The elements of what makes a good travel blog vary depending on the personal preferences of the blog reader and your niche. But one thing is for sure: the success of your travel blog will greatly depend on how the superiority of your content. But great content is not only about writing well with good grammar and perfect English. You also have to learn how to present your content appropriately and engage your blog readers to make them hang around longer in your travel blog, reading one post to the next until they decide to subscribe. Most travelers read up on travel blogs for entertaining stories, recommendations, tips, information, itineraries, and many other useful items. You should use these things as ideas for your blog posts. Cater to your reader’s needs.
Here is a list of the most common things readers are looking for in a good travel blog. Find what fits in your niche and start writing your posts:
Personalized content (not generic)
You should write with personality – whether it be humor, sass, or spunk. People are compelled to read more when they enjoy the way a blog post is written. They will invest more time if they like your writing style and find the content interesting.
- Do not write your blog post as if you are writing a guidebook or a report on the country where you are visiting or have just visited. When you write a travel blog post, your work does not only revolve around presenting information and statistics – you should tell a captivating story and paint a picture of the place with words.
- Your blog post should sound as if you are talking casually to a friend about this great adventure you have been in or like you are giving a friend some travel advice. Facts and statistics should only be inserted to support your story, but the main focus should be on the story. Of course, when using facts and statistics, it is best to verify them first and cite them where possible. You would not want someone to correct you in the comments section – this could make you look like an unreliable blogger.
- Keep your words short and simple. You are writing a blog, not a literary piece. Write the way you talk. Delete all the unnecessary words such as irrelevant modifiers like “really” and “very.”
Not the normal tour
A rising trend in tourism is the unique type of tour guides. You now have food tours, crafts tours, art tours, culture tours, nightlife/drinking/party tours, market tours, faith tours, etc., aside from the usual tours to famous tourist destinations. These tours often take you to less populated spots, marginalized neighborhoods, street markets, hidden local gems, etc. These places and experiences will give you new perspectives and a story to tell. These types of tours are most interesting and inspiring for other travelers – plus because of your blog and your recommendation, they now know who to contact (affiliate bells are ringing). Sometimes hiring a tour guide for these types of tours is worth it rather than trying to formulate an itinerary DIY.
The “escape” factor
Blog readers love to read blog posts that make them feel as if they were there along with the blogger. The majority of this type of blog readers are reading your blog as a form of escape from their predictable, routine, or boring lives. They may not necessarily do your call-to-action to book flights and pack their suitcases because reading all about it is enough for them. It helps to use the five senses when you write. Describe what you see, smell, taste, hear, and feel as vividly as possible. Insert as much visual description as you can instead of describing something as plainly “beautiful” or “amazing” – what makes it beautiful? What makes it amazing? But make sure that your descriptions do not make up the majority of your content. Your story should still be the main star here. Post the right pictures to help “transport” them to the destination. Write in the second person and address your reader.
Unique story angles
These days, no travel blog reader would want to read a blog post that feels like it came out of a travel marketing brochure, and they are tired of a list of fun facts and trivia. General stories on famous landmarks or activities are not really in demand. You have to look for a unique angle and focus on that.
For instance, travel bloggers have all written about the marvelous temples and beaches in Thailand. But only a few get to write about getting a Sank Yant tattoo from a monk. Every travel blogger would write about the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, but only a few will write about the beautiful sculptures found in the cemeteries of Paris. These are stories that most readers probably never think of, but once they do, they want to check it out themselves.
You also have to keep in mind that some people read travel blogs not with the intent to travel but with the intent to escape their reality. They want to be caught up in a story, feel something, and be entertained enough that even if they cannot travel immediately, they feel like they were traveling in their mind.
For this reason, stories with unique angles are more valuable compared to generic travel blog posts. As a travel blog writer, you need to find stories that the typical tourist will not encounter.
