Why and how did we get into travel blogging and what motivates us to keep going
A while ago, the wonderful people at F5 Escapes, the company that’s “redefining women’s travel in India” invited us to talk about our travel blogging experiences at their meetup in Mumbai.
While we had spoken about our travels before, we had never really reflected on our journey into the world of travel blogging. This invite from F5 Escapes got us thinking – when did we really start sharing our travel stories? When did we become travel bloggers? And more importantly, why do we like being “travel bloggers”?
While it’s easy to imagine why travel itself is so satisfying, what do we find so enjoyable about travel blogging? What’s our drive behind travel blogging?
Foray into the world of travel by choice and travel blogging by happenstance
Our journey into travel began with a dream to travel around the world for a year. Quit jobs and sell the house – to generate time and money were decisions which came naturally as a means to fulfil this dream.
While the house took a while to be sold and we had already quit our jobs, we decided to travel in India for a few months. It was summertime, so the Himalayas became the obvious destination.
Overwhelmed, we started writing about our travel experiences. Started sharing our stories and photos over the internet. The responses we received moved us enough to give a serious thought to the idea of travel blogging.
This is when the idea of travel as a lifestyle got planted in our minds.
Building our own tribe through travel blogging
The number one motivation to continue travel blogging was hearing back from readers all across the world. They were sharing stories of their travels to the places we had been to. Or places that had made them feel the same way. We were connecting with like minded strangers we would never otherwise have known.
It was like starting to build our own TRIBE.
One reader, seeing the photo of the Sheshnag mountain from our Amarnath yatra wrote to us.
“I’d like to talk about your beautiful photo of Sheshnag Lake.
I saw that view too…..and forever remember it.
There were no horses, not that many people….only 5 of us who had decided one night to do the trek to Amarnath.
When we settled in at Sheshnag, I left them back in the tent “village” and walked up into the hills to see this sight.
While sitting there, a robed shape came to me thru the mist. It was a woman, dressed in ragged clothes and lots of coral and turquoise stones.
She said “Salaam Halakum”….a Muslim.
I answered “Halakum Salaam”
She slapped me on the back. b/c I knew to reverse the greeting.
She sat beside me for a while. We couldn’t speak each other’s language, but mimed a lot, and added a few words we each knew. Then we sat quietly and listened to the glacier creak.
She got up and held out her hand to me, pointing in the direction of the hills and said the name of her village, I think. She wanted me to come with her.
One of those pivotal moments in life.
I could have just left with her and gone off on an adventure beyond even the one I was already having.
But caution prevailed, and I said no.
She shook her head, we smiled and she disappeared back into the mist.
I’ve no regrets, but sometimes still wonder what if…..
Thank you so much for that photo. It’s as I remember it.
And now the woman from the mist.
So thank you also for the memory.”
We had goosebumps when we read this. This reader, a female backpacker now in her 60s had travelled through India 40 years back. She was telling us about these places from a time so long back.
Without travel blogging, how would we have known how the Amarnath route was when the army didn’t control it? Or the time when Manali was a “dirt track”, and Manali to Kullu a common backpacker circuit. Or that, you could cross over from Pakistan to India at the Wagah border, where the border check post was just a shack under a tree!
When we started sharing our travel stories from South America, a now 86 year old gentleman shared about his family’s travel across India way back in 1977 for 2 months, 10000 km in their Fiat.
How could we stop, when people were sharing such an amazing part of their lives with us!
Travel blogging: Problem-solving, helping make dreams a reality, creating memories
Through travel blogging, we were answering questions and helping people overcome hurdles.
A senior lady had written to us saying she had wanted to walk up by herself to the Amarnath cave but wasn’t feeling confident. Then she came across photos of the senior pilgrims in our story. And had decided to finally give it a try.
“I want to go to Kashmir, but my child is only three years old”. We shared our story of Yusmarg with this young mother. Said her child could safely run around the meadows here since it wasn’t crowded and cars were prohibited. She wrote back saying, “yes! This is what I want for my child”.
We were helping people make precious memories!
Using travel blogging to bring people closer to places, places closer to their hearts
As much as we like to believe that travel is for everyone, sometimes it just isn’t possible. Health reasons, family circumstances or sometimes things that just aren’t in our control.
Sao Paulo was one of the first travel stories we shared from South America. A reader narrated his story from years back, when he had an opportunity to go to Sao Paulo for work. He, however, had to let it go since he had a range of responsibilities at home. Ever since he had formed images of Sao Paulo in his mind. Imagined how the city would be.
When he came across our travel blog on Sao Paulo, he was delighted to see real images of Sao Paulo and its people there, from fellow Indians.
By travel blogging, we are bringing stories from far away places to someone who can’t be there physically. Our travel stories and photos transport them to these places. Or bring these unreachable places closer to their hearts.
Sharing the message of “we are all the same” through travel blogging
While in Sao Paulo, we had attended the June parties. They were everywhere, from public gardens to churches and in local communities. People dance the forro to the tune of old country music. Youngsters dress like old rural farming folk. The June parties – are basically a celebration of the corn harvest. All the food served are corn delicacies.
A young reader from rural Maharashtra read about this June party. These June parties had reminded her of the hurda parties we have out here, also in the winters.
How easily, she had drawn the similarities. Hard work of the farmers, and then the celebration for a successful harvest. People so far apart. Living lives so differently. And yet, basically just the same.
What a powerful sentiment that is, to convey through our travel stories – people are the same everywhere. And bring them closer together through travel blogging.
Travel blogging doesn’t have the aura of famous travel writers – and it’s a good thing!
Travel bloggers feel more approachable than book authors. A peek into their personal lives, is just a click on the “About Us” link away. Emails, comments, social media – bloggers are easily reachable.
Book authors – the Pico Iyers and Bill Brysons – have an aura around them that we can not – and do not want to touch. Their stories are theirs alone, not to be replicated.
But a travel blogger, who has previously lived a life just like you, telling you how they went about doing things – makes you feel, “cool, I can do this too”.
Yes, travel blogging does have its perks
There have been “perks” to saying we are travel bloggers. Telling people that we have a travel blog called sandeepachetan.com
We applied for a visa for Peru in Buenos Aires. The visa officer, after explaining the procedure had asked us where we lived in Buenos Aires. “No, we are Indians, from India”. “You mean you don’t live here?” “No, we live in Mumbai.” “Oh, then I am sorry I can’t help you.”
Since we lived in India, we should have applied for a visa there. He could only process our application if we lived in Argentina. We explained to him why we couldn’t apply in India. And we were so much closer to Peru. It would be a shame not travelling to Peru.
He agreed with us, said he understood, but he was bound by rules. He was sorry he couldn’t be of help.
There was nothing else for us to say. As we started to leave, we gave him our visiting card and said we are travel bloggers, we have a website…the whole story.
The officer suddenly got interested. “Wait a moment. You mean, you write about your travels on the internet and people read about it?”
“Pretty much that”, we say. “Wait a moment”, he told us.
Off he went into his office. After a while, he came back grinning. “I have good news. Come tomorrow with your documents. I will call Peru and tell them about you. After that, it is really beyond me.”
We submitted all the documents, and for sure, a 45-day Peru tourist visa, the only one in which we were asked to smile for a picture, was in our hands!