When I first started blogging, I didn’t even think that travel would become a major category. Back in the day I’d keep everything a bit scrapbook-like and my photos were plonked in anyhow (is it bad that I want to go back to New York and re-take everything). My posts have definitely evolved over the years, I try to make things as useful as possible, with hints, suggestions and a bit of personality. It’s something I’ve grown to really love doing, even though I end up looking like a crazy camera-lady, it gives me a focus and forces me to structure my time. Since I’m heading to Lisbon today (!), I thought I’d share some of the stages I go through in order to help things run smoothly and create posts that work for me.
Plan Via The Gram
My guidebook days are over. Even though I’ll still consult the usual sites and have a good old scroll on Pinterest, it’s well worth doing a bit of a targeted search on Instagram if you haven’t got the foggiest as to where to head. I follow a mixture of fashion/travel/lifestyle types, so I’ll try to remember to screenshot certain snaps if they look interesting (Charlotte has got me wanting to visit Budapest) but if you have no starting point then I’d recommend looking at the communities in each city. If you prefix #igers before any destination, then you’ll see a massive feed of people using the hashtag. Choose a photo that looks interesting and that’ll hopefully lead you to other hashtags or local accounts and down a bit of a screenshotting spiral. After typing in #igerslisbon. I’ve already discovered five places with dinner potential. You can also search by location to see snaps that other people have posted and it’s also worth stalking comments.
Although I love a traditional map (I always grab a free one if I’m staying at a hotel), it’s well worth having a digital version if your sense of direction is non-existent. Google Maps have a handy little feature on the app, so you can actually download your maps and access them without data. You’ll need to go to ‘Settings’, ‘Your Places’ then scroll to the bottom to ‘View All And Manage’, before saving a new offline map. I tend to star anything beforehand, I’m currently going through Carrie and Becky’s Lisbon posts and it’s a useful way of seeing where the interesting areas might be at a glance. Make sure you keep location services on and be mindful when using your phone in public.
Buy a local sim
No one wants to be paying extortionate rates just for uploading a Snapchat with the wonky face. I’m on 3, so I can use their Feel At Home benefits in quite a few places but most of the time I end up buying a cheap data-only SIM whenever I go away. Just make sure you find a phone shop soon after you arrive (Vodafone seem to be the most common carrier that I spot) and be aware that you may need to delete any profiles you’ve installed for camera wifi syncing. 4GB is probably enough for up to a week if you’re a heavy user like me, they can sort it all out in store and you just need to keep your old SIM safe so that you’re not stranded when you get back.
OK, so my travel folder may take up a few screens on my phone now but there’s so many useful apps that you’ll want to keep. If you’re based in London, then Kabbee can actually be cheaper than Uber when it comes to airport trips, plus you can book in advance for peace of mind (you can get £10 off by using my code 9C5PW2). I also use XE to work out currency conversions when on-the-go and I always download my boarding pass using the app of whatever airline I’m using. Citymapper and Uber also work in a lot of places, so it’s worth having them to hand and consulting them if you get stuck.
Take lots of notes. Notes about the notes.
I’ve learnt the hard way. Sometimes I’m trying to write something a few months after a trip and it’s a bit of a struggle to remember everything. You need to go really overboard in terms of jotting things down. I usually dedicate a new note or Google Doc to each destination, that syncs with all my devices so I can just copy and paste when I’m ready to write things up. I write down everything I’m doing, eating, seeing plus any personal anecdotes as and when they come. I also take photos of menus and any business cards I pick up. Ideally you’d write everything when it’s really fresh in your mind but sometimes things get delayed and you may just need a bit of prompting.
Although it’d be amazing go away and come back with all the post ideas, sometimes you have to accept that things may not always go to plan. You can do all of the preparation and get anxious about ticking things off a list, when something even better and undocumented may be around the corner. Travel is about having an individual experience. I’ve definitely learnt to chill out, I have periods where I’ll be a bit more militant about snapping and times when I’ll just watch the world go by.
Do you have any blogger-specific travelling tips? Monica’s Blogtacular podcast is also a really good listen if you want to build on this category a little more. I love that so many of us are creating these useful resources when it comes to planning trips, especially when there are new things popping up all the time. Make sure you comment with any you’ve created so that I can get wanderlusting!