Why Travel Blogging Isn’t Like Regular Blogging

This is the second article in my pre Blog World Expo series about blogging and the travel industry.

Yesterday I talked about travel writing vs travel blogging. Today I’m just going to talk about blogging. In particular, why travel blogging is different from blogging in other niches. I’m also going to be talking about blogging from the perspective of an independent blogger, not a newspaper that has blog or a corporate blog.

Most bloggers have read or are familiar with many of the blogging advice sites. The problem with most of them is that the information they provide is very generic and often comes from the perspective of someone who is in a very different niche than travel. Because their niche is different, the advice they give is often incomplete. Too many people in the travel niche follow the advice they give without giving thought to how their circumstances might be different and how that advice might have to be modified.

What I’d like to do in this article is spell out some of the ways in which the travel niche is unique and what you as a travel blogger should be aware of when managing your travel blog.


The potential audience for travel is enormous. Most people go on vacation and a large number of people engage in business travel. Travel is the #1 thing which people spend money on online (flight, hotel and car reservations). There are television channels devoted to travel, magazines and most every major newspaper in the world has a section at least once a week devoted to travel. Travel is big business.

You’d think that would be great news for travel blogs, right?

Yet, if you look what makes up the top 100 blogs, you will not find any sites devoted to travel. Zero. Nada. Gadling.com, which is owned AOL comes in at #219. Intelligent Travel, which is owned by National Geographic, comes in at #21,651. WorldHum.com, owned by the Travel Channel, comes in at #7,393. My blog is ranked at #20,860. Most of the top 100 consists of politics, technology, and entertainment. (Technorati ranks should be taken with a huge grain of salt, but I’m just using them for comparative purposes).

So what is the deal? Why does travel perform so poorly online when it does so well in traditional media?


Not much new happens in the world of travel. Not compared to what the popular blogs cover. There are always new things happening in technology, sports, gossip and politics. Look at the travel section of any newspaper and the article about Tahiti could easily have been written 10 years ago. Things just don’t change so there isn’t as much of an incentive for readers to follow a blog.

When people are searching for something travel related, they are usually searching for something specific. They want to book a flight, find out visa requirements, or something related to an upcoming trip. Plopping down on the couch and watching the Travel Channel is a different experience from taking the time to follow a blog. I can say from first hand experience the most people who find my site weren’t looking for it. They discover it by accident and then decide to follow. I get emails and tweets all the time from people who say, “Wow. I just found your site and what you are doing is so cool!” They weren’t looking for me, they just stumbled across me. I take that into consideration when marketing. I don’t try to be where people are looking because they aren’t looking. I try to be where people will find me by accident.


The biggest thing which really makes this niche difficult is all the big players travel blogs have to compete against. People look at a site like Problogger.net and marvel at Darren’s success. Indeed, his blog is successful, but that is because there are no blogging television channels he has to compete with. There are no magazine or major newspapers with blogging or internet marketing sections. Most of the people who have done well in this niche have no competition whatsoever from established media outlets. The only competition they have for mind share and in Google searches are with other independent bloggers.

In the world of travel, there are a bunch of huge names which suck up all the oxygen. They aren’t organized as blogs per se, but they still get indexed in Google all the same. Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Conde Nast, Fodor’s, the Travel Channel, and Frommers are all huge travel related media institutions that are online. On top of that throw in big internet players like AOL, BBC, CNN, MSNBC, About.com and Yahoo, and on top of that toss in the big travel portals like Trip Advisor, Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz and Kayak. Mix in the travel section of every major newspaper in the world, then finally add in the smaller online travel companies like Uptake and BootsNAll.

How do you think a travel blog is going to do against all of that when people are searching in Google? That isn’t even considering the fact that Google basically whitelists big media sites like National Geographic, CNN, and Conde Nast so they never have to worry about search engine optimization like most bloggers do. The deck is massively, massively stacked against the little guy in this business. An identical article on a travel blog will not be ranked as high as the exact same article in Lonely Planet, all things being equal.

