I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a [blogger]

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So you’re setting off on your next big adventure. Maybe you’re completing a destination TEFL practicum, getting ready to teach abroad, returning to a former host country, or simply putting your desk job behind you to jet set for a bit. Whatever the case, you might be thinking about starting a travel blog.

For me, blogging has played an important role in my experiences abroad. For starters, it’s helped me keep my friends and family up to date without having to call and break it down for each individual. A blog provides more than enough detail to ensure loved ones that you are safe and sound.

Blogging has also helped me on a personal level: processing and flushing out feelings, acknowledging personal growth as well as personal struggle, and connecting with a larger community of travelers and bloggers. And the best part is that all of this is forever preserved online. There is nothing like going back to a blog post from a few years ago and reading exactly what you were thinking and feeling in that moment (and maybe cringing a little at how sappy you were).

In addition to writing my own blog, I’ve also poured over countless others in attempt to decipher what works and what doesn’t. I was surprised to find that although travel bloggers are experiencing the most exciting times of their lives, that a lot of of them still fall flat. How can this be possible?!  

It doesn’t take much digging to realize that lackluster blogs all suffer from the same maladies, which for the most part are easily curable. You don’t have to be a professional to write a great travel blog, but you should follow some universal guidelines to make sure that your blog really packs and punch! Some of the best blogs I’ve read are also the most modest in size and following, but were consistently engaging nonetheless.

Here are some tips I’ve picked up from reading these blogs:

1. Show, don’t tell! This rule was likely seared into your memory somewhere between the fourth and sixth grade but should really be reinforced to travel bloggers. Remember, you’re a blogger, not a historian. Chances are that unless they live under a rock, your followers can plainly see where you are and often where you are going via social media. So scratch that tedious chronological recaps and dig into some juicy detail.

2. Ditch the five paragraph essay! I know, it can be scary going beyond the traditional “intro, body paragraphs, conclusion” format but at some point we all have to ween ourselves off those English 101 comfort objects. I’m not suggesting that abandon all forms of structure, only that unconventional structures are not only okay, but way more interesting to read. 

3. The backspace button is your best friend. This sounds strange but the most useful tool in your editing toolbox is probably the delete button. My suggestion is to find all the places where you could delete words or phrases without compromising the meaning of the text—and then delete them! Redundancy and wordiness are big no-no’s for any writing style and especially in blogging. This is one major way to cause readers to disengage. 

4. Stream of consciousness works. Even if you’d never heard of this writing style, you pretty much already know how to use it—unless you talk like a robot. Stream of consciousness writing is the imitation of the spoken language in written form, which “depicts the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind.” This lends a more human quality to your writing and allows you to better showcase your personality. I love reading blogs where I feel like the author is talking directly to me—it’s inclusive, entertaining, and often hilarious!

5. Travel blogs are not always about travel. It’s not the most intuitive suggestion, but I wouldn’t make your travel blog all about travel. Although logistics are sometimes necessary in establishing context, I am personally always more interested in the blogger’s emotional response to a foreign place or culture. I understand that it’s not easy for everyone to wear their heart on their sleeve (or should I say homepage?), but allowing your emotions tell the story often leads to more intimate and unique blog content.

Of course there is not one right way to write a blog. If there were, all of them would look and sound the same. Keeping these five tips in mind, be careful not to abandon your personal blogging style and even more careful not to try to carbon copy someone else’s’. No two blogs should ever be the same, but all bloggers should write with clarity, authenticity, and creativity.

To check out my personal blog as well as some of my favorites, check out the links below: