We sometimes go away with our friends and leave our partners, spouses and/or children at home.  I know that I’ve done this with girl-friends and my brother frequently does this with his motor-biking friends.  Being away for a couple of days isn’t really a problem when it comes to sharing what we did, but being away for a week or maybe longer means that those we have left behind at home don’t always know exactly what we are doing.  Sharing text messages and quick phone calls doesn’t really tell them what we are experiencing.

The good news is that sharing your holiday, your business trip, your experience, your exploring, and/or your fun with those back home has never been easier.  There is an ever growing number of ways that you can do th is with the free blog, photo-sharing websites, and social networking websites; and I’d like to take this opportunity to share a few options with you.

Before you go ahead and create somewhere to share your holiday activities, experiences, exploring, excitements and those all important photographs; think about what you are trying to achieve.  Is this a one-off environment that you are creating just for this holiday or is this an environment that you would like to use for each holiday you go on?  Who will have access to the information and the photographs that you are going to publish – just close family, personal friends or the general public?  Whatever it is that you are trying to create the good news is that most social networking sites today are free to use and often simple to set-up and manage.

  • Facebook (www.facebook.com) – Facebook allows you to upload your photographs into albums.  Facebook also allows you to make comments throughout your holiday.  Facebook allows you to decide who can see what you are publishing – friends, or friends of friends for example.
  • Travel Journals (www.traveljournals.net) – Does what it ‘says on the tin’.  Travel journals is just that – it allows you to create a travel journal and publish both your stories and your pictures.
  • WordPress (www.wordpress.org) – WordPress is software that allows you to create a blog or a website.  WordPress is free and allows you to design a blog to suit your own requirements, within the parameters of the software.
  • Typepad (www.typepad.com) – Typepad is also software that allows you to create either a blog or a website.  Unlike WordPress, Typepad is not free – it allows for a trial period, but does have monthly charges depending upon what you require from your blog.
  • Blog comparison (www.ojr.org) – This is a great website to give you the comparisons over the available blog software – free and chargeable.
  • Flickr (www.flickr.com) – A great online photograph album.  You can manage your photographs and who has viewing rights to see them.
  • Picasa (http://picasa.google.com) – Similar to Flickr, Picasa is free photo editing software from Google, which allows you to share your photographs with those you select to see them.
  • Windows Live Spaces (http://windowslive.com/online/spaces) – Windows Love spaces is blog software that allows you to publish up to 1,000 photographs a month.  Yes, there is Windows Live Mobile to allow you to share your antics, experiences, photographs, etc. from anywhere your mobile/cell phone connects.  Windows Live Spaces  allows you to select who can see your blog and who can leave comments.

This is just a short list of the available options on the web right now, and more appear regularly.  So thinking about what you are trying to achieve with your ‘publication’, what is it that you are trying to share – stories, photographs, text, comments or a range of or all of the above?

Now that you’ve understood what you are trying to achieve with your publication, before you choose the software you want to work with spend some time getting to know the website and the software offering before you go on holiday.  You may read all it says on the website about what the software does, but unless you actually try it you won’t really know how it works, what it offers, who has access until you publish your first text and/or photographs.  Reading all about a website may make it sound more difficult to use that it truly is – you don’t need to be a technical expert or website designer to be able to use them.  They are designed with you in mind.

Now that you’ve spent a few hours (and yes it may take that to work through and select the right website for you) you’ll know which site you are working with and what you need to take with you to make it work:

  • Your digital camera
  • Research to find out if there is a library, cyber cafe, etc. that you can access your site from
  • Your mobile/cell phone, if the website you’ve selected to work with allows mobile updates
  • Your laptop (unless the accommodation you are staying in has a business centre)
  • An internet connection for your laptop if you accommodation doesn’t offer one, or the internet connections from your accommodation are expensive
  • Your blackberry or iphone
  • Your battery charges – digital, camera, laptop, mobile/cell phone, blackberry, iphone, …

How important is it for you to edit your photographs before you publish them?  Looking at the photographs published through some of these websites i.e. Facebook, blogs; the photographs published have not been edited – they are just published in some cases immediately they are taken.  What do you want to do – publish the photograph as it was taken? or modify it before you publish?  If you select to modify it before you publish, this is something that you need to consider when selecting the software you want to work with, unless you have photography software on your laptop.

There is a whole range of photo editing software starting with Windows Live Photo Gallery and working all the way through to Adobe Photoshop that is available for you to install on your laptop.  This type of software would allow you to lighten a dark photograph, sharpen a photograph, fix red-eye, crop photographs, change colour photographs from colour to sepia or black and white – often with just a click or a few clicks of your mouse.  There is also on-line editing software – for example, Phixr, GIFworks, Picnik, FotoFlexer, LunaPic, Online Photo Editor, Pixlr, Photoshop, piZap, Pixenate are a few sites that are available to you.  There is also opportunities like Photosynth which re-creates 3D scenes from your photographs.  Then you have AutoCollage which allows you to take your photographs and make collages of them.

Happy publishing!