Most of the people who are considered A-List bloggers are there because they are in niches which have no competition from large media outlets. (Technology, internet marketing, blogging, mommy blogging, making money online, etc)


Another unique thing about the travel niche is how totally different sites are grouped together. My site is pretty much a travelogue. A site like Chris Elliot’s is devoted to travel consumer affairs. The Cranky Flier deals with aviation. There are blogs dedicated to lost cost backpacking, travel gadgets, luxury travel, specific destinations, frequent flier programs, hotels, cruses, family travel, travel for women, and more. There isn’t a whole lot of overlap between them, but they are all get lumped together. Travel is a really big category.


The take away from all of this if you are a travel blogger is to not just blindly accept blogging wisdom without thinking about how it applies to you. Some advice is universal and some is not. Understand what you are up against. You have to be creative and really hustle to compete with the big boys.

D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station

World Heritage Site #85: The D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station
D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station: My 85th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for The D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station:

The D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station (Ir. D.F. Woudagemaal) at Lemmer in the province of Fryslân opened in 1920. It is exceptional as the largest and most powerful steam-driven installation for hydraulic purposes ever built, and one that is still successfully carrying out the function for which it was designed. It is a masterpiece of the work of Dutch hydraulic engineers and architects, whose significant contribution in this field is unchallenged. It was the largest and the technologically most advanced steam pumping station in the world at the time it was built, and it has remained so ever since.

The Ir. D.F. Woudagemaal, consisting of the pumping station with boiler house, chimney and coal storage depot, the inlet sluice at the Teroelsterkolk, the drainage canal (Afwateringskanaal), the outlet in front of the pumping station and at the inlet sluice, the sea dykes along the IJsselmeer with the pumping station itself functioning as a sea barrier, and the surrounding wide expanse of pasture lands has an outstanding value as a whole and is of high visual quality with respect to the landscape. The pumping station itself is a steam-driven installation to prevent flooding of the low-lying areas of Friesland.

The D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station Pumping Station can be thought of as the next generation of water management after the windmills in the Netherlands. Built in the 1920’s the pump still works and is used when the water levels are high in the spring (normal diesel pumps are now used). The equipment is in pristine condition, including the oil cans used to lubricate the moving parts.


D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station

The D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station in Lemmer, Friesland, Netherlands is a celebration of technology. It was named as a cultural site by UNESCO in 1998. This pumping station opened in 1920 and is the largest one ever built that continues to be operational until today. It also signals the highest point of representation that engineers and architects from Netherlands had contributed to protecting its people from the threats of water and flooding that has plagued the country for centuries.

This steam-powered pumping station was built to pump excess water out of Friesland, a province in Netherlands. It primarily run on coil since it was inaugurated but was converted into heavy fuel oil by 1967. The station has the capacity to pump up to 4,000 cubic meter of water per minute. Today, the pumping station is used to provide assistance to another existing pump in the region: J.L. Hooglandgemaal, should the water level in Friesland rise exceptionally high.

About the D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station

D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station

The D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station in Netherlands is made up of four double steam engines. These steam engines are paired with two powerful flywheels that drive eight centrifugal pumps. This is a complex work of engineering that was way ahead of its time. Indeed, necessity is the mother of invention. This could not be more true of Netherlands at a time wherein it is battling with flooding issues and the threat of overflowing water, specifically in the province of Friesland.

The steam pumping station is housed within a brick walled structure. Inside, the base is filled with multi-colored ceramic tiles while the pumping tools are attached on wooden panels that add a decorative element to the structure.

Since this steam pumping station begun its operation in 1920, the look and how it is operated has been unchanged until today. This makes the technology, which was developed ahead of its time, even more impressive. All of these are more than enough reasons to enlist the pumping station as a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Today, there is a visitor center on the site that re-tells the history of how the D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station came to be. There is also an interactive museum experience, which is great for kids!

How to Get Here

D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station

The D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station is a little out of the way. It is not something that you would normally pass by. Therefore, it takes some planning if you want to visit the site while in Netherlands.

The pumping station is located in Lemmer within the province of Friesland in Netherlands. If you are traveling from an international destination, you must take a flight to Amsterdam Airport. From the airport, you have three options to travel to Lemmer. You can do so via train, which takes about 2 to 3 hours of travel. You can also drive to Lemmer by yourself. Lastly, you can hire a taxi or minibus to take you there.

Not all of the pumping station is operational. Hence, it is open for tourists and visitors. In fact, regular tours are held at the site.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in The Netherlands.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 9:59 pm