Blogging around the world is pretty common. Many high profile entrepreneurs travel a lot, across the country and around the world. They attend conventions, they give speeches, they meet with investors, and a lot more. All the while, they keep their blogs up to date. Some of them make it clear when they’re out and about, while others just keep it business as usual.
Yet, it’s a skill just like any other. If you go abroad expecting to be able to blog, you might find that your schedule is packed or that you simply don’t have the attention span when you’re in a new locale. Blogging can be tough during the best of times and in the best situations. Throwing travel, schedule changes, even foreign languages into the mix can become disastrous.
My number one tip before we even begin, by the way, is to have a buffer. I don’t mean the tool, I mean a backlog of blog posts. Ideally, you will have at least a couple of weeks worth of posts scheduled and ready to go, with or without you there.
With a backlog, you’re able to blog or not at your convenience while you’re traveling. You won’t miss a crucial update if you don’t have the time or inspiration to write while you’re out. On the other hand, if you do find yourself working, and write an awesome post with local references and timely content, you can always shove it into the schedule and delay the other posts to make sure it’s as relevant as possible when you put it up.
What do you get out of travel blogging, or blogging while abroad, depending on your definitions? It really depends. There are two philosophies for travel blogging. The first is that you’re traveling anyways, for vacation or for work, so you might as well get some work done while you’re out there in case inspiration strikes. The second is that you want to live the life of a traveler, and you use blogging as a way to support yourself without being tied to any one physical location. Both are viable options, of course. One is simply opportunistic, born of the need to make use of your time regardless of where you are. The other is because you simply can’t put down your work, even on vacation. Either way, they’re both employed by thousands of people the world over, every day.
There’s a lot you can do to make sure things go your way while you’re trying to blog abroad. Let’s explore.
This first one is important for travel in general, but it’s even more important for travel where you’re trying to get work done along the way. The idea is pretty simple: have as many kinks ironed out as possible, so you minimize your stress. The more things go wrong, the less energy you have for work, and the less time you have since you’re spending it sorting out your issues.
If you’re traveling on a tight, fixed schedule, knowing that schedule can be very helpful. Keeping a calendar or planner might be a good idea, or you might just have all that information on your phone.
Learning your destination will also be quite helpful, as you can figure out what sorts of locations you can go if you want to work outside of a hotel room, or if you want to draw inspiration from local tourist attractions. I personally like to dedicate one day to a touristy travel tour, where I can snap a bunch of photos for potential use on my sites later on down the road. You never know when that picture of an exotic temple, ancient building, or strange foreigner’s outfit will come in handy to illustrate a point about SEO.
There are always a million little details to consider when you travel. Are you going somewhere where cash is more generally accepted than credit? Should you be aware of crime above the normal levels? Do you need to learn the rudiments of a foreign language? These are all concerns. Of course, this isn’t a travel blog, so I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about the nuances of traveling itself.
I will note here that you want to be aware of the local cell service, both in terms of coverage and in terms of rates. You might end up using your cell phone as a data connection, and you don’t want to rack up thousands of dollars in roaming and overages.
Pick a cloud service. There are plenty to choose from. Having access to all of your important files is crucial to effective blogging while away from home. You can’t always lug around a heavy laptop, right? Personally, I use a large desktop workstation for most of my blogging, complete with a dual monitor setup, and that’s very far from portable. I have a laptop for some travel, but it’s not always convenient, and believe it or not, those things get heavy after a while. Some travel bloggers work quite successfully entirely through web applications and cloud services on a tablet or a phone. I’ll go into device more later, though.
The point is, having all of your crucial information stored on the cloud does two things for you. First, it gives you an excuse to ditch the bulky storage media. Who needs an external hard drive when they have Google Drive? Who needs thumb drives when everything can sit in a Dropbox? Second, the cloud also keeps your data more secure. You won’t be losing a thumb drive on a bus trip, and you can’t have your data stolen if your bag is lost at the check-in.
Personally, I like to use Dropbox. I wouldn’t travel without it.
