The Idiosyncrasies of Travel Blogging

Travel Blogging

Having spent a fair amount of time reading travel blogs (and contributing to my own), I’ve found a few things that just don’t seem right or just don’t sit well with me. It’s nothing against travel blogging–after all, that would be highly hypocritical (and, of course, I’ve never been called a hypocrite). There are just a few peculiarities within the travel blogging community and I reckon it’s best to get my thoughts out in the open before somebody gets hurt.

Twitter is a Little Creepy

Twitter is, of course, one of the major tools bloggers use to promote their websites and posts. We spend hours upon hours watching our feed, tweeting our lives away. From things as pointless as a bowl of cornflakes for breakfast to relaying the meaning of life in 140 characters, we love all things Twitter.

It wasn’t until I actually had a purpose for tweeting that I fell in love with it. I’ve tried using it in the past, for my own personal use, but it just didn’t stick. When I opened my account, its true value became apparent and I started tweeting on a regular basis. I tweeted about the cornflakes (well, not really) and other indiscriminate oddments. After developing a rapport with a number of my fellow tweeps I began to feel comfortable letting my followers know where I was and what I was doing. Considering I’ve never met any of these folks before, the whole idea of exposing ones life to a bunch of strangers is a bit disturbing.

Over a Fergburger and coffee, I had a nice lengthy conversation with Amanda from A Dangerous Business about some of the other players in the travel blogging community. Things got really weird, for me at least, when I realized that we were referring to these people by their first names, as if they were our friends. Often times we both knew exactly what they were doing in their lives, what they had been up to and where they had been. “Oh yeah, she was in the hospital a few weeks ago” or “yeah, he’s kind of a jerk.” Both Amanda and Backpacking Matt (who we met up with the next day), seemed to find this pretty cool and, in some ways, very normal. I’m not so sure I agree. What do you think?

It’s Hard to Run a Travel Blog While Traveling

This seems to be the strangest of peculiarities about travel blogging. I suppose I shouldn’t say can’t, because that’s obviously not true. Many people blog simultaneously and some even make a living off of it, supporting their travel habits and keeping them afloat. What I’ve realized though, is that a lot of the people who run travel blogs aren’t actually traveling. Perhaps they started their blogs while locomoting, but the most progress can made when they aren’t.

During my year-long journey through Australia I stopped off to live in both Cairns and Melbourne for about four months each. I had been blogging for my family and friends (before travelFREAK ever existed) and, when I reached each of these destinations, my writing stopped. I was under the impression that, without peregrination, there is nothing to write about. This, however, is very untrue. I’ve been in Queenstown, NZ for about six weeks now and I’ve managed to churn out a good amount of content. When travel reaches a stasis, there’s more time to think. When someone is actually on the move, there’s less time to write and more things to occupy one’s mind. Without routine it’s hard to be consistent.

Many Popular Travel Blogs Aren’t Actually About Travel

OK, I admit that I check website statistics on a regular basis. Not just mine, though–I’ll check other peoples’ Alexa ratings and try to locate their visitor counts and page views. Some people might think this is a bit narcissistic, but I reckon I’m just a man who’s interested in results. Many of the blogs I’ve come across don’t actually discuss the topic of travel, but rather how that particular person felt as an expat. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, it’s just an observation. Travel blogging, in my opinion, is about new opportunities, narratives, sharing stories and giving advice. It’s not about homesickness, loneliness and personal defeats while abroad. I can understand why some people would want to read about these things, but I can’t say that I would consider these blogs to actually be about travel. Granted, this  article isn’t exactly about travel either. Definitely not a hypocrite.

Everybody’s American

Obviously not everybody is American, but it’s my judgement that a large majority of travel bloggers are from the States. Why, though, is this the case when we are the least traveled and cultured people in the world? As a fellow American, I fully enjoy this oddity. I get more excited reading blogs by others from my own country, and I’d imagine that many others do, too.

We’re an odd bunch, us Americans, and hearing what other Americans have to say reminds me of home. There are so many levels that we can relate on–red cups, apple pie (just had a crumble today, in fact), college and real football. And I love all of this. Perhaps it’s what interested me in blogging about travel in the first place. More than anything, though, it just doesn’t make sense. As Americans, do we feel the need to tell everybody what we’re up to? Yes, I know–we’re loud and obnoxious. Are we better writers as a population? What is it, that draws Americans to blog about travel?

If you liked this article, please share!

