us to go beyond the ordinary travel things and find different and unique things that we want to show to our readers. However, any time we think that something will be popular it is inevitably not popular and vice versa. It it’s not satisfying for us, though, then it’s not really worth it for us to do things just because others might want us to do it. P.S. I really enjoy stories like the one about the mining kids in Bolivia. Those kind of stories make me want to read your site; it’s what makes your site unique.

  14. says

    Our travel determines our blogging. We don’t worry about whether the place we are thinking about will be interesting to readers because we figure that if we find it interesting, then we should be able to make it interesting on our blog. And, if it’s a boring place, then we write about why it’s boring.

    The blog helps keep our minds active. We spend so much time doing physical activities during the day and very little time exercising our brain. By working on photography, writing, and programming, we make sure our brain cells don’t die away in a bucket of margarita.

  15. says

    Am enjoying the thought behind all these comments and the conversation that they’ve generated.

    @Keith: Sounds like we are of like minds.
    @Steven: Interesting perspective on a regional travel blog. If you specialize, that tends to change the game a bit. And of course, it makes sense — if you are going to specialize — that you focus on a somewhere or something that you have a passion for.
    @Jay: Thanks for your comment. I hope that it also applies to us :)
    @Randy: As I wrote this, I felt the same way: “The goal is always to service the reader.” But that’s the goal in the context of delivering content and making business. The broader question that I try to ask here is: if you are always servicing the reader, when do you have time to service yourself?
    @Keith: I think “what will readers find interesting” must cross your mind if travel blogging will be your focus, your career. I understand the conflict between what may be interesting to others may not be interesting to you. Good luck choosing those destinations!
    @Colin: Funny, we don’t feel like we ever needed an excuse to do something crazy.  That’s just the way we roll.  When we upped and moved to Prague back in 2000 without jobs, I suppose we were lifestyle designing before there was  a phrase for it.  We were oddballs then (and still are to most people we know).

    That people will “get it” (the idea of traveling the world) only if you have a blog…that sounds like the perspective of a blogger.  But I can tell you from experience that there’s plenty of reason to simply travel the world.  And a lot of people we speak to — bloggers and non-bloggers alike — get it.

    i understand what you are saying about feeling the need to be productive while traveling. Our blog helps to keep us grounded and we feel good about the time and effort we spend creating quality content and growing a community. It also helps us in finding offline projects as well.

    @Sean: Thank you for a thoughtful comment. Although my goal wasn’t to make anyone feel sad, it was intended to shine the light on the potential conflict between doing something because you love it and doing it because others love it. Of course, most everyone will tell you: do both. Or at least balance.

    Anyhow, I think you’ve got the right idea. Do what will bring you contentment. From there, the rest will follow.
    @Sebastian: I like it! I think you just put a very fine point on a lively conversation. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Travel before email…now what was that like? If I could do anything over, I’d be reborn to travel in an era that predates today’s modern age.
    @Catia: Great to see you here. That sounds balanced to me…do what you want to do and write about it, realizing that the writing process and your audience will no doubt stretch you to do things you might otherwise not be inclined to do. Good luck facing up to those fears.
    @Kaylene: Said with conviction. I like it. It makes me think of my own life: I don’t know that I was born or destined to travel, to write and to photograph. But I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity about things. And traveling the world and sharing those travels have allowed me to pursue that curiosity in a satisfying way.
    @Trans-america: The journey first. I like it.
    @Dave and Deb:  Thanks to you for the thoughtful response.  I suppose the question I have is: if your blog didn’t exist, would you keep moving and seeing the sites?

    I like the idea of using a blog to sharpen one’s purpose, particularly one’s purpose in wandering the planet. Our blog also helps ground us; it pushes us sometimes to analyze the places we visit and do more research into the historical and cultural context so that we have something sound to share with readers. (This may be the topic of an upcoming post.)

