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Sharing your travels with family and friends while you're there - ideas beyond a blog?

Hello, fellow travelers!

I have a month long vacation coming up that is also a relocation for a family member. I'd like to share our adventures through words and photos with our family and friends as we are there, without creating a blog, or using Facebook. We'd like to have more control over who can see the messages for privacy reasons.

I'm thinking about using some kind of email distribution, but wonder if there are any programs or easy to use templates that I can just drop in photos and text, export as a PDF, and then include that in an email. Does anyone have any recs to share? I'd like to have it look like a newsletter, but be easy to adapt, if we had more photos one day, or a lot of text to share on a day.

Thanks for any suggestions you can share!

Laurie😊

Posted by
1985 posts

I did emails for years before moving on to a blog. You can make your blog private and by invitation only so very few can see it.

No matter how I tried to do the email/picture route, the pictures seldom went through or took HOURS on hotel wifi.

The blog is easier, faster and I can send endless pictures out.

Posted by
2771 posts

On Instagram you can update photos with comments to just the people you specifically name in a group, while keeping the travel photos, etc. private from the wider group of followers, should you have a wider instagram group.

Posted by
222 posts

My family uses Google photos, it's so easy to create and then share the album and invite just those you want to include to follow along. If you want to take the time you could first insert text or other creative features prior to posting, although it's pretty limited- but if you want just fast and easy it's perfect.

Posted by
6874 posts

Use Google Photos and send the link only to the people you want. I write a summary in an email to select people and send the link to the photos once I complete a series of days in one place and not every single day. I sometimes do this on a long train ride or if I have jet lag awake in the middle of the night. For example these are from Keukenhoff in the Netherlands using Google Photos:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZyG6X3Vft9tZTepo7

Posted by
302 posts

Thank you, everyone - for your suggestions! I thought about Google Photos-but want to be able to easily tell the stories behind the photos, more in a narrative form than captioning each photo. I felt the same way about Instagram's style - I'd like the ability to tell a longer story occasionally, connected with several photos.

What platform did you use for your blog, Valerie? Did you feel it was private enough with the settings provided - knowing that nothing is ever really private once it is posted? That's our biggest concern...but I really like the capabilities of blogs. I certainly enjoy reading them!😃

Thanks,
Laurie😊

Posted by
6874 posts

I find it more fun when people ask more detail about an image versus feeding a story behind an image that you don't know if people are interested in hearing about.

Posted by
1985 posts

I use Wordpress.com. It’s simple to use and photos load easily.

When I go into Settings, I can make it private. Then people have to send me a request to see the blog. If I don’t give permission, they can’t see my posts.

Posted by
86 posts

With Facebook you can select who you want to see the posts and pictures, and you can make them into a named group. The posts/pictures don't necessarily go to all of your 'friends' or public unless that's what you choose.

Posted by
1982 posts

Valerie,
My family and friends do not use FB or Instagram. If I use Wordpress, do people have to go to it or do I have to text or email them the link?

Posted by
1985 posts

If you are using Wordpress.com as a private blog, you would send your friends and family a link. The link would invite them to subscribe to your blog. Then, every time you put up a post, they would get an email saying there is a new post. There would be a link in that email, taking them directly to the post.

It really works out very well. I've never looked back - I've been blogging my trips for 5 years now. It's just so much easier. The picture uploading thing back in the email days was a huge waste of time. I would spend hours trying to upload them to email and then lots of email servers blocked my messages because they were so large.

Posted by
3424 posts

You could also create a shared folder on Google drive or Dropbox and placed images and narration there. Only share it with those you want to be able to see the information.

Posted by
914 posts

I have gone on long trips and used both an email list and Facebook. Email usually has limitations on the size of files so you are limited to the number of pictures. Facebook is good because you can upload a lot more. You could always set up an additional Facebook account and manage your friends who can see your pictures.

Posted by
26363 posts

You could schedule a Zoom call for the various folks once a week and all you need is decent wifi and everybody can see each other and chat. Just a bit difficult for more than one to sing at a time...

Posted by
258 posts

My favorite free option is Canva.com - it's fairly user-friendly, and does have a lot of pre-made templates (they tend to put their paid or pro ones at the top, but you can search things like "email newsletter free" to wade through.

