Editor’s note: I wrote this yesterday. Today I am feeling better and am back to work, so I’m much less grumpy!
Sometimes, one just feel like a good, self-indulging and liberating rant (especially when one is sick and a near-continuous stream of snot keeps gushing out of one’s tomato red nostrils). Well, ok, it’s not that I am instantly inclined to rant just because I have a cold, but it’s simply that, having to stay home to recover, I’ve just proceeded to try and fill the sudden upsurge of free time by diving into the blogosphere more fully and attentively than usual, only to get all worked up about how many of the travel blogs out there, some of them pretty famous, I just can’t read one more line of. So here is, for your entertainment, a list of things I despise about travel blogging nowadays. And please note. I am NOT saying that my blog is any better, because that’s for you to decide, not me. And I feel really grumpy, just for your information!
- Blogs which don’t have a clear, easily spottable way of accessing archives or displaying older posts. It has happened to me many times that I come across an interesting and beautifully-presented blog which has been going on for years but which, for some reason, I’m only reading now for the first time. I therefore decide I want to read some of the older posts, only to discover that there is no search button, nor a list of clickable countries visited anywhere to be seen. Or, if there is a way of accessing older posts, I have to scroll down through EVERY full post to find what am looking for. What’s up with that??? I am out!
-Vague titles or dry titles written for google. So I am completely bored and I start surfing the blogosphere for interesting articles to read, you know, in the kind of way or using the kind of tools where all you get to see of each post is its name. This method also usually means that several blogs are mixed together (for example on a Squidoo lens), and I’ll be eternally frustrated by how many bloggers write vague, non-location or non-topic specific titles which leave me guessing what they could possibly have written about. Or, on the other hand, there are those very dry, uninspiring blog titles such as, ‘Photo: Fruit’, or ‘Krakow, Poland`, which make me feel like I’m about to read a Wikipedia article rather than a blog post. Whatever happened to tickling your reader’s mind and interest?
-Travel bloggers who write like they are 16-year-olds with a lack of decent vocabulary. Gosh, just because your blog is free doesn’t mean you need not to make it worth reading. I was particularly shocked at how ‘eloquently’ a famous blogger recently described a famous site, and while I won’t copy paste it here word by word as I find that rude, I’m making up my own version of it to give you an idea of what it sounded like:
So, how was *insert attraction*? It was awesome! It was big and blue. I was happy that I saw it *move on to the next topic*.
Whatever happened to informing and inspiring one’s readers?
-Whirlwind posts. So ok, there are a lot of people out there who are on RTW trips, so they travel to many different countries and places within a relatively short period of time. Nothing wrong with that as long as they’re happy. But when I try and follow these people’s blogs, I just find myself dissatisfied. Post after post is filled with very general, uninsightful text about a place visited quickly and as quickly forgotten about. I can find that kind of information on any tourist website, so how about taking your time writing about destinations, and showing me things I have never read before? At least, that’s the sort of blogs I am interested in, not the ones which go ‘Oh, so we went to Hanoi for a couple of days. It’s really loud and women wear pyjamas on the street and everyone honks all the time. Off to Cambodia tomorrow!’
-Awful photos. So you’re telling me about this beautiful deserted sandy beach in South East Asia and how lovely it all was, and then I look at the photo you’ve added to your post and all I see is an uneven horizon, sand and sky with a greyish ting to it, and a palm tree sticking out in the middle? We all know that point and shoot cameras can often produce bad quality photos, but not only can you minimize this by working on your composition on site, but you can also retouch the photos easily and quickly on the many free photo editing programs on the web. Otherwise, you’ve pretty much achieved the opposite effect as far as I’m concerned. You’re trying to convince me to go somewhere but I only end up thinking, wow, this place looks awful! What is this guy talking about? Oh, and what’s the point of having a photo*insert day of the week* if your photos are just simply unbearable to look at?!!!! (Ahhh, this feels good). If you’re serious about blogging, upgrade to a better point and shoot camera, learn about photo composition, and tweek your photos by adjusting their contrast, brightness and colour levels.
-Condescending or hypocritical bloggers. Today I officially decided I wouldn’t read one more word of a blog which I had been dipping into on and off for a few months. Here are a few ideas I’ve come across in different blogs which struck me as condescending or hypocritical and have made me reach the same decision.
1) ‘Guidebooks are for lazy travellers’, but then later on ‘Why buy a guidebook when you can ‘milk’ (actual word used!) people for information, or borrow one from someone else? One is never too far away’.
2) ‘I don’t like doing touristy things’, said by a guy in a video holding a large beer in his shorts and flip-flops enjoying the view in a South East Asian country. Yeah…right.
3) ‘Hey, I want to travel around the world perpetually, but I don’t have money, so I’ve created this pretty useless digital product which if you have a conscience you will buy because you read my blog. On the other hand, I’m too much of a miser to spend an extra dollar to bring business to someone else, which I continuously boast about on my blog, and will try to get as much free stuff as possible, but hey, you have to give me a few of YOUR dollars for a product you probably are not even interested in, because that’s the right thing to do.’
4) ‘If you don’t travel perpetually or drop everything and go on a RTW trip, you MUST be depressed, you MUST be unfulfilled, you MUST not have the guts to do it!’ Erm…no. I’m just happy with travelling sometimes, not ALWAYS.
- It’s all about RTW travel. There is, of course, nothing wrong with RTW travel. What I can’t stand though is writers who go on and on and on about why RTW travel is so fantastic because a sedentary life is boring, repetitive and uninspiring, and 9-5 jobs are horrible and depressive. Maybe for you darling, but not for everyone else. I, personally, would kill for the financial stability of a full-time, 9-5 job, which I’ve never had since leaving University, and many people have a very fulfilling, interesting and productive sedentary life.
And by now, of course, you should also have understood what kind of travel blogs I love. I love travel blogs which take great care with what pictures they add and how they place them in their posts. Some take some pretty amazing shots using only compact cameras (I myself use only simple point and shoot cameras rigorously on auto). I love posts which tell me something I don’t know about countries so often written about, or write about often written places in a fresh, personal, and engaging way. If posts are information-oriented, they need to provide more than what I can find in one of the thousands of so called ‘one page travel guides’ available online. And if a blogger has an opinion, then I love it when he justifies it. Why is something awesome, or boring, or just nice? Actually, I love when none of these horrible words are used, because they don’t mean anything!
It is often said that there are too many travel blogs nowadays, and that they have become common place. That’s true, but I still think that there are very few inspired, well-rounded and good quality blogs out there worth following, and these sort of blogs are very precious.
-Text by Denise Pulis, photos via Flickr (click on photos for attribution) @ www.theartofslowtravel.com