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 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 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?
You can’t 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.
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?