Our latest Travel Blogger in the Spotlight is Cath. Cath is an Irish expat now living in Portugal after 15 years in the UK. A former scientist, she and her family moved from wet and windy Wales to give their son a more outdoor life in the sun and to be close to her parents who retired there. She continues to write her family travel blog while also spending time building up her Ireland destination site. Follow her at Passports and Adventures: Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Travel Around Ireland: Blog, Facebook page, Facebook group.

What inspired you to start blogging?

Initially, I started blogging in the parenting niche as a sort of online diary for my son and me. I knew some other people who were bloggers and as I’d always enjoyed writing, I thought “I’ll give that a go”. However, after I started sharing some of our travel diaries after our holidays with him I realised I had more of a passion for travel writing than I ever did about anything related to parenting. So, in 2018 I pivoted to family travel and never looked back. Passports and Adventures is the result of my decision to delve into the world of family travel.

What are your blogging and travel plans for the next 12 months?

My main blogging goal for the next 12 months is to continue shaping my family travel blog as it needs some serious TLC. It’s been a bit neglected over the last 12 months for obvious reasons but I want to whip it into shape in the hopes travel returns to a sort of normal soon. I am also working on my Ireland blog, Travel Around Ireland, which focuses on guides and articles about Ireland as a whole. That is where my main focus will be over the coming months. And as if that isn’t enough, my husband and I have started another site which we plan to work on jointly. Whether we can dedicate the time to it will remain to be seen!

Where is your happy place? Your favourite destination in the world?

Ireland has become my happy place since my son and I started travelling there once a year for a road trip. Despite being Irish I never really explored the country when I was younger and then living in the UK for 15 years made it even harder. But when our son came along, I decided I wanted to ensure he was exposed to the country of his heritage from a young age and this could be achieved by exploring it with his parents. It’s a win-win situation as I get to discover parts of Ireland for the first time with him.

The more I discover Ireland and the more I read about it, the longer my list of places I want to visit there grows. It has fast become my favourite destination in the world as, although it is a small island, there is so much to see and do that each trip will be different from the last. Plus, we get to see our family when we return.

Which blogs do you love to read for inspiration?

Blogs that I regularly drop into include Travel Mad Mum. Karen is a fellow Dubliner and reading her blog gives me serious wanderlust. I also love The Life of Spicers, especially when I’m dreaming of taking our son to Walt Disney World. And for UK destinations, I love reading Yorkshire Wonders and Big Family Little Adventures. I also love reading Wanderlust and Wet Wipes. Emma is a British expat living in Singapore and not only does she write about her family’s travel adventures, she also writes about expat life and it has been a source of great comfort to me since moving to Portugal to know that there are other people around the world feeling the same way as me about all aspects of expat life.

Can you share the three most popular posts on your blog?

The three most popular posts on my blog in the last 12 months are as follows:

How to Visit Santa in Lapland on a Budget: I wrote this post after we booked Lapland cheaply in 2018. We had been given some advice by a family member and I wanted to share our trip with my readers. This was the first in a series of blogs about our trip to Lapland.

Visiting Yellowstone with Kids – The Ultimate How-to Guide: I wrote this complete guide to visiting Yellowstone with kids after our epic trip to visit this US National Park with our son in 2017. We travelled from Portugal to Portland, Oregon via London in order to drive to Yellowstone National Park. This post was designed to help other families considering a trip there.

Dublin with Kids: This guide to visiting Dublin with kids is another popular post and covers everything from when to go, where to stay, and things to do in the Irish capital with kids.

Can you share any tips for newer bloggers who would love to set up a travel blog?

I have two main pieces of advice for newer bloggers. Firstly, really consider the niche you are going to write in and research it before diving in. I wish I had known how saturated the family travel niche was before pivoting or I may have made a different choice. The more specific a niche you can write about, the less competition and easier it will be. This is starting to ring true where my Ireland blog is concerned. I write only about Ireland and some of my posts are ranking a lot quicker than my family travel posts ever did. So, go as niche as you can!

Secondly, from the very beginning, learn SEO (search engine optimisation). I wish I knew in 2014 (when I first started blogging) what I know now about SEO or things might have worked out very differently for me. It always seemed much harder and scarier than it actually is. And I might not have wasted so much time wondering why my blog was getting so little traffic when I wasn’t doing my best to help it find its way onto the first page of Google. I also would not have written as much rubbish as I did. Without good SEO, you are simply writing for yourself and people who know you or of you through social media. People cannot find you through a Google search if you don’t write a post with SEO in mind. And I don’t want to rely on social media always being a way to bring traffic in as I know some bloggers who have lost their Instagram or Facebook accounts, and all their followers along with it. So, find a good SEO course, finish it and write with it in mind. It’ll give you the best chance with Google from the beginning.

If you could go back in time to when you first set up your blog would you do anything differently?

Yes, I wouldn’t write in the parenting niche and I wouldn’t go broad under “family travel”. I would have niched down right away. And like I said above, I wish I had known about, and learned, SEO from the beginning instead of relying on social media and other traffic sources!