Travel Blogging Without Travel: A Decision Point

Highbrow philosophers might call it an existential crisis, but for travel bloggers like us, it’s just a decision point … and an opportunity to make a change. The Pandemic drags on, and even though stay-at-home orders have been eased, travel restrictions around the world haven’t. So the question facing us, as well as many other bloggers is: If you write a travel blog, and the world can’t travel – now what?

For the past few months our blog posts have focused on COVID-19. We lamented the Lockdown’s impact on daily life, and made predictions on the implications for travelers going forward. These posts were well received, but honestly, at this point we don’t know how much more helpful information we can add to the conversation. In the past we’ve talked about how we and the blog have changed, and now to that equation we can add how the times have changed. Which brings us back to our decision point: What’s next for Gallivance?

If there’s one thing we’ve had in abundance during our lockdown it’s time to think – and we put it to good use coming up with ideas for changes at Gallivance.

Our first step will be to broaden the scope of our content to include more non-travel topics. If you’ve followed our blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that many of our posts are inspired by our travels, but the topics aren’t exclusively about travel per se (like when we talk about cottages, stuff, and rocks!).

Since the beginning, the tagline for Gallivance has been “Travel Tales with a Twist,” because we’ve always tried to find unique angles on what we love about travel and other cultures. So a post on a new city might be about its food, architecture, art, or local beliefs – more culture than travel journal. We’ve also shared themes that speak strongly to us, such as simplifying and downsizing. And then there are the subjects that simply fascinate us because they’re exciting to explore and rewarding to write about: blogging, science, and nature.

So the crux is that we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing, but with more emphasis on a wider variety of topics that fascinate us. And our new tagline will help us announce this change: “Gallivance: Fascinated By The World.”

In addition to the expansion of content, we’re also making big changes to the look of the blog that we hope you’ll enjoy. More on that later, but if you’d like a preview check it out.

We’re excited about delving into some new areas, and hope you’ll like the expanded scope of the blog. And, as always, we appreciate that you continue to follow along and wish you good health.

Given the “New Normal,” have you been thinking about changes to your blog? We’d love to know.

Happy Trails,
James & Terri

Photo Credits: 1. Ashley Batz  2. Joe Mannarino  3. Diego PH  4. Paola Chaaya  5. Jamie Street 10.  30daysreplay (PR & Marketing)       

 

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

72 thoughts

  1. Chicken Kyiv, miss this dish eheh when this lock down and travel restrictions started I also found myself thinking about the logic of having a travel blog when we can’t travel… Anyway, maybe these are the best times to share our experiences, if no one can travels at least this way they can imagine and travel through our experiences 🙂 have a great day and greetings from Lisbon, PedroL

    1. Pedrol, sharing experiences is a good idea that will probably be adapted by lots of bloggers. We miss travel of course and hope to get back to it soon, but we always look forward to trying new things, and slightly changing the focus of the blog will be an interesting experiment. We’re hoping to be able to take car trips around the US sometime this summer. Do you see this as a possibility in Portugal and the EU? ~James

      1. Of course James, it’s more than the best time to try new things, somehow we found ourselves in a process that need new changes and tourism will evolve to something different now… Not only the way that we share our stories but also how we will enjoy the trips and the places, for example there will be a tendency to avoid accommodations with shared bathrooms… It’s something that we might start to discover when we go back to the road again! Regards, PedroL

  2. To write weekly posts, I’ve been going back and looking at places we saw before I began a blog and even before we used the Internet. We always believed interesting isn’t found only in the famous and fashionable – we boasted we preferred “back roads.” But this looking back has also shown that some of the most vivid memories are about individuals we met and particular details or places on a given trip.
    It will be interesting to see how your posts evolve.

