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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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  #1  
Old 15 Jun 2009
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What do you like to read in a travel blog/book?

Hello,
just like so many of you I like to blog while travelling. I have done it on my travels in South East Asia and I'm planing to do it while riding through south-eastern europe this year.

At first my blog was just to keep family and friends updated, however it generated a fair bit of outside interest and I still keep getting the occasional comment (the stuff is now more then two years old). I also rediscovered the fun in writing.

On my next journey I want to take it a bit further. I'll be blogging as usual, but I'm also planing on putting it together at the end as a book, maybe with some extra contend or maybe just with the stuff published on my blog.

This is just as a hobby for me and so I can say that I've actually written a book on my own. With printing on demand it's entirely possible to finance that on my own without relying on making any money out of it (and I'm not counting on doing so).

With that being said, I obviously want to make it fun to read and interesting anyway. So apart from the usual stuff that one blogs (got to XY, road was great/not so great, got drunk, saw this or that local attraction...), what would you like to read?

The only thing that I have on my list right now is to interview interesting characters I might meet on the road and to have some great pictures.

Cheers
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  #2  
Old 15 Jun 2009
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Travel is largely about undergoing internal changes in response to (or in concert with) the external changes in landscape, activity and culture. Anyone can go nice places and take lots of photographs, but probably National Geographic will do this better than you can. Anyone with a fat budget can participate in all sorts of weird and wonderful activities and write about them, but there's Outside Magazine and a host of imitators....and tens of thousands of other bloggers, some of whom are far crazier and more inventive than you.

It's the process of your own development, interwoven with the sights and sounds and movement through time and space which interests me. Not many people can write about this engagingly, and fewer still can sustain it for the length of a book (personally, I hit the wall around two pages).

Good luck!

Mark
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  #3  
Old 15 Jun 2009
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Mark has it spot on, but allow me to be a little negative at first. What I really don't want to read is "What I did on my holidays by Some Kid aged 8 3/4" with improved spelling (although from some ride reports you'd guess they were written for the first day back at school). I went to Cairo, then I went to Sudan, then I went to Kenya where we saw a big lion, then..... really doesn't cut it. Likewise "Bob fell off and broke his arm, it was really funny...." and other assorted club style in jokes can be really tedious. I'm guessing if people outside your immeadiate family/friends are reading your stuff you are well above this though.

There are two or three types of interesting travel writing IMHO:

1: Technical, where the author tells you about how he fixed his gearbox with a swiss army knife and fence wire, or how he got through the India/Pakistan border in 20 minutes with an out-of-date passport and nothing to bribe the guards except a packet of jelly babies. My own efforts are in this style, I write on my web page to remind myself what I tried, avoid repeating myself on forums and generally pass on what I've learned/start a discussion/encourage others.

2: Personal, where the author tells you how he came to overcome his own issues by looking at how other people live. I'm useless at this, maybe I'm just issue free .

3: Firsts, where the author documents the first trip to some distant location or by some new method.

The latter is almost impossible these days as all the big trips have been done and "First RTW on an F800 with a one legged, left handed rider starting on a Tuesday" doesn't really count. This means going for 1 or 2, which needs more skill as both content and style need to be better otherwise we get "What I did on my Holidays".

The only way to see if you can do it is to try, so good luck.

Edit to add: IMHO Write for yourself, don't try and force a style to match what you think a reader might want. That doesn't mean when you've got fifty e-mails asking what type of tyres you use you don't add it in, it just means you don't start an essay on tyre construction when as far as your concerned black, round and in stock will work.

Andy
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  #4  
Old 18 Jun 2009
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First of all, thank y'all for your input. It's much appreciated, in fact it's so appreciated, I took a couple of days to think about it.

I think I may need to clarify what I'm actually doing with the Blog/Book thing. The idea is - basically - to blog while on the road and then, when the trip is finished to take all the stuff I've written, give it a nice foreword, some editing, and some more thoughts and reflections and then put it out as book as well.

If you think that this sounds like a horrible idea to earn cash with my travel writing, then you're probably right. For me this is not about earning money, becoming famous or feeling like a rockstar. For me this is about writing and putting something out there, for whatever it's worth.

Marketing is obviously not a big concern for me. I'll publish with printing on demand - which will cost me some money in the end, but not that much - and have some announcement on my twitter and facebook pages and my blog. That's about it.

With that being said, I'll obviously like for people to read some of my stuff and have fun while doing so. That's what made me ask the initial question. Most of the people reading my blog today are not really into adventure travel. What they seem to like is the exotic locations, the strange people you run into and my unique style of telling the tale.

What I was curious about is what the the general overlanding public wanted to read and I think I got some good ideas. Thank you for that!

Am I sure about where all of this will go?
Am I sure about what I do want to say exactly?
Am I sure why I do want to write this book?
Am I sure what it will be about?

Hell No!

But then again: This is why it's fun!

So, what do you really want to read?

By the way: My Website is buebo.de and it's in german.
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  #5  
Old 19 Jun 2009
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Hey buebo - go for it dude.

I did the same thing for my Morocco trip - I used Blurb to print the book up and was stunned at how good it came out and how cheap it was to do ($9.99) I've only printed about 10 for family and friends and I've made it very photo heavy - a couple of pages of photos filled up with some entries from the blog - in fact blurb automatically went to my blog and pulled that content in for me - it also pulled my images from flickr and I just had to lay it out.

Make your own book with Blurb

As far as writing goes if your goal is to make something for you and your friends and family what does it matter what others think? If you're thinking you may like it to go a little further then just pay attention to your spelling and grammar and importantly - tell a story.

The biggest mistake I see when it comes to any kind of writing - travel or not - is the complete ignorance of a story arc - in other words the concept of a beginning, a middle and an end.

The experts in this area (well I would say that, I work for them), Lonely Planet, got a bunch of their authors together to write a guide on how to write good travel content.

Travel Writing

worth a read if you're interested in broadening the appeal - if not - just write what makes you happy :-)

Good luck!

m
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  #6  
Old 19 Jun 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattcbf600 View Post
The experts in this area (well I would say that, I work for them), Lonely Planet, got a bunch of their authors together to write a guide on how to write good travel content.

Travel Writing
This looks nice. I think I'll put this on my amazon wishlist and see if somebody feels inclined to reward me for all my hard work

Cheers
buebo
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  #7  
Old 28 Jun 2009
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multilingual??

a contentious suggestion perhaps, but please, in english!! even if that means only i can read it being a just about one language briton! is it easier to write it bi-linguially initially, to translate yourself "sometime" later, or does anyone make an understandable translating piece of software yet? i'd love anyone to be able to read our website, but currently only if they speak engish! it does give you a bigger market perhaps? although a bigger proportion of germanic speaking europeans overland than anyone else? capitals help too
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  #8  
Old 28 Jun 2009
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A little bit of begging.

Please, please a favour, if you'd like to turn your blog into a book and maybe interest more people than your family, then add value to it, don't just reproduce your blog.

A while back I bought "Tuk to the Road" a story of two girls driving a Tuk Tuk from Thailand to Brighton. It was dreadful (apologies if you know them, or are them and are reading this, I don't blame you I blame your publishers). Why was it so bad? Because it was "today we did this, and yesterday I was tired".

Thinking perhaps I could learn more I typed in their website found in their book www.tuktotheroad.com. Imagine my huge disappointment to find that I could have read the book for free by reading their blog. It was eaxactly the same, even the spelling mistakes were there. And this from a proper so-called publiching house.

So if you'd like to do a book please make it more than your blog. Maybe re-write it a bit, or add reflections now you're home, or weed out the boring bits, or something, but don't just turn your blog into a book.
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  #9  
Old 28 Jun 2009
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Talking

Local recipes and please get the name of the ingredients right as well as the amounts of each - a picture of the result would be good -
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  #10  
Old 1 Sep 2009
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Blog contents.....

Yet again I make a post in one thread only to find the same post could apply to another one so here is part of a reply I made not so long ago in another thread.

I have read many travelogue books and looked at as many blogs as I can and for me the one thing missing from ALL of them is costings. Some of them provide important information such as miles travelled each day etc. What I would like to see because it would help me greatly is a list of costings at the end of each section such as filled up with fuel 3 times today, spent XXX on fuel, stayed at campsite cost = XXX spent XXX on food and entertainment. Spent so much on ferry and had to pay xxx to border guards etc. Running totals like this would be of an enormous help to people trying to figure out if they can afford to go in the first place.

Exact details do not matter but it may inspire others to say, I could afford to do that. Have a great time and I look forward to following your exploits.
GM
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  #11  
Old 1 Sep 2009
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Smile

The answer is simple: stories. People like them. Live by them even.

Lots of little ones; a couple of medium sized ones; and one big, extremely interesting one about someone we care about. You maybe. But not necessarily. Isn't someone writing his story from the POV of the bike? Potentially great. Potentially awful, mind you (see: Paul Auster and his dog).

A blog is not a book. Putting lots of blog entries together makes for a terrible book. They're different. Look at how many great journalists write awful novels. The skills are as different as sprinting and marathon. They are both RUNNING, right you are. But is all running the same?

You are writing an interesting travel blog? Good for you. What makes you think a book is necessary, or that your sprinting skills will make you a good middle distancer? We have a new medium, brilliantly suited to travel updates. Why the interest in book production? You hate trees?

Oh, if you want to write a guide book, put in costings, and schedules and lots of tables and numbers, complete with GPS tracks and fuel-use ratios. All fine, but dull, unreadable, and out of date before it's published. We have the internet for that stuff. I love the internet. I love books too. But not for the same purposes.

I would echo the above: read a few how to write guides. Not to find a model for imitation. But they will tell you how others have failed and succeeded before you.

Simon
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  #12  
Old 1 Sep 2009
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A Book? - Try and make it a funny one if you can. For instance, I recently read Mike Hyde's ripping yarn about his 35-day ride around the perimeter of Aus entitled 'Twisting Throttle'. This could have ended-up as just another boring story of a circumnavigation around a continent .. BUT the humour he managed to introduce had me literally laughing out loud.

A terrific read .. just too darn funny! ..

MH also ended each day's account with the useful info (mentioned two posts above) like:

Bike’s fuel for day: 53 L, costing $78.
Rider’s fuel for day: Pineapple ice-block, steak-and-mushroom pie in Normanton (town motto: ‘We never waste road kill’), three tomato-and-cheese sandwiches, lime drink, melted Kit-Kat bar, Kentucky Fried Chicken in Mt Isa, unknown quantity of warm water from my Camelbak.






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  #13  
Old 5 Sep 2009
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Costs

Hi greenmanalishi!

I too had this thought before we set off on our UK-OZ 4wd trip. Hence I have kept daily spending details broken down to about 10-15 categories, including food, diesel and accomadation. I was going to publish when we got to india, but if you would like a copy of this send an email via our website and I will send you the spreadsheet. I am a bit of a geek and it turns me on filling it in, much to my wifes disgust. She loves it really

Cheers

Ollie
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  #14  
Old 13 Sep 2009
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Well, I would like to read real stories from real people, it would also spice it up if photos will be added. These real stories will have mixed emotions - some funny, some touching, some scary. And that's what I really want, something that will get through my emotions.
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