5 Reasons Why I’ll Never Be a GOOD Travel Blogger (& Why I’m OK with That)

Friday, January 22nd, 2016 | Posted under Blogging, Personal

Am I starting off the New Year on a negative note? You tell me….

That’s not really the best title of a blog post for a blogger who has been gone for a very long time, is it? I realize this, but I feel like I need to be truthful. I’m never going to be a “cool” or “good” travel blogger. I’ve thought about this post, and I think it will be rather therapeutic for me to just be honest with you all. I’m never going to be a GOOD travel blogger. As I make the slow march towards middle age (I am much, much closer to 40 than I am to 30 these days), I think I am much more secure about not  giving a f&*k. Does that make sense? Since my mind works in lists, I’m going to whip out this list below.

1. I’m usually NOT traveling. Many travel bloggers are always on the road, are expats, or are just about going somewhere and anywhere constantly. Even in my pre-child days (I’ll get to that part of my life, don’t you worry about that), I usually went just to 1 to 2 international destinations per year with domestic side trips here are there for varying lengths of time. I gotts a job, y’all; and I’ve got to battle this horrible U.S. work culture that doesn’t allow for much time off to go much of anywhere. Husband J (remember him?) and I have no current plans to be expats, so this means that I am in New York City more than I’m not. Sometimes I feel like this makes this blog not as good as others, but I’d rather go in-depth into a country on this blog life rather than tick off countries. At least you know where I am most of the time.

2. I have a child. While there is a whole family travel blog community out there (I’m still discovering it), there is often a anti-child/family undercurrent in some (not all, just some) travel blogging and travel communities. There’s often this sense that having a child makes you somehow less “evolved” or less committed to travel. I’m not going to sugar coat my travel experiences with Toddler C, but I don’t think the fact that we’ve chosen to expand our family means that I don’t love travel. I get the desire to be free from commitments and attachments so that I can travel non-stop all the time, but I don’t get to indulge them at this point in my life. That doesn’t mean that my life or my travel is any less interesting.

Also Husband J and I live away from our families, and we’re trying to be the best parents we can be. That means Toddler C has to come first sometimes and that may mean that we don’t go on a trip at all, or we decide on certain locations over others because she has joined our travel brigade. I’m cool with that. It just means that I’m not going to be telling you about the most “authentic” of places, how to survive on $18 per day in western Europe, or about the best nightlife spots (although did I ever blog about that? Not really.). Besides, I think she’s cute, and I like hanging out with her.

4. I’m Black. Woo chile! I done did it! Yes. I went there. This is not about why I don’t travel, but I think it’s a factor in why my blog was not as big as others even at its height. Since I started this blog over 5 years ago, there are so many more Black bloggers talking and writing about travel. I’m so happy to see them!!! Yay!!!  That said, the upper echelons of this genre and still very lily, and folks that are doing good work don’t get the credit they can or should. Bloggers seems to stick to the same circles of people who look like them and that can hurt others ability to get opportunities to grow their blog.  Again, this is changing, but I still find many of my fellow travelers to be surprised that I have gone where I have. As one of my favorite travel groups would say: “We out here!”, and we’re writing about it.

5.  In my professional life, I do things that have nothing to do with travel, blogging, or travel blogging. I feel very lucky that my job has lots of meaning to me. When I was younger, I decided that I wanted to do the most good for the most people that I could. I had been given a lot of great educational opportunities and I’ve always wanted to give back and help others. I do have a bit of creative saide but the “do gooder” in me always seems to win out. That means those “heal the world” tendencies often beat out travel when I’m searching for things to do professionally and sometimes in my free time. I don’t know if this will stay the same, but it is where I am now. That said, does this doesn’t mean that my latent desire to be the Black female Anthony Bourdain hasn’t gone away. I just plan a little differently.

5. Blogging is a habit, and I’m out of practice. This one is just me being honest. When you blog regularly it becomes a part of your life. It’s like exercising. Once you’ve started you need to keep it up. Being an engaged writer takes work, and I’m so much more of out practice. It takes a lot more of me to produce a good post these days, so please bear with me.

Anyhoo, these are where my thoughts are right now…I’m still here chugging away. 🙂 Stay with me!

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Yo!

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 | Posted under Blogging, Family and Friends

Hmmm…..

Baby C turns six weeks tomorrow (already!), and I have to say that it’s been a combination of mesmerizing, tiring and the steepest learning curve ever.  She has grown from the little peanut she was at birth to this full fledged baby. Each night after being with her approximately 12 hours per day by myself (Husband J works long hours), I often don’t have energy to even keep my eyes open much less whip out my laptop. Being a parent to a newborn can be a little rough. Someone asked me how I was doing, and I said that my life has been taken over by an 8 pound person with no teeth and a strong set of lungs.

I’m getting to the point where I need to start doing fun little things for myself, and blogging is definitely one of those things. I think I realized today that I am going to have to take charge of my time a little more (well, to the extent you can with a young baby). Let’s hope that I can do that.

I’ve also been feeling guilty that I haven’t traveled anywhere new yet that I can feature on this blog. Do you guys mind that I still have tons to write about India, haven’t even scratched the surface of Iceland and barely talked about food in Argentina? I have so much to share, but I guess I feel a tad inadequate because I have nowhere new and exciting to share with you.

I will say that Husband J and I are thinking about our first trip with Baby C for later this year. I’m toying with how ambitious we’ll be with a baby, but that’s for another post.

This was just to say hi and to say that I am thinking of all of you.

How are YOU doing?

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Blogging While Brown 2012 – 5 Reasons I’m Happy I Went

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 | Posted under Blogging, Reviews

This past weekend I went to a blogging conference called Blogging While Brown. I have to say that I couldn’t have had a better experience for my first blogging conference.

I should mention some background. While I’ve got a lot of “blogging friends” or “internet friends” (as Husband J says), most of my real life friends have no interest in social media (outside of Facebook), don’t understand Twitter and think my blogging is my cute little activity. 🙂 I have to admit that I was looking forward to the conference because I’d be surrounded by people who understand what it’s like being an internet content creator (it ain’t easy!).

While I’ve been able to meet a variety of great bloggers, in my past blogging life I’ve often felt like the only one or one of very few Black or Latino bloggers writing about certain topics (like travel!).  That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but I believe in the fact that a variety of perspectives and visual representations of diverse people should be present in all forms of media including emerging media like blogs. My choice to go to Blogging While Brown (“BWB”) was not only about learning more about blogging in general but also to get inspired about my role as a blogger of color in an online world that often sidelines us (just my opinion, of course).

Since I often think in lists, here are 5 reasons why I’m glad I went to Blogging While Brown:

1. I met a really nice down to earth, friendly, diverse group of bloggers.
I’ve not always heard the best things about blogging conferences. I’ve often heard from some people that the atmosphere can be cliquey, impersonal or just downright unwelcoming. I have to say that I was able to meet so many cool people this past weekend. The conference was small enough that I could have multiple conversations with people throughout the weekend but large enough that I still didn’t meet everyone. Bloggers came from all over the country (shout out to my new Jacksonville, Florida  friends!) and wrote about everything from relationships and beauty to health and politics. Some folks had been blogging or writing professionally for years, and others were new to blogging. It was nice to get perspectives from all levels of experience.

Me with Erika Kendall of A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, a great blog about health, exercise, body image, food justice, weight loss and more. Girlfriend has over 72,000 Facebook followers! Talk about reach!!

2. Many of the well-known and successful bloggers openly shared themselves and their experiences. 
I’ve often heard that when some bloggers hit “the big time”, they are not so friendly at conferences like these. Yet at Blogging While Brown, many of the the most successful bloggers with well-known sites were very friendly and accessible. Case in point, one of my favorite bloggers, Patrice Grell Yursik, of the blog Afrobella.

I was such a fan girl when I met Patrice. I’m very happy that she posed with me. 

I started reading Patrice’s blog years ago when looking for resources for my wedding blog for Black women with natural hair (i.e., not chemically straightened). While not the first natural hair blogger, she’s really the first in that niche to translate her blogging into bigger opportunities. She has partnered with M.A.C. to produce her own shade of lipgloss and has also live tweeted from the red carpet at the Oscars. She’s really taken her blogging to another level. She was so nice to me, super down-to-earth and really honest about her experiences during her panel (I missed it, but followed the tweets on the BWB conference hashtag).

3. I learned new things that will help move me forward as a blogger (and even some things I didn’t think I needed).
I thought I knew a little about SEO, but I learned a ton about it from Luvvie Ajayi’s SEO 101 panel. The panel on blogging and brands was probably the most helpful for the future, and I really liked the honesty of the panelists representing advertising and public relations firms (Big shout out to Jennifer Polk, VP at Edelman Digital, for our nice talk during the conference). Moral of the story for that branding panel: be genuine, honest, and ethical when dealing with public relations agencies and brands. I’ll probably never want to publish a book (just being honest), but I thought many of the issues discussed during that panel were important in understanding how to export your blog to another medium. I would have loved a TV panel that talked about more than television news because I think many bloggers can become more than guest talking heads (TV hosts maybe?).


