Monday, January 16, 2023

Differences between Using YouTube Or a Blog for Documenting Travels and Why I Use Both

Click on the photo to go to my YouTube Channel

Documenting travels is something that can take a good deal of time and requires thoughtful reflection. The efforts can also be very rewarding. Deciding if and how you want to document your travels will, most likely, depend on how much time you want to devote to the process. This decision will also depend on where you travel, how fast you travel, accommodation choices and whether you want to carry all the necessary electronics. 

Some people use email to correspond with friends and family while they travel. Others use Crazy Guy On A Bike, Cycle Blaze, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Some people use high quality cameras to record memories while others use only a mobile phone. Whatever works for you is the right way. Lots of people wait until after the tour to write up their story. I know I can't always write up a blog post everyday that I ride. After just a few days have passed, I forget a lot of details. Without photos and video I often have a hard time recalling what happened on a particular day. 

Aside from time, the weight and space that electronics take up in your bags is also a big consideration for how you go about recording your travels. Documenting my tours as I travel has always been important to me. I started trike touring in 2007. This is well before social media or smart phones. I carried a small point and shoot digital camera and would go to internet cafes to upload photos and write up a day's ride on the website Crazy Guy On A Bike. Internet cafes charged by the hour and this exercise would typically take 2 hours. When I first started out, I didn't know anything about photography and it took time to think like a photographer looking for scenes to capture with my camera. In the beginning, I would often end the day forgetting to take any photos. Followers would remind me to take selfies as well as landscape shots. I learned that scenery photos and selfies both added a lot to telling my daily story. 

Front page of my blog

In 2007, when I first started touring, keeping a blog was the easiest way to let friends and family know where I was and that I was safe.  I put up a blog post for every day that I rode. The blog not only told the story of the day with photos but also had a link to my Garmin GPS route data. This link offered a map so you could see exactly where I was. In 2007, this was a big deal.

It's only been a few years that camera image stabilization and sound quality improved enough to where I felt comfortable doing video. Before the GoPro Hero 7, action camera video looked amateurish. It was too shaky and there was always annoying wind noise, especially for doing action video like I do holding the camera while riding my trike. Once I started adding video, I also had to learn the difference between when to take a photo and when to take video.  This was not obvious to me at all. Many people only take photos or only do video but I think they are both valuable to telling a story.



Five years ago, I started my YouTube channel as a way to expand how I document my travels beyond the blog. Mostly, I was documenting my travels for me, my family, friends and anyone that wanted to follow along. My idea for the YouTube channel was to post videos showing what it looks like to ride and tour by trike. It was important to show the view of the scenery and the road from the seat of my recumbent tricycle. I want the viewer to feel like they are on a ride with me.

While actually taking videos is easy enough, making YouTube videos is a very complex process. I typically use 4 cameras for my videos. I have an small GoPro type action camera, 360 camera, iphone and a drone. This means there are files from 4 cameras to go through,  organize and process. Once I've decided which files to delete and the footage I want to use, the real complexity of organizing the video to tell a story comes in to play. There doesn't have to be much of a story but a story is necessary.  Essentially, my videos are only about trikes and traveling by trike.  Since I'm almost always telling the same story of going from point A to point B, over time, I've learned to refine how I tell this story. I travel with a MacBook Pro to make my videos with software called Final Cut Pro.

When I started my Youtube channel, I didn't know anything about video and there has been a steep learning curve to climb over. Luckily, I love to learn and am continually looking for ideas and ways to improve my videos to make them more compelling. Somethings I've learned are, first off, it's important to introduce myself, say where I am and immediately explain the purpose of the video. This is how I introduce the story I'll be telling. Using a variety of shots and angles helps to keep an audience engaged. Personally, I always handhold my cameras because I can get different kinds of shots rather than having the camera mounted, in one position, to my trike or helmet.  I've also learned that my videos are really a snapshot of the day's ride and they don't need to be very long. I like to make videos that are less than 10 minutes. The video should be pretty with cinematic shots of the scenery and have engaging music. I want to leave my audience feeling good and maybe even a little inspired by what they've watched. 

Some people do vlogging type videos where they mostly talk into the camera giving lots of personal information about their life while also offering their thoughts and opinions about headlines of the day. I think it's really important to know what audience you are trying to attract and speak to. My niche is super narrow and I stick to it very closely. I try to show my surroundings and the actual ride more than talk about it. For sure, all I am going to talk about is trikes and traveling by trike. Clearly, I think this topic is very interesting and I continue to have a lot to share about it. I don't think that, as a person, I am especially interesting and feel that my opinions about the world would not only be boring but are completely unnecessary. There are plenty of YouTube channels that talk about current events, news and politics. I don't even follow politics and have no need to add anything to that discussion. The only time my videos will include news of the day is if something happens that could affect my triking and traveling. For instance, at the beginning of Covid, I made a video addressing my concerns about how shutdowns would effect traveling and making videos for my channel. It would have to be a very rare situation that you will hear me speak about anything beyond triking.  I keep my channel very simple. I don't monetize my videos and the number of views a video receives is unimportant.

I think making videos is a far more complex process than writing up blog posts. That said, the story and information presented in a video has a much narrower focus than what can go into a blog. The videos I make are light with very little emotional ups and downs. In a video, I have found, it's best to pick only a few details to expound on. For me, the biggest difference between doing videos and a blog is, in a blog I can be as wordy as I want to be. I can go into much more detail about how I feel about things that happen during the day. In my blog, you get a clearer and richer picture of how it actually feels to be trike touring. I can write about the good and the bad. I can express uncomfortable or embarrassing encounters, awkward situations, annoyances and frustrations. I can go into more detail explaining things I've learned and discovered as I travel. Maybe it's personal growth, things I'm thinking about during the day or fascinating points of interest along the road that surprised me. My blog always includes a link to my Garmin route data. This gives a lot of details about the day's ride as well.

Even though documenting my travels is a very time consuming endeavor, I find both making videos and updating my blog to be rewarding. So far, I enjoy doing both of them. Through each process, I've certainly become a better photographer, videographer and writer. It's possible that each exercise helps me to process my travel days. I've always talked about myself as an extra slow cyclist and some of that slowness is the time I need everyday to organize and store video footage, process photos and update my blog.

How do you document your travels?


  1. I make sure to ride with you!! And appreciate the effort and time required to broadcast a take on the ride! Thank you!

  2. You really show what it’s like behind the scenes. A lot of work. I can tell that you enjoy it and your really good a telling your story.