So, you want to start a family travel blog? Here are my tips on what you need to get started
Travelling with kids excites, inspires and challenges you. You find it full of incredible moments that you want to share with the world, right? I get it. Those special travel moments with our kids can bring out the storyteller in anyone. But there is a bit more involved in becoming a family travel blogger than just grabbing the kids and swanning off on holiday.
So, what exactly do you need to start a travel blog?
Whether you want to start a travel blog simply to share your adventures with family and friends, to blog as a part-time hobby, or to make enough money through blogging to fund future adventures, here are my tops to tips for gearing up to start a family travel blog.
Baby steps to blogging
The first step to starting a blog is choosing a name that’s short, easy to spell and easy to remember, then registering it online with a domain company. But before you leap into that abyss, you’ll want to check if you can also register the name on social media – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tik Tok – which is a key component of any successful family travel blog.
Sign up for the free WordPress software – I highly recommend you use self-hosted WordPress.org to host your own site rather than WordPress.com which, though easier to start, gives you less freedom to develop and grow your site how you want. Then choose one of their free lightweight, user-friendly templates for your blog. Then you need to find a web host. There are hundreds of hosts out there for beginner bloggers that don’t charge an arm and a leg.
Don’t be afraid of getting it wrong when you first start out. I made loads of mistakes when I was first learning how to build a website. And eight years on, I’m still learning and evolving as a content creator.
Cameras for beginners
Good quality imagery is an essential element of any successful travel blog, and when family is involved, you’ll also be driven by a desire to capture all your kids’ travel memories. While I’m obviously a devotee of the written word, a single well-captured travel image can tell a powerful story and be enough to inspire someone to head on an epic adventure. So, make sure you do your blog, and the destinations you visit, justice by using the right gear for the job.
When it comes to camera equipment for family travel blogging, at a minimum you will need a decent camera body with a selection of lenses, or one great zoom lens that offers you a bit of wiggle room. You’ll also need a lightweight tripod and a Bluetooth remote so you can snap family portraits in front of those great wonders you explore.
The Olympus OMD E-M10 is a great beginner camera. Portable and lightweight for travel, it is the camera my son is honing his photography skills on. It also captures great video so doubles as a perfect vlogging camera for beginners, something Raff is keen to explore more of. Mirrorless and easy to use, the E-M10 offers excellent image quality and packs some great features including class-leading image stabilisation, a built-in flash, 1080/30p video, an excellent LCD screen and handy advanced photo modes. Raff carries two versatile lenses a 14-42 wide-angle to telephoto lens which is great for landscapes and portraits and a 14-150mm wide-angle to telephoto lens which gives him a bit more range in his photography. It has now been discontinued and replaced with the newer Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III.
But as things progress, he and you are going to want and need to add more gear to the mix.
Camera equipment for bloggers
Because photography plays a huge part on my blog and social media, I have built an essential travel photography kit that comes with me pretty much everywhere I go.
DSLR – Having lost my beloved Nikon D7200 to the bottom of a lake, I recently moved to a Nikon D7500 DSLR. It is just as comfortable and durable and offers all the things I loved in my old camera, like fast focus and processing speeds and beautiful images. The newer model also has an articulating touchscreen that can be repositioned using a hinge or pivot (which is extremely handy for filming video) plus Bluetooth connectivity, higher max ISO and faster continuous shooting.
LENSES – I have a collection of DSLR lenses that are like my children; I love them all and could never choose a favourite, but I always travel with the following three.
The Nikon Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 is my everyday lens. A 24-70mm lens should be a staple in every photography kit. Inspired by the human eye, it is a versatile lens that will capture everything from wide angle to close-up portraits without distortion, delivering gorgeously crisp images.
The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR is my beloved telephoto lens. While I am usually not a fan of lens with such a variable aperture lens (because they often distort at extreme ranges) this lens is amazing. It delivers flawless colour, crisp images and offers so much versatility that it is almost as important a part of my travel life as my passport. Given its size, this lens is moderately compact and shoots amazing landscapes, portraits, and distant subjects. I used mine on safari in South Africa and got incredible shots of everything from bugs that were inches away, to far off wild cats. I cannot even begin to tell you how much love I have for this lens.
