How to blog while travelling

How to blog while travelling

Nikki Parkinson Life 46 Comments

There is a countdown on the whiteboard/chalkboard above our cooktop. It says that I have 11 days until I leave (and arrive) in New York for the world’s biggest female blogging conference – BlogHer.

Excitement is a word that does not come close to explaining how I am feeling.

I’m arriving the night before the conference’s Pathfinder day, which I’ve signed up for but will wait to see how great the lure of shopping bad the jetlag is before committing too it. I’ve announced my sponsor – Sensodyne –  plus I’ve got a series of posts lined up around all that I’m packing … and how I’m attempting to travel light (snort). I’m hopeless at it but a girl’s got to try.

Today, as it’s Saturday and I blog about blogging on Saturdays, I thought I’d update a couple of posts I’ve previously written about blogging on the go because, yes I’ll be blogging each day at BlogHer, plus from my family holiday in New York and the West Coast afterwards.

How to blog while travelling

I could switch off. Scrap that. I’m not even going to attempt to implement that extremely silly idea.

I love to write and if I’m experiencing amazing places for the first time – places I’ve only seen on TV or read about in books – then the words will be itching to flow out. Best let them flow, I say.

So let’s talk about the stuff that will help keep me blogging and connected while I’m away.

The blogging gadgets and apps.

I’ve been away from my desk in the corner of our lounge a lot this year for work. These trips range from day trips to whole weeks – each has helped me to get my head around any possible limitations I might have while travelling and blogging.

Blogging and your iPad

Apologies straight up to tablet users, there are only Apples in my geek orchard. (If you’re a tablet owner then maybe share your tips for blogging from a tablet in the comments below.)

I wrote this post back in February about blogging using my iPad and this one about what to take to a blogging conference.

Since then I’ve got the third generation iPad, which is all kinds of awesome for taking photos and videos. All the videos I took for Maybelline New York at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia were using this iPad.

And, Logitech sent me over its new Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($99) to trial*, so I no longer carry my Mac wireless keyboard with me. It syncs with my iPad via bluetooth and has a long battery life. The keyboard size is manageable and the stand makes it a useful tool when out and about blogging at cafes … and conferences. The downside? You still need to put it in a protective case as the back of your iPad is exposed. This is actually an upside for me as my geekery has further enabled my accessories addiction. I pop it into my Oroton laptop case, along with my MacBook Air (more on that later).

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

The main blogging apps I use remain the same but I’ve got more cluey on photography apps, using Camera+ to take photos and process images and the PicFrame app for montages or labelling. Then I bring them into Instagram if I’m wanting to share.

I also still use the Apple iPad Camera Connection kit (no.4 below) if wanting to import photos from my Canon G12 camera direct into my iPad. Admittedly I’m doing this less and less as I’m more likely to import them into my Macbook Air.

An app that’s really come into its own for me – for sharing photos and documents across the devices in my orchard – is Dropbox. Take a photo using your phone but want to get it into a blog post? Upload the photo to Dropbox on your phone and it will sync with DropBox on all your devices. Too easy.

Ok, so I have the apps – the tools – to blog from my iPad BUT and it’s a medium-sized BUT. You need to use the WordPress or BlogPress apps to add a post and they are not as user-friendly as logging into the dashboard of your blog via an internet browser. Yes, I can reach my dashboard via my internet browser but I don’t have all the functionality – particularly around images – that I do when working from my computer.

Because Styling You is very much a visual blog, this is the major downside to blogging from an iPad.

Blogging and my MacBook Air

Before I headed off to work at Fashion Week, I realised that if I was to keep my sanity and deliver on the job I was contracted to do, I would need more than my iPad to blog throughout the week.

I’m SO glad I bit the bullet and bought my Air (no.1). I bought the base level 11 inch version (ie the cheapest!) and was able to do everything I would have done using my iMac at home, while sitting at my desk at the hotel or in the media centre.

What I'm taking with me to blog overseas

It came with a cable that connects direct to my camera (no.3) and I can import photos directly from there. I can then edit photos using iPhoto and/or PicMonkey.

I also bought an Apple USB Ethernet Adapter (no.2) as a backup should the wireless network be dodgy. Where I was staying for Fashion Week it wasn’t – it was free and it was plentiful. Recently when staying in the Hunter Valley though, I couldn’t even get 3G coverage to use my Telstra Elite mobile wi-fi device so I was very thankful for this adapter, which allowed me to tap into the hotel’s cable internet. Yes, at a price … but a price I’m willing to pay to be connected.