Posted by
1982 posts

Valerie,
I went to your blog but I can’t see pictures or read entire posts. Do you have to give permission?

Posted by
1985 posts

@JulyB - it’s a totally public blog. You should be able to open it. I am not allowed to link it here but I will PM you a link:)

Posted by
1985 posts

@JudyB - in thinking about your comment that you can’t see pictures or entire posts, I have another tip for you.

The posts scroll down your screen as little teaser headings. Each post has a title that shows up in gray. Click on the title of a post that interests you and then it will open in full, with pictures and all. Hope that helps!

Posted by
8404 posts

I have been blogging my international trips for 10 years. I changed to Wordpress a few years ago when the old platform I was using was no longer available. I recently started a new Facebook page to allow me to also share my travels that way, using the same name as my blog. In the past I would sometimes share travel photos on Facebook in real time, but I’ve decided that the less people who know I’m traveling the better.

Posted by
1426 posts

I use Wordpress for my travel blogging, but for your purposes I think you will find Blogger easier to set up and use.

Blogger has a setting called "Reader Access." If you set it to "Custom Readers," you can invite whoever you want to have access.

Blogger is also owned by Google and integrates well with Google Photos, so if you store your photos there, you can easily add them to your blog without uploading each photo.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
1985 posts

One thing I just learned about Blogger vs. Wordpress yesterday: on Blogger, you can't see the pictures that you are choosing from to import. When you open the import feature in the middle of a blog post, the JPEG-type text descriptions of pictures opens up and you're supposed to drag them in. But if you have thousands of pictures, it's hard to know what you're choosing from.

At least that was my experience yesterday with someone setting up a Blogger site.

On Wordpress, when I choose the button to import a picture into a post, all my pictures open up as thumbnails and I can scroll through the pics and click on what I want - and poof! it's imported into my post!

Someone with more experience might be able to make Blogger do this as well, but I couldn't find it yesterday.

Posted by
1982 posts

Valerie, Andrea and Lane,
You have been so helpful!

Valerie,
I did access your site and was able to read posts and view photos! Are you a professional writer?

My photos are on my iPhone’s iCloud so it sounds like I’m better off with Wordpress. I’m going to Venice in 2 weeks and want to try this as a way share with a few family and friends. Most of my friends yawn when I tell them I’m going somewhere. Even my best friends say “tell me all about it when you get back” but never mention it when I return. This might be a way for them to have the freedom to choose what they want to see.

Posted by
1985 posts

@JudyB - thanks for the amazing compliment! I am not a professional writer - I'm a lawyer - but I love blogging our travels. I try to offer a unique angle on travel - our failures, oversights and miscommunications, with a few successes thrown in here and there.

Posted by
302 posts

So many great suggestions and experiences! Thank you!! I do use iCloud, so perhaps Wordpress is my best bet, and I’ll also check out Canva.com.

Valerie, would you mind sending me a link to your blog, please? I would like to see how it is set up.

I enjoyed reading about what others have found easy and helpful.😊

Thanks,
Laurie😊

Posted by
1985 posts

Laurie - I am sending you a Private Message with a link to my blog. I am not supposed to put it into a post here on the open site. Let me know if you can’t find it:)

Posted by
302 posts

Thank you, Valerie! Can't wait to take a look and armchair travel...and get some ideas!😊

Laurie

Posted by
3626 posts

The polar steps ap is pretty interesting. It tracks your progress and allows you to share photos and comments with just those that you have given permission to in real time. At the end of the trip, you can edit quickly and actually publish a book of your journey which makes for a nice memory.

Posted by
5697 posts

Our kids aren't really that interested -- they just get check-in emails so they know we're still alive. They all have access to our Tripit itinerary so they can cross-check news reports of bad weather or terrorism to see if we are in the specified area at the time.
More descriptive emails go to travel group members -- hotel names, restaurants, sightseeing tips -- because those people might actually go to the same places in the future. Pictures wait until in-person meetings.

Posted by
302 posts

Carol now retired, thanks for the Polar Steps rec. Did you use it? Any helpful hints you can share?

Thanks!
Laurie

Posted by
3626 posts

I did use it and really enjoyed it. I even went ahead and published the book at the end of the journey which was quite fun and I enjoy looking through it. My family liked tracking me in real-time and it was interesting for them.