When I took my recent trip to Ecuador and Panama, I went with my usual backpack of travel stuff (carefully packed and not too heavy) and some new high-tech equipment: my new camera—an Olympus XZ-1 (a high-end point and shoot)–and my iPad2 (plus an amazing Zaggmate keyboard and a WordPress app).
I was all packed up and…ready to go. To travel and blog.
And as a travel blogger, that’s what I was supposed to do, right?
Well, if you’re one of the regular readers here, you might have noticed something unusual over the past 6 weeks….
I did not post. Not even once. Not even a Trippy Travel Photo (and believe me, I had plenty I could have shared.)
So what happened? Why did I disappear? Well, that’s the point of this post—to share why I did it, what it was like and what’s next.
Why I Didn’t Blog
1. Feeling of Being Out of the Moment
I found myself doing things and thinking about the blog I’d want to write later. I’d find myself jotting things down. Soon, I found myself not really having the experience of traveling, but instead of pre-blogging or blog planning. This felt too out of the moment for me.
2. General Loss of Time
Perhaps I don’t notice it at home, but I do when I’m away. Blogging takes a lot of time (unless you’re just posting a photo). There’s writing, editing, photo selection, posting, Tweeting, responding to comments, etc. And after being out all day sight-seeing or being active, it seemed like it would really cut into my time.
3. My Love of Photography Took Over
I’ve always loved photography and so, having a new camera really fed into that. Suddenly, I had an F 1.8 lens, a bunch of art filters and so much more. I felt like I was part photojournalist and part artist and just couldn’t stop. It really put me in the moment creatively and that was sheer pleasure (once I overcame the camera’s learning curve.) My iPad 2, which allowed for some really fun editing via certain apps, was a blast.
4. Blog Writing Competed with Book Writing
One of my goals for the trip—and main reasons for taking it—was to work on my book (memoirs) about living in Ecuador 15 years ago. I needed to revisit and relive some of it—to pick up details, etc. And while there, that’s exactly what I did.
And every time I was tempted to blog about the country, I felt torn between my book and the website. Fortunately, the book won. At times, though, the photography won.
5. Taking a Break From Blogging….Felt Good
I love my blog and have devoted a lot of time to it over the past year (anniversary is in August). And I’m proud of it. But I was also feeling burnt out by it. I think I needed a break and just didn’t realize it. And so, the break just sort of happened and when it felt good, I went with it. At a certain point, I said–why not just wait until I get back.
6. I Don’t Have to Blog
Also, the fact is–I’m not a full-time traveler/blogger. I’m a full-time teacher and thus, don’t rely on my website for an income. I don’t have to blog. I think that’s part of what made it easy to take a break. If I were a full-time traveler/blogger with advertising, etc., I probably would have had to blog or to schedule posts in advance.
What Happened as a Result of Not Blogging
1. I Read More
Because I wasn’t blogging–and because I sometimes had limited Internet–I ended up reading, which is something I don’t usually have time for. I forgot how much of a pleasure it could be! I think I read 4 or 5 books, one of which was By the Rivers of Babylon. Loved it and couldn’t put it down.
2. I Saw My Web ratings (traffic, influence, etc.) Plummet
My “numbers” re: Web traffic and Twitter influence (some of which are bogus and some of which count) took a plunge. Significantly and rapidly. I was a bit surprised (at the speed) but not entirely. And I’m definitely not concerned. Hopefully, in the case of the scores that matter, they will increase again.
3. I Made Progress on my Memoirs
I accomplished a good chunk of my goal. Most importantly, I worked through 3 very difficult chapters that were not coming together. I have a bunch of paragraphs for the ending ready to be edited and some clear ideas re: where that’s going. I also wrote some new material. The word count is now at around 52,000. I feel good about it, too!
4. Spent a little more time on Facebook
I felt like keeping in touch with my family, friends, colleagues, etc. back home and so, I spent more time on Facebook. It was a great way to share photos and mini updates re: where I was, and I enjoyed it.
5. Had a Lot More Time to Enjoy My Trip
My trip was 5.5 weeks long and it felt like the time passed the way it was supposed to. Not too slowly and not too fast. Just right. There were some times where I felt very in the moment and in a slow sort of space. In a Latin American ‘mañana’ groove. Chilled Out. And I think that’s what I needed.
Back to a Regular Blogging Schedule
I’m hoping to return to the schedule I followed before: once a week and occasionally, twice a week. I’ve got some great posts coming up, too, including: Quirky Quito, Captivating Cuenca, How Ecuador Has/Hasn’t Changed, The Woman Who Gave Me Her Bracelet, Moon Rise Over San Blas and many more!
Keep Working on the Book(s)
I want to keep writing my memoirs re: Ecuador and to wrap up my other book (memoirs re: a number of countries around the world), which is at 95,000 words (rough draft).
Strike a Balance in My Life
I realize that over the past year, thanks to my blog, I’ve gotten a bit out of balance in terms of exercise and healthy eating. This needs to change. I may need to reduce my time on social media (limit it to certain days of the week?). This, I know, will be a struggle.
Have you ever taken a break from blogging? Why or why not? How long? What was it like?
Do you ever feel it’s hard to strike a balance when traveling and blogging? Do you think the length of the trip matters (RTW long-termers vs 1- or 2-month travelers)?
Thanks for reading and for hanging in there with me!