Travel Blogging vs Travel Journalism: Knowing the Difference

Paris Travel Writing

There is a large debate going on within the travel industry currently on whether or not travel blogging carries the same weight as actual travel journalism. I’ve recently been chatting with some industry experts about their views on how they see travel blogging and its legitimacy as a medium. For me, this was interesting because I was originally trained as a writer and journalist before I got into travel blogging. Here are some perspectives I’ve found from talking with some experts.

Travel blogging is not considered travel writing.

Sorry, guys. But as more and more people start a travel blog, most without any sort of training as writers, the big guys are starting to disregard blogging as a lesser form of journalism. Anyone can come up with a travel blog in an afternoon—it takes years of work to be recognized by major publications. Travel blogging is a good way to start a travel writing career, but more and more tourism companies and tourism boards are starting to recognize that blogging isn’t where they should be putting their money.

But that doesn’t mean that travel blogging doesn’t influence the industry.

In fact, one of the challenges facing the bigger publications is appealing to readers who might be travel bloggers. They also get many of their ideas from what it going on within the travel blogging community. Travel bloggers are now the voice—the bigger publications are just the megaphone used to spread the news. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Where does journalism fit in?

Even those with no training can still take a more journalistic approach to their writing. I had a conversation with a girl on the travel group Girls vs Globe on Facebook. She mentioned, “I’m not writing to show that my life is fantastic and that I don’t face any challenges while traveling. In fact, I want to show the opposite—that traveling should raise some questions about our world and how to help other travelers to navigate it.”

I agree. Journalism doesn’t have to be a conglomerate of facts and statistics in order to make an impact. It’s taking the typical travel blogging structure and pushing it a bit further to create some conversation. There are some great things about travel, and there are some pretty terrible realities we have to face, as well.

What it comes down to is whether or not the travel blogging community wants to be taken seriously or not. There will always be the lower-quality blogs along with the high-quality. But in order for the community to be taken more seriously (and to receive more benefits down the line), we need to take a new approach that with fit with the journalism model by providing useful and in-depth information.

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander

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26 thoughts on “Travel Blogging vs Travel Journalism: Knowing the Difference

      1. Love this post Alex, especially since we all have so many challenges while travelling. Excited to read more and see your path as a travel writer unravel!

  1. This is such an insightful post! What I like about travel blogs that is something that is a bit harder to come by in travel journalism is that it’s less catered to what the market/industry wants. I use people’s personal experiences that I find in travel blogs in addition to the opinions guidebooks and “official” articles (journalism I guess) when I am planning a trip somewhere. I like that travel blogs provide a great amount of detail in excess that you don’t really find anywhere else. It’s great for travel inspiration and feeding my wanderlust. Totally agree with everything you’ve said — nice post.

  2. Really interesting – would have loved it to go on longer! For me travel blogging is a bit of a practice; I want to get into travel writing after university but it’s obviously such a competitive industry that I feel blogging is a good way to get some of your work out there – and it’s also really fun, and casual! Also such a great community on social media as well, what with travel twitter talks and that kind of thing. The trouble is, as you say, getting your voice heard amongst the multitude…

  3. This is a very interesting article. You are right, everyone and their dog can start a blog (and sometimes it feels like they have) and there is no quality control (or at least not a formal one), no entry barrier to make sure that the articles published have a certain standard. Bloggers often lack the formal training, compared to journalists for example. However, this has become true for many industries. People start careers that are not related to their field of study. Just think of programmers, consultants, business owners. Some of them fail and some of them are successful. But just because you have a degree or you call yourself a travel journalist and not a travel blogger, doesn’t make you any better at what you do. You need to learn what works and what doesn’t work, either through a formal education, or through workshops/reading, or maybe even through try and error. The way blogs are vetted is as follows: Your blog sucks, you won’t get any followers/readers unless you are willing to pay a lot of money for it. Just like in any industry, it takes time to make a name for yourself. You say that it takes travel writers a long time to establish themselves, yet the same can be said about travel bloggers. Most successful travel blogs have been around for many years and built their influence, one article at a time. You can only influence your own work. Do you want to build a reputation as a travel blogger or as a travel writer? Produce quality content and make a name for yourself. Building a reputation takes time, no matter what your job title is.

    Blogs, in my eyes, fill a different need for people. They show the experience of real people. We follow them, because we have similar interests and find their stories inspiring. The people and personalities behind the blog are what makes a blog successful. As a true journalist, you need to keep yourself out of the story as much as possible to stay objective. The opposite is true for bloggers. They are two different things and should be treated as such, because I think that a comparison just doesn’t make sense in this case. I also doubt that companies are becoming less interested in working with bloggers, because it is a very efficient Marketing method, simply because of the reach and longevity of some blog posts. An article in print has a lifetime of a few months, while blog posts can be seen for years to come. The success of a Marketing campaign depends on which methods are used to reach certain objectives. For some marketing objectives it makes sense to go with the traditional print advertisement/travel writing route, while for other objectives, it makes sense to use bloggers, vloggers or Instagram influencers. It doesn’t make sense, in my eyes, to paint everything with a broad brush. Companies use a variety of tools to get the word out and travel writers and travel bloggers are just two of many. But that doesn’t make one better than the other. It all depends on what you are trying to achieve!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I actually agree with you on a lot of points. I think you do need both bloggers and journalists, I just think the line needs to be a little more defined on which is which. There is a lot of confusion within the industry right now.

      I think that bloggers aren’t going to be ones who have to draw that line, either. I think it is going to have to be the travel industry who draws that line.

      We need both–blogs are entertaining and provide person experience. But quality writing should be celebrated too.

  4. We call ours just musings. True there will be difference in quality of travel blogs just as there are the same for large publications too. And what yardstick of standard do we apply to determine quality? As one of those “disruptive” technology/processes that is sweeping across industries, journalism may need a new definition too?

      1. No worries, it will have to play out over time. Look at the food blogs, not sure if they are giving the publications a run for their money too!

  5. This was really interesting to read. I think a big part of travel blogging can be regarded as a hobby for many people since there is no control over the content people post. I’m looking into both journalism and blogging, so this was a great post!

  6. Great post. I just read an interview with Paul Theroux where he was asked about someone’s comparison of his books to a travel blog. He was offended and said that he loathed blogs. The interview was in The Atlantic. Great question to ponder–is blogging literature?

    1. I hear you. Paul Theroux is one of my favorite writers–but he is that, a writer. I think there is a place for both blogging and travel journalism. Someday, maybe it will be easier to distinguish the two. Thanks for the comment and stopping by!

  7. As someone who literally just starting a travel blog, you’re definitley not wrong. When I first started travelling, blogging wasn’t really a thing, and then it took off.
    I’m not worried about the quality issue of blogs in general, mostly because due to the nature of humans as content consumers, the good ones continue to grow and the bad ones stagnate. They may still keep writing, but if no-one listens it doesn’t do much harm.
    I guess I agree with the girl you spoke to. I prefer to read about the good and the bad. The things to look out for. Blogging isn’t instagram, which seems far more about the “Isn’t my life perfect” kind of thing.

    I guess I’m hoping the blog my wife and I will be continuing with will be infromative and a bit of fun wth a little bit more prefessionlism ​​than the normal “Hey mum, guess where we are now” feel you get from a lot of blogs. It certainly isn’t Journalism though!

  8. Quite an interesting read! As a travel blogger, I have always had the intention to branch out to use my blogs as a portfolio and hopefully get some steady work as a travel writer or blogger for a company. I am hoping this is the right path for me.

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