How easy has it been for you to blog so far [while you’ve been travelling], especially with just an iPad Mini? If you don’t mind me asking, which app are you using to help you blog? -Jan
I got this question in a comment and answered it already, but I thought it was definitely worth expanding on in a full post.
While I was away on my trip, I used blogging as a way to keep my family and friends back home updated with what I was up to. Since I wasn’t sending out lengthy emails and was constantly on the move, blogging felt like an efficient way to keep everyone in the loop. Also, since I’ve been writing about my life online for almost ten years (before this blog I was on WordPress, and before that Livejournal, ha!) it feels more unnatural not to blog at this point. Whenever I go too long without using words and photos to express myself, I start to feel lost and out-of-sorts. Which brings me to my first piece of advice:
Choose a way of documenting your trip that works for you.
Blogging on the road can be kind of challenging at times. Since I’ve been blogging for so long, I know how to fix typos from my phone, and how to easily edit the back-end html of my posts if something doesn’t look right. I’ve had lots of practice with typing out blog posts and hitting publish, so in general it doesn’t take me very long to write new content. But if it’s brand new for you as you start your trip, you might get frustrated along the way and give up if it starts to suck up too much of your time. After all, you’re on a trip to experience brand new parts of the world, not to sit around in internet cafes hitting your head against the proverbial wall because your latest post just went up in a puff of smoke.
But I think documenting is so important! Preserving memories is such a great way to process and appreciate them, and of course to have them for later. So that’s why I would definitely recommend looking at different types of documentation if blogging isn’t your thing. In the past, I’ve kept a scrapbook on trips, similar to Austin Kleon’s tour notebook. When a friend of mine went on an exchange to France, she wrote weekly emails to her family and friends that were full of anecdotes and photos. A lot of people I met on my travels were keeping a photo blog on Tumblr, and others are just consistent about uploading photos to Facebook or Instagram with detailed captions. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a method you’re comfortable with that’s easy for you to keep updated, and remember to:
Keep it simple!
When I was blogging on my trip, the whole process consisted of uploading photos to my Flickr account, pulling them into a blog post, and adding a few paragraphs worth of memories and favourite places I’d visited. I didn’t include any links, I rarely wrote captions for the photos, and sometimes I wrote very little. But the pictures spoke for themselves and I was happy to just get everything written down and shared with my loved ones back home. Almost one year later almost 100% of the names of all the restaurants and areas I loved in each city have disappeared entirely from my mind, but I would have been devastated to lose them forever. My sister spent this past semester gallivating around Europe and she was able to visit several of my favourite places because I got them written down in this simple form.
It reminds me a lot of one of my favourite sentiments: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” meaning done is better than perfect.
Pick good tools.
For the record, blogging from my iPad mini was totally fine. Definitely at times I missed having a full keyboard and some other features I like to use on my computer, but since I kept my posts so simple it wasn’t usually a problem. I realize that an iPad isn’t a traditional thing to bring backpacking and that it’s definitely a specialty item. Mine was a graduation gift from my father and I wouldn’t have been able to afford it on my own otherwise. But regardless of what technology (if any) you bring, you can still blog.
If you’re using a tablet, I would recommend buying an SD card reader for your device. This lets you totally sidestep the need to put photos from your camera onto a computer and saves you a ton of time. My card reader sometimes had a few issues but most of the time got the job done and couldn’t have been simpler to use. I have this iPad-specific one, but I’m sure there are similar products for other tablets.
I absolutely adore the Blogsy app. This one is specific for iPad, but I have also had great experiences with the WordPress app which is available on many different platforms for both phones and tablets. My favourite feature of Blogsy is that you can pull in photos from other social media platforms like Flickr and Instagram. Since I don’t have a mouse for my tablet, this drag-and-drop feature made my life a lot easier.
Before I received my iPad as a gift, I was planning to blog using only my phone and computers at hostels or internet cafes. If you choose this option, just make sure you bring a USB stick to keep your photos on and either a USB SD card reader to attach to the computer or your camera’s USB cord in order to upload your photos. I think this is definitely a good option as long as you test your tools before you leave and remember to keep it simple!
I hope that helps! I absolutely love reading and looking at accounts of people’s travels, and I always say the more blogs the better. Memory keeping can be so valuable, so long as it doesn’t interfere too much with making the memories themselves.
If you have any more questions on this or any other topic, let me know in the comments or by email: stephanie @ lifeinlimbo.org. And if you have had success blogging while travelling, I’d love to hear your method! Add your thoughts to the conversation in the comments below.