What Makes a Good Travel Blog?

Working at National Geographic is an awesome learning experience, in which I’m constantly surrounded by real talent, sound wisdom, unique minds and artistic people (I love it).

Among the strong and creative team that I work with is one-of-a-kind internet princess Marilyn Terrell (@Marilyn_res), Chief Researcher at National Geographic Traveler and a host of many other things, like a mother to five children (and one squirrel). Marilyn makes sure every issue of the magazine stays 100% accurate and authentic, a responsibility that has taken her all across the infinite spans of the internet. Honestly, I don’t know anyone else in the world who knows the web like Marilyn knows it.

I really am quite lucky to work so closely with Marilyn, and she is one of the many behind-the-scenes people that keep my blog happy, tidy, and fresh.

This week I cornered Marilyn in her office and asked her to share some of her knowledge on all things travel blogging. Unfortunately, neither of us could make it to TBEX this year, but if anyone knows the world of blogging, it’s Marilyn and bloggers everywhere can benefit from her intelligent insights.

For that reason, I urge you all to watch this full video clip. Here’s a few excerpts of Marilyn’s thoughts on blogging:

When traveling:

  • Look for the unusual
  • Be curious
  • Explore a place
  • Talk to people

When blogging:

  • Read great travel writing
  • Avoid jargon and cliche
  • Keep posts short
  • Write strong and startling headlines
  • Always include a great photo
  • Be committed (write regularly and for the long-term)

Marilyn also recommends some great travel blogs and bloggers to learn from and I can add my voice of support for all of the following:

David Farley (@DavidFarley), Pam Mandel (@NerdsEyeView), Jenna Schnuer (@JennaSchnuer), Spud Hilton (@SpudHilton), and Uncornered Market (@umarket)

If perchance there are any bloggers out there who live under a rock and have somehow failed to connect with Marilyn (impossible to conceive!), then you need to change that now. So follow @Marilyn_Res and enjoy the ride!

 . . . and thank you, Marilyn.


  1. a-jay
    June 16, 2012, 6:39 am

    I love your blogging advice! Actually, I think they can be helpful for bloggers in practically any area of expertise. Just change the first advice to “Read great writing in your area of interest”. :)

  2. Lauren, Ephemerratic
    June 16, 2012, 12:42 pm

    I’ll be interested to see if the “Keep posts short” advice lasts. With reader devices and Longreads style curation becoming more common, long and short seem to both work. But not lengths in between. I’m noodling on the idea of serialization: short posts that when read consecutively tell a larger story. I just have to experience something I can turn into the right story!

  3. Nancy D. Brown
    San Francisco, California
    June 16, 2012, 1:11 pm

    This is a postcard perfect, jaw dropping blog post about “What Makes a Good Travel Blog.” LOL!

    I met Marilyn Terrell first online via Twitter and had the pleasure of meeting her IRL (in real life) in San Francisco.
    She is not only intelligent and full of wisdom, she is truly a friendly person. You are lucky to work with her.

  4. Rob Schneider
    June 17, 2012, 7:16 am

    I’ve been writing a travel blog about Sihanoukville for about 2 years now. The reason for the blog was and is to serve as an antidote to the bazillions of backpacker blogs that say exactly the same thing about Sihanoukville and Cambodia in general. In my experience, middle-aged, middle class travelers are far more adventurous, inquisitive and open minded than backpackers, who seem to all huddle together in the same backpacker lodges and swap age-old rumors. I wish more older travelers would blog. Those who do are almost always the most interesting to read.

    Having lived under a rock for a long time, I wasn’t aware of Marilyn’s Twitter address. Now I’m following her.

  5. chris
    June 17, 2012, 11:54 am

    Excellent! Thanks for posting.

  6. Dick Jordan
    June 18, 2012, 12:42 pm

    To this I would add: 1) Write about what you find interesting and intriguing; 2) “short” is fine if it conveys the information the reader needs, but don’t eschew “long form” simply because it’s a blog post that you are writing; 3) break all the rules on blogging.

  7. Carol Ann Quibell
    June 18, 2012, 1:10 pm

    Excellent advice. If you are passionate about a place and write with your feelings your readers can see and appreciate it too.

  8. Lindsey Chandler
    June 19, 2012, 2:54 pm

    Thank you so much for your advice! I just started my own travel blog so this advice is very valuable to me!

  9. Linda McCormick
    June 20, 2012, 9:23 pm

    This must be the most useful blog post I’ve come across in ages – thank so much Marilyn, you legend, and Andrew!

  10. Shruthi Sethi
    June 21, 2012, 8:08 pm

    Great Site…Love to see this kind work.. If you are travel bird then only you can do work like this.

