Over the last decade I have traveled extensively on my own. While the seed to discover new places was initially germinated in me, as a young impressionable kid, by my father, I really discovered myself while travelling as an adult. Finding one’s way around a city without another ‘adult supervision’ is both unnerving and exhilarating.
It was during some of these exhilarating trips that I decided to record my travels for posterity. In short, “Travel: It leaves us speechless at first, and then turns us into storytellers.”
So when I am not travelling, I am reading, writing or arranging my travel photos. You can call me an armchair traveler or just someone who has found a way to travel even when I’m not on the road. Chai Around the World, is our own time capsule; our trapper keeper. Our mission is to drink the cheapest cups of chai in every country in the world. I know it sounds ridiculous and but that’s why we travel – as Pico Iyer puts it – to be young fools again.
I was recently part of a panel discussion on Travel Blogging, hosted by Social Media Week 2015 and Lonely Planet. The focus of the discussion was how to create stunning stories about our travels using unique storytelling formats. We discussed how to expose ourselves to new experiences, how to come up with clutter-breaking content and ways in which we could monetize this content. Most importantly, we discussed how to stay true to our passions and bring the joy of our travels to our readers. But mind you, this session was not about how to become rich, but rather, wise.
As a traveler and a blogger, there are certain things that one should do and shouldn’t do, either while travelling or writing about one’s travels. For instance, when I’m traveling, I’m extremely careful in avoiding tourist traps. I know it’s a cliché, but when I speak to the local autowallahs or the cab drivers, I get to know of places that aren’t frequented by tourists. Making a local friend (and not a guide!) is a ‘do’ that tops my list. And a ‘don’t’ that tops my list is about how I write about my experiences – I never write an exhaustive guide on all the things I did. I pick one experience and I write about it. Travel guides and travel blogs are separate, in my opinion.
Over a course of an hour, five highly-regarded travelers shared with the audience what drives them to explore the world and what motivates them to share their stories. Interestingly four out of the five are or were from the IT industry, but they are currently musing the other IT, i.e. India/International travel.
Below are my key takeaways from what each of the travel bloggers had to share.
Sangeetha, Life Is A Vacation
Sangeeta is a ‘once upon a time workaholic,’ who spent more than fifteen years in technology and consulting jobs, but now her Life is a Vacation. She is now on a, “…journey cultivating infinite patience and acceptance.” Wow! She sounds like Kung Fu Panda.
Her Secret Mantra: “Be a traveler, not a tourist. Don’t let seasons and holidays dictate your travel.” She believes in spontaneous travel and is proud of introducing and motivating many women to travel solo.
Deepti Asthana, DA Travelography
Deepti is an IT consultant, travel blogger and travel photographer. She is the winner of the UNESCO for International Youth Photography Award for their Global Monitoring report – Education For All.
Her Secret Mantra: “Find your niche.” Deepti is creating a niche for herself through her stunning photos. She also researches the place she is visiting in order to create clutter-breaking content. Doing one’s homework before creating content is a great start to creating a brand for oneself.
Arun Bhat, Painted Stork
Arun is a travel blogger, writer and professional photographer. Currently, he spends much of his time mentoring photography enthusiasts and leading photography tours and workshops for Darter Photography, a venture co-founded by him.
His Secret Mantra: “Pictures speak more than a 1000 words; a well-exposed picture leaves you speechless.” Being a photographer, Arun is constantly looking for places and experiences that lead to great photos. So, if you would like to master storytelling through photos, pick the right experience first. You could head out to the Hornbill festival for vivid tribal art or visit the Khumbh Mela and capture the mystique of Indian sadhus. Sometimes timing your travels to certain events is not so bad.
Sam, Tales of a Traveler
Sam is a software engineer by profession and a travel freak by passion. His blog – Tales of a Traveler – is all about inspiring people to break away from the cubicle and explore the beautiful world.
His Secret Mantra: “Don’t make your blog your personal diary.” Postcard-perfect, jaw-dropping, terrific etc. are adjectives commonly used to describe places. For a blogger it is very important to communicate a unique story about a place that arouses curiosity and delivers joy at the same time.
Sankara, Be On The Road
Sankara has been traveling across the world ever since he left his eight-year stint in corporate sales and marketing in the IT industry, six years ago. He is is an expert of both travel & the business of travelling.
His Secret Mantra: “Create good content and money will follow.” Sankara advises people to think of their travel blogs as startup businesses. According to him, “You build your brand first. Then comes credibility. Then you use your earned credibility and inherent skill to address your readers’ needs. There was a problem and you solved or addressed it. Thus, you offer value and you have reached a stage where you will start to create money-making opportunities.”
In this helpful post he writes about the various monetizing techniques one can adopt.
Happy Storytelling Guys 🙂