Top 5 free digital tools for travel blogging

travel blogging tools

I celebrated my blog’s 1 year birthday early this month. In terms of travel blogging, I’m practically an infant. But I hope to be able to share some of my experience with you.

Today, I will tell you which are my Top 5 favorite free tools for travel blogging. The tools can be adapted to other types of blogging as well.

Since I’m too miserly to buy software for blogging, I choose to use free (not pirated) software for all my work on YQ Travelling.

I’m blogging on the WordPress.com platform so some of the tools might not work for you (eg #5).

Here are the Top 5 free digital tools I use:

  1. Windows Live Writer
  2. Dropbox
  3. Picasa
  4. Evernote
  5. WordPress.com
  6. (Extra) LibreOffice writer

No. 1: Windows Live Writer

Windows Live Writer
Working on a draft of this post in Windows Live Writer

It’s funny how Windows Live Writer is on the top of the list when I’ve only began using it in December. Windows Live Writer is a desktop blogging software which allows you to easily post directly from your desktop to your blog (at least for my WordPress.com blog).

Previously, I drafted my blog posts in LibreOffice Writer (open source equivalent of Microsoft Office) and even add links using handcoded HTML. (My work requires me to add HTML by hand so I’ve very familiar with it.)

Windows Live Writer makes it easier to add text formatting, photos, links and a lot more right from the comforts of the desktop.

What I don’t like about the software is that the Insert Picture function shrinks the photo to a tiny size so I have to manually upload it on WordPress.

Head over to Microsoft to download Windows Live Writer.

No. 2: Dropbox

Something like Dropbox. Credit: Dropbox
Something like Dropbox. Credit: Dropbox

The second on my list is Dropbox. I usually blog on three computers: home PC, office laptop and a netbook when travelling. It’s hard to get everything synchronized without Dropbox.

I save only one copy of my file in Dropbox, but I can retrieve the most recently updated file through the system. Isn’t it like magic?

I’ve installed Dropbox on all three computers and my iPhone. I don’t use it just for travel blogging. I also upload my photos from my phone to it as backup but recently, I’ve began using Google+ as photo backup because of the almost unlimited space.

Head over to download Dropbox for your computer.

No. 3: Picasa

Creating a collage in Picasa
Creating a collage in Picasa

Photos are important as part of the narrative for travel blogging. (Although some take that to the extreme.)

I don’t have Photoshop as I don’t know how to use it (and too cheap to buy it). Instead, I have Picasa which I use to organize my photos as well as crop and resize for images I want to put on the site.

The best feature of this tool is the “Export”, which resizes photos to the pixel length you specify. I find that 1000 pixel makes a good image size.

My free WordPress.com account does not have unlimited storage for images so I am careful to resize photos before putting them up. Exporting the photos also cut down on the size.

By the way, Picasa is owned by Google so you can easily upload your photos to Google Drive from the software.

Download Picasa.

No. 4: Evernote

Ever bookmarked a bunch of cool links and end up forgetting where the bookmarks are or feel too tired to sort through all the content? I did.

That was until I used Evernote. //end of commercial

Just kidding.

I began using Evernote after reading about a couple who were travelling the world without a guidebook.

I use the software and its Chrome widget to “clip” interesting content on the Web. For example, when I was writing my first guest post about Kuching. I “clipped” a few relevant pages from the Internet for reference.

It’s also very useful for travel planning since you have all the pages gathered in an area.

Download Evernote

No. 5: WordPress.com

travel blogging tools
Old school YQ Travelling format

I almost forgot about WordPress.com which is ironic because my blog would not exist without it.

The first post in this blog was written in Xanga because my friend was using it. The mass photo upload function knocked my socks off. Since then, I have cold feet for most activities.

Then I shifted the blog to Posterous because it’s a cute microblog site. Later I found out that the functionality is too limited so I ported it to WordPress.com.

Some people were telling me that I should have started the self-hosted version of WordPress instead. If you, like me, do not know what that means, you can just ignore that sentence.

Perhaps one day I might switch to WordPress.org, but that day is still not here yet.

Extra: LibreOffice Writer

LibreOffice Writer was in my original list of Top 5 but was kicked off the list when I discovered Windows Live Writer.

Instead of writing directly on my WordPress blog, I prefer having my draft on my computer because I can “Undo” more in here.

LibreOffice Writer looks a lot like Microsoft Word. It’s an open source word processing tool. You can write in it like Microsoft Word but you don’t need to pay Microsoft.

I started out using OpenOffice (LibreOffice’s past life) out of spite of Mircosoft. Then I got hooked to it. It feels a lot better than Word, although my boss would say that the Spellcheck is not working as well as Word.

I also use LibreOffice’s version of Excel for budgeting.

So, those are my favorite tools for travel blogging. What are your essential digital tools for travel blogging? Share it in the comments.