Travel Writers…Why do they blog?

Google ‘travel blog’ and you’ll find that there are over 61 million to choose from. Seems everyone wants to write about travel. But most travel blogs, written by people wanting to share stories of their travels, are maintained only for the extent of the journey and then left to float around cyberspace.

But there are also a growing number of travel blogs written by established travel writers who already write for magazines, newspapers, and guidebooks.

Curious to find out why professional writers who already have a paid market for their work would also spend hours creating and maintaining travel blogs, I decided to put the following questions – ‘Why do you think travel writers blog?’ and ‘What made you state a travel blog?’ – to a few travel writers.

Sun Sentinel Travel Columnist Tom Swick, who recently started the travel blog Tom Swick thinks that “…travel writers are blogging for the same reasons other people are: to be heard, to share stories and information, to be part of the global conversation.”  He feels that “…travel writers are particularly receptive to it because it’s an electronic version of what we’ve been doing for centuries on the road, in hostels, in cafes, etc.”

Tom was encouraged to start a travel blog by the Sun Sentinel newspaper and has taken to it like a fish to water, loving it’s instantaneousness. “An idea will occur to me, or an e-mail appear in my inbox, and within minutes I can have it on my blog. It’s also a wonderful place for miscellany – miscellany is SO underrated – which just doesn’t work in a newspaper column.”

(Reason # 1: Writing a travel blog allows freedom of expression and ideas not always suited to newspaper and magazine writing)

Leif Pettersen of Killing Batteries is very clear as to why he blogs. He wants a place to promote his work and also write fun, goofball stuff – stuff that probably wouldn’t see light of day anywhere else. But he also sees blogging as the equivalent of an electronic journal…

“I started travel blogging as a public way to keep a travel journal that I can refer to when I’m 100. When I backpacked in the early 90’s, I didn’t keep a journal and I was stunned at how much detail I forgot even six months after the trip ended. Things like hostel names, food, museums, people…All gone. So I started writing paper journals in the mid-90s and finally online when I started my stint of homeless travel writing. I made it public to, again, self-promote a bit as I was trying to build a name, but also for friends and family to stay updated on my doings. And now almost five years on from when I started, having that absurdly detailed ream of notes is priceless as a reference.”

(Reason # 2: A travel blog provides a storage facility for travel notes)

Australian writer Kim Wildman thinks that most travel writers blog simply to share their passion and experiences with others. Guidebook publishers are generally more interested in “getting the facts – where’ s the best place to try local cuisine? what’s the newest and hottest night spot? What bus do you need to get from city A to city B?” leaving little room for “the fascinating experiences you have, the interesting people you meet or the amazing things you see.”

Kim sees her blog Wild About Travel+Writing as a creative outlet for her writing, a place where she can “…share all the millions of wonderous experiences [she] has as a travel writer.” The Travel Writing life can be lonely with little feedback from readers. Blogging, Kim feels, provides the chance to open up and maintain a dialogue with her readers, therefore making it a very cathartic experience.

(Reason # 3: Writing a travel blog connects you with your readers)

Meanwhile, Joshua Berman sees himself more as a ‘blogging traveler’ and ‘Central America–watcher’ rather than a ‘blogging travel writer.’ His blog The Tranquilo Traveler, which Berman describes as “a celebration of voluntourism, slow travel, and other interesting ways to see the world,” offers up a cornucopia of themes and topics, particularly about Belize and Nicaragua, countries he covers for the Moon Handbook series. Berman says, “When I’m on the road, I blog to share images and scenes of where I am. When I’m home (in Colorado), I blog to share the fascinating travel tidbits that show up in my inbox every day. I have a special interest in volunteering abroad, community-based travel efforts, and stand-out new travel books.“ He adds, “having a blog also helps readers and editors find me.”

(Reason # 4: Writing a travel blog is like creating a travel library)

Tim Leffel writes two blogs – Cheapest Destinations and Practical Travel Gear. The first blog, he says, was started was a way to promote his book The World’s Cheapest Destinations. But he soon realised “….it was reaching far more people than the ones who would buy my book, so I starting using it to cover rants, raves, and things that didn’t make it into any of my books or articles. It’s more personal and immediate, with no editor in the way.” The Practical Travel Gear blog evolved because Tim wanted to “review items that real travelers use, especially those who are on the road for longer than just a week — and do it based on real use instead of a press release.” Writing the blog provided Tim with access to products he might not normally have got.

(Reason # 5: Writing a travel blog provides exposure and some financial rewards)

Conclusion: Turns out travel writers are just like everyone else – they blog ’cause they have something to say about travel that they can’t say anywhere else…

So why do you blog???

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