I am back in Bangkok and after two nights of basically no sleep due to what I like to call jetlag-induced insomnia I now feel rested for the first time as the insomnia finally left last night. I don't even know why but I am beyond grateful and have a newfound appreciation for sleep. Not that I didn't have any before. I don't do well on little sleep and when people basically have competitions of who can hustle the most, travel the most and sleep the least I yawn and turn off the lights half an hour extra early. I just don't see the point. Sleep is fabulous.
And when I say people I actually mean other travel bloggers. Then again maybe they know something that I don't know. Maybe I should sleep less and all that I ever wanted for my little Elephant will magically fall into place. Right now things are very far from falling into place. I have a severe case of blogging fatigue.
Luckily I think the insomnia has helped with that as it gave me hours to think about shit and figure things out, hours I usually don't have. Why didn't I use that sleepless time to work? Because I am not a hustler, people! And because my mother taught me when I was little that if I couldn't sleep, I should just lie in my bed and rest my body. I like to think that works - it isn't as good as proper sleep but maybe a quarter as good?!
So no, I wasn't going to work while I couldn't sleep but I couldn't help to think. With that, it turned out to be a productive two nights even though the days followed were not. Have I mentioned that I don't function well on too little sleep?!
This is not a diary.
I feel a bit tired of blogging and I can pin it down to something I don't really like to admit to: a lack of good traffic.
In case you are one of my few non-blogger readers, traffic means everything in my industry. Traffic is you, or rather the whole lot (or little in my case) of you. Traffic brings potential clients, advertisers, press trips, and accolades. Traffic is not just ego though I will admit that is a big part of it but it also means plain old money.
Traffic means a job and it means that someone is reading what I write - reasons why I write.
While I receive the nicest compliments when it comes to my blog as people seem to love the new layouts, my writing and photography, my tips and general ramblings about the world and traveling in it as a woman, it hasn't translated into numbers.
(Un)fortunately, a blog needs to have both in order to be successful and if it can only have one it needs to have numbers. Or so it seems and that thought has gotten me increasingly frustrated. While I am trying my hardest not to compare myself to others, not to put others down in order to feel better, and simply stick to my guns it is damn hard at times especially if I see others succeed and I don't feel they deserve it. I know, I know... that is not fair. What do I know about another person and what they went through to get where they are? Or what it really looks like from the inside not just on Instagram? But sometimes I cannot help it and want to stomp my foot and shout: no fair!
I have recently joined a lot of Facebook groups to get practical tips and SEO advice to help with traffic. While these groups are great, the whole thing still leaves me very uninspired.
I don't mind to put in the work of updating old posts and making the whole damn thing easier to find and read. While I don't like the word hustle doesn't mean I won't do it (except when my precious sleep is in danger). But there are just some forms of very successful blogs and they I can never be like that. Mainly because I just can't be bothered with a lot of the topics that do well on other blogs:
Top 10 lists
Actually, scratch it. Top 50 lists are the new top 10 lists. And yes, I have one too - 50 things to do in Cape Town. You should read it because quite frankly it is awesome but mainly because it took me forever to come with it because honestly, my main activity in Cape Town is drinking wine.
And really, top 50 lists make me exhausted just reading them not even to mention doing all of these things.
One of my best performing posts is my packing list for Brazil. Which I must have written when I was drunk or because I lost a bet because really it makes no sense whatsoever. I should pitch it to the New York Times (read this post, laugh, and you will understand).
In general, I think there are very few places that warrant a packing list and everything else is just common sense.
Where to celebrate Halloween or see the Northern Lights. Or cherry blossoms. All well in good but I just don't like writing about places I haven't experienced by myself. So for these topics, I would recommend New York City for Halloween, Kakslauttanen, the glass igloo hotel, to see Northern Lights, and Hamburg for cherry blossoms (there is a playground right by my brother's house that has a few really nice trees).
I have tried that and it didn't work. This post was supposed to be a 24-hour guide for Helsinki - it was a successful post and a very unsuccessful 24-hour guide.
The truth is those guides obviously take a lot longer to create than 24 hours and in general, I am just not that keen for stuffing any itinerary like this. Even if I only have a day, chances are slim I will be out and about non-stop.
That is a tricky one. I do travel on a budget but I am not a budget traveler. Mainly because to be honest my job does give me quite a few perks which a regular traveler won't have and I don't have to pay for rent/car/family at home, so I don't think I am in the best position to advise.
Also, I am not at a point in my life where I have to or want to pinch every penny. I think certain things are worth spending money on, others aren't and these choices can be highly personal. With that said, no budgeting advice from me. I hate to say it but if I could I would always fly business class.