    1. Ray, this is a good idea that will probably be used by many travel bloggers. I know that in our case there are places and attractions that we’ve seen in the past that haven’t made it onto the blog, so we’ll be doing the same sort of thing. I think that most travel bloggers are coming to the reality that this travel shutdown is going to last for a long time, so some sort of change is necessary. ~James

    1. Beth, thanks for being the first person with a positive comment about the new theme. The ideas and actual changeover have been in the works for a few weeks, so it’s good to finally go live. ~James

  3. I think armchair travel will become quite popular as people are forced to stay home, for the time being at least. Also will be exploring our own back yards. I spoke to a well-traveled fellow the other day who said he has discovered interesting places within our community that he had never known were there until the lockdown, even though he has lived here for quite some time. I’m sure this is true for many of us. I look forward to your new posts, which will continue to inform, enlighten, and inspire us!

    1. Darlene, you make a good point about local attractions. I know that for us, we’ve been focused on traveling abroad for so long that there are many sites nearby and in our region that we’ve missed. We saw a few of these interesting places before the lockdown, but we’ll definitely be venturing farther out when travel is opened up a bit more. In the meantime, it will be fun to dig a bit deeper, and think a bit more creatively about blog topics. Thanks for your kind words about the blog, and for continuing to follow along. ~James

  4. Great thinking and planning, as always! We, too, have changed our perspectives and our bookings for future travel. We’re in the midst of what we hope continues: a renewed appreciation for what’s near and dear. This weekend we spent time exploring the forests, mountains, and waterfalls in Western North Carolina. And more short trips in our own state of Tennessee are on the horizon. On our blog, we’re fixing on sites to see in South Dakota in case others want to explore the good ol’ USA in the next year or so.
    Can’t wait to see your new site. And I so love your new tag line. We, too, are fascinated with near and far. Wishing you all the best.

    1. Rusha, we’ll all be exploring close to home, and honestly, this may be one of the silver linings. Recreation sights like state parks and local museums are the first facilities to lose funding in budget cuts, so maybe with increasing numbers of visitors, some of this defunding can be reversed. And it’s interesting that if some of these attractions that we see in our area were in a foreign country, they’d be a big deal.

      And BTW, I’ll be checking out all your S. Dakota posts. Last summer we took a month-long camping trip out west and it was wonderful. With travel restrictions we may not be able to make it work out this summer, but we will definitely put it on the list. Also FYI, there’s a preview link near the bottom of the post for the new theme. It’s live if you want to take a look. Since you have a whizzy new theme, we’d like to hear your comments. ~James

      1. I’m still adjusting to a whizzy new theme: old digs can learn new tricks but they need extra time. Will check yours out when we get home. We’re headed to Cades Cove in Smokies tomorrow. Little trips are beaming more fun now. State parks may be next!!

      2. Just checked out your new look for Gallivance. Outstanding, to say the least! One thing I’ve always admired is how you are able to offer other alternatives with almost every click. There are ways of seeing your posts under a variety of categories. And the clean look — similar yet different from your previous one, but more centered. It all has a centrality about it that most blogs (mine included) don’t have. Most of us tend to add so much to the left that the middle of a post isn’t the middle of what’s on the screen, but yours is. Great posts. Great comments from your followers. And a great new look. What’s not to love?

      3. Rusha, you are too kind! Thanks so much for your encouraging words. I know that you also made big changes to your blog – with stunning results. I love everything about your new format. I don’t know about you, but I learned a lot during this whole process. In reference to your remark about the blog being centered, I learned a trick. Our new theme allows us to make the right sidebar “sticky” so that as you read a post the sidebar scrolls to its end, THEN stays in place. That way you don’t end up with the big blank white space on the right. I don’t know the name of your theme, but you can go on the WordPress forum for it, and they will tell you if it’s possible and provide the CSS code to help you do it. We’ve been ironing out the glitches all week and I think we’re getting close. People have been great about telling us if something isn’t working. If you see anything that looks wacky please let us know and we’ll figure out how to fix it. And again, thanks, Terri

      4. Thanks so much for this information on how to eliminate the white space on the right.
        As to your blog, it is dynamite. Good writing goes a long way, but when you dress it up — well, it’s a hit. Can’t wait to read your new posts. And I also hope you don’t have trouble getting your “old” posts to re-format. Sometimes my former posts work, sometimes they don’t. But I’m not up to redoing each one. I guess all this is a work in progress, and that’s what keeps up sharp! Best wishes for your launch.

