When I was accepted to a study abroad program in Lyon, France for the semester, I was instantly met with demands from family and friends to “Send LOTS of pictures,” “Keep in touch,” and “Write all about it.” What doesn’t sound like too tall of an order became almost overwhelming as I began collecting emails and home addresses to send updates and postcards. Now don’t get me wrong, I love some good old fashioned snail mail and even the personal email or two, but with 15 people and counting on this list of mine, I knew there had to be an easier way to document my trip. I decided on blogging.
I was used to keeping a journal, but I’d never been able to get into personal blogging until this summer when I decided to set one up before leaving the country. And turns out, blogging is really quite simple—especially when you (literally) have a destination in mind. So to all the someday travelers out there, here are a few simple tips on how to create and maintain a travel blog of your own.
Choose a site
The best way to start creating a travel blog is by choosing a blogging website that both appeals to you aesthetically and meets your needs as you go about your journey. As all trips must come to an end at some point (*sigh*), creating your blog on a free site is recommended unless you plan on continuing it after you return. Especially for inexperienced bloggers, a free blogging site is ideal—at least to start out with. With a free blogging site there’s no obligation to pay after you’ve ended your trip and nothing lost if you weren’t able to post as often as you intended to. WordPress and Blogger are great sites for new or temporary bloggers with both a variety of themes to choose from and easy-to-navigate dashboards.
Choose a theme
No matter which website you choose to create your blog, choose a theme that’s conducive to your travels and allows you to share your adventures with others – and yourself – in the best way possible. I’m not talking about a subject focus for your blog (yet), I’m simply talking about layout. In a nutshell, make room for pictures. As mentioned earlier, even free blogging sites offer numerous themes to their bloggers: literary, artistic, and professional layouts for any type of blogging (For WordPress bloggers, check out Fab Themes for more free and versatile layouts). Select a theme that best displays your photos, albums, or videos while still leaving room for commentary. Most blogging sites will let you play around with different themes without having to buy one so go crazy and experiment! You can always change the theme as you add more pictures and your blog grows.
Choose a niche
Admittedly, traveling is enough of a niche itself, but ask yourself what exactly you want to focus on in your blog. Are you a student comparing international study with courses at your home university, a foodie in search of the perfect pasta Bolognese, or someone traveling on a tight budget? Maybe you’re a newlywed documenting a honeymoon or a newly single person on the path to self-discovery. Maybe you have kids, maybe you like art, maybe you’re religious, maybe you want to be. Whatever your situation, ask yourself what makes your journey special and focus your posts on that uniqueness. Not all of your entries need to revolve around the reason for your trip, but take it into consideration as you write. Having a common thread to tie your posts together will not only keep you focused on your writing, but it will also help you to get as much as possible out of your trip.
Consider your audience
For short trips you may be writing for yourself, compiling photos and experiences to reflect back on once your vacation days end and you resume position in a four-by-four cubicle in a neutral-toned office building. For longer trips of several months or more, you’re probably writing for friends and family back home who expect to live vicariously through your experiences (and still for yourself—you’re always writing for yourself, Darling). Although you can never predict just how many people may stumble upon your blog, you may know several individuals who are eager to read up on your travels. If you’re making your blog public—promoting it on social media or even via word of mouth—consider who your readers are. Even though your best friend might find the pictures of France’s nude beaches hilarious, your grandparents may not. Even though the rum in the Barbados goes down smoother than Mike’s Hard, your professors may not be so amused. This is not to say you need to censor your writing, but knowing who’s planning on reading your words may give you a better indicator of how to focus your writing and address it accordingly.
The whole point of traveling is to experience, well, everything, but once your trip comes to an end you’ll want to have something to look back on and remind you of the time you broke out of your normal routine. That’s the whole reason you’re considering blogging, right? So blog! Even if it’s only a few sentences a day or a couple of pictures with a short caption, you’ll be glad you took the time to document even something that simple. On flights or train rides between countries or while waiting for an order at a café, jot down a few words. If wi-fi is scarce, write a note on your phone or even some ideas on the café’s napkins. With the thrill of new experiences and the packed schedule that often accompanies big trips it can be hard to process traveling in the moment. Write for a few minutes every day, however, and you can be sure to get a lot more out of your trip than a few extra stamps on your passport.
For inspiration, check out some of Literally, Darling’s favorite travel blogs:
Bridges and Balloons: This fairy tale of a blog combines personal travel stories with tips and inspiration for new travelers all wrapped up in a gorgeous package of photos that are to die for. This is also a great example of a couple’s blog and a wonderful resource for those traveling with their S.O..
Extra Pack of Peanuts: Remember what I said about finding a niche? This is exactly what I was talking about. Travis and Heather have traveled all around the world and are eager to help others to the same—for cheap!
Adventurous Kate: A wonderful mix of travel narratives and dining/hotel recommendations all over the world, Kate’s blog shows how a part-time blogger can make a living from her passion for travel and writing.
Leave Your Daily Hell: OK I admit I first clicked on this site because the name made me chuckle, but Robert’s blog is a goldmine of beautiful photographs, discussion on international issues, and travel information. A great resource for college students or recent grads who want to abandon that cubicle in search of a more adventurous career.
Alex in Wanderland: This blog is easy on the eyes (I drooled over it for 40 minutes today) and has a lot of easily accessible information. With extra details like a “Photo of the Day” and suggested activities for different types of travel, Alex’s blog has made a splash in four continents and a handful of American magazines.
Bucket List Journey: Making a bucket list of things to accomplish before making a trip is a wonderful way to experience travel. Blogging about that bucket list is even better.
Have any blogging or travel tips? Let us know by tweeting @LitDarling!