SEO has become somewhat of a taboo word recently… especially if you’re a part of a certain Facebook group where anybody who dares to mention it receives the wrath of a few anti-SEO martyrs. A lot of people will say all forms of SEO are wrong and if you dabble in the dark arts then you’re cheating the system… but even those who say this are guilty of practising SEO at one point or another. Even though many of you now know what it’s all about I still get people asking me on a daily basis to help out with some of the basics.

As a little background story my past 4 years of working experience has been within the SEO field. I’ve been an SEO manager for some high-end companies and have seen some amazing results within the travel industry… I’m not trying to brag I’m just trying to show I’m not plucking this information out of the air. I’m also not trying to say I’m the expert who knows everything because I certainly don’t… I just know enough. For my next few posts I’ll be doing a mini-series on some of the basics of SEO that hopefully you will be able to use and put to good use on your own sites.

SEO guideThe first myth I want to expel from the dark arts of SEO is that it’s hard… because it’s not. SEO is something a lot of you do without realising it. I’m going to try and explain what I know in a very basic and general manner so I’m sorry to those of you who know what you’re doing.

In a nutshell Google has these little things called spiders. Google uses these spiders to crawl through every web page on the internet and record information about that page. Once Google has all of that information it will assess what that webpage is about and will then show that page in its search results if it is deemed relevant to the search being made. This is why when you search for something like “Weather in the UK” it will show web pages that are related to showing you what the weather is like in the UK rather than a website about sausages. Occasionally you will get a webpage showing in the results that don’t match what you’ve searched for and this is usually down to bad people using nasty black-hat SEO techniques to gain top places in Google for money-making keywords… but that’s a whole different topic.

With this in mind the most basic principle of SEO is to make your site as relevant as possible for the keywords you want to show up for. What I mean by this is if you’re writing about sausages and nothing else then don’t expect to show up for searches in Google from the keyword “travel” – it just won’t happen. However if you’re hoping to show up in Google for the keyword “Australia Travel Blog” then you need to show Google that your website is a good resource for somebody that may be searching for a Travel Blog about Australia. To show Google that your travel blog is about Australia then you need to mention it somewhere on your site… this could be in the form of a few sentences on your ‘about’ page or even post tags and categories… whichever way you do it you need to make sure it’s there. If you don’t mention ‘Australia’ anywhere on your blog then how can you expect Google to recognise your blog as a resource for Australia?

SearchIf your blog is more of a general travel blog then you’re more than likely going to be relying on your posts to do the work for you. Currently 70% of my traffic comes from Google searches and that’s because I’ll make sure to have information in my posts that I know people will be looking for. As an example one of my older posts about Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary receives searches for terms such as “Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary opening times” and “How much does it cost to hold a Koala at Currumbin”. My personal blog is one of the top results for these terms because I’ve included lines in that post that refer to searches that would be made.

Googles spiders have crawled through my posts, recorded information that shows those posts having the information about the opening times and then has shown them in their results pages because they are relevant to what is being searched for. I’ve not deviated away from the post topic by putting the opening times in there… I haven’t blatantly spammed the post with keywords as they are useful bits of information for somebody reading it, but I have made it relevant for something that I know will be searched for.

As I’ve said there are many ways to make sure you’re showing up for keywords and making your site relevant is just one of them. As this is part of a mini-series I won’t dive in too deep just yet but if you’ve any questions so far leave them in a comment below and I’ll either answer you on here or send you an email if the response is too long!

The last couple of months have seen some rather large changes in my personal circumstances which have resulted in some equally large changes in my travel plans.

The short version of it is that I’m now single again after 2 years and I jetted off to Ecuador at the beginning of January, signalling the start of my next long term travel plan.

All this change and slight uncertainty has made me questions why I travel and how I’ve ended up on the path I’m currently walking.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that I use travel as a tool to run away and distract myself.


Full Circle

My first gap year to Australia was planned way back in late 2008.

At the point I was with a girl who I’d been dating for just over 3 years, and who was aware that I was wanting to travel. Initially my plans were to head down under for 3months – covering the east coast, Sydney for Xmas and new year and finishing off in Melbourne with some buddies who had moved out there.

A nice simple plan which would mean a brief period of long distance love.

But the longer the relationship went on and the more arguments we had the more drawn out my Aussie travels became.

Eventually it culminated in a massive argument, the ending of a 4 year relationship, a few too many beers and me purchasing a working holiday visa – which landed me in Australia a few months later, where I stayed and played for an entire year.

At the time it seemed like a slightly rash decision to make, but it’s the best decision I ever made. It grew me as a person, allowed me to clear my head and I came home with an exciting future of travel with a beautiful girl who I’d met along the way.

A further year down the line and a whole heaps of arguments later I once again found myself throwing away another relationship to go head back out on the road.

But was I ending the relationship because I wanted to go and travel or was I traveling because I ended the relationship?


Why I Travel

I have pondered on that thought alot recently and on why I travel in general. One of the main reasons behind all my adventures is to surf, it’s been my passion for the last decade and is firmly routed behind most of the decisions I make. I do however tend to use it as an excuse for alot of things – rash decisions included.

I also travel because I want to experience the world and explore the unknown. I want to see new things, photograph them and meet heaps of new people.

But the more I think about it the more I realise that a large part of my travelling experience is escapism.

Through my travels I escape the 9-5 grind that many of my friends have become helplessly trapped in. I’m sure this is the reasoning behind many a backpackers decision and something all gap years travellers have I the back of their minds, the postponing of work and ‘real life’.

I also use it to escape the English weather and climate – again another common reason for travel. Everyone enjoys the sun and leaving behind the rainy UK winter, and indeed summer!

It has however become apparent that I use travel as an excuse to avoid alot of other responsibilities, and as the easy option when it comes to making changes, decisions and confronting difficult periods in my life.

Mainly relationships it seems.

So far is worked out pretty well. I had an epic year in Australia and settled into Byronian living – my home away from home.

And this time I’d scored my dream job surf coaching in South America and I’ve also sorted a long term flight ticket that will take me over 18,000 miles through various places on the way to New Zealand.

Both seem like pretty amazing experiences right?

But this travel is underlined with the fact it’s cost me alot. Not just financially but emotionally.

At some point I will run out of places to run to and have to step up and face my fears – the fear of actually having to deal with the day to day issues of normal life and big decisions.

Everyone travels for their own reasons – and I’m sure I’m not the only one who uses it as a way to escape, whether intentionally or not.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see if this latest move of escapism is another stroke of glorious genius or a step too far…I’m sure it’ll entail some fun along the way though!


Have you jetted off to a far flung place to escape, did it help, or did you simply not questions what you were doing?!

Mopeds are a lot of fun and SE Asia is a great place to take one for a spin, especially because they are so cheap to rent.

So no matter what your experience level, even a first timer, follow these rules and hopefully you won’t be battling  broken leg for the rest of your trip.

Always wear a helmet.
I’ll admit to not always following this rule especially on quiet island roads but I’m no role model and in towns it’s a definite must.  Not only because of the sometimes crazy accident rates around this part of the world but also because it’s the law.

Go with the flow.
Most traffic has a sort of flow to it. Judge how fast you should be travelling and how best to overtake from those around you. I don’t mean the guy going the fastest on the hard shoulder either, go with the majority.

Practice makes perfect.
Don’t get your new girlfriend from the dorm room last night on the back straight away.  Take the bike for a spin first and get used to the controls. Become one with the bike? Or something like that…

You’re on a moped.
Not in a scene from The Fast and the Furious.  Remember mopeds aren’t always the easiest to spot for car drivers so think first before flying round that blind downhill corner at top speed, it won’t be the car that comes out worse…

Check, check & check again.
Before you head off onto those wild jungle roads, make sure everything with the bike is working beforehand.  You don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere and ending up as the modern day Tarzan.

Don’t play Evil Kenevil.
No matter what anyone tells you no one has ever cleared a canyon or valley, or anything worth note in fact, on a moped.  Don’t try to be the first…  You will fail.

…And now you’re safe. Safe from major injuries, safe from hefty repair bills and annoying insurance claims.

Do you have any more tips for riding a moped in other parts of the world? Or maybe a concern about your first time?


“You’re going on an around the world adventure? Who are you going with?”

Nobody. I’m going solo

“…Wait, what? Are you mental?!”

Well no, actually, you’re not mental. Thousands of people embark on around the world trips every year and 99% of them are looking to meet new friends and acquaintances along the way. Some of the best friends I have these days are people I’ve met on the road and even though I’m living in another country to them now I still talk to them almost every week.

One of the biggest myths about travelling solo is that it’s a very lonely task. If anything, I think travelling solo is one of the most social things you can do. I’ve generally found other travellers to be some of the most genuine, friendly people that I’ve ever met. No matter who the traveller is, you always have one thing in common with them – you like to travel!