      5. You’re welcome, Rusha. It sounds like we’re having a similar experience with old posts. For us, the new theme looks better with a different photo format. Sigh … So I guess I will slowly, but surely start working on that. But I’ve decided to look at it like a Zen Garden … there’s always beauty in something unfinished! 🙂 ~Terri

  5. You two are resilience and redirection personified!

    Wishing you a smooth transition and happy nouveau-style-exploring and story-telling. I’ll still tag along 😉

    Oh, and I like your new and refreshed theme: out with the old, and in with the new huh? Which theme is it?

    Stay safe and healthy, T & J!

    1. Thanks so much Amit. The new theme is “Arcane.” Terri is our webmaster (unpaid of course – 🙂 ) and she’s responsible for all the hard work required for the change and the finished product. We loved our old theme, but it was retired years ago and we’ve been limping it along until we finally bit the bullet and made the switch.

      As for broadening the scope of the blog, we’ve been going that way for a while, and the Pandemic was just the catalyst to formalize the idea. We’re actually looking forward to a chance to spread our creative wings. Good health to you. ~James

    1. Kathleen, if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years it’s that there are a lot of unknowns in blogging technique as to what works and what doesn’t. Our strategy has been that if we write interesting, concise content with good art that our posts will get attention – and that’s what we’ll continue to do. We”re looking forward to experimenting with some new stuff. Take care. ~James

  6. I like your new tag line VERY much.

    As for changes to my blog, unlike you I am not a consistent blogger. I’m more like a Quaker: I blog when the spirit moves me. (Another “tag line” that I love.)

    Your blog has always been enjoyable to this devoted reader, so I’m happy that you are going to continue being fascinated by the world and sharing that fascination with us.

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. Shelley, I love the hilarious Quaker tagline and can see it working in all sorts of blogging situations. It will be interesting to see what other travel bloggers decide to do, because I don’t see most folks traveling again soon. In the meantime, we’re excited about writing about some new topics and looking forward to getting back out on the road. Thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  7. Love the new title, and look forward to continuing to read your blog. I hadn’t blogged in a while, having been grounded by health issues, but am now filling in trips from before I started the blog. I also have South Korea and Japan from 2016 that I didn’t blog at the time.

    Since I’m doubly high risk I have no idea when I will travel again, at home or abroad, but I did just buy two guidebooks (half off, Sicily and Ireland)….

    1. Kathy, sorry to hear about your health issues, but I think that your assessment of your personal risk levels is wise. As this pandemic drags on and infections continue to climb, each of us is going to have to plan for and take care of our own health. Luckily, we traveled a great deal in 2019, so like you, we have lots of travel experiences that haven’t been discussed. I suspect that lots of travel bloggers are in the same situation. In the meantime, take good care of yourself. ~James

  8. James and Terri – Life is change, isn’t it? I’ve been away from blogging for a bit because we’ve moved to the Pacific NW from Califonria, so I envy your ability to change in the same place! The new look is truly inviting. You’ve found a way to continue doing something worthwhile in the midst of the unpredictable. Congrats on the change – Susan

    1. Susan, life is change no doubt whether you drive the train, or someone else does. In her management consulting days Terri was a “change manager” so we have a definite advantage when it comes to dealing with change. We both love change and have built our lives around moving, traveling, and keeping things lively. But having said that, one thing we’ve learned about ourselves is that there have to be some constants in life. Too much change for too long gets frustrating. At this point, the constant is being close to our families in a pleasant place to live, so the lockdown hasn’t been that trying for us. Thanks for checking in and the feedback on the new theme. Good health and best of luck in you new home. ~James

