Secrets to Running a Travel Blog When You Aren’t Traveling

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I have a secret to tell you.

Okay, well maybe not a secret, perse… but still perhaps something you don't know about me: I'm not actually traveling right now.

In fact, in comparison to a lot of other bloggers out there, I don't really travel much at all.

This is home.

I'm quite the anomaly when it comes to travel blogging. While I run a frequently-updated travel blog, I don't actually travel very frequently. Sure, I went to Hawaii for a week at the beginning of February. But, before that, I was more or less grounded since June 2010. And, with the exception of perhaps a weekend trip to Chicago, I don't have plans to travel again until June of this year. That's a long time to go without a lot of travel.

So how, then, do I maintain my travel blog?

I by no means have all the answers, or know all the secrets. But I do know what has worked for me, and, therefore, what could potentially work for others stuck in my same predicament.

Many times, people start travel blogs before a big trip — maybe a study abroad stint, an elaborate vacation, or even a long-term round-the-world trip. But what happens with many of these blogs is that they only last as long as the travel itself does. Once all the stories are told and photos are shared, the travel blog then dies a slow and silent death.

But guess what? It doesn't have to be this way.

You can, in fact, maintain a travel blog even when you aren't traveling. I'm living proof that it can work, as long as you have some solid experiences to build on, a lot of determination, and a bit of creativity.

How to run a travel blog when you're not traveling

Save content for a rainy day

It's been nearly 2 and a half years since I returned from my semester abroad in New Zealand. And yet I'm still writing about my adventures there quite regularly. Yes, it's true that I only started A Dangerous Business last year, but I've held back some content here and there in order to be able to keep things fresh on my blog, even during dry spells when I'm not traveling. You can do this, too. Instead of sharing everything all at once either during or right after your trip, save a few things that might come in handy later. I've learned from experience that having too much of “the same” at once or in a row will turn readers off. Variety is the key.

Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

Spread out your posts

If you don't have the content to post 5 times a week, then don't post 5 times a week. Simple as that. You do want to post on a somewhat consistent schedule so that your readers have an idea of when to check in, but you have the power to set that schedule. If you know you won't be traveling a lot, perhaps limit your posts to 1 or 2 per week so that you don't run out of material too quickly. It's never fun to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for content.

Add in weekly features

When I was considering moving my blog over to being self-hosted, I decided I wanted to post at least 5 times per week — more, if possible. But I knew I didn't have the content. So I decided to come up with fresh content that wasn't actually about me at all. I started up some new features — my Thursday Traveler interviews, which shine the spotlight on fellow travelers; my Best Blogs of the Week/Month posts, which round up some good reads; and my guest post series, which gives other bloggers the opportunity to share their writing on A Dangerous Business. All of these segments have gotten really positive responses, and they break up the week nicely and add some variety to my site. And the best part? They're pretty easy to do.

Photo essays

Chances are, if you travel a lot, you also take a lot of pictures. While posting nothing but photos all the time can get boring, putting together a collection of pictures on a theme every now and then can be a great way to put some of those many photos to use, and also give you some fresh content. I've had a lot of fun with some of my photo essays, and, if your photos are really good, you'll definitely get some attention with them, too.

Oriental Bay, Wellington, New Zealand

Tell stories, even if you think they're dumb

People love stories. They love YOUR stories. If you're stumped for a post idea, think back to something that you've done or saw in your travels that you often find yourself telling people about. Maybe it was something stupid you did, something amazing you saw, or even something offensive you heard. It can be the simplest story, or the most detailed one. Now, have you written about this on your blog? If not, do it. Even if you think it's dumb, just give it a try. You might be surprised at how readers respond when you share something personal.

Give tips on seemingly mundane things

Even if you think everyone knows how to survive a long-haul flight, tell their parents they want to travel, or pack light, it doesn't mean they actually do. In fact, some of the travel tips posts I've written that I was sure would be duds turned out to be really popular. Just because it seems mundane to you doesn't mean someone else won't find it helpful. It never hurts to give things a try.

Have other bloggers contribute to a post

Sometimes, I have other bloggers do the work for me. The travel blogging community is vast, and, usually, if you ask for some help, you'll find it. I did some posts around the holidays asking other travelers to share their stories and photos of Christmases and New Years' spent abroad. I also appealed to my fans on Facebook to share some of their tips on saving money for travel, which I then turned into a popular how-to post. Bloggers like to be featured on other blogs, so putting together a post like this often only requires an e-mail, tweet or Facebook message.

Or, you can scare them into it like this.

Read other blogs to get ideas

Reading other travel blogs will not only give you the opportunity to build relationships with other bloggers, but it might actually give you some inspiration, too. Maybe you'll come across a post you really love, or one that reminds you of somewhere you've been or something you experienced. Maybe you'll come across another blogger's post that you really hate that will inspire you to write a rebuttal. Or maybe you'll come across another blogger doing something creative that you never even thought about before. I'm not saying to copy others, of course, but it's okay to see what's out there in order to decide what might work for your own blog.

