Keeping a Travel Blog Your Friends Will Love to Read
There’s no better way to keep your friends back home up to date with your travels than keeping a blog. You can write something that all of them can read, without having to spend hours sending emails to individuals; you can include photos or videos, or links to places you’ve visited or stayed, and you can update it easily and regularly. It sounds perfect: so how come I find so many travel blogs that I just don’t want to follow?
Modern technology might have blessed us with the ability to have our friends follow our journey from country to country around the world, but your friends will only feel blessed if you keep a travel blog worth looking at. These are my golden rules for writing an online travel diary that your friends will be glad to follow.
Just Give us the Highlights and Lowlights
I might use the phrase “travel diary” but I don’t mean it literally. We all want to know what you’re doing on your travels, but we don’t want to know everything. Don’t start each blog entry with “We got up at 6.30am and …”. Please don’t tell us what you ate for each meal, unless it was alive and moving or involved large amounts of chocolate.
Before you write each blog entry, sit back and consider what the topic of your post is. You might write about a museum exhibition that particularly impressed you, or describe an unusual local you met on the train that morning. Try and create entries that are individually interesting, and hang together to tell the tale of your trip. Usually I like to describe the very best and the very worst of a journey, because somehow that’s what everybody really wants to know.
Use Photos and Links … But Not Too Many
If you’re able to upload photos or even videos to your travel blog, it’s a real bonus for the reader. A couple of photos are especially useful if you’re describing something we might not have seen before, and then the “worth a thousand words” adage really rings true. It is also nice to include some links, for example to the website of the art gallery you visited, if you think the site is worth looking at for people who are interested to find out more.
But keep both photos and links to a manageable level. I’m not a fan at all of people who use a travel blog as a dumping ground for dozens and dozens of photos, usually without captions. Likewise, some travel bloggers get carried away with the linking tool and half of every entry is underlined, often with dubious links to strange pages or with constant references to Wikipedia. Assume that if someone is internet-literate enough to read your blog, they can probably do some extra research on their own, if they’re so inclined.
Update It Regularly
For me, this is the most important part of a travel blog. If I check a friend’s blog a couple of days after my last read, and there’s nothing new, I can forgive them. But if I check three or four times and still get the same, now outdated entry, I get a bit frustrated.
Of course, you won’t have any internet access when you’re mid-Siberia on a week-long train journey. I can forgive that. Or you might be visiting a country where internet access is ridiculously expensive, and decide to limit your online time. But there are not many feasible excuses these days for wholly neglecting your blog. If you don’t think you can find time to write your blog, don’t start it.
Write for the General Public
Often your travel blog will be open for the wider community to read. Over time search engines will pick it up and complete strangers can end up following your travels. Keep this in mind, along with the sanity of your friends, and avoid filling your travel blog with personal messages to particular people who you hope will be reading it. That’s what email is for.
And a related point: write in a coherent and correct way. You might be able to get away with half sentences, lots of typos and sloppy grammar in an email to your friends, but put the same in a travel blog and it just doesn’t seem right. You’re probably using blogging software that makes your travel blog look pretty professional, so make it a pleasure for us to read by spending just enough time to do a spell check and a proofread.
A Good Travel Blog is Worth the Effort
If you take a bit of time to write interesting, well thought out posts, with some suitable pictures, video and links, then you’ll get a double reward. First of all, a lot more of your friends and family will be keen to follow your travels — they might return the favor by leaving comments on your blog or emailing you directly. And secondly, when you finish your trip, you’ll have a great, permanent record of your journey to read and re-read once you’re home.