  9. Why can’t you continue to write about places you have been? Wherever you’ve been you’ve seen it a point in time and it will never be the same to others. It’s most interesting to hear about your experiences and what you saw. What was your interpretation, your take away?
    Leslie

    1. Leslie, we will continue to write about places we’ve been for sure. But one of the things we’ve always enjoyed doing is finding cross-cultural connections between people, places, and ideas, and this is what we’ll be doing more of. The change will be about more themes not less, and travel will still play a large part. We haven’t lost our love of travel, but just widened our view. ~James

  10. I love the new tag line. I have not been further than I can walk since the beginning of March so I have had to refocus. I have been writing posts about the history of our local parks and posting links in relevant facebook groups and my page views have actually increased. I think a lot of people want to find out more about the local area.

    1. Anne, the proof is in the pudding, so I’d say the refocus on your blog is a success. The UK has such a deep, rich history that just about every location has a story to tell. Posting on Facebook groups is also a good idea because not everyone is plugged into the blogosphere. Well done. ~James

  11. Love the new tag line James & Terri. I have no doubt you will come up with interesting content to share & I always look forward to reading your posts.
    Cheers, Lynn💕

    1. Thanks for the feedback Lynn. As I said to another commenter, we’ve always enjoyed finding cross-cultural connections between people, places, and ideas, and this is what we’ll be doing more of. The broader scope and the new theme will enable us to experiment, which will be lots of fun. Thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  12. This is a great idea, and I like the new look.
    I haven’t given any thought to changing the blog at this point as I’m so far behind I still have several months of travel stories to share. After that I’ll see what’s wanted.
    Alison

    1. Alison, at this point several months of backlog is a good thing. We traveled quite a lot in 2019 so we have a few places as well, but honestly, it will be nice to branch out a bit. Most of our posts will still be inspired by our travels, but it will be good to have the option to blog about whatever moves us. Good health to you and Don. ~James

  13. James and Terri, I love your new tag line and the new look. I think it’s a great idea to broaden the topics and blog about whatever moves you. P.S. When I viewed your site on my phone, the first two and last two letters of “Gallivance” are cut off unless I viewed the page in landscape orientation. Just want to mention it in case you want to make adjustments.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Natalie. We’re still working on the mobile version which is proving to be tricky. After this theme change we remember why we kept the old one for so long. The newer themes are sophisticated, but any customizing requires patience, and some trial and error. Thanks again. ~James

    2. Hi Natalie, I wanted to thank you personally for letting us know that the blog had some problems on your phone … and mine, too! I’ve been working with WordPress for the past 2 days to get the problems resolved and I think we’ve fixed them. Thanks for your keen eye, and please let us know if you run across any other glitches. 🙂 All the best, Terri

      1. You’re welcome, Terri. It looks good now on my phone. I learned to preview sites and posts in Desktop, Tablet and Phone views and different web browsers, especially for major changes. Have a wonderful week!

  14. It’s nice to know how your blog has been adapting to the current circumstances, James and Terri. The change sounds like something I would still very much enjoy, so you’ll still see me popping up in your comment section from time to time. 🙂 As for my own blog, I’ve been writing a lot less frequently now (about once a month as opposed to three to four posts every month last year) since I’m running out of stock of stories and photos from my past travels. However, I can see that in the near future (at least until the end this year) I’ll be writing more on destinations closer to home, as well as places across Jakarta.

    1. Bama, your approach sounds like a natural progression and given your writing and photography skills, I’m sure that your readers (us included) will continue to follow along. Java is a big island with lots to see and do, so you’ll have lots of travel options once things open up a bit more.

