If you read this travel blog, you might have already noticed that coming along, there are some irresistible perks of blogging. Endless days sitting in front of my laptop behind, I still get to TRAVEL A LOT. Much more than the average and more than I used to travel before starting it – and that’s something, believe me!.
Although most of my travels are on my dime, since I started this blog some 15 months back, I’ve had the opportunity of taking part in some blog tours in some of this world’s nicest destinations. Today I would love to take you to the blog tours’ behind-the-scenes stuff that barely gets noticed.
What is a blog tour and why should you care
A blog tour, blog trip, or press trip is a trip put together by a public or private organization to promote a destination. It usually involves (travel) bloggers, writers, photographers, journalists, and people alike who mainly get invited and take part for free or at a discounted (media) rate. Minding there’s no such thing as free lunch, the attendees are usually expected to produce some content that, ultimately, will entertain, inspire or educate a target audience and result in more customers and sales.
Enough with the boring stuff, here’s where you matter: In the end, all the articles, photo essays, social media shares, videos, and so on are directed to you. But as you could have imagined, there’s a slight difference between a trip someone takes for the sake of it and a blog tour. That’s why articles coming out of a blog tour should always be disclosed to the audience as such both because that’s what the law says and to keep up a certain level of credibility.
Because last, but not least, in these so-called blog tours, chances of having a great experience and therefore, talking about it as a great success, are pretty high. DMOs and companies work hard to present an interesting program filled with excitement, nice properties, delicious eats, and the best sights in the area. Usually, a very fun one.
And the Kerala Blog Express blog tour was not different.
Kerala Blog Express blog tour experiences
Having sorted out the voting contest dilemma in an earlier post, I can’t say enough thanks to the 208 people who took the time and clicked through a Facebook app to help me jump on the Kerala Blog Express tour last Winter – you guys rock! So yes, I went there paying just half of my flight tickets, my medical shots, and my Indian visa and I had an outstanding time with 26 travel bloggers from 14 different countries. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
I had such a blast that, at some point after coming back, I started to wonder how everybody else on board the KBE bus had experienced it. And so I asked them.
Please, let me introduce my fellow blogger friends to you through their own words. From luxury hoteliers to foodies, from architects to journalists, from dedicated travel writers to professional photographers, from Brazil to Italy, Poland to India, there’s a wide array of different experiences they want to share with you. Because everyone tends to understand and perceive things depending on their cultural background, you might find this as interesting as I did 🙂 Enjoy the diversity!
Anita Bora | Anita Bora Blog
Caroline Lohrmann | Shave the Whales
Kerala Blog Express, for me, was 16 days of happiness. I mean, imagine yourself on a boat, flowers around your neck, a bindi on your forehead, a beer in your hand, while you are cruising the backwaters, while palm trees are passing by, while your private cook is cooking fish for you, people smile and wave at you, kids are excited to see you. All these little things happening around you, the light, the raspberry ice-cream-colored sunset. It all feels unreal as if the world started singing for you and all you can do is stand there, amazed, with your mouth wide open…and soooo happy.
Daniel Nunez | Same Same
It was my second time in India, ten years after the first one, and I had a better impression of Kerala than I had from the North on my previous trip. But the best experience for me was taking part in a group of travel bloggers. Even being a professional travel writer for 20 years, I felt I was in an internship, learning the first steps of blogging with such fun experts from 14 countries.
Delia Harrington | Away She Goes
One of my favorite things was learning from other bloggers. I not only learned about the business of blogging but talking to everyone showed me differing perspectives on the same place, such as how a foodie or a backpacker sees Kerala compared to a photographer or luxury hotelier. I loved that there were five Indian bloggers on the trip who shed a lot of light on how Kerala compares to other parts of India, and the perception of Kerala domestically.
Dina Rosita | Dua Ransel
I enjoyed watching Ottemthulal dance so very much! The dancer’s green face captured my attention right away. But more than that, I was drawn in by its energy and dynamism. The involvement with the audience was so intense. He alternated between lobbing jokes and insults at the audience, like a salty comedian. Of course, I have no idea what he was saying, but his movements enchanted me. I couldn’t take my eyes off him from beginning to end. Energetic leaping, powerful body language, and most of all, the way he wiggled his face like a madman. Face wiggles? Yes, face wiggles! Wiggled his eyes and cheeks at high speed while the rest of the face stayed frozen. It’s crazy, and probably hard to imagine, so you’ll just have to come to Kerala India, and watch it yourself!
My other favorite thing about #KeralaBlogExpress is the friendship with fellow bloggers. How we all got close together. Never been in a group of friends this fabulous before… But I bet many have mentioned this too 🙂
Edin Chavez | Edin Chavez Photography
Hanging out with 27 bloggers from around the world in a bus exploring Southern India was an incredibly unforgettable experience, from learning about everybody involved in the program to hanging out with the locals and learning about their beautiful culture. I fell in love with all the writers and all the locals, but most importantly I fell in love with their smiles. I can’t wait for the Kerala Blog Express reunion.