My Nikon 35mm f/1.8G is the baby of my kit. While it is an awesome portrait lens, I use mine pretty much exclusively for food photography because of the gorgeous bokeh (that satisfying blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image) it delivers.
TRIPOD & MONOPOD – Depending on where I’m travelling, I pack either a monopod or tripod. The monopod is light and easy to pack and allows me to run around a bit more while still giving me support to hold my camera that little bit steadier, and reducing camera shake on videos. But if I’m planning on taking more low light photography or taking long exposure shots, my tripod joins me.
GOPRO – I won’t leave the house without my GoPro Hero8 (at least until I upgrade it to the Hero9). Tiny, lightweight and tough as nails, it is built to go where cameras shouldn’t, even the dreaded depths of my handbag. The GoPro’s ultra-wide angle allows me to shoot the most awesome creative shots, but it works just as well as a point and shoot. It has a great zoom feature that works in both video and photo modes. I always carry a GoPro 3 Way Monopod, which is a genius device that acts as an extended arm mount, short arm mount and tripod and a GoPro Handler – a floating grip. We also carry a wrist strap for swimming and a GoPro Chesty, which Raff loves to wear when he’s racing down black runs at his favourite ski resorts.
GIMBLE – As we venture more and more into video, our gimbal has become another essential to our photography kit. We simply lob our smartphone into a DJI’s Osmo Mobile to attain smooth cinematic quality videos.
MICROPHONE – We’ve been investing a fair bit of time into video lately and to improve the sound quality we’ve invested in a Rode Wireless Go wireless microphone system. Ideal for vlogging, it gives us easy wireless audio with a decent range so the kids can chatter away to the camera even if I’m far far away.
DRONE – The latest addition to our kit is a drone. While we’ve used them before for filming commercial travel content, we never had our own so finally decided it was time. Our DJI Mini 2 was purchased via click and collect from Ted’s Camera’s… exactly one day before the Sydney lockdown was announced, so it hasn’t yet been on any adventures. Watch this space.
MEMORY CARDS – I always start a trip with a new high storage capacity, high speed SD card in the SLR and microSD card for the GoPro, plus two spares for each. I’ve been caught short before and there’s nothing worse than missing a great shot while you’re busy scrolling through your images looking for ones to delete to make space.
STORAGE – Having felt the pain of faulty and broken flash cards and lost cameras too many times to count, I always carry a couple of 256b USB Flash drives to ensure I have an extra backup of my travel images on the go.
UNIVERSAL CHARGER – We never travel without a universal power adaptor because even with the best camera gear in the world isn’t much use if it runs out of battery.
Whatever gear you decide to get we recommend purchasing them at a reputable camera store to avoid grey market gear that has been imported outside of normal channels. Not only because grey market products may not be engineered to meet local safety standards, but because exchanges are difficult, and they don’t come with locally recognised warranty and support agreements.
While you don’t need to be Hemmingway to start a blog, it is important that your written content is useful at the very least. Most people reading blogs are looking for detailed, practical, and replicable advice from your personal perspective, not a Pulitzer Prize-worthy novel, so if you’re new to writing, use the same conversational tone you would in real life.
The most important element of travel writing, and something that’s frustratingly missing from so many travel blogs, is accuracy. Don’t skimp on facts and don’t just make stuff up to sound interesting. Your readers are not only spending their life savings following your advice, but they’re also taking their kids with them, so don’t talk about it if you didn’t do it and make sure the information you supply is correct! Check and double-check that you’re spelling place names correctly, that any directions you provide are accurate and that the places you write about live up to what you’re saying.
Starting a family travel blog is not simply a matter of “if I publish, they will come” because there’s a gazillion other content creators with the same idea. If your post is languishing somewhere on the 100th page of Google, no one is going to find it to read. Embrace SEO-friendly content creation from the start. There’s so much more to SEO friendly writing than I can share in a short post, so I simply recommend every beginner blogger does a course to find out to do it effectively.
Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Ted’s Camera’s, but all opinions are my own and all equipment mentioned was purchased at full cost.