  11. Paige AllOvertheMap
    United States
    June 22, 2012, 7:53 pm

    Excellent advice. Any guidance on what makes for a strong and startling headline? I find this one of the most difficult parts of writing my blog.

  12. Ad-lib Traveller
    June 24, 2012, 3:26 am

    Great advice, having recently started my blog it is a work in progress but these are useful tips to take on board. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Judy & Maria's Travel
    July 5, 2012, 6:48 am

    Great post!! thanks you very much for all the information about traveling season!
    I found more information on this blog and those are too much precious!

  14. Rick Calvert
    July 6, 2012, 1:23 am

    Great tips Andrew and Marilyn! Maybe you guys can some and share some more tips with us at TBEX in Costa Brava this September 8)

  15. Bruce Murray
    July 6, 2012, 2:23 pm

    Hmmmm.. Let me get this right. We are reading a NatGeo post here. Marilyn keeps mentioning “writers”…. But she is on a video as she does it. The “writer” of this post decided not to communicate her thoughts in text, but in video.

    • Andrew Evans
      July 7, 2012, 10:42 am

      Actually the “writer” of this post is a man (me) and I wrote it with words. I asked Marilyn to speak on camera to answer other writers, but the subject is writing and the best way to use words online. Hope that clarifies things for you!

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    July 10, 2012, 5:14 am

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    October 19, 2012, 6:47 am

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  21. vasu
    October 19, 2012, 6:51 am

    I love your blogging advice! Actually, I think they can be helpful for bloggers in practically any area of expertise good

  22. delipkumar
    October 19, 2012, 6:57 am

    If you are travel bird then only you can do work like this?yes great travel

  23. Jennifer Crites
    November 21, 2012, 2:17 pm

    “talk to people.” That’s something I always do when writing for magazines, but somehow miss including in my travel blog. Thanks for the slap up the head :)

  24. Akshay
    December 19, 2012, 12:40 am

    Thank you very much for your blogging advice! and will follow :-)


  25. Allensharon
    December 31, 2012, 7:10 am

    Iam a travel bird i like this blog .What was the stuff is there its really awesome .Great blog Friend . :-)

  26. Deepu German
    December 31, 2012, 7:13 am

    It was a great advice for Bloggers.If we can fallow rules its really good.


  27. Tom Hardy
    February 21, 2013, 10:34 am

    Thank you for this info and the tips! My friend is wanting to start a travel blog, it would be awesome if you could swing by and give some pointers!

  28. Rachel
    Cambridge, UK
    March 19, 2013, 10:16 am

    I’ve just started my own travel blog:

    I found this quite informative and useful in planning where I’m going to go with my blog, thanks for posting!

  29. SWetha Jain
    November 30, 2013, 11:33 am

    The post was inspiring for me as I just started my blog, mytravellingblog.com

  30. Swainv
    January 11, 2014, 2:48 am

    This so spoke to me – I constantly oscillate between creating/consuming and feel guilty when my reading pile or my google reader backs up to the point of overload…I feel better after reading your post here. I guess a lot of us are in the same boat…I like your guidance to set aside time EVERY day to create though

  31. Caroline Achieng Otieno
    May 5, 2014, 4:47 pm

    Thank you for these great tips! I’ve recently begun a travel blog, and the difficult part is trying to edit and shorten my stories :-): http://www.africanahgirl.com

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    August 25, 2014, 4:00 am

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    November 21, 2014, 10:15 pm
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    November 21, 2014, 10:17 pm
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    February 9, 9:53 pm

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    March 7, 7:15 am


  39. Niloy Basak
    May 1, 9:35 am

    thanks for sharing ur advises.its important to check before planing to travel somewhere.

  40. Wanderer
    August 7, 2:49 am

    100 agree.


  41. Tony
    Halong Bay Vietnam
    August 19, 11:24 am

    HaLong ! A marvel of the earth erected towards the high skies. HaLong means ”Where the Dragon Descends into the Sea”
    Once upon a time..http://halongtourvietnam.org/

  42. Tutorials1927
    August 25, 5:29 am

    Another question. Do you think that writting in french is a disadvantage and I must do the effort to write in french and in english in my blog. I try to do it on twiter but it is easier because of the short texts.

  43. Jimmie
    September 23, 12:21 pm

    Halong bay is extremely beautiful like something out of a movie. The overnight stay option didn’t appeal to me much so I went on a day trip. 4 hours on the road from Hanoi then 4 hours cruising the bay, kayaking and touring the caves another 4 hours back to my hotel.

    I was quite exhausted by the travelling but getting back to my hotel and having guaranteed comfort as compared to staying overnight on a boat and not being able to sleep seemed to be a way better option. Don’t pay more than $50 for a day tour!! (http://gatchen.com)

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    November 22, 1:01 am

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