A Challenge to Travel Bloggers (Including Ourselves)
Travel blogging is easy.
But to do it well, honestly, and informatively… that’s hard.
Not only is it hard to create inspiring content, but it’s hard to do so while resisting the many temptations and shortcuts that plague the industry. You can easily get caught up in “the game” and wake up one day to realize you’re selling yourself and your readers out—and tarnishing the reputation of travel bloggers as a whole—by chasing dollars with dishonest information.
It’s like getting fat. You don’t think that the odd cookie or lazy day is a big deal. But it snowballs. Soon enough, you look in the mirror and are embarrassed by what’s become of you. And it’s incredibly hard to undo.
Nobody wants that fate (or fat). So to prevent it we’ve made a diet. It’s a list of travel blogging dos and don’ts that we have challenged ourselves to abide by.
We challenge you to do the same.
Travel Blogging Commandments
1. Put your readers’ interests before your own
- Preach what you practice. Don’t tell others to do stuff you wouldn’t.
- Earn trust over commissions. Never recommend anything solely because of the commission it pays. There’s no problem with earning commissions, but it should never come at the expense of readers’ trust.
- Don’t sell. Inspire, sure. And promote. But promote and inspire with facts and unbiased opinions.
- Share the best links over your links. Link to the relevant information and guides you found valuable, even that means sending your readers to a competitor.
- Never trick for clicks. It’s fine to use copywriting tactics that encourage people to click through, but your headlines and descriptions must always be accurate and never misleading.
2. Create extraordinary content
- Tell the whole truth. Blogs are not infomercials. They are informative. They share both the pros and cons to give realistic expectations and accurate representations of the places you visit.
- Make it easy for your readers. Always link to or include the most up-to-date information on pricing, hours, history, and directions.
- Earn the right to make recommendations. Travel slowly. Gather as much first-hand information as possible and curate from those experiences.
- Don’t regurgitate. If you don’t have anything new to add, don’t add anything at all. Summarize or link to the information that already exists instead of repeating the same thing in your own words.
- Entertain. Reward your readers for their attention with more than plain facts. Entertain them.
- Edit. Get somebody to read what you’ve written before you pump it out. Their (sic) are to (sic) many horribly written posts out they’re (sic) and its (sic) making all us bloggers’ (sic) look bad.
3. Inspire the right kind of travel
- Put sustainability first. Only do and recommend things that have a positive impact on the environment and culture. If something doesn’t meet this criterion, don’t recommend it—even if it would get tons of traffic and readers would love it. This way, hopefully, future generations will be able to enjoy similar experiences.
- Set trends; don’t follow them. If travelers are already herding to some trendy destination, don’t be another crab in the bucket trying to get your slice of the action. Play a part in turning that firehose of attention into a spray that spreads tourism across surrounding destinations and attractions as well.
- Inspire trailblazing, not trail following. Inspire others to do like you do, not exactly what you do. Help readers get started on their own trip to make their own discoveries.
Inspire adventure, not danger. There’s plenty enough adventure to be had without taking unnecessary risks.
4. Keep an open mind
- Have a growth mindset. Be open to being wrong and changing your perspectives and opinions. Accept criticism and compliments in equal measure. If this isn’t clear, learn about it in Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset.
- Never prejudge people. Don’t judge or categorize people for being different. Seek to understand and learn from the reasons they act, dress, live, and believe differently than you.
- Never prejudge places. Places change and everyone has their own opinions. Visit places with an open mind, even if you’ve been before.
We’re up for the Challenge. Are You?
If you’re a fellow travel blogger and you agree with these commandments, commit yourself to abide by them by sharing your blog’s URL in the comments below.
And if you have any thoughts on how to improve these travel blogging principles, please share them in the comments as well. These commandments are digital, so they’re not set in stone.