A family backpacking trip became a school in internet expression for Andrew Laxon.
Starting a travel blog with your kids can be tricky. Some friends write in asking when the journalist is going to do some work. Other friends suggest the journalist should give up, because the kids' efforts are much more entertaining.
We tried travel blogging for the first time last summer, when we took a six-week family holiday backpacking around India. The blog was a last-minute decision, mainly to keep our 11-year-old son David occupied so we could concentrate on packing. He came back after half an hour with a template from Google. All we had to do was tweak the colour scheme and decide on a name.
We emailed friends and family, promising them an exciting daily online insight into our travels and boarded the plane wondering: "Supposing we give up after two days?"
We needn't have worried. Blogging while travelling turned out to be the perfect intersection between my old-school travel habits (keeping a diary, writing a few token postcards) and the requirement for Megan, 16, and Joanna, 13, to be in permanent social media communication with their friends back home.
Blogging wasn't quite as instant as Snapchat but the 24-hour turnaround meant everyone at home felt they were sharing the journey with us, almost as it happened.
The blog format gave space to write more than a typical social media post and to include friends and family who weren't on Facebook. It became our illustrated daily letter from India, with the bonus of a different voice each day.
Some of the voices didn't hold back. The kids were stunned by the squalor of Delhi, which David described as "intense and gross", especially when men peed in the street in front of him.
We ended up sharing our travel disasters, more or less uncensored. Joanna blogged she was going crazy the day after we got three hours' sleep between long, late train journeys. Megan warned everyone not to trust Dad or TripAdvisor after an unfortunate restaurant experience in Kerala.
Fortunately, they also raved about what they did like. Megan was mesmerised by Jaipur's spectacular Amber Fort and had to be almost dragged away after taking endless photos. Joanna described going horse riding and having her eyebrows threaded on her 14th birthday. Not to be outdone, my wife Heather described the stunning desert town of Jaisalmer as "like the Arabian Nights, with pig noises".
We got lots of encouraging feedback from home and were intrigued to learn we had four readers in Italy. I imagined them discussing our trip over pasta at dinner.
What worked and what didn't? We relied heavily on two iPads to write the daily posts and transfer photos wirelessly from five cameras via Apple's Airdrop or Facebook Messenger. In theory we could have uploaded video too, but the wifi was barely strong enough for words and pictures.
As novices, we found Google's Blogger very easy to use but couldn't work out why most people were unable to post comments. We only realised after that the default setting restricted comments to registered users only. Sorry folks, we'll get it right next time.
Read the blog at laxonsinindia.blogspot.co.nz.