    Maybe Sean finds this post sad (although I’m happy for him to elaborate) because he’s an idealist.  I say this because I’m an idealist, too.  When you set off to travel around the world and blog about it, perhaps there’s a certain purity to that.  Then, you read a post like this or you become more involved in blogging and you realize that — aside from people following their passions — many are trying also to advance themselves, their causes and their businesses. For people who set out to be professional bloggers, this makes sense — but not everyone is in that boat.
    @Kyle: I think you hit on one of the greatest bits of value that an audience provides the writer.

    I’m glad you liked the Bolivia kids piece and you find our site unique because of pieces like it. Compliments like that really do mean a lot to us.
    @Akila: Another vote for the “build what you like and they will come” camp. I like the margarita comment, but I actually find that a good margarita can actually stimulate new ideas.

  16. says

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. For me, the answer isn’t totally clear-cut. I go where taxicabs are plentiful and food is worth exploring, but occasionally (this past week, in fact!) I ask readers what cities most interest them. Once I get reader feedback, I weigh it with my own interest level about the place – if I can be fascinated and engaged, then I know that will come through in the writing (at least I hope so).

  17. says

    For me, the travel is definitely the goal, not the blogging. I want the experiences and learning. But, while I won’t be picking destinations based on what I think will be a good post, the posting DOES affect what I do.

    Part of my challenge is breaking out of my shell and travel bubble (constructed through years of business travel). By blogging about my experiences and KNOWING I’ve set people’s expectations for my trip, it will help to get me out and do things I might otherwise shy away from.

    So, does it dictate my itinerary? Nope. But I’m using it as a tool to enhance my experience, not just share it.

  18. says

    Being that my travel is pretty much confined within northern Italy, I’d say that I travel to blog. My regular readers are already familiar with my yen for exploring the lesser known areas/customs/traditions of Italy (they never know what to expect!), which relieves me of having to target the better known destinations. While my aim is not to blog for profit, I like to think that what I reveal helps to put Italy in a more intimate light. Just as an example: Venice’s carnival is not the only one going on during carnevale season!

    Great post!!!!

  19. says

    I am most definitely in the blog-what-I-like category. While I do write about travel a lot, I don’t consider myself a travel blogger because so much of what I write about isn’t travel.

    I know that I need to hone my message into something more coherent, but I just don’t want to limit my topics. I suppose in this sense I think of myself as just a writer, and that is the common thread throughout. On the other hand, as editor of Matador Life, I do limit my topics to a particular field.

    And I enjoy switching between the two. They’re different ways of looking at and presenting topics, and as you said, no one is better than the other. There’s a need for both.

    As for your photo essay on children in Bolivian mines. While it may not get as many hits or comments as another topic, it is an important subject, and you and Audrey have given us an insight that we would not have had otherwise. It is very difficult to comment on difficult topics and easy to ignore them. I am glad you told the story.

  20. says

    My first passion is travel. Jason and I first decided to travel around the world and then we decided to blog about it. But if someone were to travel so that they can blog about, I would have to assume that blogging is their first passion. In both scenarios one is being driven from within.

  21. says

    @Layne: Thanks. Interesting to know your process. And I agree, the answer is never clear cut.

    @Joel: I completely appreciate your use of the term “travel bubble.” Business travelers and expats (I’ve been both) are prone to bubble living. But getting outside that bubble only takes a little bit of effort. It certainly doesn’t take traveling around the world.

    Using the audience to enhance the experience — I like that sentiment.

    @Rowena: Great to see you here. I know what you mean by being relieved of having to mind the high-traffic destinations. All beautiful, but the lesser-known places are the way to go. (We were married in Pienza, by the way). Also, do you know a little town called Suaris? Beautiful little village in northern Italy that we visited over 10 years ago. Nobody I’ve mentioned it to has ever heard of it. I’m suspecting you will.

    @Leigh: The motivation for traveling…that’s what makes the distinction between various travelers (and various blogs that touch the subject of travel, be they travel blogs or non travel blogs). We’d like to believe that while we exhibit characteristics of what most would call an around-the-world travel blog, our interests tend to fall more broadly than that. Some might even call it uneven or generalist.

    It is indeed difficult to comment on difficult topics. Well said.

    @Aracely: Fair assessment. Whatever drives you first, presumably that is your passion. For us, that happens to be travel as a gateway to understanding the world, primarily through its people. We’ve been doing it a long time…much, much longer than we’ve been blogging.

