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 if travel bloggers should really 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?
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.
All 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.
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?