Ten Ways To Build Your Blog While Traveling - Skillful Cook
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Ten Ways To Build Your Blog While Traveling

Ten Ways To Build Your Blog While Traveling.

Home again, home again, jiggity jog!

Wowsa - these last few weeks have been quite the ride. From conferences to video work to photography workshops, from the West Coast to the South to more of the Midwest - we've gotten AROUND, yo. It's been really awesome and a season full of excitement and sweetness and I'm so thankful to have my partner in crime sitting in the front seat of that rented Prius with me. Okay fine, driving me around. You know imma passenger for life.

Now for the bad news: as sweet and fun and energizing as all this travel has been, it's also been really easy to quickly fall behind on blogging work and lose ourselves into the vortex of can't-keep-up.

That's what today is all about. The ways to keep up. And build. And make travel work for your blog. Cause we like to see the world and be wild like that.

Two people making silly faces.

In my blogging life, there are two types of travel:

  1. No-work-at-all, where I have zero responsibilities and I can completely unplug from the world;
  2. Some-work-required, where I am going to try to stay connected and keep up with posts because maybe I didn't get everything ready in advance or I don't have anyone taming the email beast and I still want to keep that blog train chuggin along.

Before we pack up our little operation in duffel bags and scurry out the door, I try to determine which of these two types of trips I'm about to adventure off on. Major spoiler alert: usually it's #2.

Since I'm usually trying to do at least some sort of work from an airplane, the passenger seat of the car, or a tiny hotel room in the middle of a no-name town in Oregon, and since we've been traveling around like hungry food blogging nomads lately, I thought I would throw together a post with all the little life hacks we use to keep on building the blog while we're traveling.

Because in addition to being really fun, traveling can be a great time to build your blog. SERIOUS.

Two people making silly faces.

Yeah, we're super serious.

I bet you're going to give me your best ninja tricks in the comments, too, because you're the bestest of friends and you know I'm greedy for them, right? Sweeeet.

#1: Schedule Ahead

Living room with a table and chairs.

So the “correct” answer, I guess, technically, according to the invisible blogging game makers, would be to schedule ALL of your content in advance of your travels and not have to worry about writing any of your regular posts while you're gone. If that's easy for you to do and you thrive with following all the good blogger rules, Merry Christmas. You are awesome.

And now for the rest of us.

I find it extremely difficult and sometimes just really bleh to draft up posts in advance — I mean draft to the point where all of them are completely written and edited and accurately categorized and full of awesome images and tagged with all the right keywords and scheduled out to a perfect T and ready for the PUBLISH BUTTON eight billion days from now. This is halfway because I'm a procrastinator and would rather be eating a large plate of crackers and hummus and goat cheese than writing my posts for next week (it's sooo farrrr awayyyy), halfway because I believe in limiting my time for some tasks so that I don't end up spend three days writing one post, and halfway because I like to write to my readers in real-time. Halfway x 3 = I'm good at math.

This is what works really well for me -> I schedule the essential elements of my content in advance, meaning the stuff that I won't be able to work on from the road. For me, that's the food and cooking and photos (hi thare food blog). Typically that means spending a Saturday getting that all done before I travel so that I have all my posts drafted with photos and recipe. Then each morning, wherever in the world I find myself, I can connect to the magic of wifi and spend a few hours writing directly to my readers so that it's live, real time, and fresh, even if the food content was drafted up last weekend. This is what feels good to me.

When we stayed at a beach house in North Carolina with my family earlier this year, I would get up at 5:30am and write my posts surrounded by gorgeous views of the sunrise over the ocean with coffee in hand before anyone else was awake. BINGO yes yes yes I sort of loved it (see picture above, yeah, right?). But when I went on a girls' trip to Aspen, I knew I didn't want to be getting up at 5:30am and writing in the morning after a long night of cheese and wine, hot tubbing, and marathon belly-laughing, so that was a trip for which completely scheduling ahead was a self-requirement. And it was awesome.

The takeaway: Take it on a case-by-case basis. Do what needs to be done in advance (cooking, crafting, fashioning, picture-and-videoing, etc.) to maintain your current posting schedule, and then determine how much you're okay writing from the road and fit that writing time into your travel schedule.

#2: Write and Edit On The Plane (No Wifi, No Problem)

Cherries in a bowl.

I find that the airplane is THE GOLDEN PLACE for me to crank out a bunch of photo editing and/or writing and/or work. It's like a sweet little gift hidden right there in the sardine-packed peeling-leather row of barely reclining airplane seats, and I secretly always look forward to having this time to be forced away from my mostest funnest apps and redirected right back into my core work.

The good news for us internettys is that on a plane, all web-based distraction options are removed (I'll miss you FB) and so all we can do with that laptop or phone is just... work. HALLELUJAH.

Brainstorming. Drafting. Editing. Organizing photos. Color correcting and spot removal and contrast boosting. Saving and renaming. Pinterest photo making. Video editing. All of it can happen (and fast! whoa snap!) without the beautiful distraction of having the world wide web at our fingertips.

The takeaway: Spend two minutes planning for whatever work you're going to do on the airplane. Get your photos imported. Grab those videos and make sure that your editing software is up to date. Download the talking points for that freelance post you're writing. Be ready to work work work work work.

#3: Emails and Comments In The Car (Gotta Love The Hotspot)

Woman working on her computer in the car.

Bjork and I both have iPhones and there is something supercool about iPhones which is that they can give you wifi when you normally can't have wifi. Some of you know this. Some of you just BOOMed up there in the head. Minds = blown.

We use our iPhone wifi aka hotspots ALL THE TIME when we travel. We basically worked the whole 15 hours to and from Montana last year all from the comfort of the backseat with laptops in tow, and there was a lot of emailing, commenting, and WordPress-ing in general time going on as we drove through Oregon earlier this month, all compliments of the hotspot. Sometimes we even use this little life hack when we drive back and forth to our home town which is just an hour away. But you guys, an hour is an hour. Hiiii-YAH! Be a time bender.

I find that this is best for my maintenance work, like email and comments, because usually Siri is yelling directions at me and I am trying to eat a handful of Pretzel Crisps while blocking the sun from my eyes with my third hand and someone has to go to the bathroom ahhhgain *eye roll*. It's hard for me to work with all of that going on, but email and comments are an easy to-do that can get checked off in the midst of all the road chaos.

To set up your hotspot and take advantage of built-in phone wifi, just go into your settings and turn the hotspot on. Set password, connect, and voila.

Person Hotspot on an iphone.

The takeaway: Use your hotspot to access internet through your phone while driving in the car and reap the benefits of doing your maintenance work (comments and emails espesh) as you drive through the cornfields of Iowa. This is almost always more efficient than using your phone because, um, thumbs. Trust me.

#4: Engage Readers On Social Media

=Ten Ways To Build Your Blog While Traveling

When you go somewhere, ask your readers for advice on where to stay, where to eat, what to see, and all that jazzy. Like, dahhh, right? But sometimes it's easy to forget amidst locating those plane tickets while trying to remember which color suitcase is yours and which hotel were we staying at again?

When we were on the West Coast, I asked for recs on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and my blog. I got emails and comments galore - and here's the best part: beyond just being a really fun-for-me and fun-for-readers way to boost up the activity on my blog and social media pages, THE FEEDBACK WAS SO SUPER HELPFUL. Like, I would study them before every single restaurant selection and Bjork would never ever get impatient with my desire to go to all 80+ restaurants in three days. It was an awesome way to connect with my readers and let them speak into the sparkly destiny of our travels.

The takeaway: Take advantage of the wealth of travel knowledge amongst your readers, and use your travels to gain engagement and give some fresh content to your social channels. People like interesting stuff.

#5: Podcasts and Audio Books

Man and woman in a car during sunset.

The audiobook is currently at the top of my Favorite Inventions list.

I love it when Bjork makes me drive the last leg of the trip after I've been sleeping the first 90% of the time, because what it actually means is that I can get a book full of knowledge plunked into my head while finishing a whole bag of honey mustard pretzels and a caramel almond sea salt KIND bar.  ❤ I don't even have to do anything. I just sit there and let it morph into my brain and it is an ultra happy place for me.

Truth -> I actually hate reading nonfiction. I know it makes you smarter, and right here and now I am straight-up rejecting smartness in book form. Major sleeper. I find it so much more engaging and enjoyable to listen to a nonfiction book, stop periodically to interrupt Bjork and tell him THE MOST INTERESTING THING EVER ABOUT THIS BOOK and isn't that just unbelievable? and then go back to my happy listen-learning. With snacks.

This helps develop the blog because it helps develop ME as the blog-running person. There are books that are jam-packed with great information and theory and practices and strategies that would help me be a better and smarter blogger, but the problem comes when I don't really like to read them. Long times of travel are, to me, the perfect time to cram on smartypants business-related audiobooks and podcasts.

We listen to audiobooks with an app called Audible and we use the native podcast app on our iPhones to organize all the podcasts that we follow.

Here are some of my favorite books and podcasts as of lately (both business and personal):

Audiobooks for blog travel. Podcasts for blog travel

The takeaway: Identify something that you want to learn about in relation to your blog, and use audiobooks and podcasts to make learning really accessible while you're on the go.

#6: Practice Your Photography

Iphone taking a photo of the sunrise.

Getting outside of your zone is a great time to practice your photography because it forces you to think differently about your light, your subjects, your style, your perspective, everything.

Every time we travel, whether for work or otherwise, I always have this internal debate about bringing my DSLR or just using my iPhone. I almost always decide to bring my DSLR and I am always glad, 100% of the time. I find that I'm super inspired to capture things in new ways and that getting out of my normal photography circle of operation helps me to become a better photography very quickly.

The same can be true even if you don't have a DSLR or decide not to bring it. Visuals are a huge, non-negotiable part of any blog IMHO <- do you love when I use IMHO? I'm still trying it on for size -> so learning how to maximize your camera to see and capture beautiful things for your readers is a really important way that you can use travel to develop your blog related skills.

The takeaway: Bring your camera. Take lots of pictures. Use the new sights, colors, and lights to help you develop your photography skills - and use those new skills to make your blog more visually appealing.

#7: Meet People

Skype video of three people.

By meet people, I do not mean do things that are crazy and record it on video.

But do as I say, not as a I do.

I like it when it goes more like this: meeting people and talking their ears off and asking them way too personal questions right off the bat and listening to all their deep stories and laughing really hard when I end up talking for at least a minute with a large smear of garlic truffle aioli across my face.

This has been a huge source of encouragement and a fun element of travel for us over this last year. We've met lots of people at the conferences and events that we've been traveling around to that have been so inspirational and kind and incredibly nice to us. But even beyond that, we've had more than a handful of people pursue us in order to get together when they see we are in their city. This is possibly the coolest thing ever. These real person connections are so energizing for me and I carry the simplest little conversations with me when I go back to doing my normal work at home alone in the basement. Real life friends fill my bloggy little heart up to the top.

Three people smiling.

The takeaway: Real people are everything. Behind the terms readers, pageviews, fans, and likes, there are very real people who are connected to you and your work. Take time to connect with and be inspired by blogging peers, readers, or heroes to help you keep real people and real relationships and trust with a capital T at the forefront of your blog.

#8: Take Or Teach a Class Or Workshop

Twitter photo.

We've been really fortunate that most of our travel this fall was already scheduled around classes, workshops, and conferences. We attended some and we taught at others, but mostly the benefit of this is that it not only gets you out and into the world as a traveler but also as a learner.

The takeaway: Before you are traveling somewhere, look up classes in that city that would be within your niche. Also possible and fun: plan your travel around courses that you find that look appealing. If you have a large enough following and teaching is one of your thangs, schedule a time and a place to teach a workshop as you go through various cities.

#9: Gather Content

Children around a woman.

Travel is theeee best time to simultaneously have fun and experience the world while gathering up some awesome stories and unique, meaningful content for your blog. This was so true for us in the Philippines - we were experiencing some really amazing things and going through a lot of personal change while also being exposed to the stories and realities of other people - most of which was content that would be shared to make this little blog a better, richer, more authentic place.

On-topic content is really important (FOOOOOD), but for me and since Skillful Cook is a highly personal blog, straying from the norm for one or two posts to share bits and pieces of the big wide world with my readers is really fun and engaging for everyone. I think about blogs that I follow and how much I enjoy reading about their travels - stories, experiences, recommendations - and that always encourages me to share just one more picture or one more misadventure story from our travels here on Skillful Cook. These are the things that make life (and a blog!) interesting IMHO. <- there it is again. Too soon?

The takeaway: Travel makes your life more fun, and a fun life will generate exciting content for your blog. Share your pictures, your videos, and your stories of your travels, especially if your blog has a strong personal element to it.

#10: Rest and Relax and Enjoy

Sunset on the ocean.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the spiral of DO EVERYTHING BETTER ALL THE TIME when you are a blogger. But as I read (ahem, listen to) The Happiness Advantage, and as I think about the seasons of my blog that have been most successful, I can clearly see that me as a happy blogger is me as a better blogger. And resting, relaxing, and taking in all the joys of a new place is something that makes me happy.

The takeaway: Take time to just BE. As you travel, do things that make you happy: morning walks, lazy breakfasts, sitting out in the sun, long dinners (anyone want to vacay with me?). Being happy not only feels good for your heart and soul, but it's also a powerful strategy for making you a more effective and just generally enjoyable blogger.

It's been an awesome season of travel, but to tell you the truth, I'm not too horribly sad that it's coming to an end. I'm ready to be at home, cooking in my own kitchen ehmmm basement, running around my own familiar lake paths, and watching The Office while sitting on my own extra soft spot on the couch.

And besides, Minnesota winter is coming which means it's time to hunker down with a big pot-o-chicken-wild-rice-soup. ♡ Until next time, Travel Adventures!

Filed Under: Life

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love the hotspot! I have (aka my fiance has and I steal) the one that’s a separate piece of hardware. He just looks at me condescendingly when I demand that someone invents one that works while the plane is actually in flight.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love this post! As an aspiring blogger, this is great! I love the books on tape suggestion. I do this all the time since I have a small child it is hard to find time to sit and read but book on tape and perfect! I can do the dishes and get those gears in my head spinning. I also hate actually reading non fiction but don’t mind listen to it on tape. Thanks for the book suggestions!!!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Haha, I read this whole post and really enjoyed but what I can’t get my head around is how you just like non-fiction. I love it….documentaries on PBS….put me in coach, I’m ready to play! And my husband is a gym teacher, he hates this stuff and yet valiantly watches Manor House & infomercials with all the old people for Viking River Cruises with me. Because, ya know, that’s traveling too and I’ll be working on my Viking River Cruise. Wifi here I come on board.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Oh man. I just can’t do it. So, so boring for me. Bjork devours nonfiction books like they’re… something good. But I just struggle with it slash fall asleep. 🙂

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          I bet if it’s a topic you adore you’ll eat it up. If I have found a new and exciting topic I soak it up in all media. If it sucks you can just press a button. Brilliant!!! Recently I found on Super Brain Yoga (not like real yoga, my level of yoga is Netflix and snacks). I really enjoyed this article and if you’re ever in Wilmington, NC I’d love to have dinner with you both!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love these types of posts!!! I’ve been dealing with the whole issue of traveling and blogging because I’m traveling almost every other weekend (or more) since my bf lives about 3-4 hours away. Luckily I’ve recently realized what a great opportunity it is for new experiences (hello, NYC!) and I’ve started getting him involved in the photos and recipe development while I’m there. It makes it a lot less of a solo endeavor and a lot more fun! Added bonus: taste tester and hand model built in!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    #3 My mind was officially blown when I discovered on the train one day when I discovered hotspot on my iPhone. I now get so much work done there!

    #4 I also to the Instagram one. I actually get so many more followers as a result.

    #5 I don’t really podcast traveling, it is what I listen to when I’m cleaning. Are you listening to Serial yet? If you’re not, you really really need to!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love it! Though working full-time often means I don’t have enough time during the average day to work on my blog, so traveling compounds my difficulties. But there are definitely some tips that are usable for everyone here… I totally agree with the “real-time” posting rather than having everything scheduled! 🙂

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ha! Love that pictures of US on your blog. I’m dying over here 🙂 That’s pretty surreal for this longtime fan. Thanks again for being awesome and generous, real and kind. Keep inspiring!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post! Super helpful and well timed for me – taking a trip in a month, weeeee. And in case anyone with an Android is wondering, you can use those as hot spots too if you have version 2.2 or higher on most devices 🙂

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post, Lindsay! You had me giggling, especially at the fact that you stop to tell Bjork about the “most interesting” part of a book. I do the same thing!

    I just took a trip to Europe recently and didn’t bring my DSLR and I soooo regret it. The pictures still turned out good but not near as good as they could have.

    And I would have loved to work on the plane and in the car but my battery dies too quickly. Do you bring something to o plug into for power?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I must be an auditory or social learner or something because it’s almost like it’s not enjoyable for me unless I can tell someone. Curse of the talking for Bjork. 🙂

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love your tips and ideas – and as always – your great attitude and helpful spirit! I do have to admit – that when we went to the beach a few weeks ago and when my son got married and I was hosting the rehearsal dinner and the reception – I did schedule everything ahead – because I knew my head wouldn’t be in the blog game during those time. I have found that when I post too far ahead, the facts are off (I wrote about “something that is coming up” and by the time the blog posted – the something had already happened). Anyway, thanks! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks for the nice comment Wendi! I think that was really wise not to try to live post during such an important event!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh my gosh — I’ve totally been in that elevator (I think) — San Francisco – Hotel Carlton? Or many lots of places use that…. either way thanks for the memories, and tips! 🙂

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you! Thank you for writing this post. My husband and I just started our food blog a week ago, but he still has to travel a ton for work! I always thought that once I started the food blog, it would be too hard to keep traveling with him AND say on top of things. I really enjoyed this post, and made me realize that I can keep up with the food blog, so I don’t miss out on any traveling adventures!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love this post!

    Seeing that video of us trying to take a picture will forever make me smile, it was so fantastic to meet you and Bjork 🙂

    Love these tips for building your blog while traveling. Something I’ve found that has helped grow my blog when I’m traveling is to have some business cards on me (even if sometimes I only use them to enter drawings for a free coffee lol), they help me when I’m trying to explain to someone what my food blog even is. I also like collecting business cards, I’m like a business card hoarder lol, but then I come home and can connect with people I’ve met or businesses I’ve visited 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yes, Phi! Thank you for bringing that up. Obviously I can’t include that as one of my tips yet since we have been conferencing around like newbies with NO CARDS. I meet people who have been blogging for three months and they have cards. And four years later… yeah. We need to get on that. It was so so fun to meet you! You are just delightful.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    YES to this! I always kind of wonder how much I should do in advance/real time. Also, Phi is one of my real life/blog life friends and that video is the cutest and shows how funny you guys are!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    These are all great tips. I took the entire 10 days off while I was away in France recently. I thought I’d squeeze in a few updates while I was away, but that just didn’t happen. I try to schedule a couple posts when I’m gone but I struggle with that, too.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      But that’s okay sometimes, right? Otherwise we never allow ourselves to have a vacation. I think France is a REALLY good time to disconnect! 🙂 Hope you loved your trip!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love this post! I’m about to order some of those audio books asap 🙂

    It was so nice to meet you in person! The realness is SO appreciated! You guys inspire so many bloggers. And I’m sure non-bloggers too 🙂

    Hope to catch up with you guys at another conference soon!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post Lindsay! On my wish list: sitting down with you in person, like for a month or so, to soak in your wisdom. . . How to build my blog while teaching full time, organizing and caring for my photography clients, staying organized, did I mention staying organized? Thanks for the book suggestions today too. Looks like this gal is going to replace wee hours in the evening with some brain-inspiring books. Always great to read your content, and always great information.

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay! thanks for these invaluable tips on how to maximize a holiday!! I try to write my posts in advance of any holidays and schedule them to go out when I’m vacationing, but in your words, sometimes it is nicer to write to our readers real-time! Like, how am I supposed to know what I’ll be thinking in 2 weeks??

    Anyway, great tips, especially loved the tip on editing photos and writing posts on airplanes!! And the hotspot one is gret – i used that when my wifi was down at home but thankfully had my iphone to help me out!

    sending plenty of love!! glad you guys had so much fun!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks you two for sharing those tips! You’re right about the downtime for sure (ie on the plane) as it’s a great opportunity to get a lot done. Taking some time to relax, have fun, and enjoy your trip is definitely one of the most important of your tips. You gotta schedule some time for you to enjoy! Glad you both experienced some of the West Coast. Have a good one!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    I agree 100% re working on the plane! Writing is one of the only things that actually make hours in the air fly by (HA) for me. Well, that and endless puzzle games — but those are a little less productive!

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    That’s exactly how I see travel. While I would love to schedule ahead everything usually it doesn’t happen. I do a lot of writing work while disconnected. Unfortunately my laptops display colours are really off. So I try to edit pictures in advance on the desktop.
    And you, Lindsay were actually an inspiration to blog about our trips. Before I thought that would go too far of the food theme, but travel posts and photos are usually quite popular.