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Is Travel Blogging Dead?

Is Travel Blogging Dead?

In evolution, there’s no one specific moment in time where you can point to and say, this species split into two different paths. We of course do that in history books but the truth is there’s a big grey area where things overlap. The same is often true of online platforms and trends, travel blogging being a good example.

Travel blogging has been changing but now has changed so much, we can say it’s in a new era. So, travel blogging isn’t dead but not what it once was. Here’s what you need to know about travel blogging if you’re thinking of starting your own or not sure to do with the one you have on life support.

This Was The Plan

Since I began blogging seriously around 2008, I’ve had a weekly schedule. In those days, it was start planning out the site’s posting schedule for the week on Sundays. I’d write 5 posts a week and foXnoMad slowly grew an audience. Many left comments and suggestions as they followed my travels and tech reviews through RSS. A reader where you subscribed to sites to get updates. (It still exists as a weekly foXnoMad email update.) Growth was organic and at the time and I knew pretty much every other travel blogger.

igloo hotel alaska

Social media was in its infancy and timelines were chronological. Introverts rejoice, you could have an online presence without being the face of your own brand. You can still exist on the Internet as travel blogs once did in the early 2010s but what’s changed is your ability and perhaps, desire to monetize.

Everything Everywhere

As Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube became algorithm based – machines preferring content know will get clicks (quality or usefulness be damned) and Google abandoning Reader, travel bloggers shifted. Some jumped completely to YouTube or Vine (rest in peace) while others tried to be on every platform. Without a way to like and subscribe to your favorite blog, blogger audiences became scattered and had to rely on Google searches to get views. Personality based based blogs mostly suffered and those that help you travel smarter, benefited. (Not all though, some have cultivated a very active user base on their blog.)

Gary Arndt has a very good write up on this history and why he’s done travel blogging. We also talked about it in a recent episode of the foXnoMad Podcast. But to me, it comes down to money. Travel blogging isn’t dead but the monetization model isn’t the same.

State Of Blogging Today

See, if you want to make money from travel blogging, that’s a whole other story. Is travel blogging dead? Not if you don’t care about money. Blogs and websites still remain possibly the most independent, free spaces on the Internet. You don’t have to make money from a travel blog and there are other benefits to having your own personal online space. It can be a hub for your merch, tours, or other services.

And, this is a big one, whether you jump to YouTube or start a podcast, writing is an invaluable skill. Videos often need scripts, podcasts a well-thought out plan, and an economy of words online is a skill that takes time to cultivate. How you say stuff – that “voice” everyone keeps talking about requires writing. Having written thousands of posts now and hundreds of YouTube scripts, a blog is a great way to articulate ideas, organize your thoughts, and have one place where everyone can find everywhere else you happen to be posting.

Since I began travel blogging I have said to myself and others, if I didn’t make a cent doing this, I would still be doing it. I love sharing knowledge and writing because they lead to ideas. In my experience, ideas often lead to adventures. Life isn’t the same without them.

Tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee has a good analogy that works for any creative endeavor. Don’t start travel blogging unless you love traveling and writing (or photography). You should be happy doing it even if you never make a dime off of it. Otherwise it sounds like you want to start a business. But turning your travel blog into a business, that has evolved into something else completely.

How To Rent A Tesla From Hertz

Hertz recently sent Tesla’s market value over 1 trillion dollars after the car rental company ordered 100,000 Tesla electric vehicles. Hertz’s goal is to eventually make 20% of its fleet EVs and they’re slowly rolling out Teslas as a rental option mainly in California, Texas, and at airports in major US and European cities.

Here’s how you can rent a Tesla from Hertz and everything you need to know about the process.

Finding A Tesla

The easiest way to book a Tesla is through the Hertz app where you might snag some discounts not available on their desktop site. Either way, you’ll see that Hertz’s online portal is a bit ahead of its Tesla rollout. See, Tesla is a vehicle option at many locations but in reality they’re currently limited to select cities mainly at airport locations. There are also some restrictions to know about before renting – you can’t rent and drop off at separate locations – and self-driving is disabled, in case you were hoping to test that feature out. (Though autopilot is enabled.)

tesla hertz rental

Otherwise the process is much like renting any other type of car. Pick your dates, choose the Tesla (currently they’re all rear wheel drive Model 3s with the standard range of about 260 miles), and select your pick up location.