So, yes, my Air will be coming with me to the US. Its battery power does not last as long as my iPad, so I’ll stick to taking notes on my iPad during the conference sessions and using my Air to blog … from the hotel room or my nearest Starbucks 😉

Speaking of Starbucks and free wi-fi, both are everywhere in America. Get the Free Wi-Fi Finder app for your phone or iPad and you’ll see what I mean. Australia has a long way to catch up.

Phone

I was just going to leave my phone switched to wi-fi and not actually use as a phone but then I read Rachel Devine’s (Sesame Elli) post about getting a prepaid sim card for next to nothing and I’ll be doing that. Very handy given I’ll be away for 2.5 weeks.

The thing you might also need to do is get your phone unlocked (this is not a physical thing and it’s separate from enabling international roaming, it’s something your phone company does … I had mine unlocked before going to Kuala Lumpur last year but never used it – here’s a great post about what you’ll need to do) – and you need to remember where you put the device that came with your phone – the one enables you to get in and actually change your sim card. Can you tell I’m thinking out loud on that one and hoping it’s in “that” drawer?

I’ll also have my MiGear phone charger (no.5) charged up and at the ready at all times – this has seriously saved my phone butt so many times, particularly when on an Instagram frenzy.

Other geekery

I have five. Yes FIVE. Electrical plug adapters. Think about it. At any given time, I might have to charge my phone, iPad, camera battery, MiGear phone charger … and straighten my hair 😉

Have you got any more tips for me about blogging while overseas? Or particularly in the US? Or have you got any questions about blogging on an iPad? 

UPDATE: Since writing this post and getting tips from readers below, I’ve taken back all but two of my adapter plugs and am packing a powerboard instead (with surge protection). Plus, I’m investing in an SD eye-fi memory card, that will enable me to set my camera to automatically upload my photos to my Dropbox app whenever I’m in a wi-fi hot spot.

UPDATE 2: Blogger Crash Test Mummy, who’s also heading to NY has written a great post about using the app, Blogsy. Go check it out. I’m buying the app now.

* This product was sent to me for editorial consideration in accordance with my disclosure policy.

PS. Don’t forget to take my survey for a chance to win a $150 Westfield gift card … if you haven’t done so already.

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Thanks so much to everyone who played along with my Saturday blogging linky last week. Sharing your blogging knowledge with other bloggers and potential bloggers really is how this blogging world best goes round.

Remember if you want to join in and have blogged about blogging in the past week, just add your link below. Please fill in the box where it says “name”:STYLING YOU: A blog post. That way your blog gets a plug and if you include the title of your post, you’ll attract readers interested in the topic.

[inlinkz id = 17]

Comments 46

  1. Hey Nikki!
    Just catching up on some post I missed. We both know I don’t blog but I still feel like I learnt a little from this post.
    We just bought a MacBook Air ( mainly for Tim to take away with him but I jump on whenever I can). I’m still trying to figure it all out but I like it. I do want to ask one question about the IPad- can you ” Pin” to Pinterest on it? I asked the guy in the Apple store on the weekend & he had no idea what Pinterest is ( CRAZY I know!). I’m thinking of asking santa ( aka myself) for one for christmas but some peeps think they are a bit limiting. What do you think?

    1. Ok, so yes you can Pin from your iPad … you can get your Safari bookmarks and buttons on the Air to sync Safari on your iPad – that will bring up your Pin It button on the iPad. It’s a while since I did this but Google helped me solve it! Santa thinks you should have an iPad – great for reading all the blogs you follow too!

  2. fabulous post Nikki. Like some I got a bit lost in the geekery but can come back to the post (and I LOVE how to put links to previous posts throughout current ones). Although not a blogger I’m itching to get an iPad, but would be looking at a keyboard, so I’ll be interested to see how your new one goes, it does look very swish.

    One another note, I just love how much I’ve learned about fashion, makeup, a VAST array of products I would NEVER have even looked at (**highlight that bit for your sponsors ;-)**) AND get such a lot of ‘puter knowledge, great apps and tips and tricks and a wide range of other “stuff” from reading your blog. BTW I originally signed up in the hope of getting some “vague” ideas about what a short, dumpy woman over 50 could wear (especially one that doesn’t want to look like a “nanna”) – and I’ve come out with a whole new world. So, thank you. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Gillian – your comment made my night. I’m a learn as I go girl and a sharer so you’ll always find stuff here that you might just like to learn too! And the keyboard is proving brilliant with my iPad – I only take it off to read books or my Google Reader in bed.

