When I first started drafting this post, the original title was “Has Blogging Ruined Travel For Me?”
I eventually decided against that, though, simply because it's misleading; it suggests that blogging about my travels has indeed diminished the experience for me in some way. Which isn't really true. Blogging has not “ruined” travel for me.
But being a travel blogger HAS definitely changed the way in which I travel.
On my very first “big” trip abroad (to New Zealand in 2005), I only had a vague concept of what blogging really was. (Come on, we all had a LiveJournal blog in high school, didn't we?) I had a bulky digital camera that ate through two dozen AA batteries in two weeks. And I wasn't even on Facebook yet.
It was before the proliferation of smartphones and Instagram and readily-available wifi.
Looking back, it was an entirely different world.
In the intervening years, a lot has changed. Technology has evolved by leaps and bounds; things are possible today that I never even imagined on that first big trip back in 2005.
And becoming a travel blogger has definitely had an impact on the way I travel.
Ways blogging has influenced how I travel
1. I'm almost always connected
This isn't really a direct result of being a blogger – rather, it's a combination of being a blogger, a Millennial, and embracing the digital age with reckless abandon.
It's hard to remember back to a time when Facebook and iPhones didn't exist; when Google wasn't just a swipe away. (Do you remember going on trips and not texting anyone back home? I do – but it seems like a long, long time ago.)
And, as a blogger, I take things a step further. I don't just want to be connected because it's convenient – I actually require it to do my job. When I'm traveling, I'm also usually working. This means posting photos to Facebook, showing people behind-the-scenes glimpses on Instagram Stories, answering emails, and drafting blog posts when I have time.
This all requires being connected as much as humanly possible.
The downside: Well, it's that I'm always connected. I always have a smartphone, a camera, and usually a laptop with me on my travels. I rely heavily on wifi (gone are the days when I might have booked a hotel room because it was a great deal – now wifi is the number one requirement!), and am admittedly addicted to having instant access to information, entertainment, and more. I'm not saying that I never disconnect (in fact, I once went on a digital detox trip where I ignored my blog, email, and social media for an entire week!), but it's definitely rare.
The upside: I get to have a career as a blogger! And, I gotta say, being able to explore the world and make money while doing it is definitely a dream come true for me.
2. I look at destinations differently
To be fair, I still usually travel based on my own personal bucket list and where I actually want to go. Blogging hasn't really affected that at all. But there's no doubt that being a blogger causes me to consider destinations differently.
Now, I go places with story ideas in mind, or with a checklist of things to do/see so I can potentially write about them later. I'm also likely to seek out interesting and colorful spots for Instagram photos.
I rarely look at a trip as a holiday any longer, because I know that I'll probably share at least *something* from it with my audience.
The downside: My blog (i.e. work) is almost always on my mind. Even though I might take a break from blogging while on a big trip, things like email and social media are almost always there to keep me busy.
The upside: The fact that I may write about a destination or experience makes me pay more attention to it. I ask more questions, get more involved, and sometimes even take notes. As far as travel as education goes, I think I actually learn more as a blogger!
3. My interest in photography has evolved
In case you didn't know, this blog is a one-woman show. While I do have people who help me with many of the background tasks of this blog now, I don't have a partner or assistant to help with things like writing or photography or video editing – I do that all myself!
And since the onus has been on me (and only me) to learn how to do everything from SEO to photo editing to email marketing, it means that I've picked up a lot of new skills as a blogger. And one of those has definitely been photography.
As a blogger, I don't necessarily take more photos than the average traveler. But I do take different photos – of food, of hotel rooms, of activities that I'm doing. Just in case I need those photos for a post later.
Knowing that blogs (and especially travel blogs) are very visual, improving my photography has been something I've actively worked at for years. And working at it has made me fall in love with it.
I really enjoy the challenge of trying to capture scenes and moments exactly as I saw/experienced them, and photography has now become a very important part of my personal travel experience.
The downside: It's now really, really difficult for me to travel without a camera. I tried doing it once on a weeklong trip, and realized that not being able to take my own photos actually detracted from the whole experience for me.
The upside: It's one more creative outlet that I get to explore and hone.
4. I am more likely to seek out new experiences
As a travel blogger, I don't necessarily have to always be traveling in order to run my blog (in fact, I travel less than half the year!). But I DO always have to come up with new post/travel ideas – I'm sometimes planning my next trip before my current one is even over. And I'm always seeking out new and unique experiences to share with my audience.
I'm a pretty adventurous person by nature, but I'm definitely more likely as a blogger to go out of my way to do something that will make a good story. Whether it's swimming with seals or doing the world's longest zip line or going to the Arctic in the dead of winter, I rarely will say no to a new adventure these days.
The downside: When you have so many great adventures, it's easy to start taking it all for granted. I try my best to avoid the “been there, done that” attitude, and make an effort to acknowledge how lucky I really am to be able to have this kind of lifestyle.
The upside: Awesome adventures, of course! I've tried so many new things all for the sake of getting a good story, and know that it has definitely helped me grow – both as a blogger AND as a person.
When it comes down to it, I'm no longer your average traveler. I'm now a travel blogger, and that definitely DOES have an affect on how I explore and experience the world.
But, thankfully, I think the upsides outweigh the downsides. And I kind of can't imagine traveling any other way now!