At the 2009 BlogWorld Expo I wasn’t quite sure what to expect interest-wise for the travel track, and was pleasantly surprised to see most of the seats full in the travel sessions. One question that was asked (and echoed by more than one attendee) was how to keep up a travel blog while you’re actually traveling – something that can be tougher than you’d think.
If your blog is mainly about travel, you’d better develop a system for keeping it alive while you’re traveling or you may want to rethink the whole “having a blog” thing. But what if your blog isn’t focused solely on travel, but you happen to like traveling and like the idea of blogging about it while you’re out and about? If you’re not used to blogging while traveling, it can be a difficult adjustment. Here are five tips to help make sure that your blog doesn’t completely stagnate while you’re on the move.
1. Go Old School
Remember paper? Get reacquainted with it. Even if you’re bringing a netbook or other device for writing blog entries, it won’t always be convenient to (a) have it with you, and (b) get it out to write on. Bring at least a pocket-sized paper notebook and a pen you like (if you hate the way it writes, you won’t use it – and if you aren’t using it, what’s the point?). Personally, I love pretty much everything Moleskine makes, but choose the notebook that works best for you. If you’ll be doing any longer-form writing by hand, bring a bigger notebook as well.
And then – here’s the critical part – use them. Take copious notes. Write down stuff you think you’ll remember (you won’t). Jot down quick messages to trigger your memory later, but elaborate on those quick messages before you get to the point when you can no longer read your own code. With all of these notes, you’ll have ample material for writing actual blog posts whenever you have the time to sit down and write them (most likely, for weeks or months to come).
2. Photograph Everything
You’re traveling, so it’s likely you’re already snapping photos here and there, but your camera can also be a note-taking tool. In fact, the best tool a lazy note-taker can carry is a digital camera. A plaque on the wall explaining why that cool building is important? Get a picture of the plaque after you’ve gotten your shot of the building. Planning to write a more travel guide-y piece on your favorite museum? Get a photo of the sign with the museum’s hours and ticket prices before you leave.
Yes, taking this many pictures means you’ll fill up your memory card more quickly. If you’re concerned about that you can either change the settings on your camera to a lower resolution whenever you’re going to take one of those “memory trigger” pictures (just don’t forget to re-set it), or you can go through your photos each day when you’ve got more time and write down the information on those signs (in that handy notebook you’re carrying) and then delete the files altogether. Or, if you’re like me and seriously snap-happy, there’s no harm in carrying extra memory cards.
3. Embrace the Twitter
I’m not one of the people who thinks “microblogging” is an accurate description of Twitter, but I do think it’s one of the things Twitter can be used for. Sometimes when I’m traveling, quick updates to Twitter about what I’m doing bridge the gap nicely between blog posts. And your readers don’t have to be on Twitter to get those updates, either. There are plug-ins for every blogging platform that allow you to set it up so that your Twitter account feeds right onto your blog, so all you have to do is write a quick post that tells regular readers to check the Twitter updates section on your blog to see what you’re up to now.
Now, using Twitter is obviously easier in some parts of the world than in others. Smartphone users who are traveling to places that don’t require roaming or who have unlimited data packages have it made, but if that doesn’t apply to you don’t fret. Twitter can also be updated via text message, and there are several countries with Twitter numbers – including the UK, India, New Zealand, and Indonesia. With a cheap mobile phone and SIM card you buy wherever you are you can send Twitter updates via texts with ease. (There’s a list of the Twitter numbers around the world for texting on the Twitter support site.)
4. Get Ahead of Yourself
When you finally do have time to sit down and really write – a long train or plane ride, a day you’ve reserved for travel R&R, a bout with insomnia after too many vodka/Red Bull combos at the nightclub – then make the most of it. Assuming you’re traveling with a laptop, get as many posts as you can written and then use your blogging platform’s handy-dandy scheduling feature to have them publish over the next few days when you’re on the road again. (Or hungover. Hey, it’s your trip.)
Don’t worry that your readers will be hearing about your escapades of a week ago even as you’re on to another city – if you’re typically the kind of blogger who posts daily about exactly what happened that day you might have to learn to let go of that kind of schedule while you’re traveling. Let your readers know – they’ll be fine. Besides, so long as you eventually do return with tales of your travels, I’d be willing to bet they’ll forgive you for your blogging irregularities.
5. Prioritize Properly
This final note isn’t a tip about keeping up a blog while traveling, and could even be construed as the opposite. I just can’t in good conscience end this article without saying that travel is a gift. It’s a privilege – a glorious privilege – and if you have to choose between having a travel experience or blogging, I sincerely hope you’ll choose the former. You cannot, after all, write much of a travel blog if you’ve spent more time writing than you have traveling, can you?
Step away from the screen (bring your Moleskine, of course) and enjoy the moment. Your blog posts, when you get back to them, will be richer for it.
>> Need some inspiration? Here are 8 great spots to write in a travel journal.
About the Author:
Jessica Spiegel is the Italy expert at the BootsnAll Travel Network, the woman behind BootsnAll’s WhyGo Italy travel guide and @italylogue on Twitter. She’s happy to answer all kinds of Italy travel questions, from how to find cheap airfare to Italy to whether to buy an Italy rail pass to how to spend two weeks in Italy.
Image Credit: Flickr
Excellent advice, especially about making the choice to enjoy your travels, and not get too hung up on keeping a blog current……I’m all for updates, but not at the expense of the experience you could be having!