The “Your Personal Brand: It actually IS all about You” panelists from left to right: Adria Richards, Scott Hanselman, and Luvvie Ajayi 

4. The conference paid attention to important social justice issues. While many conferences focus on monetization, branding and content creation, I really did appreciate the fact that the conference emphasized the importance of blogging in moving forward social issues and alternative narratives. From addressing AIDS to community organizing, the conference tackled subjects that are affecting communities of color. I’m working on an online project that has nothing to do with travel or food, and this inspired me to move it forward because the conference reinforced to me the need for vital socially conscious and relevant information online.

5. I never knew what to expect from the engaging speakers and my fellow attendees.
From the hysterical presentation by Scott Hanselman and Luvvue Ajayi, which had me rolling on the floor to the Twitter haterade and in person interrogation of the founder of Media Takeout, Fred Mwangaguhunga, there were definitely parts of the conference that kept you on your toes and laughing in your seat.

Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas. I check out this site from time to time and enjoy the insight. I LURVED his T-shirt. 🙂

While the conference was great, here are some things I would change:

1. It’s not cheap. Although the conference was valuable, it was not cheap ($250 before late registration). Most blog conferences aren’t though, so I can’t say that BWB was out there in terms of costs. They did include breakfast and lunch both days though. Speaking of food….

2. I’d love more healthy food options for breakfast and lunch. A crudite plate wouldn’t be so bad. Some fruit? Help a sister out. 😉

3. I would have liked to know what speakers were going to discuss in the panels beforehand. While I didn’t need a full outline, sometimes knowing what was going to be discussed would have helped me make a decision about breakout sessions beforehand.

I have a feeling the conference will be farther away next year, and I hope that I’ll be able to attend again some time in the future. I was definitely re-inspired and felt energized about blogging in a way that I haven’t been in a long time. At the very least, the conference made me understand my little voice here is important, even if I don’t have the hits, Facebook likes and Twitter followers that others say I should to feel important and valued as a blogger.

A big thanks to my fellow conference attendees and to the conference organizers for a stimulating and fun weekend.

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Hiatus

Thursday, April 19th, 2012 | Posted under Blogging, Personal

Hey, y’all!

I know that I came back, threw up a teaser full of Argentina pics, and then haven’t posted all week. I’m taking a little bit of a blogging hiatus. This is actually all my fault because I just didn’t plan well enough in advance to make sure that posts would be coming forth as I make some moves. Don’t worry; things are good. 🙂 I’ll hopefully be popping up here and there in the next few weeks, and hopefully with some surprises. Allow me a few moments to be cryptic.
I hope all is well where you are.
Love,
T

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Uencounter.Me

Friday, March 23rd, 2012 | Posted under Blogging, Featured On, Travel General

Hey, all!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed it yet, but there is a big, orange badge on the left side of the blog now. Yours truly is now a featured blogger on a site called Uencounter.me. What’s that? Well, it’s a new site that is essentially a virtual pin map with a social twist.
I love maps. Sometimes I just look at them for the fun of it. You all should be used to my dorkiness by now, so this should not come as a surprise. I used to have a great map connected to my personal Facebook profile, but after one of the many Facebook changes, it went away. Now I’ve got one that won’t go away. I can pin many of the places, I’ve been with descriptions of what happened there and who accompanied me. I can follow others who are pinning the places they’ve been or lived and even join discussion boards.

I think Uencounter.me is such as great idea is because it’s not just a map but a way of connecting to people. There is a section where you can search for your long lost friend from camp or that person you met while traveling years ago. Plus, there is also a section to THANK people. Imagine getting a chance to say thank you for the first time (or even the second time) to someone who’s touched your life. Essentially, Uencounter.me is a way of virtually connecting through the places we’ve been.
If you click on the badge, it will take you to my pins, which have links to my blog posts. It may look like I’ve only got a few, but if you narrow the map to very local and specific places, you’ll see that I’ve got about 40 pins up so far with more to come. Feel free to check me out there, and become one of my “links.” I warn you that Uencounter. me can become addictive. 🙂
Happy Weekend!


P.S. Disclaimer: I have received no funds to be a Uencounter.me featured blogger or write this post. The day I start making funds off of blogging, I’m going to write it in big, bold letters because I will be soooo happy. 🙂

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