There are generally a few ways you’ll get internet access while abroad. Hotel internet connections are becoming more ubiquitous as time goes on, but there are still hotels around the world that offer little more than a DSL connection, if that. It’s difficult to work when your data doesn’t load, after all. Wifi offered at coffee shops and the like are more viable, but they too aren’t spread everywhere around the globe just yet. You can always hope for an internet café, which tend to exist in many countries outside the USA, but are minimal within its borders.
The primary backup I like to use is a local SIM card in a phone with data service. Avoid using your own native SIM unless you know you’ll be able to get data in your destination without issues, caps, or excessive rates. It’s pretty cheap to get a local SIM card and just set up your phone as a tether, though.
This is assuming, of course, that you’re not just using your phone as your device. If you are, you still have to worry about a SIM card that handles data, but you don’t need to worry about tethering it as a wireless source for your laptop or whatever other device you choose to use. You can simply use it natively.
One of the most important factors about blogging, if you want to be successful, is having an environment in which you can work without issues. If you’re used to a huge desktop, switching to working just on your phone can be intense and ineffective. On the other hand, if you’re used to travel, you might find the convenience of not carrying large devices to be worth the adaptation.
A comfortable device extends to more than just your actual device, though. You need a keyboard you can use, a mouse that works with what you’re doing, and the support you need to work. A laser keyboard might be amusing and futuristic, but if it needs a flat surface to work, you can’t really use it on your lap. You also can’t use it when it’s bright out, making it less than ideal for outdoor use, for all your beach blogging needs.
Of course, you don’t need anything more than a phone if you’re capable of accessing all of your data, of typing your blog posts – or at least notes for them until you reach a more useful platform – and accessing your CMS to upload if you’re writing directly.
This is all going to be hugely personal preference. I have a hard time imagining working on anything less than a large tablet. Working entirely off a phone is too intense for me. On the other hand, some people thrive on having as little baggage as possible, and there’s something to be said for being able to travel and work without ever needing to check a bag.
One of the primary benefits of blogging while abroad is having the ability to incorporate personal stories and experiences from locations your average reader doesn’t have the chance to visit. There are two major ways you can approach this.
The first is based around your experiences. Where did you go? What did you do? What did you see? Looking at the world around you can give you inspiration for a new way of looking at your business. Seeing how people do business in a foreign locale can inspire you to try new business strategies. Or, of course, you can always fake it. You don’t actually need to be inspired, or even actually witness the events you claim to witness, so long as you can be plausible about tying it into what you want to blog about
The second is based around what you were traveling for. Vacations tend to tie back to the first option, but what about if you were speaking at a conference? You can tie your blog post into the topic of your speech. This sort of technique also allows you to add consistency to any new visitors who find your site because of the event. They see you speak, they go to your site, and they see an extension of what you were already talking about. It’s verification that you are who you are, and that they’ve found the right place. It eases them into following you more naturally.
At the end of the day, there’s always one other option; don’t be the blogger at all. I know some big name entrepreneurs who maintain active blogs, but who haven’t actually written a word for their sites in years. They have a few trusted writers, or ghostwriters as the case may be, who do all the work for them. They are paid handsomely, and in exchange, they create amazing content. With the right voice, you never know the difference.
By hiring a writer, you free yourself up for more of that sweet sweet vacation. Or you free yourself up to be a tourist and travel without being tied down, even to an internet-based anchor. Or you allow yourself to work, attend conferences, and give speeches without having to spend your free time then working in a different setting. Hiring a writer allows you to outsource all of the blog management, in a way that only costs you money.
Of course, it costs you money. That’s always the tradeoff, isn’t it? You spend money to save time, or you spend time to save money. Which you do always depends on your budget, on your goals, on what you’re willing to compromise or allow to be dependent upon another person.
If you do decide to go the writer route, we’ve got you covered. It’s not something you want to do the week before you go on your trip, of course; you want to have the time to test out any writer you’re thinking about hiring before you hire them.
Regardless of what strategy you use, blogging while traveling can be quite rewarding. The world is a large, wonderful place. There’s a lot to see, a lot to experience, and a lot to do. All of that can be channeled back into yourself, to grow as a person, and through you to your business, your brand, and your blog.