My Travel Blog Saved My Life

Ant Stone from Trail of Ants.
Lemur, Madagascar

Lemur in Madagascar. Photo by Clair Hamilton.

I’ve never been very good at keeping in touch. I expect my Facebook status to skip hand in hand with my Twitter account around the fires of my Flickr pages and the result be that everyone knows just enough. When my laptop allows Skype into its inner quarters, I begin my conversations with “so sorry I haven’t been in touch…” and The Other End routinely console me. My Myspace is slumped in a shiver and a dozen ‘RE: Where are you?’ lie beneath dust and disgrace in any one my three spam-infested inbox’s. Postcards? I’ve sent a couple. Text messages? Reserved for belated birthdays.

Keeping in touch is disgustingly easy on the road. Which is why you should consider writing a travel blog. Hide in the trenches and fire your world at them from behind the frontlines. Bombard your friends with third person narratives and embarrass your mum with excerpts of the night “that drunken German girl…” It’s more than a group email, but less than an obligation.

It’s also a focus: a well-oiled travel blog can be the platform to test your writing, photography and graphic design skills on the unknowing public without making it a profession. And. Shhh. There’s money to be found in them there Blog Hills, boy. Imagine that. You divert your energy from a “Dear Nan”, “Dear Mum” and “Dearest Fluffy Cheeks” into a globally appealing montage of mighty moments and handpicked pictures while learning a variety of new skills from marketing to web development and, shock horror, you get paid for it. What have you got to lose? Your Nan won’t love you any less and Fluffy Cheeks might stop telling her mates how lame you are at sounding meaningful.

A well-oiled travel blog can be the platform to test your writing, photography and graphic design skills on the unknowing public without making it a profession.

Contrary to possible belief, you don’t need a laptop. You don’t need a degree in web development. You don’t need any money. You don’t need to be Shakespeare. There are dozens of free blog services available online: World Nomads, TravellersPoint and Matador to name just a few. You can sign up to most of these quicker than it’s taken you to read this far. Or if you’re a fast reader – this far.

If you’re feeling a little more ambitious and have a bit of time before you lose yourself in a Bangkok laneway, there’s WordPress. Wordwhat? Imagine your blog as a shop. WordPress is essentially the shelves, the trolleys, the deli counter and the grossly obese checkout girl. Your chosen URL (www.ThatsThisBit.com) is the bright sign hanging at the front. So all you have to do is pop into the shop a few times a week to fill the shelves and chat up the checkout chick. I would. She might sneak me some free Heinz beans. Sure, you pay a bit of rent for the shop space (i.e. a web host) and if it’s your first shop you’ll need a few handymen (i.e. techy forums) but the fact remains, you now own a website. Bill Gates eat your heart out. With beans.

So, you’ve got your URL, you’ve got your software, you’ve bribed some readers, you’ve persuaded some affiliates schemes, you’ve got an awesome trip planned and you’ve swapped ungrateful Fluffy Cheeks for a more cuddly, curvaceous version. What else do you need? Content. The tales of tribulations will emerge in the most unlikely circumstance. I already presume you’re savvy enough to avoid the boreathon syntax “in the morning I had cornflakes. Then I brushed my teeth. Then we kissed. Then I brushed again”. Think outside the box. Imagine you had taken a disastrous five hour bus journey at 5am from Gonoronk to Clopordoza and on the way you were delayed by a landslide. It might read something like: “That rocky obstruction bore a curious resemblance to those crumbs of gold I watched cascade away from her plump lower lip that morning. Our hopes of reaching Clopordoza were quickly expiring. Until The Shovel appeared majestically on the summit. Within twelve hours – and eight successors to the man formerly known as The Shovel – we were on our way.” Then give it a whacky, slightly exaggerated title (see above) and harass your friends (real and otherwise) until they’ve inhaled every last grammatical error.

Above all, don’t take things too seriously. Unless by some unfortunate manner I’ve created a blood-sucking blog zombie, your trip should come first. Travel. Then blog. Then travel. Test yourself out. You might surprise yourself (and the new Mrs.)

About the author:

Lifelong Englishman, Ant Stone is the author of TrailofAnts.com. Already nineteen months into an endless journey, Ant is currently preparing a ute (that’s Aussie for big car) for a botched journey around the rim of a tiny island called Australia.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • del.icio.us
  • Mixx
  • Digg

Discussion »

  • #1Tina

    Hi Ant, Great blog, I have done some travelling in Australia, mostly short trip 2 months at the most. Can’t wait until we can do a serious long trip and blog all the way, so much to see and do.

  • #2ceo

    I really liked this article. I am interested in starting my own travel blog – I have a lot of scrap bits and pieces from tattered journals to piece together after spending 5 months in France, 2 years in Turkey, and 4 months in Texas. I am still trying to find the best blog site to host my blog. Do you have any advice / suggestions / recommendations?

    I have a few criteria:
    1. that people actually read it (and who knows – maybe I could make some money – but that’s secondary to connecting with a community of like-minded individuals). i’m not sure a wordpress account would generate any exposure right off the bat.
    2. that it be easy to use (i don’t want to spend hours pulling my hair out trying to get it to look the way i want it to)
    3. that it look pretty. i am hoping for a ready-made slick professional layout with minimum design required from me. i would like to simply copy and paste the text in and voila! i would also like to be able to tag and categorize entries, and back-date entries to the actual date the trip occurred.
    4. that it allow unlimited photo uploads and that uploads don’t take hours.
    5. that it allow me to create slick-looking route maps.

    Any advice you can offer would be appreciated!

    Thanks,
    ceo

  • Add Your Comment

  • The Guy: I think Dave and Jodi raise some very valid points and they are consistent with my perceptions based on over...
  • Jay Daviot: Epic list! There are some great blogs there. Would love to see a few more blogs from photographers though...
  • John: I’ve always wanted to hitch hike across the USA.
  • Sara Wikoff: I found your post very interesting. I am just a Freshman in college and I have not decided my major yet....
  • John: Great advice, I always buy charcoal tabs in case I get an upset tummy.
  • Recently Featured Travel Blogs

    • A Girl and Her Thumb

      The thumb. A very useful part of the anatomy, especially when you decide to head out into the world, hitchhike and use other modes of transportation. For Jo Magpie, it (both actually) have served her well in her travels – always heading east. She’s once again on the move. Yup, east.

    • Home and Away

      Naomi, David and their two sons are ‘on a slow roam around the world’. Though both successful, David didn’t want his children to view him as the dad who was always working. So, with the business and house sold, possessions relocated – the four set off to explore. Their style of travel allows them to live/work in comfort while spending quality time with Lucas and Easy (Ezekiel).

    • Kiwi Blog Bus

      In 2008, the Annison family moved from the UK to New Zealand and bought a boat. In 2010, they upgraded to a camper van to explore the country. Though the cats stay home to help the elder son with the yard work and house, the remainder of the family (including the dogs) traverse the open roads of Kiwidom, searching for hidden treasures.

    • More of the best travel blogs