Monday, October 27, 2008

Thoughts on Blogging

My blog “Did Someone Say RV Road Trip?” chronicles the transition from being a career road warrior to living fulltime in an RV Prevost motorcoach/bus conversion and includes tales of my travel experiences like the “honeymoon” suite at Roger’s Rock State Park in New York, off-season travel in the Gaspe, a bloodless bullfight in Texas where the bull refused to fight, and more.

There are actually two reasons why I decided to start a travel blog:

One reason is that I would eventually like to write a book about traveling fulltime in our RV, and a blog seemed like a good way to get started. I believe that I can expand many of the experiences shared on my blog to create a fun read eventually. Also, reactions to the experiences and tales on my blog give me feedback on what my readers enjoy.

My second reason for deciding to write a blog is simply because I like to write. As a kid at age 8, I started a neighborhood newsletter for friends who had moved away – a blog of sorts in the 1960s. I edited my high school newspaper The Royal and my first real job was as a writer for an all news radio station, KQV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Before the Internet, I wrote details of trips in hardback journals but only a few close personal friends ever read those. A blog is a natural release for this creative energy and wonderful way for friends and family read about my current travel experiences without spending hours on the phone.

The best way to start a travel blog is…just do it! Get started and discipline yourself to write. At first, I made a commitment to write in my blog every Sunday. Sometimes I faltered when living got in the way – selling our house, moving, and my career obligations. Now, that I live fulltime in my RV and move about often, I have more content – travel experiences - that I want to share and more time to write.

I use Blogspot. The advantages are that it is easy to use. Posting and editing are simple too. One challenge is in regard to photos. I like to add photos to my blog and sometimes I have difficulty placing them in the text where I want them to appear. I suspect it is my own lack of initiative to truly study the proper way to insert a photo and to understand the formatting technique.

Because I am on the road, I use Verizon Wireless Broadband Access to connect to the Internet. In remote areas, my access to the Internet is sometimes limited so I may have to wait a few days before adding a new post to my blog. It can also be frustrating when I lose the Internet connection while downloading photos. I try to have a reliable signal before adding a photo. I also have learned to write my text in Word, save it to my laptop, and then cut and paste it to my blog. I once lost my Internet connection and a consequently a blog entry because I wrote it online and had not saved it. I am happiest when I have access to wireless services at campgrounds. The connection is usually reliable, and I do not have to wait my turn for using the Verizon device that Ed and I share.

Don’t try to upload too many photos at one time unless you can move away from the computer and do something else for a while. Sometimes it seems like “forever” before the photos load. It’s like waiting for the water to boil. I have never added a video to my blog.

One blogging challenge is remembering details or thoughts to include. I overcome this by carrying a small notebook in my purse or backpack and jotting notes. I have a small tape recorder too. Sometimes I recite a story and transcribe it from my recording. This works well because I try to write my blog like I speak. Also, since a blog is chronological, I sometimes insert a sentence, photo and heading for a post that I have not had time to write completely. This becomes a placeholder for when I can go back and fill in the blank.

My advice is: Don’t try to capture every minute of the day, every meal, every move…Your blog will be more interesting if you capture the essence of an experience, record a conversation with a person you encounter, or write about an unexpected outcome to the day.

I write my blogs in the morning between 5 AM and 7 AM with a morning coffee and before my husband starts moving around the coach – we live in a 40’ x 8’ motorcoach/bus conversion. Typically, I write on the day after we have explored a destination, this amounts to 2 – 3 times a week. I have not had a fulltime job since September 2007 when I gave up my career as a Senior Consultant for the Dallas based fund raising consulting firm Ketchum. However, when I was working, I tried to write in my blog every Sunday morning.

I read other travel blogs. They are entertaining and give me a flavor of other ways to share my travel experiences. I like to read blogs about living fulltime in an RV for tips about this new lifestyle I have selected. Blogs written by others can also open you up to experiences that you might overlook when visiting a new destination – tips about a great local restaurant, the name of a guide, a unique venue. Lately, I have been posting some select my travel experiences or personal essays on CNN’s iReport site and IgoUgo just to expand my own readership and get more feedback of my travels and experiences.

I regularly send emails to family and friends who read my blog noting when I have added a significant number of entries. I do this about once every month. Also, my husband has a link to my blog on his business website – his is a travel company and he refers potential customers to my blog for a glimpse what they can experience if they book a trip through Private Motor Coach, Inc. When my blog includes information about experiences with other people, I send them a disc with photos and hard copy of the blog entry as a courtesy. This is well received.

I try to write my blog like I speak. So sometimes, I will call my best girlfriend Valerie and tell her about my travel experience of the day, like mistakenly following the black road on the map to a small town, creepy looking town in Arkansas. Her reaction gives me inspiration to write about the experience or place. Also, by verbally expressing the information, it is easier to write it.

I often think about bringing my blog to an end, then the day will pass with a new experience or personal encounter and I know that I will continue blogging. I hope you will keep on reading.

Bragging rights: Budget Travel gave mention of my blog in its November 2008 issue. Look for the article "Blogger on Board" by David LaHuta.

Here's the link:


Lil' Boozie said...

Hi Patty!

I came across your blog courtesy of my Google Alerts. I've only read a few of your more recent posts, but wanted to pass along another blog chronicling life in an RV to you. It's called Lives in a Van. You may already be familiar with it, but I've been following it for a couple of months and find it very entertaining and informative.

Good luck in your adventure!

Suz (a.k.a. Lil' Boozie)
"3 Troopin' Travelers"

Prêt à Voyager said...

Thanks for the kind note, Patty! My issue just arrived :) Congrats to you too!!!


travelingjules said...

Patty, congratulations to you, too! The Budget Travel article mention is really exciting, huh! I'm jealous you're headed to Panama / Central America...haven't been there yet but perhaps someday soon! I'm going back into winter in Vail, Colorado for now...but will likely keep traveling after that!!! I will definitely keep checking back with you! :) Take care!

Anonymous said...

Hi Patty,

I'm writing from Vancouver, BC. I also like to write but have never posted a blog. I tend to write a "diary" when traveling and enjoy reading it when home. I also write about our cottage life in Pender Harbour, Sunshine Coast, BC. We live there part time and very much enjoy the wildlife that walk through our property or swim in front of the home in the harbour. Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog because I've spent hours on the Oregon Coast and it's bringing back good memories. Thank You! Best Regards, Bev D.