- October 3rd 2012
What makes the perfect travel blog? Katie Latchford shares her opinion:
One of the biggest challenges to writing a travel blog is finding the balance between the details of your personal experience and the information about the destination.
It’s a very challenging task and very few travel bloggers get it right. Their stories are either too factual so that they have no personality in them or too personal so that they are only interesting to family and friends.
How can you find the right balance in your travel blog? Here are some tips:
Don’t Write a Diary Entry
Some travel blogs read like a diary entry and describe everything that the writer does on a particular day. They usually sound something like this,
“On Tuesday morning we woke up around 10am and enjoyed the hotel breakfast of croissants and jam. We then sat by the pool for an hour and then went shopping and I bought a new pair of shoes. We had some food at a local restaurant and then went for a walk on the beach. I got a little bit sunburnt! We decided to try a different restaurant for dinner and then we listening to some live music. What a lovely day, I love it here!”
I don’t blame you if you got bored and skipped over that paragraph. It is a step by step replay of what sounds like a lovely day, but there is nothing in the paragraph to get the reader interested. There is also very little information about the destination and this paragraph could have been written about any travel destination in the world.
To improve this sort of writing, the trick is to include more details about the location and less about yourself. We don’t need to know everything you did from the moment you woke up, unless it is relevant to the location. For example, we really don’t need to know exactly what sort of cheese you ate for lunch, unless you are going to tell us that the guy at the cheese market in Paris explained to you how his family made the same cheese for four generations. Those kinds of details are not inane; they are interesting details that bring your destination to life.
A travel blog focused entirely on yourself doesn’t offer nearly enough nitty gritty facts and details about the location you are travelling. This means that people can’t imagine themselves there, which is what travel blogs are about.
Try walking around with a notepad and observing as closely as you can. Write down your observations about what the air smells like, what people are wearing, what the food tastes like, what is the dominant form of architecture, whether the streets are paved, what the prices are like, etc. Weave these details into your writing and it will improve your travel blog.
But Don’t Write an Encyclopedia Entry Either
When you begin to include these details in your writing, don’t cram them all in at once or your travel blog will start to swing too far the other way and will start to sound like a Wikipedia page. If you detach yourself and your personality from your blog it will start to become aloof and boring and cold. Your readers will feel like they are in school and they will quickly click away to read something with a little more life to it.
Rather than reeling off facts about your destination with no context, the trick is to integrate them with your personal experience. This is where you find that elusive blend of personal perspective and information which makes travel blog writing so interesting when it is done well.
It comes back to the old writing adage of “show, don’t tell”. If you want to tell us that Bangkok has a lot of delicious and cheap street food, don’t just cite prices, statistics and lists of dishes. Instead, go down to Khao San Road and eat a plate of hot steamy Pad Thai for only a few cents and describe it in detail for us.
Your readers won’t mind you if you talk about yourself in this way, because you are conveying to them relevant and interesting information via your experiences. If you describe the scene well enough with all of the details, they will feel like they are right there with you. This is why people are reading your blog, because they are living vicariously through your experiences, so do your best to make that experience come alive for them when they are reading.
You recognize the right balance when you read it in other travel blogs, so put together a list of your favourite writers and read as much of their work as you can in order to get inspired. When you hit the sweet spot between diary entry and encyclopaedia, you will have a travel blog that effectively conveys the details of your destination as well as reflects your unique personality.
The top travel blogs know that the best balance in travel writing is somewhere between being as personal as a diary entry or being as factual as an encyclopedia.
- April 15th 2011
Blogging during your travels is a great idea. It can keep friends and family updated on your experiences while you are away. And, if you produce a following of online readers you may even be able to make some money from travel blogging. Here are some quick tips for writing your travel blog while on the move.
- A great way to start your travel blog is to make a commitment to write regularly. This means that if you start writing two or three times a week then keep the same schedule. Your readers will expect that from you so commit to your writing once you select the frequency. Remember, this is your way of staying connected with your readers.
- Most of your audience will be reading your blog as a form of entertainment. It’s important that your writing be fun, informative, and positive. Most of your readers will not appreciate any tones of negativity especially if this is time that they’ve taken to read something that supposedly is meant to be enjoyable and entertaining.
- When writing your blog posts try to write them as you would normally speak. Do not try to sound sophisticated or intellectual because it just won’t be authentic, unless of course you do speak in that manner. Just be yourself because readers will be turned off by your writing if they don’t feel that it’s the real you. They want you to share your experiences and the best way that you can convey those experiences is by using your own words.
- Keep your blog posts short and interesting with articles that are related to your traveling experience. If you write long posts on your blog more than likely your readers will be turned off by this. If the subject demands a long post then divided into two or three different posts. Also keep your post on subject without going off on a tangent.
- Write some humor or human interest stories regarding your travels, this always makes for an interesting read. Too much detailed information that the reader can get from an encyclopedia is not what you’re travel blog reader is looking for. Remember this is a form of entertainment and information for your reader so keep them informed, keep it fun, and make it short.
- Another thing is to encourage your readers to participate in your blog and encourage them to participate. This way you can also see which of your articles has been a success. You can use that information to provide your readers with more of what they’re looking for. So, making it an interactive blogging experience is beneficial not only for your readers but also for you.
- While writing on your travel blog it can also be useful to expand your audience by interacting on social networks. This way people can relate to you on a personal level and they can decide to follow you on your travel blog. It is important to be consistent at these sites as well. Be sure to have your updates and tweets all related to your travels.
The previous tips are a good way to begin and maintain a travel blog that will be fun, intriguing, and successful. It is important to always keep your readers in mind, be consistent, have fun, be yourself, and enjoy your travels.
Tom is a keen walking enthusiast who works for Catalan Adventures – a company specialising in Walking holidays in Europe.
- March 16th 2010
Are you blogging and writing about travel? Want to make some money and gain the recognition of your peers and others? Check out these travel writing and blogging contests.
Telegraph Travel Writing Competition
Called Just Back, the weekly competition offers writers the chance to win £200 in the currency of their choice. Just submit an entry of up to 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org (UK residents; see full T&C)
An annual competition for which submissions are open all year round, the Solas Awards have a submission length of 750 words. Entry fees apply. (US residents; see full T&C). Closing date for this year’s competition is September 21, 2010.
52 Perfect Days Travel Writing Contest
Submit up to 1,000 words on an experience in a National Monument, National Seashore or Historic Parks in the United State or Canada. The prize for the 52 Perfect Days Travel Writing Contest is a trip to Hawaii. (US, Canada, Mexico residents; see full T&C). Closing date: October 31, 2010.
- May 14th 2009
One of the travel sites that I have been enjoying is GoNomad.com. Interestingly, GoNomad defines itself first by what it is not – and that’s a travel agency. Instead it’s a ‘resource center, designed to provide independent and alternative travelers with all the inspiration they need to plan their travels’. That’s a big claim, and I set out to see what the site had to offer.