Car Pick Up

Most of the locations with Teslas have chargers on site so you should get a car that’s 80-100% charged. Keep in mind though if you’ve never driven a Tesla to read up on the several emails Hertz will send you describing how to unlock the doors, start the car, and put it back into park. It sounds straightforward but the Tesla experience is very different than most gas powered vehicles so arrive prepared. Nobody at Hertz will give you a tour or demonstration unless you ask so be prepared if it’s your first time to take a few minutes in the parking lot to get a good feel for the car.

All of your controls, wipers, heating, everything is managed through the Model 3’s large central touchscreen. Get familiar with it before hitting the road so you’re not searching to turn on the air conditioning when you should be watching the road.

Costs And Drop Off

For some reason when I booked a Tesla, I got it for a rate of $72 ($91 total with fees and taxes). I was told by the clerk I must have had some good luck on my side because the going rate to rent a Model 3 is about $170-200. You’ll have to include the cost to charge the car, which can run about $6-8; meaning it should be a lot less expensive than gas to refuel.

Hertz’s is planning to add superchargers to many of their local locations as they expand the Tesla rental option and you should start seeing Model 3s at many more locations. Overall, a good way to experience driving a Tesla while reducing your emissions, although you will pay a premium for it.

The Best Places To Eat In Anchorage, Alaska

The Best Places To Eat In Anchorage, Alaska

There are a lot of good places to eat in Anchorage, Alaska. It might not be all gourmet or particularly fancy but the hearty, diverse, and often locally sourced food on your plate fits perfectly in Anchorage’s remote location and windy streets.

These are the best places to eat in Anchorage, Alaska.

Breakfast: Snow City Cafe

Very popular but with good reason, Snow City Cafe serves large portions of varied egg dishes from benedicts to scrambled sandwiches. Additionally there’s oatmeal, fresh fruits, and plenty of coffee. Lines outside Snow City Cafe start forming 15 minutes before they open so get there early or wait until after 9:30am when the breakfast crowds die down. Prices run about $15 per dish and it’s casual dining that’s a great start to any day in Anchorage.

Recommended: Try the salmon cakes with “The Deadliest Catch.”

Lunch or Dinner: Moose’s Tooth Pub

Locals tend to go with what’s good and lines start forming in the late morning right before Moose’s Tooth Pub opens. Not only do they have some of the best pizza in Anchorage but a large selection of craft beers to go with them. Not your fancy? There’s a homemade soup on the menu daily, over 10 salads to choose from, and oven-baked sandwiches. Like most places in Anchorage portions are large so if you’re not too hungry, a slice of pizza and salad are available. Prices run about $10-20 per pie depending on the size of pizza you order.

Recommended: Hungarian mushroom soup and The Popeye pizza.

After 11am to 11pm: 49th State Brewing

slice of pizza

If there were a single restaurant that could summarize the general cuisine scene in Anchorage, it would be 49th State Brewing. They have a pretty massive menu which can be intimidating at first but for fish, the halibut is recommended. The appetizers are small meals on their own so be sure to arrive hungry and if you can, make a reservation beforehand, it does get crowded. Prices run about $20-30 for entrees.

Recommended: The 49er’s Famous Fried Halibut Tacos.

Dessert: Wild Scoops

A bit wacky and part hipster, the locally sourced ingredients at Wild Scoops make for incredible ice cream. There’s over 100 of flavors at their two locations in Anchorage. The staff are incredibly friendly and generous with the free samples so you’re sure to find a flavor (or three) that’s right for you.

wild scoops anchorage

Recommended: Black Cup Oreo, Sweeter Than Dirt (vegan)

Anchorage is a surprisingly good city to eat in and there are a lot of locally owned shops serving everything from German, Turkish, to Alaskan favorites. This list will get you started but you certainly won’t have to stop there! All great places to eat no matter how long you’re in town or just passing through on the way to Seward nearby.

 

How To Plan A Day Trip To Seward, Alaska

You may not have heard of Seward, Alaska until you’ve been or are planning to visit Anchorage. Located about a 2 and a half hour drive south from Alaska’s most populous city, Seward is a town of about 2,100 residents living on the Gulf of Alaska fjord. It’s an excellent hopping off spot to see wildlife, eat at local restaurants, and start an entire Alaska adventure.

Here’s how to plan your day trip to Seward.

Getting To Seward

There are several ways to get to Seward from Anchorage.

  • Car: This is the most flexible way to get to Seward although not the least expensive if you’re renting a vehicle. The road to Seward is mostly flat and relatively straight, just beware of wildlife and keep your eyes on the road. (Moose are common.) The benefit of driving is you can stop at one of several scenic pull-offs like Beluga Point.

