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Is Travel Blogging Dead?

r.i.p.

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.

What Is Harry Potter Shifting?

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2021.

Have you ever wished you could visit one of the fantasy worlds you’ve read about or seen in a movie? Well, shifters believe they can do just that and transport their subconsciousness to Hogwarts, specifically. There’s a pretty active community on TikTok #shiftingrealities where shifters explain how you can shift, what the experience is like, and what happens if you die in Hogwarts.

It all sounds a lot like lucid dreaming where you can control your dreams through various techniques to train your mind to recognize that hey, you’re in a dream and take over. Lucid dreams can often fly like Superman or transport anywhere in the world or perhaps, even to Hogwarts.

On a recent Geek Takeover Week episode of the foXoMad Podcast I and two Harry Potter experts shifted into reacting to shifter TikToks. You can watch a clip in the video above or listen to the full episode below. Evanesco!

Have Travel Influencers Let Us Down During The Pandemic?

tulum mexico

There have been two big groups of travel creators during the Covid-19 pandemic: those who talk about how they can’t travel and those who have kept on traveling. The problem are the content creators who sit right in the middle of what’s said and what they’ve done. Mask-less YouTubers, Instagram models, and bloggers have carved out a niche of continuing to move while ignoring the main travel story of the past 12 months.

In case you need to be reminded: coronavirus.

I Can’t Travel…

Plenty of travel creators have been in Mexico, Portugal, Albania, or Turkey (countries that were generally open during the pandemic) lamenting online that they can’t travel. As far as I know, if you’re visiting a country you don’t live in for the purpose of I feel like it, that’s traveling. The fact that you might not be able to eat indoors at a restaurant or go out on weekends doesn’t mean you’re not currently traveling.

fruit breakfast

Photos on Instagram tell another story of cafe life, aerial yoga classes, and lots of group selfies in some place that also happens to have a high number of Covid related hospitalizations and deaths. It should all be called out for what it is: disregard for the people and places who’ve taken the pandemic seriously.

A Shame

Very few creators want to talk about travel shaming and pointing fingers so let’s not call out any specific people. The travel industry and online community is especially vanilla, avoiding any strong opinions so as to appeal to the masses (and the potential money they might bring).

And the pandemic has become a political issue.

Consequently travel influencers are generally (or at least publicly) liberal leaning. On the topic of the pandemic though, for many, their movement to places where they can get away from the rules tells another story. Not that they’re conservative but that Covid is getting in the way, so let’s go around it.

Unfortunately science doesn’t work that way.

Not That Big A Deal

Away from the public however a lot of travel creators will tell you that coronavirus isn’t that big of a deal. Many will also not tell you they’ve had coronavirus and picked it up most likely at a large social gathering. Just check their Instagram. How many other people, including locals, they’ve infected? You won’t see that on TikTok.

None of this is to say any of us are perfect or that this is every travel blogger-vlogger-creator out there. Only that not many are talking about the disconnect between the posts and the reality. To me, that’s the real travel story of the past 12 months. Being upfront about it is a bit less glamorous but a lot more useful to the people following. So live as you want, just tell it like it is.

Trust me, it’ll be authentic.

Converting To Islam And Moving To Istanbul: Interview With Blogger Ellie Quinn

You may recall the foXnoMad Podcast episode from this past June with Ellie Quinn about what it’s like to travel as a woman in Pakistan. Since we last spoke Ellie left Indonesia back to England and a short time later announced her conversion to Islam on Instagram. I caught up with Ellie, who’s currently living in Istanbul, to talk about what lead her to “revert” to Islam and what the means on a recent foXnoMad Podcast episode.

You can watch a clip from the foXnoMad Podcast above and listen to the full episode below.

The Ethics Of Travel Blogging: Where Do Creators Draw The Line?

jessie festa foxnomad podcast

How do you as a reader know that the content a travel blogger is making is entirely independent, sponsored, or heavily influenced by free trips or financial incentives? The online space is rapidly evolving and for a long time was an unregulated wild west, leaving many creators to come up with their own guidelines… or not.

I recently asked can you trust foXnoMad, to answer how I go about things, though there’s no single approach for all travel bloggers. It’s one of the reasons Jessie Festa recently joined me on an episode of the foXnoMad Podcast to explain her approach and outline what some of the potential conflicts of interest can be for new creators.

In addition to her site Jessie On A Journey, Jessie runs Travel Blog Prosperity which guides bloggers on how to make their sites profitable and manage what happens when do that. There’s a lot to learn for creators but also consumers of travel content online, including a few lines we won’t cross.

How To Travel To Every Country In The World

foxnomad podcast

It’s been a long standing goal of mine – and this blog – to travel to every country in the world. Although I still have a ways to go in my journey, Stefan Krasowski recently accomplished his objective in 2019, finishing with the last two countries on his list: Yemen and Syria.

On Episode 26 of the foXnoMad Podcast, Stefan and I discussed why he decided to visit every country in the world, some of the frequent flyer strategies he used to cut costs, and how he got into Syria overland. Some other highlights:

  • Common frequent flyer mile mistakes many travelers make potentially costing you free upgrades and flights. (Even if you don’t fly so… frequently!)
  • What does it feel like being foreign in China, where Stefan lived for 8 years.
  • Being very likely the first person granted a tourist visa for Syria in 2019.
  • How U.S. border officials reacted upon his return from Yemen and Syria.

Stefan also talks about his guide in Syria, a Palestinian refugee, and her struggles as a stateless person. It’s a touching story that’s a reminder of the power travel can have in connecting us all.

Thank you Stefan for being a guest on the podcast. You can join other travelers looking to visit every country on his Facebook group Every Passport Stamp, and find him on YouTube.

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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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