Happy 3rd birthday, YQtravelling.com

Italian tiramisu

It was YQtravelling.com’s third birthday on January 8. It slipped my mind so I’m making it up with this post.

Continue reading “Happy 3rd birthday, YQtravelling.com”

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.

I’m on Runaway Juno representing Kota Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu

I interrupt our regular post schedule with a BIG announcement!

I’m on Runaway Juno’s Runaway to Sister’s City this week, talking about my dear hometown: Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia.

Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu

If you are interested to learn more about Kota Kinabalu, here are some primer (actually, almost all of KK posts here):

For my regular readers who do not know about Juno, you should check out Runaway Juno blog now! (OK, maybe after reading the rest this posts.)

A few of my favorite Runaway Juno posts are the one where she talked about how she took a giant leap and also discussed things that I would (cowardly) rather sweep under the rug.

Until next travels! Stay safe.

Happy birthday, YQtravelling

birthday cake

birthday cake

Hello! It’s Jan. 8 and a special day here at YQtravelling. It’s the blog’s one-year birthday!

This marks one year since I’ve moved the blog from Posterous to WordPress.com. It will actually take me another 3 months to get serious about blogging but let’s just ignore that.

Thanks for following the blog throughout the year. If you’ve only joined in recently, welcome!

So what has happened during the year? A lot. :) I visit more places than I ever did in the past years. I’ve written about more places than I have in my life time.

Let’s checkout what were the top 5 posts during the year:

Top 5 blog posts on YQtravelling

No. 5: Choosing a bus from Singapore to JB (January 2012)

One of my first “to do” posts here. I wanted to share the different options there are for people who want to go to JB from Singapore.

No. 4: How many travellers does it take to renew a passport? (July 2012)

Turns out there are many others who are curious about how to get a Malaysian passport renewed while in Singapore.

No. 3: How to beat AirAsia’s b***s**t extra charges (February 2012)

One of the posts which I share the most. Since the post was first published, AirAsia changed its booking system. I updated the page and put the older version in a separate post for those who are nostalgic about the old system.

No. 2: Exploring Tokyo’s red light district at night (September 2012)

I was surprised to find out that a post in September had managed to shoot up so high into the ranking. It turns out that many people are interested in the mysterious Kabuki-cho, or maybe the “red light district”.

I think the visitors who came from Google were disappointed to find out that I did not include recommendations of host or hostess clubs. The raciest photo I have is a faraway shot of Doraemon characters in a PG-13 pose.

No. 1 Tips on taking train from Singapore to Malaysia (February 2012)

Taking the overnight train is one way to save on accommodation when travelling. I like the sleepers on our Malaysian train. The booking system is not as straightforward as I like but it works.

Things outside of YQtravelling

I also experimented with guest posting.

Over at Flocations, I share how to plan a 24 hour trip to Kuching.

At Diario de un curtido en Asia, I share how you can maximize a 24-hour trip in Singapore.

At AirAsia’s blog, I share how my day in Osaka went. This was the guest post which I gained the most traffic from. I really need to start writing more there.

Things to come

So, what will happen to YQtravelling in the new year? A lot. :)

I can’t share too much at this period but the blog will follow me while I travel.

Once again, thank you for joining me on my travels.

Tell me what you would like to read more on the blog: tales, tips, blogging, food? Drop your thoughts in the comment.

Welcome, Readers from AirAsia blog!

I was at a travel blogging workshop when I found out through Twitter that AirAsia blog published my A Day in Osaka post. (Check out the post at the AirAsia blog if you haven’t read it yet.)

A Day in Osaka on AirAsia blog
A Day in Osaka on AirAsia blog

A big welcome to new readers (and a virtual high five to old readers).

If you are new to the blog, here are some topics and posts on the blog that might interest you:
Budget travelling
How to beat AirAsia’s b***s**t extra charges (Yes, I love you AirAsia, but the bullshit charges should be opt in.)
6 tips for a pleasant budget flight

AirAsia destinations
Japan
Skip JR Pass, take long distance night bus
Stayed: Capsule Ryokan Kyoto

Vietnam
Party signs in Hoi An

Singapore
5 free touristy things to do in Singapore
24 hours in Singapore

Malaysia
Shopping for vintage clothing in Kota Kinabalu
8 reasons you should visit Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Extra
Have you tried train travelling? I heard trains are the new planes: Tips on taking train from Singapore to Malaysia

If you have any questions about travelling in Singapore/travelling solo as a female/travelling solo as a shy person, drop me an e-mail : yqtravelling[at]gmail.com, tweet me or even comment down below (unless you’re too shy, I understand that).

Until the next post!

-YQ

1st post: why another blog

It’s exams week but I can’t help but create a blog to just blab about my future travel. The username is inspired by Ms Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, only mine doesn’t sound as glam.

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I’m going to Japan! Yipee!

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Lots of stuff to do before it can become 100% true.

  1. Apply for visa (complete below before visa possible)
  • Get proof of student
  • Reserve plane tix
  • Photocopy bank pass book
  • Get letter of sponsorship – in progress
  • See if can map modules
  • Read all I can about travelling in Japan
  • Plan for pre-Fukuoka travels:
    • Tokyo – I love big cities! 
    • Kyoto – I love old cities!
    • Kobe – I love to eat (beef, in this case)!
    • And everywhere between Tokyo and Fukuoka!
  • Ask nicely for people to let me stay at their place
  • It’s not so bad, after listing all the to-dos out