Emanuele Siracusa | thesiracusas.com
Eva Abal | Una Idea Un Viaje
Gaia Passarelli – gaiapassarelli.com
Ivan Henares – ivanhenares.com
I was not the traveling type, I was the kind of person who finds joy sitting in front of a computer all day. Even though I lived in Kerala for my entire life, even though I knew it was a tourist destination I never tried to see Kerala. Even when I started working on Tourism projects it was the social media part that excited me. But Kerala blog express changed all of it.
It was the first time I am seeing Kerala through the eyes of a traveler, Coconut Lagoon, a property that redefined Kerala’s Tourism is just 30 mins from the place I grew up and I never knew, I’ve never taken that road before. Now I find myself looking at the map, looking at locations, friends places, nearby tourist locations, making plans for weekends to visit these places.. and I have already covered a few places. Now I am making a list of places in Tamil Nadu that I can visit during the weekend from Trivandrum.
Yes.. Kerala Blog Express has made me a traveler.
Michelle Rasmussen | Shinimichi
The Kerala Blog Express was an incredible experience! This was my first time meeting up with a bunch of travel bloggers to explore a country, which was new to me. I’ve never really considered going to India before, but my visit to Kerala has certainly changed that. The beautiful sceneries, the friendly and curious locals, the spicy food (though I missed the taste of a cheeseburger) and everyone on the tour bus filled my backpack with happy memories of Kerala. One of my most memorable moments from the tour was the full-day houseboat cruise down the backwaters. It was peaceful, relaxing and I had great company. I would do go again in a heartbeat!
Nelson Carvalheiro | Nelson Carvalheiro
Ola Wysocka | Osiemstop
Prasad Np | desitraveler.com
The best part was meeting passionate travelers from around the world, and understanding how different cultures look at travel. This traveling with other passionate travelers made discovering Kerala even more interesting and we could see different aspects of the beautiful state which I may have missed otherwise. E.g a the food bloggers wanted to learn about food, and the photographers helped us discover the beauty of Kerala from a unique perspective and also to take interest in the life of common people and not just the touristy experience.
Another part that I was impressed with was how local communities, tourism, and nature are intertwined in Kerala, peacefully coexisting with each other.
Roxanne Bamboat | The Tiny Taster
Rutavi Mehta | Photo Katha
Shawn Coomer | Miles to Memories
The Kerala Blog Express was an amazing experience that opened my eyes to a part of India that I previously had not heard of. It was very rewarding to travel with 26 other bloggers who each brought their own unique perspective to the journey.
Stefania van Lieshout | In & Uit Malaga
Tarun Gaur | mygreedybackpack.com
My whole perception, that Kerala is only the most sought-after Honeymoon destination of India, got vanished when I landed in Kerala. It is much more than that. My dream of printing a sunset postcard of my own with Chinese Fishing nets in front, eating with hand on Banana leaf and above all watching family of Elephant coming in front of me, feel the luxury of spending a whole day on a House Boat in the backwaters of Alleppey, watching fishermen catching fish for their livelihood at the earliest hours of the morning has been the best moments of mine in Kerala. Truly very hard to jot down the best moments, as every moment spent in Kerala ” The Gods Own Country ” is priceless and lasts forever in my heart and mind. Want to go back again, Kerala is calling me.
Taufan Gio | Disgiovery
Kerala Blog Express is my most ultimate travel experience so far. Never thought that Kerala would be more like my home country, Indonesia, with its hot & humid air, rice & spice plantations, endless coconut trees, and dense forests. We even share similar puttu, appam, and achar. Visiting Kerala makes me feel like going back to my grandparents’ village where everything was so green, calm, beautiful, and friendly. And usually, I don’t even want to leave! Of course, Kerala has so many unique things to offer such as the backwater experience and tiger reserve I liked most.
What I remember most during the KBE trip is the bus ride where we spent hours every day. Whether you hated it or not, you’d got to like it eventually. Our seats have become our own little palace. Along the ride, you could hear Manoj’s (our guide) voice explaining everything all over the cabin. When everything got so boring then it’s time for sleep bombs. Off the bus for tea & toilet. Head wobbles. Smiles from friendly Keralites. We were a bunch of kindergarten kids who happened to be the luckiest travel bloggers in the world visiting God’s Own Country. We took this trip professionally but we didn’t lose a chance to have fun and make the most out of it.
Vijay Nambiar | Feel Free or Fly
Being the only Malayali (native of Kerala) amongst the bloggers selected for the Kerala Blog Express, this was my first real homecoming. The experience for me was all about the people I met during the two-week journey. Sharing, learning, and forging friendships with inspiring travel bloggers, falling in love with the people of Kerala and their honest smiles, experiencing mesmerizing sunsets; every moment was magical. But the one thing that I have most importantly been gifted by this unique road trip is a sense of pride in belonging to land so aptly known as God’s Own Country.
Thanks, everybody for sharing your experiences!