Immersion with the local way of life
Immersing yourself to the way locals live can give you a lot of stories to tell. Dine in everyday places and small restaurants that are popular with the locals. Attend a local religious or cultural service. Witness a festival and join in on the rituals and the festivities. Learn to cook a local specialty. Mingle in the market and try the street food. Try to learn how to do a job that has a unique local technique. Instead of staying in a hotel, try couch surfing where a local family will adopt you. Interact with the locals. Do not be afraid to get dirty. There are a lot of things you can do to take a deep dive into what life is like in the community. This is a great angle for you if you visit a new place for a week or more.
Invest in a good camera. Great photos are a staple for anything that has to do with travel. A blog post for travel is worthless without powerful pictures to captivate your audience and make them want to be transported to that place as well. Pictures give your readers a better idea of the place you are writing about. Here are some travel blogging photography tips that you should keep in mind:
- Aside from the usual breathtaking landscapes and mouthwatering food shots, also take a picture which includes local people in it. It is very entertaining and transporting for blog readers to see the culture firsthand. Always be alert for unusual shots. Take shots of colorful locations and settings to brighten the website and invite your readers to peruse.
- Do not set your heart on expensive DSLRs because they are heavy and large. Since you will be traveling, settle for a camera that is lightweight and compact and can still shoot amazing pictures.
- If a picture did not turn out the way you wanted it to, don’t fret. There are a lot of photo editing tools for you to use and help you improve your photos. You can always read articles on how to use these editing tools to your advantage.
- While traveling, have a small notepad with you to write down the things and names of the subject of your photographs. You can also type it in on your smartphone. Taking notes will help you greatly when you are back home and start writing.
- Take your time when taking photos and shoot as much as you can from different angles. Most trouble bloggers take about 10 to 20 different shots of the same subject to make sure that they have the right shot.
Local customs and celebrations
Travel blog readers are also interested in knowing what the culture is like in your destination.
- If you are around when a local festival or celebration is going on it will be great if you can document it as well. Festivals are a great way to tell your readers when they should be dropping by a country so they can join in the festivities. But do not just document the well-known festivals; also, cater to lesser-known celebrations. For instance, in Mexico, everyone knows about the colorful Dia de Muertos (day of the dead), but not everyone knows about the Son Jarocho Music Festival.
- If any special rituals or customs are being practiced in the area, it is also best that you blog about it. For example, in Benin, West Africa, there is a regular village cleansing voodoo ceremony. Another example is a purification ritual practiced at the Tirta Empul temple in Bali, Indonesia.
Local food/where to eat
Food is one of the basic needs we have as humans, so what and where to eat will always be something every traveler will want to know.
- When recommending restaurants to your blog readers, make sure to recommend the best dishes that they have. Most restaurants have a specialty that they are known locally for so be sure to check those out and take pictures.
- If you are recommending multiple restaurants in one post, make sure that these restaurants are very diverse – they have different themes, different food, even different price ranges. This way, your readers will understand the differences between them and will have more of choice.
- Take lots of pictures of the restaurant’s interior and exterior to let your blog readers feel the vibe or ambiance.
- Also, ask the manager if you can post pictures of their menu and if possible, interview them about the restaurant’s background and their specialties.
A lot of people travel to learn and experience something new. If you know that there is one local specialty that you can only find in that place, feature it – may it be a unique dish or restaurant, an animal species or fauna, and flora that only thrives locally, a unique natural landmark, etc. Ask the locals for the “must try” food, activity, or place to go.
Honest pros and cons list
Overly positive posts scream “sponsored,” and sometimes it can be off-putting. Of course, there are positive points for every destination, but people know that there are some downsides and they also want to know about those as well. They want to know about the challenges or troubles you have faced during your trip so they can easily avoid them, or at least feel they are prepared if it happens to them as well. For instance, when featuring a beautiful waterfall, you should not just rave about its natural beauty, but you should also share how hard it is to get there, what bugs you may encounter, etc. If they wanted a sales pitch, they can easily just read a travel guide or check out tour books and brochures. They are reading blogs for the blogger’s insight.