11 Responses to The Idiosyncrasies of Travel Blogging

  1. Becs May 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    I totally disagree with your last statement. While Americans are definitely the most spoiled when it comes to the internet (if I read one more post about some American COMPLAINING that internet in is not as good as the US, I am going to scream! Just go home if it’s not as good!), I have found about half the blogs I read come from people overseas BECAUSE they are more traveled then we are.

    I have been reading blogs for about 2 years now (since I got back from NZ and Australia, when very very few people blogged from 2007-09) and the amount of Americans jumping on the long term travel blogging wagon has jumped a considerable amount in that time.

    But I totally agree with you re: Twitter. When you really think about it, so super creepy!!

    • Jeremy May 20, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

      Which bit do you disagree with? I can’t say that I’ve been reading travel blogs for as long as you, it just seems to me that a large majority of travel bloggers are American! That may have only happened in recent years, but there are lots of us out there!

  2. Amanda Williams May 22, 2011 at 1:08 am #

     Maybe I’m just predisposed to be a stalker or something, because I really don’t find Twitter all THAT creepy. I mean, these people are choosing to share certain things about themselves. It’s not like we’re sneaking into their bedrooms at night and popping open their diaries. But, at the same time, I can still understand your side of things, too.

    And as for the definition of what a “travel blog” is or should be… well, we could debate about that forever!!

    • Jeremy May 24, 2011 at 5:42 am #

      Good point. Because THAT would be creepy!

      • Amanda Williams June 2, 2011 at 5:57 am #

        Unless you were Edward Cullen. Because then sneaking into a girl’s bedroom at night (to watch her sleep, no less) is sexy? … I do not understand the “Twilight” phenomenon…

        • Jeremy June 3, 2011 at 6:56 am #

          This seems perfectly reasonable to me…

  3. Amanda May 28, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    Great post because it raises some very thought-provoking issues. Yes, the Twitter thing is creepy at first, but as I live in a place that many travellers dream of visiting (Alice Springs), I’ve made a point of meeting as many tweeps as I can and it’s been great! We’ve even had people stay over with us.

    On the topic of the travel blog world being dominated by Americans, I agree. But really, so is the whole internet and it’s up to the rest of us to get online and tell you how to spell travelling properly :) (sorry, couldn’t resist!).

    I’ve heard that 70% of Americans don’t own passports and haven’t been overseas (compare that with 80% of Aussies and Kiwis who at least have passports), so it can’t be a bad thing that Americans are taking an interest in travelling abroad.

    However: don’t be too hard on your countrymen & women!

    I can point the finger at Brits and Australians who are loud, oafish and boozy whilst travelling, and whom I will often avoid. Case in point: a trek to Mt Everest in 2004. I was marooned with a bunch of whining, wimpy Brits for 3 weeks -who complained about remoteness, poverty, food, water, and incredibly, made the outrageous claim that the people living in this region ‘had no culture!’

    Highlight and major contrast: a group of American anthropology majors (I’m an anthropologist, so was a double buzz), living for 3 months in this region and doing a field school. They were fabulous company. I would travel rather with positive, happy, can-do Americans any day!

    • Jeremy May 29, 2011 at 11:07 am #

      Very good points, Amanda! I love that, even though you live in Australia, you try to avoid Australians! They certainly can be oafish and boozy, but I love em for it. We all know Americans can be, too! Sorry to hear about Everest, though. Such a shame.

  4. World Nomad February 3, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Haha it was fun to read about you talking about strangers with their first names! It’s a bit like people talking about famous people I guess, but still creepy.

    About blog posts not being about travel I don’t understand why you need to put labels on things, like why do a travel blog need to be specifically a “travel blog”? Why can’t it be a lifestyle blog, or just random nonsense?

    Anyway, just found your blog and like it =)

    • Jeremy February 6, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      I suppose you’re right, but I think blogs should have a focus or a purpose. If it’s about your lifestyle while traveling, well, I guess it’s still a travel blog! Thanks for stopping by! :-)

  5. James October 14, 2014 at 12:28 am #

    Some fellow traveler I met this year in Spain were almost shocked at the fact that I traveled alone abroad.
    I wasn’t aware as Americans how untraveled we are compared to other countries. I guess it’s just not our culture, or maybe it’s because America has so much to offer? That comment really struck a chord with me though. If it’s apart of all these other cultures why can’t it be a part of mine! Wheels started turning that moment!

Leave a Reply

Thanks for sharing! Now don't forget to like and follow!