Writing a travel blog

Sep 2019   |   Travel
Why write a travel blog?

I am the someone who got the travel bug over 40 years ago after travelling overseas for the first time to Europe with my grandmother. Coming from Perth, Western Australia - the most isolated city in the world - travelling long distances (like a 20 hr flight) is not a big deal ... hence since then I have been to many & varied countries including Mexico, Cuba, India, Morocco, Namibia, Egypt, Japan, Israel, Vietnam, Iran, Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan ... to name a few. When my conservative accountant suggested that, as a professional photographer, that I could claim my trips as a tax deduction if I wrote a daily "diary" and took lots of photos it was like a "light bulb moment". Bring on the annual adventure !!

So what's involved in writing a travel blog?

As someone who doesn't do things by halves, my travel blogs have to be informative, include a bit of humour and contain lots of images which add to the story. So this actually takes at least 5 hours a day to put together and upload depending on how fast your internet is. I use Wordpress as it's free and easy to use but in countries like Iran & Turkmenistan social media including Wordpress is blocked - hence I have recently discovered a VPN (Virtual Private Network) called Express VPN which positions me not in the Middle East but in Munich or Amsterdam or London! Very convenient ... but it sadly doesn't mean faster internet speeds.

A day in the life of a travel blogger

Being a photographer my number one priority is to get great images of everything I am seeing and experiencing. Some days you see & experience a lot which means lots of photos to edit at the end of the day so you can include them in your daily blog. I am shooting on a Canon 5D Mk3, generally with a 24-105 f4 lens which means transferring all images to Lightroom & editing the hero shots that I will include in the blog. I also take pics of signs that may help to tell the story of a particular site. Together with your Lonely Planet guide and any literature you may pick up along the way plus Google if needed it will make it easier to put together your blog at the end of the day. Then when everyone else is chilling out at the end of the day over a glass of Rose (or Mocktail in Iran), your work begins.... writing, researching, adding appropriate images and uploading to Wordpress. In countries such as Morocco, India, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Cuba it usually means hanging out at the hotel reception until around midnight for the best wifi! You sometimes hang out for the "travel days" when there won't be as much to include.

What sort of images do you include?

Travel incorporates all genres of photography - people, street scenes, architecture, food, culture, landscapes - so you will have to be versatile in your photography skills. You will also need to be quick in nailing natural shots especially of people and street scenes - things generally change in an instance and if you fumble about getting the right lens or camera setting you are going to miss the shot. When travelling I usually have the aperture around f5.6-8, the ISO around 400 and the focusing mode on AI or AF-A to get both moving and stationary subjects. Burst mode can also be handy. I also have my iPhone Xs at the ready in case I cant take my big camera into a location for security reasons and for capturing videos. I never travel with a tripod and rarely use the external flash.

Once you have the shots for the day then use those that back up your story in the blog. I tend to write a couple of paragraphs then include lots of images - people mostly want to see amazing images and will read the text if the subject interests them. Make sure you only upload low resolution images (below 500kb) so they upload quickly to your viewer's devices.

What kind of things do you include in your text?

I always think a bit of background info about the history of a country and its culture is interesting ... but not too much... and try relating it to your own experiences by adding some humorous anecdotes if possible - think of how you or your travel companions reacted to a new found snippet of information or how you could use it on your return home; detail exotic food choices and take images of them; use your Lonely Planet guide, facts from your own travel guide and info gained from the signage to build out your story. 

Uploading your blog

Ensure you save the draft of the blog very frequently as you are writing it - like every couple of minutes - especially if the wifi is dodgy and drops out regularly. There is nothing more frustrating than spending an hour putting your blog together only to have the internet crash without it being saved. Supposedly it is saving automatically at regular intervals but sometimes the whirling 'circle of death' is an ominous sign to err on the side of caution. Be wary that, depending on the programme you are using, some of your horizontal format images may become vertical and vice versa. you usually can reorder them on the blog site before uploading.

Presumably you have invited everyone to follow your blog before you left on your travels - it is best to set the blog name & address up before you go. I always make my blogs 'public' rather than 'private' but that's up to you. Then make sure it is linked automatically into your social media such as Facebook so there is a notification whenever you post a new blog. From past experience, followers can get addicted to your fab travel blog and images and hang out each day to receive an update. So try to post at the same time each day and on a regular basis. Breakfast time or after work is good as most people check their 'socials' at these times.

How to get mileage from your blog

As well as the advantage of claiming your whole trip as a business expense, a travel blog is a great way to actually remember the small details of each days adventures - we all tend to forget over time but a blog and the images will keep the memories alive for a lot longer. I also create a coffee table book of the blog and images on my return - this is also time consuming as the images need to saved as high resolution for print quality but it is worth the time and effort for prosperity.

I have had travel companies very keen to use my blog and images for their marketing but there has to be some financial renumeration for all your time and effort in creating it.

If you are keen to check out my previous blogs they are available at: