The evolution of Travel Writing during the digital age
Ever wondered what life was like before we had 24/7 hour access to social media and the internet?
… I know, it’s a scary (and hard to imagine) thought!
It’s not just our lives that the internet has affected. The world of travel writing would be very different too! Interested in finding out how? Then read on!….
It has made travel stories become available a lot quicker!
The fact is that since the digital age evolution, life just moves a whole lot quicker. We have access to so much information in the world through just a few instant clicks on our phones — and travel journalism is no differnet.
A self-proclaimed ‘vagabonder’ and travel writer, Rolf Potts, has become one of the biggest contemporary travel writers. Potts owes the genesis of his writing career to the internet and as such, views it as a positive development for the travel genre.
In an interview with travel writing website Matador Network, he said the internet “allows an immediacy of reportage” which can’t be garnered from print media: “some of the stories I’ve written for Salon and Slate went live just hours after I lived them.”
“Print is dying!”
“Producing free content on the internet is devaluing the work of the paid journalist.”
… These are the familiar tales that I’m sure we’ve all heard of. Thanks to the internet, traditional methods of newspapers are no where near as popular as they used to be.
A recent report by statistica revealed that “National newspaper circulation in the UK has been declining for years and fell below one million copies in 2020”
Travel has become so much more accessible!
Much like we can’t imagine a non-digital world, for most of us, it’s also hard to imagine a time in which travelling wasn’t possible. Much like the digital age, travelling has become more accessible to everyone. Previously, it was a more expensive and privilaged experience that the general public could not afford to do. Now travel is super accessable.
“Trips were few and far between, and were most certainly not available to all. Now that travel is super accessible — and relatively affordable — the majority of us are seeing the world in one way or another each and every year, and we are documenting our travels as well... The advent of photo sharing and blogging means that any traveler can instantly share their experiences with their audiences at home.”
Agustinus Wibowo, a leading Indonesian travel writer, believes that travel writers are changing their ways in order to adapt to the way travelers — and their travels — have changed:
Don Georg, editor-at-large and books editor of National Geographic Traveler explained that
“The world is constantly changing, the way we travel is changing and the travel writers are changing too. We look back at travel writing in the 19th century, and it’s more about the destinations and people’s experiences in undiscovered lands. Nowadays, nearly everyone can travel. There are so many budget airlines and it’s easier to get a passport. If a travel writer wants to insist on being the first person to visit a place, they won’t survive. Nowhere is untouched.”
Jessica Crisps explains that “the bar has never been set higher, with readers often being as well travelled as the writers and editors and having the ability to write and photograph their experiences“
Duncan Craig from Lonely Planet Traveller also added “outlets must strive to prove their expertise and sustain their relevance. That means digging deeper into a destination and its characters; looking for the story behind the tourist façade; striving to provide the most relevant practical information; and presenting places and stories in a new or imaginative manner,”
iPhone apps and Google has made the whole experience easier!
I very much doubt you have ever booked a trip without googling the reviews first. It’s the same for travel journalists! Thanks to the internet, travel journalists are able to plan their trips easie.
“Apps and the internet are great for functionalityand interaction, while long-form journalism is a reading experience. The digital world can provide information, solve problems and assist with trip planning, print can add depth to this by providing the stories and experiences beyond the basics. It can invoke the imagination and allow readers to escape.”
Almost anyone can be a travel influencer!
I will begin by asking two very straight forward questions…
- Have you ever gone on holiday and not taken a photo?
2. Have you ever gone on holiday and not uploaded a single photo on to your social media account?
I can bet that 99.9% of you have never gone on holiday without taking a photo, and probably sharing it on social media.
Who wouldnt want to share their amazing time with family and friends back home? But without realising it, by doing so, you’re changing the world of travel journalism!
In the past, most travel journalism was created by established and qualified travel writers or journalists. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, smart phones and social media, almost anyone has the ability to share their travel experiences with the world.
Jessica Crsisp explains that:
Once regarded as a highly prestigious career where one could travel the world and write beautifully crafted prose about far flung corners of the world, travel journalism has undeniably changed over the last few decades.
Fancy being a part time travel vlogger? Sure!
Fancy creating an online blog and writing about your trip? Why not!
Want to do an Instagram live video from India? Eaaaaasy.
You get the point! Basically anyone, anywhere can now be travel writers, vloggers or bloggers, and this is all down to the evolution of the digital age!
So next time you innocently take a photo of your picture perfect beach view and upload it to your instagram story, you’re contributing to changing the travel journalism industry!
Who knows what weird and wonderful technological developements we’ll have this time in 5 years, will there be new ways of creating and sharing travel content with the world? — It’s an exciting thought!
Have you got a prediciton for what the future world of travel journalism and / or digital technologies will involve?
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, let me know by tweeting me @ellabrown_news, or in the comments below!