  • Train: The Coastal Classic Train moves across some of the most beautiful scenery in southern Alaska. The train runs from early May to mid-September and takes about 4 hours. Most of the boat tour operators are in sync with the train schedule and depart and arrive with train travelers in mind. A dining car is available and prices for a one-way trip run a little over $200.
  • Bus: Following roughly the same seasonal schedule as the trains, a 3 hour bus ride is about $70 one way on Seward Bus Lines. Times vary and some routes are specifically designed for sightseeing. The bus good alternative to the train if you’re traveling in a larger group.

Planning A Day In Seward

One of the most popular things to do in Seward is to take a boat tour of Resurrection Bay and out further to see nearby glaciers. I’d recommend Major Marine Tours (you can see why in the video above) which offer a variety of half and full day wildlife excursions. If time isn’t an issue, the full day tour gives you a much better chance of seeing larger marine life like orcas and other whales, plus takes you out to several local glaciers. All of these glaciers are receding so you may be taking a look at an endangered piece of history.

How To Plan A Day Trip To Seward, Alaska

  • Full Day Tours: Range from 6 to 8.5 hours and cost $180-$250 and go into Kenai Fjords National Park. Meals are included as are assigned seats but you’re free (and encouraged) to roam around the boat, especially when wildlife is pointed out.
  • Half Day Tours: Roughly 4 hours, these tours are usually specifically designed to catch certain types of wildlife sightings, particularly killer whales. Very seasonal (May and June are the best times) half day tours are ideal for those looking to maximize a day around Seward. Cost is roughly $100.

Keep in mind to coordinate your transportation times with any boat tours. There’s plenty of parking available for cars; otherwise check with the bus or train company to see if the ride you’re booking aligns with a particular boat tour.

Where To Eat In Seward

Seasonal, as many things are in Seward, the warmer the months, the more options you’ll have for food. One staple is caffeine with breakfast at 13 Ravens Coffee, appropriately located in a converted train car right by the water. (To be fair, most every place you’ll probably be visiting in Seward is.) A larger meal in a place with limited seating (so get there early) is Mermaid Grotto. After about 9am the service slows down and the seats fill up but another alternative nearby is The Cookery for local foods by Chef Kevin Lane.

Further up the road for those of you driving is the Exit Glacier Salmon Bake, which is as much of an experience as it is a place to eat.

Spending The Day In Seward

In case you’re still hungry after your day in Seward check out the best breakfast in Anchorage or the best pizza places in Anchorage. Seward is an inviting town you won’t regret visiting, especially if you make the most of what it has to offer.

Travel Bans Don’t Work And Won’t Stop Omicron

Travel Bans Don’t Work And Won’t Stop Omicron

Just when we thought the Covid-19 pandemic might be waning a new variant with an intimidating name has closed borders, invited panic, and amplified our collective frustrations regarding this virus. Omicron is a new pandemic, like the old one but condensed in time and reaction. We have over two years of experience with Covid but the world is making the same old mistakes with Omicron.

Let’s start with travel bans. They don’t work because they are too little too late at best and lowkey racist at worst.

South Africa Punished

Omicron was first identified in South Africa. Last than a week later, the United States, Europe, and 70 other nations had banned travel from South Africa and 7 neighboring countries. Historically, the countries that visit South Africa the most are the U.S., UK, Germany, Netherlands, and France. Using this faulty travel ban logic, shouldn’t travelers from those countries be barred as well? How about their neighbors? What about Europe?

You see the problem. Travel bans chase the virus well after it’s spread far and wide. Omicron was, it turns out, in the Netherlands at least a week before South Africa identified it.

Travel Bans Effect

Travel bans, when implemented early into a pandemic, can slow the spread of a virus and give countries a chance to prepare. What the preparation looks like varies in pandemic stages but we have a vaccine. We’ve had a vaccines. Travel bans can slow the virus to give people a chance to vaccinate ahead of it. Travel bans don’t stop the virus. And they don’t fix the underlying problem that unless people vaccinate, mask, and continue to social distance then the virus keeps spreading and staying ahead of us.

“We need a balanced and proportional response. That means no travel bans, but testing and quarantine for people coming from countries where omicron is circulating,” says Raghib Ali, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge.