What do I want to write about?
There is so much and none of it is particularly SEO friendly. But here are some examples and it makes me happy to say that they seemed to have resonated with some of you as well (even though one includes a URL with the words gecko-ate-my-backpack when in fact it wasn't a gecko but a rat and one is all about a pizza):
I have decided to write much more of these kinds of posts. Posts that matter to me, that make me excited to write them. Posts that come from mishaps, sometimes heartbreak but that have led to a memorable story or some sort of redemption. And in case you haven't noticed - post a lot of cat pictures.
More helpful trivia
I also want to write more insanely helpful travel guides. Whether that is a top something guide or just a glimpse into one single place that I enjoyed during my travels. Useful being the operative word and here is why:
The other day I met my friend Jub from Tiki Touring Kiwi and after an unsuccessful visit at the cat cafe (Jub is a bigger cat nut than me!), we found ourselves over a cheap and yummy meal of rice, tofu, and mushrooms on little plastic stools discussing our blogs. "I think I need to dumb it down," I declared and immediately clapped my hand over my mouth. I thought was having a President Kirkman from Designated Survivor moment. The one when he declared the American people "suckers".
But then I thought about it and just like him, I stand by what I said. After all, KISS (keep it simple, stupid) is a thing in the business world and by 'dumbing it' down I obviously don't mean that I think my readers are dumb or that I want to attract more dumb readers. Au contraire! But I have realized that sometimes I get so stuck in my head, get so excited about a place or an event that I forget the basics - I forget if the information is actually presented in a useful way.
I thought of all the basics and how to apply them when I wrote my book. I thought it was funny and extremely useful on top. So when three people on Amazon reviewed it as trivial and gave it 1 star, it really got to me. I felt they were right and so useful became trivial and that was bad.
Obviously, not all of the thousands of other people who read my book and hopefully, enjoyed it and didn't think it trivial, left a review. I like to think that is because they were too busy traveling, following my oh so trivial but very useful advice.
Because here's the thing: what might be trivial for me (or those three 1-star people) is not trivial for everybody else. Everybody has their own definition of comfort zone and what it means to step out of it.
Somehow I tend to forget this when writing on my blog. Here I don't do trivial. Trivial is for suckers. Or so I thought.
The perfect way to travel
Anthony Bourdain recently ruffled some feathers when he wrote this post. Most travel bloggers agreed with him, others called him a pompous pig for which it was obviously easy to forego the Eiffel Tower as he had already seen it.
I don't think he is a pompous pig (in fact, I think he is quite hot!) but I do think those people are right. Like so many others, I started this blog to share my stories and inspire people to travel. I consider myself a little truffle pig when it comes to finding great places and I like to pass those on to friends and family, a group I consider my readers part of. Not everybody likes truffles but the people who do tend to stick together.
I never really cared for going off the beaten path, in fact, it's a phrase I never want to hear again. I care for authentic travel experiences but those come in many different shapes and sizes. To me, they include seeing the Eiffel Tower and eating a dish of noodles on a little plastic stool. Taking a taxi and then a nightbus. Or if the price is right, a plane. Having a cocktail at a fancy rooftop bar followed a cheap beer in a shebeen. Or vice versa. I think all these things have their time and place and are intrinsic to experiencing a place. Sightseeing and stopping to smell the jasmine should both be part of an itinerary.
I like to have adventures and still have my share of luxury. In fact, I would say that some of the adventures I have had are the ultimate luxury (million stars hotel, anyone?!).
The other day a guy asked me on Tinder where I was staying. I told him I was in a B&B between the Giant Swing and Khao San Road and he replied hoping it was a hotel and not a hostel on Khao San because 'oh god no, he doesn't do hostels'. After that comment, he wasn't doing me either. I don't like travel snobbery.
So with that said, I will recommend you see the Eiffel Tower/Angkor Wat/Table Mountain. And then I shall tell you where to find the comfiest little plastic chair with the yummiest bowl of noodles for $0,50. I will even draw a map how to get there. Make it a little more useful, a little more trivial, you know?!
Because a) if you know how to get to that noodle place you can just ignore the map (no need to call me out for stating the obvious!) and b) there is always enough time to get lost on your own once you had your noodles. Getting lost works much better with a full stomach.
So here is the for my little Elephant:
More travel stories with funny URLs and more useful guides for you.
More sleep and more fun blogging for me.
And of course, more noodles for everyone!
P.S. I have written more than 2000 words and the urge to search for keywords is strong. For once I shall resist (mainly because I wouldn't even know where to start for a post like this) and instead take a well-deserved nap, something that every travel itinerary should include!