      For us, over the past few years we have switched over to blogging about our travels after the trip was finished as opposed to while on the road. So like you, we have few destinations in the queue to work on. Not being able to travel was part of the motivation for the change, but there were other reasons as well. We both enjoy research and learning about new areas, so broadening our scope seemed a good idea, and now seemed the perfect time. This pandemic will change the world of travel blogging, and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Take care and be well. ~James

  15. Congrats to you on making the decision. I love the new look and the ideas of branching out to other topics. We remain uncertain on this end as to where the blog will go. One thing that has come clear over this quiet time, is that we will do less, if any, work with the blog. As you well know it began as a hobby and grew into a part time job. When the pandemic hit there was a huge sense of relief that I was no longer under pressure. Always a good side to everything I suppose.
    So for now we are toying also with broadening the topics, sharing more local information and getting back to more story telling, which has always been my favorite kind of writing. Looking forward to seeing what is ahead at Gallivance!

    1. Sue, I understand how you feel perfectly. I remember well our conversations early on about our motivations for blogging, and those still stand. Whether hobby or something more serious, it’s about having fun, and when it stops being fun, it’s time to stop blogging.

      I’m sure that this crisis and downtime have given you and Dave time to re-consider your life priorities, and at the end of the day, hobbies are just that … hobbies. There’s pressure that feels good, and pressure that doesn’t and only you can be a judge of which it is. And one thing I can say about our readers is that they enjoy personal stories, so I think your story telling idea is a good one. But whatever you decide, we wish you both well and will keep following along. Take care and stay healthy. ~James

      1. Thank you James. I have a feeling for now it will be a bit of a buffet style over here as we decide what to serve up. Thanks for the good wishes and always the best back to you both.

  16. I think it’s great that this Corona is getting us all to be inventive and creative and spurring us on to new and different things. As long as we’re writing about stuff that moves us in any way, I think the content will be great to read. And I would say that most travellers are inquiring and curious anyway. Looking forward to your changes.

    1. Tracey, I totally agree with everything you say about the crisis inspiring us to be inventive and try new things. You never know until you try, and this pandemic has been the hard nudge that many of us needed to re-think some things – blogging included. This far into the crisis, I think we’re all over the denial stage, particularly about things like travel, and it’s time to get on with life, and that’s OK with us. Take care. ~James

  17. I love this! I’ve always wanted to do a just travel blog but I’ve realized I have way more to talk about so I post a little bit of everything. I feel there’s so much everyone has to offer and I’m looking forward to reading more!

    1. Jenna, our original motivation for a blog was to keep our family and friends informed on an extended RTW trip. But, as the years have passed, we’ve always felt that we could blog about anything we wanted, but it just so happened that we traveled much of the time, so a travel blog it was. But honestly, once any blogger builds up a reasonable number of regular readers, quality content becomes the single most important aspect of blogging … and everyone loves a variety. ~James

  18. I’ve always viewed my blog as a travel blog, plus James, incorporating story telling with travel tales and a lot of adventure tales, like backpacking, river running, etc. Occasionally, I’ve even dipped into politics although I mainly steer clear because that isn’t the purpose of my blog. I like your ideas. And I have always liked your blog. Peggy and I will be hitting the road next week in our small RV for 2-3 months and will be posting as we go along. We will make a fairly quick trip east to the east coast and a much more leisurely trip home. –Curt

    1. Curt, your road trip sounds like great fun. It will be interesting to see how camping is across the US. I suspect there will be a few surprises as you go along, but good for you for getting back out there. We are hoping to camp close to home pretty soon, but the campgrounds aren’t open yet, and even when they do, we’re going to give them a bit to calm down. There are probably lots of frustrated parents out there that desperately need to get their kids out of the house.

