Last Updated on January 14, 2021 by Nina Ahmedow
There are tons of travel blogs out there talking about what to do and see in a place. But should travel bloggers be honest about whether or not they liked a place?
As someone who also reads other travel blogs, I understand very well the impact a travel blogger can have on your decision making.
And this is one of the amazing things about the internet. We can look up everything online.
But I think personal opinion is important on travel blogs because it’s what makes them useful.
I travel as a woman of Muslim heritage but with immense passport privilege (as of 2019, Germany shares the top 2 spot of most powerful passports with two other countries), and my views have everything to do with my upbringing and background.
Why this post? So I recently saw a post in a Facebook group where someone asked this exact question: “Should travel bloggers be honest?” The person suggested that since travelers only spend a limited amount of time in a place their opinion is actually irrelevant. They were angry that another travel blogger had written something negative about a place they used to live in.
Yes, travel bloggers go to a place for two days and write about how amazing it was or how much we hated it.
How often does our opinion align with the local population who experience a place day in and out for years?
But what’s the alternative? Should my Facebook and Instagram pages make no mention of whether or not I truly liked a place?
Can travel bloggers only give generic advice on things to do or see for fear of appearing as having too much of an opinion? Should travelers only listen to locals and their assessment of a place?
The thing is that as a local you may know the place better, but you see the place with different eyes. How is the opinion of a local man who knows the language and culture going to help a young woman who cannot communicate in the local language? Isn’t it important to be honest and perhaps state that you had a negative experience in a particular place? As long as you make it clear that this is your personal experience, of course.
What I’m saying is that travel blogs have become a very important source of information for travelers. When I traveled to Tirana people told me not to go (even though it’s not even among the ten most dangerous cities in Europe). So I went online and looked for posts by other female solo travelers. They all had overwhelmingly positive things to say, and this encouraged me.
Should Travel Bloggers Be Honest About Negative Experiences?
And it can be the other way around. Not long ago, Adebola from My Breaking Views experienced racism at the hands of police in Athens. She had to spend time in jail for absolutely nothing. I was appalled to read her post, especially as someone who lives in the Greek capital.
Should she have not mentioned her experience because “that doesn’t happen to everyone?”
Well, it did happen to her. She never said that all Greeks are racist, she merely described her horrible experience.
And I think it’s important for other travelers to be aware of such experiences. Travel blogging shouldn’t only be pretty pictures and food recommendations. In my opinion, a travel blogger’s honest opinion is exactly what sets a blog apart from a traditional guide book.
The typical happy, pretty posts seem a bit too much like marketing paid for by a tourism board. But don’t get me wrong: If you have an amazing experience somewhere, by all means, rave about it.
But be honest.
It’s quite tempting to say only positive things so that tourism boards share your posts. And some people want us to gloss over the problematic aspects of travel. But your audience wants your honest opinion, good or bad.
That doesn’t mean that if I or another travel blogger disliked a place you shouldn’t go. And it doesn’t mean a place is safe simply because nothing happened to a famous solo travel blogger.
But travel blogs can be a useful way to prepare yourself for a trip.
They simply shouldn’t be the only source you use. And you shouldn’t take them too personally. Is your city ugly because a travel blogger didn’t like it? Of course not.
I live in Athens and don’t think it’s worth more than a long weekend. But I’ve met travelers who absolutely love the city. Always judge a place for yourself, but don’t expect travel bloggers to write entirely neutral posts.
Do you use travel blogs as a way to prepare for your trip? In your opinion, should travel bloggers be honest?
Julie O | FrameAmbition.comOctober 24, 2019 at 7:29 pm
I think at the end of the day it should be (and is) up to the blogger what they want to share and how.
People hate on content creators a lot especially when some have been misleading or irresponsible with what info they put out but actually, I put that on people in their audiences who take the word of one or two influencers as the whole picture and bypass other avenues of research, etc.
Great post, Nina! x
Nina | Lemons and LuggageOctober 25, 2019 at 4:09 pm
Thanks Julie! I also agree that you have to look at more than just two travel blogs. For travel, your own government’s travel advice can be useful for example. Some people think that one blogger’s social media post is all it takes to prepare for a trip.
Brita LongOctober 24, 2019 at 8:16 pm
All bloggers should be honest! When I have a negative opinion, whether it’s about travel or a restaurant or something else, I share that honestly. However, I’m careful to be as specific as possible so the full parameters of my experience are known.
For example, my husband and I were excited to dine at a famous restaurant several years ago. However, I was sick at the time, so I couldn’t eat much food or drink alcohol. After the server found out we weren’t ordering alcohol, and we were only splitting 3 appetizers, the quality of service went way down. So while I mentioned the food was delicious, and the ambiance was amazing, of course I also mentioned the service was so terrible that we don’t want to return. I also mentioned that multiple people had recommended the restaurant to me, so our experience was possibly an anomaly.
I’m personally wary of any blogger reviews that are light on detail, regardless of how negative or positive they are.
Nina | Lemons and LuggageOctober 25, 2019 at 4:07 pm
That’s an excellent point, Brita. Details can make a difference. They also help the reader to determine how they would feel in a similar situation. Maybe someone doesn’t care much about the service but more about the food. So you explaining what you did and didn’t like and why gives them a better picture of things.
MyBreakingViewsOctober 24, 2019 at 8:32 pm
Hey love thank you so much for touching on my story. And that’s exactly it. I would never label a whole county racisit. I said the guard that lied was a racisit. He had no right to lie and the saddest part is the police took his word with no CCTV evidence. I think after that exprience it’s extremely important to share all your experiences good and bad.
Nina | Lemons and LuggageOctober 25, 2019 at 4:05 pm
Yes, I fully agree. An experience like that can be very important for other people to know about because it says something about the way the police will behave.
VentureLogUKOctober 25, 2019 at 5:18 pm
Hi, great question and article. I like that you wrote it fairly to cover all sides of view.
I think People who only write negative articles can be a turn off. Hence, why most bloggers write rave reviews to give a positive vibe.
Obviously there will be some who only do it for financial gain. But a lot of the time, genuine experiences come through.
But, the amount of Over the top YouTube videos out there….(eyes roll!)
Btw i like the website a lot 🙂
Nina | Lemons and LuggageOctober 25, 2019 at 7:16 pm
Thanks so much for your feedback! I think only negative posts would be boring to most people indeed. I think that if you have both positive as well as negative views on different places it seems most honest. Nobody can like every single place they go to or hate everything.
Jason ReidOctober 30, 2019 at 3:26 pm
Completely agree. I think it’s fine to be negative about a place as long as you’re not trying to sway other people from visiting. We all have our different likes and dislikes so it’s also natural that we connect with some places better than others.
Nina | Lemons and LuggageOctober 30, 2019 at 4:12 pm
Yes, I think that if we all write the same stuff we will seem like robots.
SartenadaNovember 21, 2019 at 12:09 pm
Honest – of course.
Have a good day!
Nina | Lemons and LuggageNovember 26, 2019 at 2:48 pm
RobertJanuary 24, 2021 at 1:02 am
What a great article and food for thought for sure! Yes, I bloggers should be honest, because people are looking for your personal opinion and recommendations. When dealing with sponsors, I’ve only had to do some selective, creative writing on a couple of occasions over the years. People will respect you and your honesty, which goes a long way!
Nina AhmedowJanuary 24, 2021 at 2:29 pm
Thank you, Robert! I really appreciate your thoughts on this.