  3. I used my iPad to blog during our Paris & Cuba holiday http://www.croissantscigars.com. I used the iPad WordPress app and whilst it was good I was disappointed with the way it handled uploading photos. I might check out Blogsy.
    A great app I downloaded on the iPhone but also used on the iPad to quickly edit photos was Snapseed http://www.snapseed.com/. I found some of my photos dark in one spot and this app helped by boosting exposure to that one spot. Excellent.
    Only other tip would be to not rely on getting internet data access to upload posts in Cuba. I found out the hard way. I had a roaming sim which was scatty in data coverage. I also had an iPhone 4 & no small sims in Cuba were available. No such things as free wifi spots in Cuba.

  4. My hubby and I blogged our way around Ireland. On the whole, it was a fun way to record our holiday and introduce family at home in Australia to their long lost 6th cousins in Ireland. I find when you get home from a holiday, you never get around to properly sorting through photos and videos – when you blog, you do it as you go. I highly recommend it.

  5. Great tips Nikki, thanks so much for sharing this info. I am like you, cannot wait to blog all that happens while away. I also cannot believe the availability of free wifi over there. I am bringing my family for a bit of a holiday as well but we aren’t leaving NYC. Oh and I am so taking a powerboard – great idea!

  6. I love your blogging tips Nikki. I’ve just published my own post about blogging on the go. Am trying out a new app called Blogsy. I’ve just managed to publish one post and I’m in love!

    Thanks for the heads up about that little sim card tool for the iPhone. Hmmm, now where did I put that?

    See you in the Big Apple 😉

    1. Hi Laney … oh I do love a bit of geekery, I do. Getting Blogsy now and have linked to your post above. Having been away a week for Fashion Week blogging, the AIR is a necessity for me for photo heavy posts, gallery and much easier to do my weekly e-news. Mail Chimp has an app but that’s only for checking stats and reports.

  7. This is such an impressive list and you seem to be so on top of what’s what and how to use it all 🙂 I’m much less organised. Thanks for the tips and hints. My iPad keyboard was useless (not the same model as yours, which looks sturdier and much better), although it did protect the iPad well. I would really like just to rely on my iPad and camera when I travel, but in reality the laptop is still necessary – and my shoulder with the big carpet bag droops a little more after each trip 🙂 Looking forward to your posts from across the pond.

    1. I know Johanna … I too would just like to use my iPad and I think if I wasn’t so photo-heavy could get away with it. But I love my photos and blog about the visual so need. Luckily my Air is nice and light!

  8. Hi Nikki,

    You are the uber geek, this is all so complicated I don’t think I could keep up, but thanks for sharing all the tips. I will be extending my travel blogging repetoire slowly.

    Re your “five. Yes FIVE. Electrical plug adapters” 🙂 I take two with a multi socket set of Aussie plugs to plug into that.They are handy at conferences as you can share with other Aussie bloggers.

    You will love New York. I spent a lot of time there in the eighties rocking some Benetton clashing colors and baggy trousers! I’m sure you will look way better and thank you so much for going to all this effort to keep us updated while you’re away.

    1. Thanks to you – and other readers below – we’ve taken back all but two of the adapter plugs and am packing a powerboard instead! OMG remember Benetton all too well. Can’t wait Annabel. Will be so much fun!

  9. When I was in Qatar I managed to blog using nothing fancier than a Nokia N97 phone! Your gadget list is daunting! 🙂

    1. LOL Robyn … it’s not daunting for me … this is my home office! If I just had simple text in a blog post, I’d be able to do the same but photos are very much a part of how I blog. To keep the quality and format the same, this is how I do it.

  10. Some super tips here, as always Nikki! I have a question about the Logitech cover (which I now, of course, *need* hrrmhemm) – just wondering how it is when you want to use the iPad for book reading or non-keyboardy stuff? Does it get in the way much?
    Safe travels and have a blast!!!

  11. I always find blogging away from home difficult. thanks for your tips.
    Wishing you a wonderful time in NYC and beyond. travel well.
    Carolyn

  12. Ah Nikki, all you need is one adapter and a power board from here! That’s how I do it, and I take a monster powerboard that has that super dooper surge protection. I think it took me a lot longer to charge things , but I could use all my camera and video chargers comfortably, knowing they wouldn’t get a surge or some other electrical fault. I think all your apple geekery should be fine with multi currents. It just doesn’t work the other way as the US electrical is lower than ours, except brands like Sony. hahah we learnt after our first visit and brought home a kette or something plugged it in and BOOM! away it went.
    You must get yourself an EYE FI card which will go into your camera and then via direct mode (or wi fi) transfers your pictures to your laptop or Ipad or Iphone (only one not all at once). I have mine in my canon 5D mk3 I haven’t tried it in my G12 but I will when I finish this comment- and it works perfectly. I have it set up on each of my devices so that I can send the photos through to whichever device suits me at the time. It is fantastic as it goes on them straight away- no delay.
    My hubby buys a cheapie phone when OS on hols and turns his Aussie phone off- if you take your sim out it would be the same. He gets phone calls all through the night in Aussie time if he doesn’t, then he turns it back on when it suits to get his messages.
    You are going to have SO MUCH FUN!! How fantastic you can take some family for a bit of a hol too! I am so jealous!