      As for blogging topics, one thing we’ve always found is that our readers prefer stories, particularly with a personal theme. Those have always been our most popular posts, so we try to make our posts as personal as possible. And I can’t imagine wading into the political pool now. We’ve never done it in the past, and with each passing day I become more and more disgusted with it all, so I’m sure any post I’d write would be nothing but bitchy. You and Peggy take care of yourselves and have a good trip. We’ll look forward to your posts from the road. ~James

  19. From the moment I arrived at your blog, I noticed the changes you made. Clever! I love the new sidebar and tagline. You guys haven’t been sitting idle. Plus, revitalizing the blog and going through posts must have brought back incredible memories and ignited the travel bug fire. 🙂

    As for my own blog, I’m not planning any changes. I always have something to share about the nomad lifestyle and if not, the name of my blog, Roaming About, can be interpreted different ways. It’s one of the reasons I picked it, to allow a broad approach.

    1. Liesbet, thanks for noticing the changes and for the feedback. We’ve delayed changing our blog theme forever, but we finally decided to bit the bullet and go for it. Terri has been doing the heavy lifting on making the change, and as always, we’re amazed at how much work is involved. We like the new theme because we can make it more of a “magazine” format so we can feature some of our older posts in those sidebar “carousels” that have those nifty post change effects.

      One of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about your blog is that it’s your personal experience vs. a travel journal, and that’s what makes it unique. I think readers definitely prefer it when bloggers “walk the walk” instead of just talk about it. Take care and stay healthy. ~James

  20. Fantastic! Love your thinking and willingness to expand your scope. I look forward to reading whatever you choose to write about. As with most blogs that one follows, at some point it becomes more about knowing the writer and enjoying his/her perspective on the world and less about the subject matter. Great post, James & Terri! 🙂

    1. Thanks Kelly. You know, it never hurts to make a change, and now seemed like the perfect time. We’ve always believed that our blogging philosophy should be quality over quantity, and that seems to have worked fine with our readers. Thanks for continuing to follow along. Stay safe and healthy. ~James

  21. James and Terri, I love your new tagline. I think it is always good to shake things up a little and make changes. You guys write some fantastic articles, always putting your own spin on a story and I have always enjoyed that it is not just about traveling. I really like the honesty and personal touches of your blog posts, I will continue to follow along whatever you decide to write about.

    1. Gilda, thanks for the feedback and the kind words. One thing we’ve learned is that there are as many ways to blog as there are bloggers, and that’s part of the appeal. Just think how boring it would be if we all did it the same way. We’re particularly pleased to hear from experienced bloggers like you that we’re doing a few things right. As you know, blog writers have to please readers, but it’s also important that they’re happy with what they produce. Thanks again for the feedback and take care. ~James

  22. Hurrah, good to take a broader direction.

    A long time I decided not to make my blog strictly about cycling nor travel. It is much more freeing. Of course, I haven’t improved on indexing my blog to point people to my blog posts ie. Nature. Food is there and….occasionally I have written on topics related to my background.

    1. Jean, our objective has always been to make our blog as organized as possible, but as you know, that takes lots of time. Luckily, there’s two of us to share the duties of writing, answering comments, and keeping the blog organized and functioning smoothly. I can imagine that doing it all on your own keeps you busy. ~James

      1. Your blog gets more viewers/commenters than mine at this time. 🙂 Writing up a blog post might take a few hrs….if I compress bits of time strung out over 1-2 days. Then another few hrs. to find /select, crop, resize and adjust photos. It’s actually the latter that takes more time but enjoyable to me, because I’m also a more visual person. I don’t get into pixel level adjustments of colour…just tweak with overall exposure, adding overall more hue of blue, then maybe geen(usually not) and hue of red. Follow the colour wheel. Indexing should be done better to maximize searchability, but am lazy.

      2. Jean, thanks for the info on how you put together your blog. It’s always interesting to see how others bloggers do it. Your emphasis on photos is obvious on your blog, and I think that readers definitely prefer good art. ~James

  23. can’t wait to see — courage, perseverance, & heart – you already have those, so it’s bound to be wonderful. sending you my best 🙂

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