  22. says

    I definitely travel based on my interests and the blogging follows the things I do. I don’t use my blog as a catalyst to determine where I should go or what I should do when I’m there.

    That said, my blog has given me the opportunity to travel places I otherwise wouldn’t have visited, and in this case, I blog based on where I travel, which came out of the fact I was blogging in the first place.

  23. says

    Interesting question! I’m finally getting on the road so to speak
    after a few years of thinking & talking about it all I will be traveling
    with the luxury of been somewhat established in building sites and having allready a decent residual income. The travel part should be pretty natural as
    I’m all ready 20+ years away from the uk having lived in many places for somewhat long periods. Having an income whilst traveling was unheard of when I first left the uk “unless you were silly rich” today technolodgy is a dream. Beeen in the buis so to speak I knew I would probably take on a blog when I hit the rd I have chossen a name which will reflect my travels and lacks info on the web http://www.workingnomadsapartments.com “shameless plug to. Site not yet developed :-)

    blog to travel or travel to blog? they compliment each other perfectly as I see it. The notion a blog will help you to explore you new places is a major benifit to owning a blog and an idea I had not envisaged.

    I suppse if I must choose I would fall in to the group of bloging to travel. Uniquely cause I have allready done the traveling whilst living on a shoestring and all that entails was fun, blogging to travel is a cool deal In comparison though….

    50/50 here

  24. says

    For now, I’m just traveling and the blog is a happy happenstance to come out of it. I’m sure as I begin to travel more & more, I’ll see what happens. In my mind, both travel & blogs are fields susceptible to change (just think that hardly anyone had cameras or twitter or int’l phones a few years ago) so I’m definitely keeping myself open for whatever the future brings.

  25. says

    Because our blog is centered around rock climbing and cycle touring we tend to travel to the best destinations for these sports. We generally have a long term itinerary in mind but are often driven to new places by word of mouth either from the online community or people we meet on the road. Climbing especially is a very social activity and the opportunity to engage in discussion with fellow climbers provides a lot of motivation for topics. That said, as travel bloggers we are always thinking of how our experiences relate to the blog. We may linger taking more photos or gathering a bit more information to share with readers than we might do otherwise.

  26. says

    We travel because we love to go places, see new things, eat strange (to us) foods. Whether we had a blog or not, we’d do that. And we never travel somewhere because we think “This would make a good blog post” and not “This is an awesome place to go.” As a blogger, you can’t help but sometimes think about how great a post you can write about a place, but I can’t ever imagine going somewhere for that purpose. Which is one (of many) reasons we chose to not monetize our blog. I don’t want to feel obligated to produce anything or go anywhere that I’m not interested in. (Though I completely acknowledge that many great blogs remain authentic even while making money. It’s just not right for us…at least not right now. Never say never.) We keep an audience in mind when we choose what to write on our blog, not when we choose what to do.

    Over the past year, I’ve been weeding through the blogs I read, simply because I just don’t have the time to invest in all of them like I used to if I want to accomplish some things on my version of a bucket list. A lot of the blogs that I’ve said goodbye to are ones that I feel are being written out of obligation (to an audience or advertisers or to the grand hope of being “discovered”) and which, as an effect, seem to lack an authentic passion for travel.

  27. Bill M says

    Coming from the days when traveling meant you didn’t have an electronic umbilical and had to meet a country and its people and culture on their own terms (mail from Southeast Asia took about five weeks round trip if the answerer was diligent), my question is–sure, you can blog without traveling; can you travel without blogging? And really, if you’re so focused on your blogging connection, are you traveling for the sake of being there, or in some major way, are you traveling for your audience?

