Problems with Travel Blogs

I went to bed really early last night and was up really early this morning, well before sunrise. So I was surfing the Internet and did something I never really do. I read other travel blogs. I often get people asking me if I follow this blog or that or do I know who this blogger is. No, I have no idea in general. I believe travel and blogging to be a personal thing for me that I am happy to share with those who want to read. It acts as kind of a personal journal for me and if it helps others for reference or inspiration then that makes me feel great and makes posting online well worth it for me. But I don’t read other travel blogs and here’s why.

Many blogs are written by people who are traveling for long periods of time. These people are admirable but at the same time I find that many of these people become jaded, disinterested and stale. These people, especially backpacker types, are over it. They are on a long trip for whatever reason, whether it is out of a love of travel or to prove something to themselves, their families and others or a variety of other reasons but they have lost the focus on why they are traveling.

I have obviously traveled a lot and have taken many different trips of varying lengths and distances. I love to keep my blog. As I said, it serves as a diary of sorts for me that I can reference for the rest of my life. It also gives me credibility and a point of reference for other things travel related that I like to do. I put a lot into my posts. They take a lot of time to write, think about, upload pictures and make them compelling or at least you like to think they’re compelling.

Many travel blogs update daily and have a lot of crap as it’s hard to think of things to write about every day. This morning I read some blogs from long time travelers who have very well known blogs and large social media followings. I am reading this stuff they write and thinking to myself, “Why do you even travel? Or better yet, write about it?” So many travel bloggers seem to hate traveling, hate other people, hate hostels and all that goes into travel.

To me this defeats the purpose. Then they take a lot of time and effort to reassert their vast knowledge and credibility that they’ve been on the road for 5 years or whatever the timeframe is and they’ve done this and that, etc. That’s fine and very respectable but then they go and criticize other people and what they like to do when they travel. Generally this comes from being on the road too long in my view.

I believe that the longest trip people should take unless it’s an initial trip to Europe, Southeast Asia or Australia where you are traveling a highly traveled route and everything is new is 3-4 weeks tops. Once you’ve done these types of places that everyone goes to, it can become old news. I mean that’s the way many experienced backpacker types view it. Then you get the holier than thou, I hate everybody else traveler like I was reading today.

The funny thing is this one blog of a guy that I was reading this morning was claiming that others are essentially awful and he knows all without saying that directly. He claimed that everyone’s experience is separate and special but then turned around and criticized everyone for following the herds of travelers and not exploring on their own which is exactly what he had done beforehand. Just one example but there were several.
This tends to be a problem with backpackers that drives me nuts. Everyone likes to assert themselves as an expert traveler and likes to impart knowledge upon others. If you don’t know me, you’d probably imagine me to be like that as well because I post how many places I’ve been to and that I want to break a record. It may seem like I am bragging. Far from the truth. I hate talking to others about my travel unless I am directly asked and the person genuinely cares about the answer. My friends always ask why I don’t openly bring up my travel stuff when I meet new people. I hate talking about what I do travel wise because there is so much more to my life and what I like to do and it can seem like you are showing off and being arrogant. Not to mention it turns into me just talking to others about me instead of talking with them and I really hate that.

I keep a blog because I like to document my experiences, share with others and it gives me credibility for other things I am working on with regards to travel. It has gotten me on television, radio and in many print articles, etc. That’s pretty fun for me but it doesn’t define me.

That’s an issue I have with backpackers who are on the road too long. They lose their identity and grow angry toward others doing the same thing as them. Hostel life is a good example. If you’ve stayed in hostels, especially in the tourist havens that I mentioned before, you’ve likely had a blast but also been driven crazy for a variety of reasons. They are filthy; people having sex in your room; five people snoring at once; people making too much noise; smelly dorm rooms; nasty showers; the same conversation; annoying know it all people, etc. It doesn’t end.

That’s all true but if you don’t like it, don’t stay there anymore. Camp or spend more money to get your own place. If not, don’t bitch about it and even more so, don’t criticize others who are doing the same as you. It’s a strange dynamic that people who just did something, criticize the way in which others do the same thing as if their experience was so much more amazing than others. I hate people like that. Almost always it’s veteran travelers who are like that. That’s the opposite of how it should be.

I believe that maintaining a regular life at home, with friends, significant others, family, etc is imperative to enjoying being away. I love to travel, I really do but I love to be back in the States and being at home to visit friends and family etc. If you lose sight of what you’ve got at home, then you’ll lose sight of what you’ve got on the road.

Travel is the best thing that you can do, I truly believe that. It helps you build character and reshape you view of the world. But if you feel that the travel and the reasons that we travel are becoming annoying or too much to deal with; perhaps those people should think of another hobby. Or at least stop the negative blogging that will deter others from doing it too.

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  1. I do agree that many travel blogs are negative if they come from people who are living on the road or on long trips. However, many are excellent, well written and informative as well.

