There are many plugins for travel blogs available today, but I have to admit that when I began my website I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. HTML? PHP? Anchor text? All these could well be names of bacteria for all I knew. As most, I learned along the way, and MaiTravelSite was initially a simple website with a travel blog hidden somewhere and other features I hoped would help me out financially during my 10 month South East Asia trip, although I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be much. What an ignorant- it helped me nothing, at all.
I created the website from scratch beginning it exactly one month prior to departure, gathering info through google and spending at least 8 hours a day to set it up. Most of what I did has eventually proved useless, however I did one thing correctly: I used WordPress as the blogging platform and got my own domain. Two days after publishing I took off, and would update the blog once every week, didn’t use any Social Media, and spent very little time spreading the word about my site. I was traveling, and spending hours in front of the computer every day wasn’t my idea of fun while on the road.
Oddly enough I did begin to get visitors, and a few followers who even contacted me (besides friends and family), and I was pretty excited about that. It took me 6 months to realize that the power was in the blog, and many things could be achieved easily with the endless plugins for travel blogs WordPress has. So I changed it all while in Bali and MaiTravelSite became a full on blog, looking more like what it is today.
One of the things I really loved was finding plugins for my travel blog that could help me get what I wanted, which sometimes turned out to be something I didn’t need, but were cool anyhow. So this post is exactly about this: cool plugins every travel blogger like you should know exist, and that I highly recommend you use if you don’t already.
Don’t you love those blogs that have the sidebar tabbed menus in their theme? My theme is free, like many if not most, but this means it lacks a few or perhaps even plenty of the features paid-for themes have. The sidebar tabs will let you set up your own menu of things you want to display without using up too much sidebar space.
A lot of themes come with the Featured Content Gallery plugin incorporated in their blog, but if your theme doesn’t have it doesn’t mean you can’t get it. I tried including the FCG in my blog without success, as I knew nothing about coding, and support was not there. While spending a night in Mexico City’s airport I found the Dynamic Content Gallery plugin at around 3 am, and tried setting it up. I asked for support in the forum and 2 hours later the plugin was installed and working, as you can see it right now at the tops of my Home Page. Oh, and I also got help on where to place the code in the Stylesheet.
This is perhaps the most famous photography plugin for WordPress. It has plenty of features, is simple enough to set up, and looks cool. With time though it didn’t suit my needs so I stopped using it. It is still there beacause a few of my posts show photos through it, but I will sit one of these days and remove it. It can be, however, the plugin you need, so check it out- and like most this is not only a plugin for travel blogs
PhotoSmash Galleries Plugin
I still don’t understand why this plugin is free. It is soo comprehensive, has so many features and has such great support that I would I think the day will come when you’ll need to pay to use it. Out of the many great features it has I’d say that the one that stands out is that it allows you to set it such that blog visitors can upload pictures to your blog and display them wherever you want and however you want. In the meantime, you can also have your own galleries elsewhere. Isn’t this cool? I am not using it in this blog (yet), but I am using it elsewhere.
As a travel blogger there will be times you will want to explain where a place you recommend or have visited is. How better can you explaing this other than pointing it out in a map? This plugin uses Google Maps to specify locations you want to pinpoint. For example, if you wanted to show where Trafalagar Square is in London, simply type Trafalgar Square and the plugin will find and show that location on a map that you have previously mentioned. This is one of those handy plugins for travel blogs
Like it or not, you need Social Media in your travel blog if you want to get traffic and reach more people. This plugin will let you choose tabs from 17 social media sites and place them in your posts or pages. You can choose the size and where to place it, above or under the post. Check any post in this blog for examples.
Links into your travel blog are good for SEO purposes as you probably know. And links within your blog are superb too because it means you are referencing your own site to explain things or describe locations you have mentioned before. Install this plugin and that’s it- it will do everything by itself (OK, it wont link everything, but it will link plenty of keywords on auto pilot).
If your travel blog is photo heavy and you want to protect your images somehow, this plugin will add a watermark to photos you publish automatically once you have set it up. It dosn’t have many options, but is simple to use and gets the job done, and I think it is a great plugin for travel blogs that are heavy on photography. Check photos in this blog for examples- the “www.maitravelsite.com” blue watermark you see was added by this plugin.
So there you go! I believe that these 8 plugins for travel blogs can help you structure and optimize your blog easily and effectively, yet can be used with other blog topics too, of course. And sure, I use many other plugins as well but those have more to do with SEO and the site structure that I want, so I wont bore you with them (plus you probably know about them anyhow)- but feel free to ask if you feel like it! To conclude, if there were two things I would change if I could go back in time they would be: 1) Start the blog several months before my trip, like so many are doing, and 2) Use the plugins for travel blogs I now know exist right from the beginning.
What other plugins for travel blogs do you recommend? Please add them in the comment section for me and others to be aware of, and remember to share this post if you think it could help others!