From the unearthing of the Lance Armstrong scandal to the #MeToo movement and exposing high power international cover-ups, the world would be far worse off than it is without the incredible work of investigative journalists. I’m proud to be amongst those bringing the hard hitting stories to the front lines.

Just kidding.

I couldn’t hold a candle to any of the incredible people who find and deliver actual impactful news, and I have an undying respect for what they do, knowing full well that most of my role as a “blogger” is just entertainment, insight and inspiration. But there are still deeper responsibilities to the privilege that comes with writing to large audiences, and I wanted to discuss them more openly.

Your Time And Money

For most people, travel is but a dream. If you’re someone lucky enough to get out there and actually do it, who’s come here looking for advice on airline seats, hotels, destinations or travel gadgets, I’d be downright appalled if anything ever advocated on here led you astray.

It’s why I don’t have 200 freelancers writing brand approved content every day; )

One of the most humbling, satisfying and resounding moments for me each week is when someone is kind enough to send a picture, screenshot or note about their travels, and how my advice might have played a part. Whether it’s “about to board this plane, hope your seat advice was good”, or “booked the family to Mexico City on your advice”, I’m always like… crap, I better make sure this info is still good.

I *think* this is why I actually love what I do. It’s not hard hitting, life altering journalism, but it’s a free resource for people to improve their travel, go more often or at least do something in a better fashion. Hearing those #winning stories only makes me want for more people to have them.

Balancing Content Freedom With Integrity

There’s also another privilege of being an independent blogger, which is something I just don’t think I could ever trade in. There is no “editorial calendar”, created in full partnership with the airlines, hotels or cities one is meant to objectively cover, nor is there an overt censorship to what’s said. Generally speaking, it’s just the best opportunities of the day, the moment or the year, laid out as bare bones and simplistically as possible, without a master plan.

People love to “blogger bash”, but I mostly just don’t understand why. Quite often, I feel like the leaks, info and tidbits you get on travel blogs are the only things that keep some parts of the travel industry honest. If a blogger didn’t get a hold of “leaked” proposed changes to a loyalty program, tourism visa, airline seat or hotel idea and show them before they got to go live, some things would be worse.

I know of instances where evil proposals have been rolled back on account of bloggers helping to get the info out, and initial feedback killed the changes before they could be officially announced. Most mainstream, advertiser funded outlets would simply reach out for comment, have the issue at hand denied and choose not to publish.

At the same time, there’s a big responsibility in knowing how to vet sources and when to stand down. 

If I don’t know something to be true, and it’s just a rumour, I always note that it’s just that “a rumour” and try to give a bit of context of why I believe it to be genuinely true or utterly false. Not everyone does that, and it can spoil the milk for all. 

There are always blogger bashers who would say that bloggers “kill the good stuff”, but that to me just says “I found this ice cream spot before you, and now no one else can have it or I’ll cry”, which is something I’d hope my future children would understand isn’t polite by the age of 2. Obviously, ya’ knobhead, you found the info somewhere too…

Real Life Implications

The main takeaway for me – every single day – is that I’m not speaking to an endless sea of Google Analytics every time I write something. I’m speaking to real life humans, who’ve put their time, faith, money or interest into what I’ve written and if it’s not up to muster, I’m toast.

Even worse than me being toast, someone could waste their precious vacation time, money or both if I didn’t deliver the right goods. I’m grateful that people put their trust here, and I’ll always strive to be as transparent as possible so that nothing ever raises an eyebrow. If it does, just say.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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7 Comments

  1. So, the one thing I thought this blog was going to touch on was the environmental impact of the travel industry. Travel has become cheaper and thus, more people are doing it. Many people, myself included, have been highly influenced from bloggers, youtubers, instagrammers who have changed the perception of travel from a luxury to a lifestyle.

    Behind having less children and living car-free, flights and cruises are among the largest carbon emitters. What is the responsibility of travel professionals in promoting an industry that negatively impacts the planet?

    There aren’t any easy answers to this and I’m not trying to put the blame on travel “influencers”. I as an individual could also make the conscious decision to travel less.

    Additional reading > https://qz.com/1671617/how-much-does-your-flight-actually-hurt-the-planet/

  2. A reasonable enough take, although I’m not sure how much to agree with “I know of instances where evil proposals have been rolled back on account of bloggers”. Could you give a few examples from the last 5 years. IMO, while travel bloggers circumstantially get too much praise and too much grief, there is some justification to the bashing. Bloggers basically saying how some absolutely terrible devaluation really isn’t so bad come across as just trying to sell more credit cards. If you could list a few times recently that bloggers actively helped regular people regarding loyalty programs or similar things, we should hear them. It helps provide a more balanced view of things.

  3. You say you can’t understand ‘blogger bashers’, yet that’s exactly what you spend your time doing to other blogs. Can’t you see the irony here!? I’m sure you’re a decent enough guy in person, but I find your confrontational attitude online to be quite unappealing. It’s a shame, because you write some good stuff. Try to lighten up and be more personable. Life doesn’t have to be so confrontational all the time.

    1. Jamie, fair play. I’m not actually attacking any blogs here, just discussing the nuance which can be difficult here.

      I will note though that there’s only one blog I bash, because it’s not a blog, it’s a media company with billions in venture capital backing pretending to be a blog. Is business Insider or CNN a blog?

  4. Luigi, You do a great job and your independence is highly respected. I hope uncle Alex’s mob aren’t giving you too hard a time for telling the truth…
    Forgive me for not being one of those who’s shared photos and experiences on a routine basis but your insights, advice, suggestions and analysis are respected and hugely valued. You’ve also directly enabled me to take more than one wonderful trip through bargain deals.
    Whilst we may sometimes disagree on one major carrier, I find your objectivity and analysis simply the best available from any English language travel blog.
    Accept the praise and ignore the bashers who may simply be looking to troll anyone / any blog and those who perhaps disagree with a single article but aren’t in it for the log term. Checking that I’m not wearing a tin foil hat, this sphere of work is also highly commercialised and consider that some of the critics may not be acting wholly independently of your competitors.
    Thank you., I hope recent events have brought you closer to my views (see above) and so glad that you’re still in the game after the preXmas story which had me (and no doubt thousands of others) worried that you may abdicate from GSTPs position as king of travel blogs.

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