    I’d love to know which blog(s) you were reading his morning that set you off…

  2. Most travel blogs stink and are boring accounts of their day to day nothingness. Some have great pictures which is what I really like to see anyway. I do like the way you write though which is why I subscribe to you. You don’t have that many pictures but I like reading you anyway. Plus, you’re way more interesting and cute than most bloggers!

  3. I read this one blog that simply makes fun of other travelers…

  4. It’s funny that you have a blog and don’t read any others…seems like it would be in your best interest do so

  5. I love your blog because it’s not everyday. I get your facebook updates and when you actually post something, it’s usually very interesting from a far away place so I get excited. Other blogs I read send out crap and are all about advertising.

  6. agreed!

  7. You know, when I first met you up in Portland I assumed you’d be one of those dudes that would be like, “Yeah, and this one time in Kigali…” and you’d try to insert foreign cities and countries into every paragraph to highlight all you’d seen — couldn’t have been further from the truth and in fact the only time we even talked about travel was Haiti b/c we’d both just returned from separate trips there, and even that was just in passing, and you didn’t bring up any places unless you were asked about it. I’ve not traveled as much as you but I’ve been around and I don’t use that as a conversation starter either because it tends to separate people and after 20 minutes of talking about your last adventure, you tend to get a ‘must be nice…’ look or something to that effect because most people don’t get to travel a lot. I guess that is why there are travel clubs b/c normal people don’t really care if you went to PNG or DPRK.

    You have to admit it must be sort of cool but awkward when you first meet someone and they’re like, “Hey have you been to Turkey?” or wherever and you’re like, “Yeah, a couple times. I’ve actually been to every country.” There is definitely pride in that and of course you’re proud of it but I guess you walk a fine line between mentioning it and having people perceive you as bragging about it. Still very cool in my book and less then 200 people living or dead have been to every UN country, according to TCC.

  8. Well said Ryan. Thanks guys.

  9. omg I think i totally know exactly which blogger and what exact blog post you are referring to! lols. my partner and i feel the same way that you do about that particular post!

  10. I couldn’t agree with you more, Lee! I believe that my own travel writings are more for “me” (and sometimes my family and friends) because it’s quite therapeutic for me to be writing while immersing myself in another culture. The experiences and flashes of ideas that I have when traveling are entirely my own and I feel selfish in that I don’t necessarily want everyone to know how I feel at every second of every moment. That’s also why I prefer to travel alone. It’s very therapeutic for me, especially since my daily life is dealing with lots of people all the time! 🙂

    Thank you again for continuing to be an inspiration to all of us…Robert Bernardo (San Francisco)

  11. As a travel blogger, I would just note that the blogging universe is full of many types of travelers. Some are backpackers, but not most. Some are full time professionals who travel and write as they can, others focus on luxury and still others on the family side of things.

  12. Totally agree Matt!

  13. Although I am not a travel blogger, yet. It is on my list of things to start this year. And in fact I have already taken extensive notes from 3 different partial-day excursions to special places here in Malta late last year that I was planning to put on a blog eventually this year.

    Unfortunately though, there are so many orgs offering free blog space, (including blogger and wordpress), that is hard to figure out just which would be best for me. And from a simple end-user’s standpoint, I don’t see much difference between them. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are to the blogger creating with them.

    So my question is to you Lee, or anyone reading this for that matter, can you recommend a good site amongst the many to start my own little travel blog this year?

    Thanks Lee!

  14. Gee…I read a lot of travel blogs. Too many. While I find the incessant lists to be a little annoying, I honestly can’t say that I find all the negativity that you describe. I’m frequently impressed by the very friendly nature of sharing they impart.

    • Hi Lisa. Most are great…although I admittedly don’t read many if any blogs, this post was inspired by an angry, annoying rant from another blogger obviously back in December 2011…needless to say I am over it! Thanks for the comment Lisa

  15. Thank you for posting this. It made me feel more secure in my own writing about my travels and not feel bad about not liking other travel blogs. I like to think that I write from the heart and that’s the only thing that matters. 🙂 Happy Travels!

  16. I agree that traveling and reporting about it is a very personal thing. I also agree that the negative news is not appealing, but look at our culture and you see that negative TV news sells.
    I don’t usually read any other blogs, travel or food. It is mostly noise that I don’t need. I go to useful travel sites like GoNomad when I want info beyond travel guidebooks.

  17. This is so true!! I ran into people like that in Bocas Del Torro, Panama. A friend and I were traveling alone and we were hoping to make friends with a group of Aussies at this hostel called Rocking J’s which we heard was where “everybody” stays at but it was super disappointing. Nobody was friendly–especially a group of Aussies that wanted absolutely nothing to do with us other than bragging about how long they’ve been on the road and all the “cool” things they’ve done. It was incredibly pretentious and honestly it made us feel like we weren’t cool enough to sit with them. The most awkward part is my friend and I kept running into them at hostels we were staying at throughout our trip and they kept pretending they didn’t know who we were.

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