Bearing this in mind it’s very easy to make friends with people in hostels and on the road. Most travellers like to share their experiences with each other and talk about where they are going to next, places that could be recommended by others, places others have been… we’re like younger, more sane versions of that crazy grandma we all have that wants to know every little detail and any little story. If you’re happy enough to share then we’re happy enough to listen.

It’s safe to say before I started travelling I wasn’t very social at all. I didn’t join any groups at home in fear of having to talk to strangers and making a fool out of myself and I didn’t mix with other people because I was ‘happy with the friends I’ve got’ – going travelling and being on my own made me sick to the stomach with the thought of being thrown in to a room full of strangers but take it from me, you have nothing to fear AT ALL.

The fact of the matter is there’s only one thing you need to remember when trying to make friends while on the road – be yourself. Don’t act a fool, don’t try and be somebody that you’re not and don’t annoy the others in the room you’ll find yourself making friends left right and centre. Obviously it’s going to take a little effort on your side. You may find yourself in a room with people as new to this as you – try striking up a conversation first “Hey, I’m Dan, what’s your name?” If the encounter doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped then it doesn’t matter as it’s highly likely you will be moving on to a new hostel in a few days or they will. I can guarantee you that if you’re open to making new friends then you’ll find them and it’s highly likely they will be friends for life.

If you’re still not sure then try using a traveller’s social networking site. One site that I’ve used myself (and am in no means affiliated with) is travbuddy. Basically you sign yourself up, bang in a few destinations you plan on visiting and on what dates… the magical mechanisms in the website do all of the work for you and find other people who will be in that destination and on those dates. Hey presto!

If you have any tips on ways that you’ve made friends on the road we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

These are just some of the friends I've met along the way...

Main image supplied by Photostock

So many times I’ve been trawling through travel blogs and found “Top Travel Tips for Women” but never before have I found travel tips for men. Feeling a bit left out and dejected at this I’ve decided shine a little light on this often ignored topic and bring you the long-awaited and desperately needed travel tips for men. The following are what I deem to be some of the most important tips a man can follow while travelling:

Clown hair
The voices told me this would look good....

Never trust that inner voice

Where women can often rely on that little voice in their heads telling them that “this is probably a bad idea”, the little voice living inside a man’s head has been designed to do the complete opposite. Instead of telling us to walk away from a dangerous situation, the voice inside our heads would encourage us to face it head on and be the hero. Or if we found a sign saying “dangerous currents do not swim” the voice in our head takes it as a personal insult on our swimming skills and decides to make us take a dip anyway. That little voice in your head will be the undoing of your travels before you have even started. Ignore it at all costs.

Protect yourself from pick-pockets

Don’t wear pants with pockets. Or even better don’t wear pants at all.

They said they loved me
They said they loved me...

She’s really not that in to you

Going abroad you’re bound to be feeling like a god. You’ve left your cares and responsibilities at home and have nothing left to tie you down. You’re THE man. Knowing you’re ‘the man’ you’re going to be expecting foreign women to be head over heels in love with you. When these supermodels start throwing themselves at you, you start picturing your life married to the stunning-20 year-old who’s currently hanging off your arm. In reality that supermodel who has taken a sudden interest in you is most likely after a visa or all of your money. The 2 month fling with the new love in your life will turn in to the worst investment you ever make bringing with it divorce costs that go through the roof. Before you end up in a sticky situation (and not the one you were hoping for) stop and think what a stunning 20-year-old actually sees in a scruffy backpacker in the first place.

Avoid public humiliation.

Ignore the second point. Wear pants.

Jump! It's the only way...

You’re not Indiana Jones

Something I learned the hard way while travelling is that you don’t suddenly change into an action hero that’s able to take on any situation and come out of it with not so much as a bead of sweat on your forehead. You’re still the same old you and you haven’t learned overnight how to jump out of a moving car, do a few rolls and then stand up without a scratch on you. You’re bound to be placed in to a few situations while travelling when you think “yeah, I can do this” but deep down you know that 13ft jump across a swamp filled with very hungry alligators is way too ambitious for you yet you’ll still give it a damn good go. Do yourself a favour and walk away. Seriously… just walk.

And finally, possibly the most important advice your mother ever gave you reiterated by a random stranger;

Don’t be silly – wrap your willy!

This article isn’t intended as the most serious piece of advice. Check back for some real travel tips for men and women that are coming soon!