Every time a virus, any virus, infects a host it has a chance to mutate. Think of it like a giant game of telephone. (Remember that from grade school?) Imagine the virus is a recipe and our bodies are all cooks. Each time a cook gets a recipe, they might make the dish a little different. A hamburger becomes a panini. A panini becomes a pizza. A pizza becomes lasagna. Eventually, the vaccine designed for hamburgers doesn’t recognize what a lasagna is. We’re playing catch up against nature and that’s always a losing proposal for humanity.

Hurting On Many Levels

Countries like South Africa who’ve identified variants might be much more reluctant to do so if there’s the threat of a travel ban. The effect on the local tourism industry – reeling already globally – has serious implications, especially for poorer nations. Tourism is the crusty glue barely keeping the world together. Crime and poverty increase without it in places that rely on travel.

Blocking travel also means aide workers and scientific supplies to the places that need it most. The UK has banned travel from 11 countries – all African – being called by travel apartheid by Nigeria.

Olufemi Awokoya told the BBC he was trying to raise money for his wife’s quarantine, as she is due to return from a trip to attend her mother’s memorial service. “She is being punished and our household is put in financial hardship. She is an NHS worker and tripled-jabbed, and we can’t afford the £2,280 ($3,024) hotel bill,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a global problem with a global solution. But the more we keep dividing ourselves into nations of isolation, vaccinated and un-vaccinated, the virus will keep conquering us, a divided species.

5 Pickpocket Tricks To Use Against Them When Traveling

5 Pickpocket Tricks To Use Against Them When Traveling

Part of any good security strategy is to learn from what the other side you’re trying to protect yourself from is doing. You can’t always avoid an elite pickpocket or completely prevent getting robbed at knife point – but what you can do though is minimize your losses by thinking like the criminal who wants to steal from you.

Your personal security plan needs to have many legs to stand on as well as distractions to keep your real valuables safe.

1. Distribute Your Money

Always distribute your valuables in several places when you travel. This include both on your person, in you bag, and your hostel or hotel room. Never keep all of your money in the same place. You can hide some emergency cash in deep in your socks, in the side of your underwear or in a bra and in your front pocket as well. While you may get robbed or pickpocketed you’ll have minimized your loses.

hotel room pakistan lahore falettis

For extreme circumstances do the same and have some money hidden in your hotel room too. Some in the safe if there is one and inside of a dirty sock in your laundry. Have kids? Their toys make great hiding spots.

2. Use A Decoy

Your wallet is the first target of any pickpocket so make it where you keep your least valuable stuff. Put in a small (but not tiny amount) of money along with some of those inactive (or expired) credit cards you get in the mail. If you don’t get any in the mail cancel your current card and request a new one from your bank – instant decoy. Include a student ID or some other photo identification with no personal information on it. A wallet without an ID might give you away.

trove wallet

Make sure your wallet doesn’t have sentimental value and never keep important things in a big purse – they are very easy targets.

3. Set a Trap

A decoy can be a way to potentially set a trap for a pickpocket. It won’t work in all places but if your bank offers a free checking account or credit card with no fees and is free open one up. Keep this card (with no money in the account) in your decoy wallet. If it’s stolen call the credit card company or bank right away to let them know.

ridge wallet

In most countries the companies will keep close track to see where and if that card is used. If there happens to be a camera at the first place the pickpocket tries to use the card you may be in luck.

4. Make Your Things Ugly

There are several techniques on how to make uglify your camera but the same premise goes for all of your valuable electronics. Get over the need to keep your things shiny since they won’t do you any good if they’re enticing and get stolen. Stickers, worn duct tape, and ugly carry bags work too.

red iphone 11

Oh, and that iPhone – be careful where you flash it. If you’re traveling in a place and worried about the area bring along the cheapest, oldest Nokia you can find and save the Twittering until you can get back to the hotel.

5. Set Up A Camera System

Hotel rooms can be vulnerable spots for your stuff and not all come with safes. You can though use an old smartphone as a security camera to monitor your things and get an alert if anything is disturbed. Also, while we’re at it, always use a “Do Not Disturb” sign and only have your room cleaned while you’re in it (and have packed away your valuables beforehand).

Be Creative and Add More Legs

There are plenty more ways to be shadier than thieves – be creative! Unique hiding spots, zipping your backpack like this, and other tricks are fun to come up with and there are almost an unlimited number of them. The important thing it to have more than one self-security plan and have your strategy stand on many legs so you always have a backup or two.

This is an updated version of a post I originally shared for a now-defunct travel blog in 2009.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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