It helps to inform your blog readers about specific travel requirements. Most of these requirements will take time to process, as much as 3 to 5 months. Therefore, prospective travelers should research the travel requirements for the area to which they are going and get to work on them before their departure date. The information you provide to potential travelers could save them a lot of worry and time.
- Some places require travelers to hold a visa, which is a temporary authorization granted to a foreigner that allows them to enter, remain within, or leave the territory.
- Some countries will require travelers to have vaccination shots before they enter the country. Common shots required are those inoculating against yellow fever, rabies, hepatitis A and B, typhoid and paratyphoid fever, and Japanese encephalitis.
Travel expenses and exchange rate
Everyone plans their vacation according to their budget. Your readers will want to know how much it takes to stay at the hotel that you’ve recommended, to eat the food you are raving about, the entrance fees to the tourist spots you are featuring, commuting fare, car rentals, etc. You should also state the current exchange rate conversion while you are at it. Remind your readers that the conversion rates vary from time to time depending on the economy, so they should always check for updates.
What to wear
Climate matters when traveling and your blog readers would want to know the climate conditions, so they have an idea what to wear or what to pack. This will prevent them from feeling too cold or hot when they reach their destination. Travel blogs that concentrate on the fashion niche can provide this information in details and with pictures as well. You should also share the right type of footwear to bring for certain destinations. Travelers will be on their feet most of the day, and the right pair of comfortable footwear will be such a huge relief for them. For instance, some people go to temples without knowing that they have to do some hiking to get there. If you recommend them to wear a comfortable pair of sneakers or hiking shoes instead of sandals, that will save them from a lot of pain.
What to pack
It also helps to give your blog readers a heads up on what to pack. For instance, Apo Island, Philippines, is a famous diving haven but the island is small, and electricity is only available for a few hours in the evening. So, unless you plan to stay in a hotel that has a generator, you will have to bring some battery-operated equipment with you. Sharing this information to your blog readers will save them from a lot of trouble, disappointment, and frustration.
Itineraries/What to do
Itineraries give you the right order on how to tour around a place so that you get to take in a lot of scenery even if you just have a day or two. Itineraries are a popular travel blog post no matter what niche you choose. Providing a list of places to see and activities to do for each day can make traveling easier for your readers.
To start your itinerary post, imagine that you have a relative visiting for the first time:
- What attractions would you take them to?
- What information will you share with them about the place?
- What are the local gems that are not yet “known” by most tourists?
- What restaurants would you take them to?
- Where do locals hang out?
It is important that you provide clear directions when writing an itinerary. Some people are good with maps while some still feel lost, so aside from a Google map shot, you should also give written directions like nearby landmarks or things that they should be seeing when they are nearing the place.
Hotel recommendations/where to stay
Travel blog readers are always actively looking for the best places to stay that would fit their budget. These may be luxury staycations, budget travels, or people who are looking for a great Airbnb or couch surfing host. If you have a good recommendation, feel free to write about it with your niche in mind.
Formatting your blog posts to make them reader-friendly
Make use of headings and subheadings
Headings and subheadings help your readers understand what your blog post is all about by giving them a preview of what is coming next. The use of headings and subheadings also make your blog post more attractive by breaking up huge chunks of text. A blog post with no headings will look longer to the blog reader compared to a blog post that has headings and subheadings inserted in the text. You have to make sure though that you do not overuse this because it can turn into an eyesore.
Breaking up your paragraphs
Short paragraphs are easier to read compared to long ones. It is recommended to have at least one to four sentences per paragraph. Make sure that you do not have paragraphs that are just a sentence long – this can give your blog post a “choppy” look.
Use lists in your content
Bulleted lists and numbered lists are awesome for blogs because they look better to the eye, they break up long texts, and they help readers catch up more easily. You can even have your custom bullet points as a trademark of your blog.
Present a Table of Contents
Readers like to know for sure that what they are looking for is in your article. Showing a table of contents will offer them the choice to read from the beginning or just simply jump to the part that they need (which is better than just skipping the whole post altogether.) Your table of contents should be on the top of your post or the side.