    1. Just had a go, the G12 has eye-fi capabilities in it, It worked perfectly sending the photos through to the Iphone. I did have to shut down the app and reopen it- you know double tap the home button then close all the jiggling apps, but I have to do that sometimes anyway. It was super quick with the G12 too!

    2. Just commented below Jodie that as I was writing the post, I realised that’s what I needed to do re adaptor and powerboard. And that’s for reminding me about the EYE FI cards – Sarah from A Beach Cottage told me about them. Will get one this week. Thanks for testing on the G12!!

  13. Take a regular powerboard with you – then you only need one converter plug and is useful for when you have limited outlets. X

  14. Wow Nikki ,You are very up on the geeky gadety things you need ,I don’t know about all of them but the prepaid sim card for your phone is a must ,because it costs way too much to use overseas,my husband just left for Madagascar today for work “sob” I will miss him,but he had laptop,cables,discs ,headphones,phones ,no adapter yet cause you cannot buy them here,so much in his laptop bag that he left his phone at home and we had to do a mad dash to get him his phone.
    I hope New York is wonderful and you have the most awesome time over there and you enjoy every minute ,can’t wait for you packing posts and your blogs from New York,I’ve never been to the US but my daughter has and loved it,I wish you all the best of everything good for the trip.XX

  15. Wow Nikki that sounds like an awful lot of gadgets to carry around? Hope your not changing hotels once you get there.
    We spent 2 years travelling Europe in a VW camper (and not a fancy one with a shower and toilet either) and I wrote a travel blog (in between drinking lots of very good and cheap red wine). Also this was 2008-2010 so many of the devices around now were not available.

    We didn’t stick to the regular tourist route, having our car and house on wheels together helped, so we were often without WiFI for sometimes a week or so.
    I did buy a pre-paid sim in quite a few countries so we had SMS and a phone if necessary, although found the Orange one we bought in the UK was easiest to re-charge, as I could understand the options asked, and it worked most places.

    At the end of most days I would just take the card out of the camera and put it into my Asus laptop to download, easy I would go through my photos and save the best for the blog in a file in Picassa, Then upload to my Picassa web album where it would give me a choice to embed a link to the album, which I would cut and paste into my blog entry so that the photos relevant to the story showed.
    I also found that if I wrote my blog entries in MS Word it was fast and easy when we did have Wifi to cut and paste to my Blogspot and then publish.
    So that’s how I did it.

    1. LOL Julie – I will be changing from the hotel to an apartment and then we travel over to the West Coast but I’m very used to taking all this stuff with me – do same for every work trip in Australia. And having been a former PC laptop owner, the iPad and Air combined don’t come close to weighing the same as that … thank goodness for technological advancements. With the iPad I tend to write the post in Pages and then copy and paste as well when in wifi zone. Love the sound of your trip!

  16. Ok you lost me about half way through, my brain is a tad slow when it comes to gadgedy things but it is great to have these posts to refer back to when my brain catches up and I may be needing this info!! Also I am sooo happy to hear you’re doing the ‘sensible’ thing and blogging from your hol, can’t wait to see your posts! (Will there be some NY fashion?!? Pretty please??) Thanks again Nikki..x ps Gorgeous rings!!! (see where my brain was focusing in on?!!)

  17. This was a great read Nikki. We will be blogging soon from our new website (currently in development) and we’ll also be adding lots of makeup videos. So your tips are great, I like the sound of DropBox. Another app I like is Evernote which I’ve just started using, it is great to keep ideas and to do lists on the one place that I can access on all devices. A coupe of questions for you… when you take videos do you ever do any editing and if so what app do you use and do you edit on your laptop or ipad? Also I’ve been looking at getting that Logitech keyboard, is it stable if you are having it on your lap (think knees crossed, comfy on the couch or in bed) or does it need to be on a table top? Thanks. From Aisling.

    1. Hi Aisling … yes, I use Evernote A LOT. Particularly good for my trip planning (mentioned it in the first blogging on ipad post). Yes, I do some editing of my videos but I’ve only done that through iMove on my Macbook Air. I haven’t investigated, sorry, if there’s an app for iPad that can do it … maybe someone will comment here and let us both know!

      Re the keyboard, yes, I use it bed and on couch. In bed you need to be sitting upright to get right angle for keyboard … but the magnetic bit is strong so is a stable option.

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