Explore locally

If you're really feeling the bite of the travel bug but can't actually travel, consider exploring your local surroundings through the eyes of someone who's never been there before. Is there a really great restaurant that's only found in your town? Does your city have any interesting/unique museums? Can you go hiking or camping or fishing in your backyard? We often fail to notice the things about our surroundings that might be interesting to others, so it's good sometimes to step back and consider “home” from a new perspective. I have a whole section of my site dedicated to Ohio, and have had a lot of fun doing “normal” things from a travel blogger's perspective, like going to an amusement park or the county fair. Your hometown might just surprise you, too.

Write about places you've been

This is a given — to write what you know. But you don't need to only write about places you've been recently. I'm still writing about places I went years ago. And I could probably go back even further still and write about places I went with my family when I was younger. With time often comes new perspectives. So it might actually be a good thing to wait 5 or 10 years to write about that horrific family vacation or the time you got lost in a foreign country. And, writing about past travels can also be a good way to reminisce, allowing you to “relive” your adventures through your own words.

Write about places you want to go

Maybe there's someplace you've been dreaming of visiting since you were 8. Maybe there's somewhere you never used to think you'd want to go, but now you're drawn to it. Write about it. Not only will it feel good to get the desire out there, but others who HAVE been to these places will often weigh in on them, too. Whether it is taking a short city break to New York or a weeklong excursion to London, write about where you want to go.

Plan a trip

Whether it's a real trip or imaginary one, trip planning can actually be really fun to blog about. Especially if it's a real trip your planning — no matter how far in the future — people will get excited about it, tell you all about their own trip to such-and-such-a-place, and give you tips on visiting it yourself. My post about my plans for a summer road trip, for example, has turned into one of my most popular posts. You may also find that the way you plan trips — whether you're an “every last detail” or “no details at all” kind of travel planner — may resonate with others, and give them ideas for their next adventure.

The main thing to focus on, I think, is variety. Try new things. Have fun with your blog. Some things will work; others won't. But finding out what works on your blog and for your audience is half the fun. And, while you're doing all this work on your blog, maybe you won't even notice that you're not traveling.

And you know what? I bet no one else will notice, either.

So what are some of your tips? How do you keep your travel blog going, even when you aren't traveling?

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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178 Comments on “Secrets to Running a Travel Blog When You Aren’t Traveling

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  1. I just came across this post and it is exactly what I needed to read! I’ve only recently started my travel blog (since I started a year’s travelling trip) and have been creating posts to cover everything I can think of about one destination! It has never felt right doing it this way and I lost my excitement/motivation to create content. I felt as if I was writing posts just to check them off my list when all I wanted to do was shout about something that happened in the last week in a different country! So, thank you so much for your advice…now I can go back to getting excited about writing my posts and creating more of a variety on my blog!

      At the end of the day, YOU need to enjoy what you’re doing with your blog! That’s a huge reason why many blogs don’t make it. So yes, absolutely write in whatever order you want to!

    Hey Amanda! Great tips for blog post! I came on here just by googling “how do I blog about my old trips”. I just started a travel blog a few weeks ago but I’ve done so many trips the last year and I really want them on there. So thank you for your tips, they created some inspiration!

      Happy to see that this post is still so helpful to people! 🙂

    Some really great ideas here, Amanda. I guess I have toyed with some of them, but I think I have a lot of work to do to optimize them.

      There are lots of options – and you obviously have to test which ones will work best for you!

    I am a blogger who maintained a hosted blog on a message board with great success having had the second highest reader count – the highest readership went to the site owner. I have written in other genres as well. Facing life changes, I decided that it was time to take my love of writing and my love of travel to another level and become a professional blogger (or at least try). I have some travel experiences to write about, and some tips I’d like to share. I am in the early stages of creating content and looking for outside sources so that I will have plenty to go on and build readership. But the problem I have is that I don’t travel as often as I’d like! Before I even got to your article, I was thinking about asking my relatives to contribute their pictures and stories about their travels to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Florida, etc. With a little research and embellishment, I can turn out a great post. I love, love, love your idea about writing about places you want to visit! I swear to you that I was thinking about that, too, before I found you! But how can I provide still photography of the beautiful places I want to see with copyright infringement? Or is it okay to link YouTube videos? I am so excited to have found you and I will subscribe to your site!

      You can use photos with Creative Commons licenses (you can learn more and search for photos here: https://creativecommons.org/), try Pixabay (also license-free photos), or embed Instagram images or YouTube videos (using the embed codes from each site, which you don’t need permission to use). Lots of ways to find photos of places you haven’t been yet!