Presenting your photos
Where you place your photos and the way you present them also makes an impact on your overall format.
- You need to have a powerful, relevant featured photo at the top of your post. Then place relevant photos along the body. Relevance is important so that it will suit the text. Your photo may be amazing, but if it has nothing to do with your blog post, then it will not make an impact. It is best to use your photos in your blog posts.
- Take the time to caption your images. Readers will linger on an interesting image longer if there is a caption underneath.
- As a blogger, you should also do protect your images by adding your blog’s logo or your name onto your images as a watermark to remind photo-grabbing people that they need your permission to use your pictures.
Adjust your column width
Newspaper articles are always trimmed short so that the reader can scan them easily. You should apply the same principle to your blog posts. The ideal column width is suggested to be 55 to 100 characters (spaces included) per line.
Be considerate with your fonts
You might love fonts that look as if they are handwritten or close to calligraphy, but your readers may have a hard time reading them. You should use a font that keeps the readers from having to struggle or concentrate too hard on trying to read the content of your blog. They will inevitably lose their train of thought and lose interest in your blog.
- The best screen legibility is a nice sans-serif font. Whatever you choose, make sure that anyone can read it and that you maintain the same font consistently for all your blog posts.
- You should also think about your font size. When they are too small, most readers will skip over them even if they can resize the font manually. If they are too big, your blog will just look too childish. The size of your font will depend on the style of the font that you have chosen.
- Keep the font size of your headings and subheadings in mind as well. The higher the level of the heading, the bigger the font.
Declutter your blog
A background that has ads screaming from the top, sides, and bottom can scare a reader and make them click that “x” button on your tab. Give your blog some breathing room. Limit the number of ads (though we know that this is the way you make money) because you are running a blog and not an ad page. This is important to ensure that the reader’s eyes are more focused on what matters – which is your content.
Emphasize if you must
Emphasis helps skimmers find your most important points easily. But you have to make sure that you do not overdo it because it can make your post hard to read.
- Bold text is the accepted way to add emphasis in a blog post.
- Although italics can also be used as emphasis, they are harder to read, especially when you want to emphasize long phrases or sentences. You can use them for emphasis if it is just a word or two.
- Never use capital letters as emphasis. This is basic online etiquette. All caps are annoying to look at. Use them if you just want to scream something out to your readers.
- Underlining is also not advisable as an emphasis because people associate underlined text with hyperlinks. They might try to click on it and find it weird that they are not taken to another page or site.
Add a blockquote
Blockquotes are a great way to break long text, but they can be overused as well. A lot of bloggers use them to highlight a provocative thought or prove that experts view a concept the same way. One or two quotes is advised for one blog post. These actual quotes must be said by actual people. You cannot just make these things up. Adding quotes will also add more credibility points to your post. You can also use quotes from the people you meet – it is a great way to give the locals a voice. All quotes should be cited.
As a blogger, you should do more than just write great content. You also need to get creative to capture your readers’ attention. Aside from your headings and images, you can capture their attention longer with infographics, videos, slideshows, charts, graphs, tables, etc.
The only real competition is a very short article from National Geographic
According to National Geographic Travel, a good Traveler story must “capture a place’s essence in a way that inspires readers to follow in the writer’s footsteps – and equip them to do so with useful destination information.”
Relax and take your time – there is no such thing as a perfect blog post. Do not be conscious of competition. When it comes to travel blogs, the only real competition you have to worry about that has everything a travel reader would want is National Geographic Travel and it takes a lot to compete with their kind of standards.
You may go to the same places as other travel bloggers do, but you will have your own experiences, your angles, and you may even have different opinions on some things. This is why there is no such thing as too much travel bloggers on the Internet. Each one has something different to offer. Always start with writing what you know and telling the stories that only you can tell. There will always be better and smarter writers than you, but they do not have your personality and your opinions.
Take this to heart and remember the tips discussed earlier in mind. You’re on your way to making a good travel blog by creating great and valuable content.