By Greg Rodgers
So you’ve got your big backpacking trip planned out. Six months of vagabonding around the Pacific rim including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and maybe a quick jaunt into Malaysia if you still have funds left. You’ve packed your bags, said your goodbyes, and have had at least two dozen people demand pictures and news about your trip. You promise to keep in touch, but all you can think about is trekking in the mountains and then going for a dip in the Andaman Sea.
Why start a travel blog? What’s the point when social media is so easy?
Your mom, when she isn’t wringing her hands and imagining the worst, is asking you to email regularly so that her and your family can keep up with where you are. You know in the back of your mind that if you forget to email, they will probably have the embassy sending rescue dogs out looking for you. It does not matter how old you are: parents never stop being parents.
Sure, you could cop out with the archaic method and send mass emails…which means that you will need to add and remove addresses as requested, dig around in your sent folder to resend emails that people missed as SPAM, and blow up friends’ inboxes with photographs sent as attachments. You find yourself sitting in an internet cafe doing list maintenance on a computer that should have been scrapped in the 1990s while the sun is shining bright. Outside, a new world of adventure beckons, but never mind that — you promised!
Or…you could get with the program, join the growing cool crowd, and start a blog. A blog is nothing more than an online journal for your friends and family to read. Many people are choosing blogs over “homepages” now because they take no HTML skill to create. You can insert those pictures of yourself eating insects to disgust friends, link to other websites, and spill the contents of your brain all day long. You can update at your leisure and readers can come and go as often as they want.
You can send the blog link to anyone you want, and unless you spend your trip sitting in the guest house watching television, you may end up with some unexpected visitors. There are huge online blog communities which will automatically index your blog, and hundreds — maybe even thousands — of people that never knew you existed will end up reading about your adventures in Cambodia when they really should be working. It can be a good feeling knowing that others are reading what you are writing. The next thing you know, you are being asked to write articles and are a published writer. Hey, don’t laugh — it happens!
Here are seven good reasons to start a travel blog for your trip:
#1 It’s Free!
Like all good things on the internet, it is completely free to start a blog. The hosting company might run ads on the edges of your blog, but these are no hassle and you completely control the content.
#2 It Is a Chance to Express Yourself
You don’t have to write about just travel, it is your space on the web and if people don’t like what you write, they can wander off to one of millions of other blogs. A blog is considered “The world according to me” and people are aware of this when they begin reading. You are not a journalist, you are a blogger — so be opinionated!
#3 Keep Friends and Family Updated
A blog is a great way to keep your loved ones up to date as to where you are in the world, what’s on your mind, and how you are feeling. More than likely, other people helped make your trip possible, so this is a chance to let them in on the adventure. They can contribute as well through their comments.
#4 Do It for Yourself
A blog provides a written account of your journey, and you will love reading it and reliving the adventures months after you are home.
#5 Do It for the Masses
There will be thousands of people sitting across the world in offices, at school, or other places wishing that they were in your flip-flops and traveling across Southeast Asia. Why not give them something to daydream about during conference calls? It can be a great feeling getting comments from readers that you have never met, encouraging you to write more because they need their daily “fix.” Your blog may actually encourage others to travel which could change their life. Tell people what they are missing!
#6 You Never Know
As I mentioned, you never know who might be reading out there. I received my first paid travel writing assignments from editors who had stumbled across my personal travel blog. I never marketed myself, or pitched to anyone, the blog did the work for me! There are thousands of full-time digital nomads, living and working in exotic places around the world, making a living with nothing more than a laptop. Through my blog, I have met published authors, editors, and loads of other travelers — many of whom turned into real-life friendships!
#7 It Is Easy
You do not need to be a techie. It takes no technical skill whatsoever to setup a blog. It is as simple as typing your story into a living document. Sure, you can learn some HTML and do cool tricks, but it is not necessary at all. Having a “homepage” is so 1990s, get yourself a blog instead.
Blogs might not save the world, but they certainly make it a more interesting place. They are also an excellent asset for travel.
It is much better to own the piece of cyber real estate that you are squatting on. If your blog makes it big on WordPress.com, guess what…you don’t own it!
If you create a new blog, or have an existing travel blog, feel free to send it to me and I will link it to send some new readers your way.
Meet the Author
Greg Rodgers is the editor of Startbackpacking.com.