Not Another Blog About the Ethics of Travel Blogging

I’m bored reading about people beating themselves up regarding the ethics of travel blogging. I’m bored with those people who point long accusing fingers at blog/press trips, shouting ‘corruption, corruption, corruption’ from atop their self-made ivory towers. I’m bored with the hypocrisy of those travel writers who take a pop at travel bloggers for accepting blog trips whilst turning a blind eye to their colleagues who do it all the time for print. And I’m bored sick with sycophancy.

Writing for Gain

The Purity of Travel Blogging
I’m not even sure what that means. There’s an argument out there that making money from your blog, or from your writing, means it’s less pure (i.e. honest I suppose). I just don’t get that. It doesn’t make sense. I’m willing to bet nobody goes up to Paul Theroux and says “well, I like your books but you did get paid to write them so I guess I can’t really trust what’s in them.”

Sometimes I write for money, sometimes I write for myself, sometimes I write for myself and that makes money. I change the style depending on who I’m writing for and the market it’s aimed at. But here’s the important thing. I don’t take off my ‘pure’ hat and put on one with ‘I’ve prostituted myself’ written on it when I start to pen something that’s going to earn me some dosh. Integrity is integrity is integrity. You either have it or you don’t.

I apply exactly the same ethics to everything I do, not just writing. It’s automatic; I don’t have a choice as I have Scottish Presbyterian roots (joke for anyone who knows Scottish Presbyterians).

Unless you’re very privileged, you need to earn money to live. That isn’t a crime… at least it isn’t for most occupations and it shouldn’t be for travel bloggers. Any notion otherwise is nonsensical.

To me the question isn’t about the ethics of making money from travel blogging, the question is more about the depth of conviction of personal ethics. I sleep happily at night with mine.

Red Light

The Corruption and Deception of Blog Trips
Since our very first holiday together, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed nearly all of our travel experiences. If blogging was around then we’d have raved about most things. We love to travel.

That love of travel and having new experiences hasn’t changed. It doesn’t change whether we’re on a self-financed trip, a working trip or a blog/press trip. If we like something, we’re going to say so. On the rare occasion we don’t like something, we also say so. If it’s on a blog trip we might choose to not write about it. On one trip there was an experience that didn’t really work for anyone. There was no group decision about how everyone was going to handle it but not one person ended up promoting the place in question. I guess we all applied the same ethics.

The majority of the time it simply isn’t an issue. I don’t see what’s corrupt or deceptive regarding writing about things you enjoy. In fact it would be perverse and actually more dishonest not to do so.


Stop Sycophancy
I’ve just read an introduction to an interview with a travel blogger that made me cringe with discomfort. It was the pinnacle of sycophantic crawling. I felt embarrassment for the person who wrote it and amazement that the person it was about didn’t ask the author to tone it down – maybe it was too tasty an ego feeder. But it was way over the top.

I mention it because for me it links to the subject matter of this blog which, ultimately, is all about personal integrity. If the author truly believed what they wrote then fine, I’m out of line and my personal prejudice got in the way. If they wrote it to curry favour, which is the way it came across, then it raises doubts for me about their all-round personal integrity.

And that’s the point. I, and hopefully most discerning readers, don’t decide whether to trust or like what someone writes based on whether the blog/article was commissioned, was as a result of an all expenses paid blog trip or came from a self-financed jaunt.

I make that decision based purely on the content I’m reading, nothing else.

Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+

About Jack 799 Articles
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a Slow Travel consultant and a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Facebook for more travel photos and snippets.


  1. Jack I have to admit I didn’t noticed that many comments about this subject, maybe one or two places. I actually think it is great to make money from travel blogging, at the end it is a job. I fully respect people who blog for hobby but have nothing against people who treat it more seriously and make money out of it. As you said it is all matter of personal choices. I myself started my blog just for my family and friends and over time it kind of grew, I have written a guide which is sold on Amazon, nothing big, can’t live out of it! But would love to support myself from my blog! I think people have too much of a free time, at least some…!

    • I totally agree; one of the refreshing things about travel blogging is that there are no hard and fast rules about whether you do it as a hobby or as a profession. It’s each to their own. Congratulations on having published a guide. It’s no easy feat 🙂

  2. ” Integrity is integrity is integrity. You either have it or you don’t.”

    Totally agree, and I too am fed up with reading the sort of stuff you’re writing about. Interestingly, it doesn’t apply just to travel blogging. I see it in my capacity as a motoring writer as well: “They lend you free cars to try, so you’re biased.” On that basis every road test ever written or televised is biased!

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