I’ve been writing about travel online since 1998.
Since before it was called blogging.
Before “blogs” even existed.
I started writing about travel because in 1998 my husband and I took a year off to travel around the world. Just about that time a little thing called the internet took off. Suddenly people had web sites called travelogues; I knew I had to do the same.
It was the dark ages of wired travel, well before wi-fi and Facebook. Sometimes that meant accessing a dial-up connection from a hotel room, or pulling the phone wires out the wall to jack in to the phone line. Once or twice we even used an acoustic coupler (look it up if you were born after 1985). We were noticed by the New York Times and featured in an article about “techo-nomads” who were traveling around the world (12 years later, our site is the only one still active).
Thankfully, technology has improved over time; I still travel with all the latest gadgets, our web site has evolved into a blog, and I’ve jumped into social media with both feet.
But while I embrace the evolution of travel blogging, there are other changes which bother me enough to say something; where has all the content gone?
It seems to me many popular travel blogs now are not filled with actual personal experiences, but by what will appeal to the masses; top 10 lists, generic travel tips, and mere “snapshots” of travel experiences. One high traffic travel blogger now has trips sponsored by tourism boards and unfortunately, the posts read like copy out of a travel brochure.
What has disappeared is the personal experience; the specifics around the actual things people do while traveling, the people they meet, special places to eat and sleep. The avid planner in me is disappointed in the changes. I still read people’s blogs searching for that nugget of information which might enhance to my own personal experience when I go to that destination.
Are we all so jaded now that we simply rely on Trip Advisor to pick our hotels/hostels and Yelp for dining recommendations? Are we so easily bored that our attention span has shortened to the point where we cannot write, let alone read, someone else’s work of more than three paragraphs?
In this age of Twitter, Facebook, Four Square, Tumbler and all the other social media sites, are we so addicted to instant information that we are no longer interested in the details?
Writing styles change with the times, but it’s this lowest-common-denominator method which bothers me. It dominates our culture now, not just in travel writing, but in politics, food, television, news, everything. I don’t want all my TV to be reality, I don’t need all my food to be easy and fast, and frankly, I want my President to be smarter than the “average guy.” And I want my travel bloggers to write about real travel.
Unfortunately, people have found that formulaic writing drives traffic and in the blog world Traffic Is King. But isn’t it just plain lazy to rehash the same information that anyone can get via Google?
While the short-attention-span lifestyle may be the culprit, it’s not just with the 20-something generation. Truth be told, when we started our website, one of our very good friends admitted he was not going to read it because there “were too many words.” Isn’t sad that I’m concerned this post is too long and people won’t read it all the way to end because there are no photos?
I know by writing this, I may alienate some of my travel blogging friends. Certainly not all travel bloggers are like this, many are not. There are still travelers out there with beautiful photos and good stories to tell. But the trend toward easy, fast and popular is there and growing in my opinion.
I’m really interested in knowing what people think. Have you noticed a change? If so, do you think it’s for the better or worse? Do you like the direction travel blogging is headed?