When did everyone start writing travel blogs?
It used to be only insiders who posted industry news and package specials. Now bloggers include world wanderers of all stripes who upload exotic photos and describe other cultures.
By reading in between the Internet lines, I’ve spied teachers using Blogspot.com or WordPress.com to chronicle three-month sabbaticals spent exploring Nepal or Romania.
And, apparently, more than a few 20-somethings trek around the world on a shoestring, picking up housesitting or freelance jobs with their written words. Anything to keep traveling.
Adventurous Kate’s solo female travel blog (www.adventurouskate.com), for example, explains how the writer quit her job at 26 to travel the globe full time “to show you how you can travel the world on your own.”
The trend creates a new space between public relations and journalism. Maybe it’s another example of citizen journalism, or maybe it fills a need for self-expression.
The blogging craze started a few years back with so-called mommy blogs, which provided a way for tired parents to vent while trading useful tips. Using social media to share parenting problems and gather advice from seasoned dads and moms seemed only natural.
From there, blogs exploded into foodie havens, with content ranging from organic recipes to restaurant reviews. These continue to proliferate. Going from food to travel blogs is just a small step. When you travel, you eat, right?
One woman, Geraldine, who writes a popular blog, www.everywhereist.com, stopped working to accompany her husband on his business travels. She started her blog, she says, as a “love letter to my husband, Rand, so he can remember the places we’ve visited, the things we saw.” And also, so he can see what she’s been up to while he’s been making those PowerPoint presentations all day.
Unlike many travel bloggers, Geraldine doesn’t accept freebies so that she can remain objective in her reviews.
Some blogs now feature disclaimers explaining that they have sponsors and they sometimes have to publicize them. In other words, they will work for food. Travel writers often take press trips offered by governments to generate good will for their countries.
Geraldine warns readers that it’s hard to make a living blogging. In fact, it costs her money.
I’ve also heard this from people who write travel apps, another world where competition is steep.
People still write about their voyages, though.
After traveling thousands of miles by land or by sea, we want something to show for it, a list of places, historical facts and figures we’ve learned. And what do you do with all those brochures and flyers and halved admission tickets?
I’ve been keeping scrapbooks of our travels for some time. I started with just photo books, but that wasn’t enough to fully explain things.
Flipping through Martha Stewart Living magazine one day, I came across her idea for old maps: shape them into envelopes! Then you can paste them into the scrapbook to hold tickets or other mementos.
Some target baby boomers and give tips like buy those Tiger Balm heat wraps for post-hiking aches and pains – duly noted by this boomer.
Others, like Octavia Drughi’s Barepockets.com, chronicle European journeys on motorbikes, and in Romania a Drachia 1310 “tin can on wheels.”
Neil Friedman and Melissa Ruttanai describe themselves as “wandering wordsmiths, dedicated to global nomadism,” according to the About Us section on their blog at www.worldwinder.com. They say they’ve been traveling since 2006!
After reading about sponsors and search-engine optimization – a real icebreaker here in Silicon Valley – I felt prepared to launch my own blog.
The problem of what to call it immediately surfaced. The words “wander,” “adventure” and “nomad” seemed completely taken by the blogosphere. I settled on The Artful Traveler, a clue that I might tend to write more about the muses that inspire us than rock climbing, for example.
Then Rich suggested Left Luggage, which he thought might be the title of a Graham Greene short story. It turns out the story was titled “Overnight Bag.”
But Left Luggage still rang a bell with me. It sounded like the luggage I “left” behind on a United Airlines flight last year. Actually, someone stole it. Although I was compensated, I often run into pictures of myself wearing earrings or other items that I had forgotten were in the “left” bag.
As hard as I try, I tend to leave something behind wherever I go – even with my printed list of items to tick off before leaving a hotel room. Last year my electric toothbrush, brand-new jeans, assorted earrings and scarves, and a bathing suit found new homes in hotels and motels around the country. This after I double-checked the room with my significant other. I always remember to look in drawers, too.
Luckily, I still have old pictures of myself with my lost objects. At least if I blog, I’ll be able to retrace our steps.