  28. Bill M says

    In addition, blogging keeps you at a remove–if you’re blogging, you’re not doing anything unique to the country except reporting what you did when you weren’t blogging; and maybe, when you might have been fully immersed, you held back some small part of yourself in order to frame your blog. Even though I’m relatively still right now (because I’m building a house in Ecuador), I’m not convinced that busy-ness or mental activity relative to blogging couldn’t be beautifully replaced by a higher metabolism of involvement in the culture, etc., one is presumably in when not blogging. How would your travels differ if blogging and phoning and tweeting and skyping and emailing weren’t possible? They’d be more involved or a great deal shorter, I imagine: being truly present without home-and-audience support is quite a challenge–one pre-internet travelers had to meet. Meeting that challenge was what gave being a traveler so many of its benefits and cachet–a cachet now borrowed on, but very often, no longer earned. “Wild” or “Free” or “Risk-taking” or “Adventurous” seem to me to be diminished now–even, maybe, to the point of being delusions: how can one be any of those when one is tethered?

  29. says

    we travel because we love it and the blogging thing just came out as we went along. our idea of the blog is to share our experience with fellow travelers, to give a truth insights of things, our perspective of the places we visit and stuff we do but surely (and unfortunately in a sense) haven’t made a living out of this instead living off our saving. what we found sad is that, as you said, many travel bloggers are dictated by their audience and also sponsors as they are blogging as their main profession and mainly worry about monetizing it. so we are concern that some blogs might lose their authenticity and interest in purely sharing good or bad travel experiences. unfortunately we have been stumbled ourselves upon bloggers that were only money-orientated …

  30. says

    When mining my passions last year I discovered a few things: I love traveling, writing, and sharing. A travel blog fit perfectly. I confess, had a personal blog before, so this isn’t new to me. Bill M.’s comment made me pause, though. Indeed, travel in the past wasn’t steered towards an audience or mass consumption. A crux, but these new tools have also allowed others to ditch the cubicle and live out dreams.

    As for monetizing, my wish is to balance it slightly. Let me be naive in believing that personality (namely, mine) can drive stories and attract like-minded advertisers. I would never give a positive review just to score money.. isn’t that why I’m doing this in the first place??

  31. says

    Great post and fantastic discussion!

    I’m a professional travel writer who first started travel blogging a few years ago as a diversion and a way, a place, to reflect upon things I couldn’t write about in the stuff I was paid to write (guidebooks, magazine stories, digital content etc). I’ve been living out of my suitcase for the last 4 years and because I’ve traveled for a living my travel has partly been determined by the commissions that have come to me and partly by the places I think that will interest readers and therefore earn me commissions and partly by my own interests.

    Now my life has turned and this year I’m being paid to blog primarily (and publish in magazines, etc secondarily) so my own personal travel blog (http://cooltravelguide.blogspot.com/) is being somewhat neglected for now, which I find frustrating. Where I travel now has been determined by the project and a number of criteria from marketing imperatives to where the company we’re working for has properties, but definitely also by where we think travellers will be interested in reading about.

    Travel blogging and travel writing are both about inspiring people to travel, so if you take either seriously and are trying to make a living from them, you have to have your audience in mind. If I’m travelling purely for personal reasons, then that’s a whole different story.

  32. says

    I blog in different sites for more than those two reasons.

    1. I blog to inform my readers of the current currency trends. When my clients travel, they need foreign currency, that is why they come to me. They can easily get it in a foreign country, BUT at what cost? I have worked for a very long time to help my clients in making the right decisions when it comes to doing they currency exchange. If a client comes telling me that the rate of exchange will be better in Paris, Rome, or London, I make sure they understand what they are saying. In short, how can you get a better rate of exchange from a place where everyone is offering the same rate, in a place where your own money is not accepted for payment?

    2. I have always wanted to travel. Working in foreign currency exchange, I have never done it for myself. Because of all the reading and writing I have done, it was easy for me to pick my honeymoon destination, as well as the place where I did my money exchange.

    3. I am looking forward to even further travels, now I must seek a “kid friendly” destination. So, this part of my blogging will reflect where I will travel next, a whole lot.

    This is a very good question.

  33. Scott MacMillan says

    Hey Dan (and Audrey),

    Good question, good discussion, and timely for me because I’m finally ready to make the leap (back) into blogging, or self-publishing or what have you, now that I’m traveling full-time. Like Lara I’m a professional travel writer, so assignments partly (but not entirely) determine where I go and what I do, but when I ask myself what’s behind this impulse to start my own thing online, I think it’s mainly because I want my own outlet without the strictures of what an editor thinks readers need. Plus, you can only ride into the sunset so many times before it starts to get boring, and a blog would liven things up a bit, like having an imaginary friend along for the ride.

    Scott

  34. says

    Wow! What a great question and healthy discussion.

    I agree with Lara that the main reason for Blog to Travel or Travel to Blog will be different depending on what your goal is for traveling and blogging. And I guess you already know that. But the reason you asked this question is to know your audiences?

    For me, I start blogging as a way to journal our travel. Granted that we are not world traveler but when we take vacation or go on a trip, I still enjoy writing about it. My travel plan is still depending on where I want to go. However, blogging helps me to be more aware of my destination. I look at the destination more closely rather than just passing through. I take more pictures with different angles and I do think about what I can write about when I get back.

    Does that make it bad for traveling? I don’t know but I know it works for me. And I think blogging has certainly opened up more opportunity for me and allow me to learn about other destinations from other bloggers!

  35. says

    Thanks for all the enlightening comments and conversation. Apologies for not responding sooner. Internet down here in Antarctica has been spotty. Anyhow, my comments are below. Wishing you all safe and prosperous journeys.

    @Joanna: Thanks for your perspective. I’m guessing that for most bloggers who do so on a regular basis that this is the case: blogging and travel influence one another.

    @Neale: 50/50 — I like the split. And based on many of the comments here, you’d find a crowd in agreement.

    @Adam: Staying flexible. Sounds like a good idea in today’s world of travel-meets-blogging digital nomadism.

    @Kyle and Briana: As I said to Joanna, I think that in the end everyone who blogs ends up taking input, either explicitly or implicitly, into account when determining itineraries and editorial schedules for their travel blogs.

    @Theresa: I really like your perspective. Well-rounded and well put. I particularly like pondering the concept of a travel blog that can be monetized while maintaining some level of authenticity (yes, I understand all those who question the meaning of the word “authentic”).

    “Weeding through blogs.” I’ve heard that term quite a lot recently in conversation. I think it’s a reflection of the convergence of a growing number of blogs with a sense of a dwindling amount of time to manage all that our lives now comprehend.

    I’m glad that we’ve managed to make the cut of your blog weeding process, at least for the time being.

    @Bill M: I think that’s the question I’m trying to get at. It’s interesting to get the perspective of pre-internet days. I remember my first trip to India in 1997 and how refreshing it was not to have to be concerned with anything but enjoying…and sometimes surviving.

    Regarding your second comment, you’ve touched on a much larger issue — the effect of technology on not only travel, but how we humans all relate to one another.

    Even greater, it’s fascinating that you close your comment with “how can can anyone be [adventurous] when one is tethered”. The irony is this: many travel bloggers probably consider themselves nomads, untethered.

    @marta: Thank you for a thoughtful comment. When we conceived of this blog post — and specifically how to limit its scope — we considered the question of maintaining objectivity in the face of business interest. A classic proble that existed long before the internet. The internet holds the possibility of making it more transparent.

    @Nomadic Chick: Undoubtedly, that’s the question you’ll be asking yourself when the advertiser/partner comes and asks you to do something that you believe separates you a bit from your ideals.

    @lara: Sounds very much like business first, which I can completely understand.

    In reality, I think very few people would be blogging if they didn’t have an interest in somehow entertaining their readers. The interesting thing about travel blogging is how the whole cycle can begin with a personal journey.

    @Noe. For certain, many people have multiple blogs for myriad reasons.

    @Scott: I was wondering when someone was going to say just this: I need an outlet without boundaries. I suspect what happens, however, is as that outlet grows, you are faced with questions, like “What limitations, if any, am I willing to place on it in order to continue its success?”

    “You can only ride into the sunset so many times.” I love that. The truth is that setting suns sell.

    @Amy: I did already know that traveling and blogging and the balancing act thereof is a matter of different strokes for different folks.

    I asked the question of our audience because I was interested in the different perspectives out there. It helps us to understand our audience (but frankly, only that portion of the audience that has blogs themselves), but more importantly, we find these various perspectives helpful in sorting through our own thoughts of balancing blogging and travel.

