Travel Blogging with Naamini Jayaratne | Sunday Observer

Travel Blogging with Naamini Jayaratne

Travelling, at its core, is a very personal experience which takes a lot of personal investment whether it be time, money or effort. This means that though everyone pretty much would love nothing more than to travel a lot, the cost holds them back from pursuing their passion. Informative travel blogs, the Naamini Jay travel blog helps these travelling hopefuls to reduce those personal costs and make the right choices to travel enjoyably and efficiently. 

We spoke to Naamini Jayaratne, the creator behind the Naamini Jaytravel blog and she explained the reasoning behind her travel blog. 

Q: How would you introduce your travel blog to the uninitiated? What would you say is the purpose behind it?

 A: Travelling has been something that has always sparked an interest in me ever since I could remember and trying to capture the ‘perfect’picture or the ideal moment on video has always been something I attempted to do and been rather critical about. I used to document my travels and tell a story about my travels to the few my friends at the time who used to follow me . I used to get asked by many about where I went, stayed, what I did, until I realised that this might be something I could turn into something more! My travel blog is based on my passion to travel and create unique imagery or content if you call it, to resonate with people and to bring awareness about beautiful places that one can explore and experience themselves.

Q: What kind of content does your blog offer? Does it do anything beyond the scope of travel blogging?

A: My blog offers everything that is related to travel right now. I do bring in an aspect of sustainable and responsible travelling to my blog along with an aspect of wellness. This, I am building up through my other channels as I believe that it cannot be expressed too well through only a written piece but I am working on a few more aspects that I want to add to my travel blogs, vlogs and Instagram on social responsibility.

Q: What inspired you to start this? Was there someone or some specific people that you modelled your blogs after?

 A: Believe it or not, I did start a blog in 2013 and I wrote a few pieces and I worked so much on the layout. I got quite a few visitors and comments as well but I lost consistency and interest and as did not travel so often it just did not work out! I kept posting on Instagram because that was something I really loved doing. I loved curating, editing and always had a knack for looking at things with a creative angle. One of the main reasons I took to blogging was because I was too shy to vlog about my travels let alone look at and hear myself on video over and over again! Then, during the lockdown when I had quite some time in my hands to finally sit down and see it through I put it together and got quite a lot of positive feedback specially from Gamith as he is my biggest critic, which was a massive motivator to keep the written blog as we were anyway working on my Instagram blog together, which was also a lot of trial and error to find out what worked for us and also to create the output of what we had visualised in our minds. As for the written blog - I did a lot of research on blogs and got an idea as to what sort of outlook I would like for it to have but I always like to start with a blank canvas and figure it out as I go, so ,that is what worked for me.

Q: How strong is the travel blog community in Sri Lanka? What has your experience been like within it?

A: Well, I cannot say that the blogging community in the true sense of the word, where you maintain a written blog is that strong in Sri Lanka, that is not to say that there isn’t anyone who does it, there is! But, I think it definitely is something that is picking up and it is something that makes what you do a lot more professional and put together. I think yes, it definitely is a bit of work but if you enjoy your work it will not feel like a chore but rather a very elaborate expression of the work you do. On the other hand, Instagram travel blogging is quite huge ,I think in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. It is a great thing that you can share what you create with so many people across geographical boundaries but I also think the downside is that there is a lack of regulation for reposting and sharing content without consent where someone else could benefit from using the content you created without your knowledge.

Q: How have you interacted with the travel blog community? Have you collaborated? Is there any real benefit to that?

 A: I am yet to collaborate with another blogger. But yes, I have opened communications with other bloggers, blogging pages and also have collaborated to create pieces for the blog and share my travel experiences.  

I think there is a huge benefit in collaborations as they create a kind of a partnership that leads to almost a chain reaction to other bloggers, content creators, new partnerships and the like as this industry works a lot on this support system that you build. It is a community, so, the benefit is not only yielded by you but can trickle down to others as well! There’s always enough pie for everyone!  

Q: Which demographic would you say benefits more from your content? How has feedback been like, both local and foreign?

 A:My content, I think, appeals to young adults in the 18-34 age bracket more as they are the ones that are mostly active and looking to explore and experience many new places and things . I also believe it is for both local and foreign alike as that is the magic about digital media and platforms as they have no boundaries and opens your platform to everyone and that is why the quality of content matters.  

Q: Which excursion would you say has been the most beneficial to your blogging career so far?

 A: I do not think there is a specific excursion that led me to believe it has been beneficial to my blogging career but one of the visits that really inspired me to blog was my visit to one of the Wilde & Co properties - Bougainvillea Retreat in Digana.  

Q: During the worst of the pandemic, were your blogs/vlogs completely on hold? How does a travel brand cope in times where it is discouraged to go outside?

 A: Yes, during the lockdown, due to the pandemic, all of my travel related work was completely on hold and some were simply cancelled as it was an unprecedented situation and we did not know what to expect or to make of the situation the whole world was in. Well, I think we have to look at the situation realistically, as this was not a ‘normal’ situation in any sense. The travel industry was one of the hardest hit industries due to the pandemic, but it is really important that we realise the risks in operating at a time like this and the importance of operating responsibly. I think it gave every player in the industry a reason to go back to the drawing board and re-strategise and make it neutral in the playing field where everyone can reap the benefits out of. We have all accepted that it is going to be a slow start but even if it is slow, if we are still moving forward responsibly, I think we can have hope.  

Q: Now that tourism is starting to get going again in Sri Lanka, how do you plan to proceed with your vlogs and blogsDo you think things will be harder moving forward? Or is there some advantage to be had?

A: Most importantly, we are still at a time where Sri Lanka is not open for foreign tourism. So, I think this will make people more aware and also more attentive when they do travel which I think is a good outcome. I do plan to proceed with caution with my travel related work as it might be a good time to explore with less cases of overcrowding.  

Q: Considering you’ve already started things up now that the lockdown has lifted, how different is travelling now compared to before?

A: For starters, the usual places that you would see crowded with people before are not, and has so much more breathing space and as a result has less impact on the environment. People are taking places and people less and less for granted as most of them realised the value of things over the lockdown, I think many long term beneficial changes will come into play with people taking safety protocols more seriously and with everyone is taking responsibility for their actions and their own health and those of others.  

Q: What kind of advice do you give for fellow travel enthusiasts and for anyone hoping to start their own travel blog?

A: For anyone contemplating if they should or shouldn’t start, if you are passionate about it (if you have been reading up to here, chances are - you are!) - start now! There will be a lot of experimenting, trial and error and learning as you go but, do not give up! Keep looking for inspiration in whatever you do and always try to create something that speaks to you before it speaks to someone else! Be original and be critical of your own work, look for constant improvement and do not be afraid to ask for help if you need to! As I mentioned before, there’s enough for everyone. If you can believe it, if you can see it, if you act on it, it will show up for you. That’s the truth!   

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