    Hi Amanda

    It’s been a few months since I last wrote you.
    I’ve been working on a cruise ship. I’ve finally gotten the nerve to start my blog
    I’m 3 months into my contract here and want to write about my experience. I’m seeking some advice from someone with more experience. I’m wondering if I should start if from the moment I left my home to start my new path in ship life or if I should just pick up from where I am now. I feel like a reader would want to know everything from the moment I got to safety training to getting on the ship up until the point of where I am now. There’s lots to tell and many pictures to show. What’s your opinion on the matter?

    Thanks,
    Dawanda

      I think that it’s your blog and you should write however you want to! (Haha, I know that wasn’t a super helpful answer…) It really all depends on what sort of blog you want to write. Do you want your blog to be more of a diary? If so, then you might want to start at the beginning. But if you want it to be more of a resource guide (maybe about what working on a ship is like, or a look at some of the destinations you visit), then it doesn’t necessarily have to be in chronological order.

    One more thing I am getting back on the road soon been back home since November-11 I’m in the process right now of selling everything off and disattaching my self to all the unimportant things in life so I can continue my journey on see the world and hope to build something out of it. Looking to leave in the next 3-4 months not putting a time limit on when I plan to come back

    Great post I’ve been trying to figure out different things to talk about on my blog and Instagram post. I do sometimes feel people do get tired of the Asia post, After three months and close to 4K pictures there’s so much to say but I just don’t want to keep going on about the Southeast Asia topic. I do try to post about different ways of traveling and how to prepare yourself and ways to save money. Glad I found your blog definitely will continue to come back for more great tips

      It’s always a good idea to mix up your content when you can!

    Thank you so much for this! I just started a solo adventure/travel blog and the thought of what to post when I’m not traveling definitely has come to mind. I’m excited to refer back to this page for future inspiration!

      There are definitely lots of options and so many ways to get creative about it!

    Hi

    I stumbled across this blog through a google search to figure out how to start a travel blog without leaving my hometown, I live in Vegas..born and raised. I want to start a travel blog and this was a very helpful read. I’m still trying to figure out what topics to talk about and what not to talk about. I don’t even know what my first blog post should be! Any suggestions? I want to become a travel writer and feel this will be an extra help in the right direction..

      Sometimes you just have to start writing and see what happens! Start writing about your favorite thing to do or place to visit. If you enjoy writing about it, it will make it easier! 🙂

        Thank you for the quick response! I’m really happy that I came across this blog!

    Just found this post via a link from your recent interview and it’s awesome! We are quite newbie bloggers, but we already use some of these tricks and there’s a lot more ideas we’ve never really considered. For us the hardest is to decide whether a post is too personal (the ‘who cares what did you eat for breakfast?’ kind :D) or it would actually be interesting because it’s more personal than our usual posts. Me as an introvert maybe judge posts more personal than they really are… I know you are an introvert, too, I would be interested to hear if you have ever faced this. 🙂

      I’ve found that the more personal you are, the better! People respond to you just being real. (Though I’m talking about sharing personal feelings, perceptions, etc. – maybe not what you had for breakfast. 😉 )

    Awesome post Amanda! thanks a lot! I felt actually relieved 🙂 I am just now starting my blog and I am actually working on the articles on places I have been with the purpose of building a base content before actually going live.
    Sometime I feel stuck and I can’t wait to travel but I actually need time to write down all the material so it works well. I have a question for you. At what point do you think there’s enough content to go live ? how many articles is a decent number to start off? thanks a lot. And congratulation for the great work you are doing!

      To be honest, I had no content when I went live with my blog! At some point, you just have to dive in and get started. 🙂 If you’re worried about content, though, I would say 3-5 really solid posts would be good to start with.

        Really! ouch!!! scary….it is really scary indeed… just the thought of it makes me feel like I am walking naked in central park! LOL
        I will give it a thought… since I have actually 4 posts plus a book review page but there are so much technical stuff to fix.. I was hoping for September…and I thought I couldn’t make it… let alone now 🙂 . thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

    I read this nodding my head right through. I have so many things to write about, though I’m not specifically a travel blogger so there’s other things I write too. I certainly have plenty of stories to write but I’m kind of particular in that I feel the need to post them in a certain order or grouped together… but perhaps my readers don’t care, and as you say, get bored with too much on one destination. That’s where tags come in handy I guess!
    Thanks very much for the tips. 🙂

      A lot of bloggers like to post chronologically – in fact, I used to post strictly that way, too! But I think readers definitely like it when you mix things up (and sometimes it’s more fun to write that way, too!).

    Just awesome ideas, I’m going to create a travel blog and just learning and got this post from google.
    thanks for this nice post i just bookmarking it 🙂

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