    You touched on the ultimate yardstick: if your approach works for you, stick with it.

  36. says

    Even though I’m blogging about my travels, the traveling itself is still the most important part. So, travels determine my blogging. However it’s true that blogging has effect to my travel in some little degree. For example, I am now more vigorously collecting background information to deliver the right story (in internet, and on site). Also, I care more about making the more presentable photographs to illustrate my articles.
    This is probably different for people that get paid for their articles, then yeah, I guess the readers’ interests are important to keep getting paid.

  37. says

    Hey guys,

    we’ve been following your blog for a while now and this is a great post. We’re one month into our trip and we started in New York at the time of TBEX and had loads of people ask if we’d be there. We weren’t rude about it but, of course not! Our travel blog records our trip and gives tips to others along the way hopefully. The blog must never get in the way of our trip. Neither of us wanted to save for four years to become freelance travel journos but respect and gratitude to those that do.

    Another observation; we’ve been in the US for a month now and everyone we speak to is fascinated by what we’re doing and tell us it’s great. However, the shock/fear when they realise we’ve given up careers to do this is palpable, back home (UK) people were amazed but no-one exprssed the panic about career ladders. My observation is this, culturally, do American travellers feel the need to ‘legitimise’ their travels by monetizing them and thereby becoming no different from a small business?

    If that’s the case it’s very worrying for me, it’s a lot like vocational degrees (of which I’m a graduate). Sometimes hings are worth it for their own sake – like learning or, for us, travel.

    I use the US as an example as most travel blogs are American and in light of the reaction we’ve had to our own trip.

    So [US] travellers, do you feel pressure to dEmonsrate practical and tangible merit for your travels by writing a blog with a view to audience share and monetisation?

  38. says

    @Sean As an American travel blogger who will be quitting his job to travel and write, I don’t feel any pressure to justify my travels by making money. I, however, am working to switch careers toward writing, specifically travel writing. So for me, everything dovetails. In my view, travel is about legit as it gets. The benefits are innumerable.

  39. says

    @Sean Short answer: yes. As a US travel blogger, I definitely started my blog to keep me active. I want something tangible that legitimizes my travels in the eyes of any future employer.

    I don’t think this is a bad thing. I’m also not planning on monetizing it enough to become a small business. It’s simply there so others can plainly see how valuable my time & travels were. But I also enjoy travel blogging, so it doesn’t exist for those reasons alone.

  40. says

    It’s weird for me. I started out traveling and the blog came later. But now I think I’ve come full circle and am writing about places that I want to travel to. Does that make sense? I guess that’s why I’m starting blogs all the time….ha!

  41. says

    I’m a travel agent. I love to travel, and I love to help clients plan their travel. I started blogging because clients (particularly new ones) were asking me many of the same questions over and over – the blogging was a way to share my thoughts, and experiences with them and let them know what I am about. The travel/ love of travel comes first – the blogging is a natural byproduct of sharing that in my case.

  42. says

    @Dina: I realize I am responding to your comment rather late…but, well said. Travel first, but how you look at things (and how you collect and process background information in order to share your experience) cannot help but influence how you move about.

    @Sean: Glad to see you here and thanks for re-igniting the discussion on this post.

    I can understand and appreciate traveling for the sake of travel.

    Regarding the reaction of some Americans to what you are doing, that more or less aligns with our experience when we set off 3.5 years ago. Some people are uncomfortable with courageous decisions that differ from their own or that speak to different priorities.

    To answer the question regarding whether most American travel bloggers felt the need to legitimize their travels by monetizing them, I’d say probably not. I suspect that most travelers, whether or not they blog, feel that their travels are in fact legitimate.

    I do, however, believe that the bandwagon of travel blogs speaks to something else: opportunism. There’s a not-so-subliminal message that one can travel for a living (that is, to travel and make a living through that travel at the same time). And outside of actually making a full-time go of it, many see travel blogging as a possible avenue to make some cash to extend a journey.

    Having said all that, I buy that there’s something in the American psyche that’s very much money-centric.

    @Keith: I’d say that travel is as legitimate as passion out there.

    @Adam: We can understand that motivation. Blogs also serve as sandboxes of experimentation where you can try things that you might not have had the chance to try in formal professional (read: 9-to-5) environment.

    @Melanie: Makes sense to me. We know a lot of people following that model.

    @sheila: I suspect a lot of people begin blogging (whether in the travel business or not) for the very same reason — a one stop shop for your valuable answers to oft-asked questions.

  43. says

    This is a great discussion. I love reading the comments and seeing where people are coming from.

    I fall into the same camp as Lara and Sheila. Traveling was part of my work life as a journalist. I started the blog because people kept asking me questions and also because part of my job involved helping reporters develop blogs (I teach through doing, and wanted to make sure I knew the basics). So I looked at it as a way to expand my skill set, share my love of travel and connect with readers.

    Now it’s much more of a passion and hobby. But I still take away quite a bit that goes straight into my work life, particularly the social media components of blogging and the lessons about how people communicate today. It’s all about learning and that’s what I do for fun, I guess (nerd).

    I do consider whether or not a certain destination would fit my readers before I go. And when I’m there, I think about the angle that I might take for my posts. That being said, I’ve chosen my niche based upon what I like to do in my personal life. I love to travel. I love to write. So it’s one big fat mashup.

  44. says

    Interesting parallel between the blog title and a saying we had in Travel Section at the Chronicle: “We’re looking for writers who dabble in travel, not travelers who dabble in writing.”

    Part of that was based on the fact that, essentially, it’s a lot harder to write well about travel than it is to travel.

    That saying, of course, applied to a specific style and level of writing, back before so much emphasis was placed on reader-generated content.

    Spud

  45. says

    @Chris: Great to see you here.

    I’m chuckling (with you) at “It’s all about learning and that’s what I do for fun, I guess (nerd).”

    If deriving joy from learning makes us nerds, consider yourself in good company.

    At the end of the day, there has to be passion either about travel in general or a location/person/story in particular in order for blogging and travel to work for you personally and professionally.

    @Spud: If my experience is any measure, writing well (on any subject) is more difficult than traveling.

    Travel writing (or more precisely, “communicating travel experiences”) has certainly evolved. Now everyone has available to him an instant publishing platform. For better or worse, reader-generated content, writing for search engines, and the focus on post quantity have all definitely altered the landscape.

    I’m particularly interested to see what happens to long-form writing in all of this.

  46. says

    For me, the blog definitely came second. Primarily due to fielding so many questions, prior to our departure, about how we thought we could travel Australia in a caravan with our two children, indefinitely! What about school, what about work etc?
    For two years, our diverse country has served as school to our happy, friendly, well adjusted children, allowing them an education that simply cannot be compared to any mainstream school.
    It seemed like such a natural progression for us to do this and I was genuinely shocked at how stuck, for want of a better word, maybe narrow-minded (hopefully without sounding judgemental), these people were. It makes me concerned that people, families with little ones in particular, say they really want to do it but won’t because they feel so trapped in the spiral of what society dictates.
    I decided that to write a blog of our fantastical adventures in the hope that it might just inspire another family to give their children this gift of a lifetime, the travel bug and realising that happiness does not come come down to material possessions but your souls progression.
    Even those who don’t, won’t, can’t, do the same as us, after all it’s not for everyone, maybe we can unearth a special destination that provokes a desire in them to experience Australia and all of its amazing wonders. In return they will be giving back to the inspirational people that live in these places and rely on tourists.
    I want readers to understand that the visual beauty, of our country, breathtaking as it is, is a fraction of the appeal that we have experienced. Some of our most memorable experiences are not necessarily amidst the most stunning scenery but rather in the company of extraordinary human beings.
    Karen

  47. says

    @Karen: When I think about blogging, it’s a platform to share information and experiences to help others. I don’t expect people to do something similar to what we do (nor do you), but sharing these stories provides inspiration and information for people to take bits and pieces and create something that works for them. I still haven’t visited Australia, so hope to do so later this year and see a bit of what you described.

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