Optimizing your social media videos for maximum effectiveness

Who doesn’t love to share their story with the world?! Videos are an amazing medium as they have a very high bandwidth to convey our stories in a matter of seconds or minutes.

We travelers also use videos for sharing our experiences with the world, help our friends and readers do their share of armchair travel, for online reputation management, as an entry point to business conversion funnel, hone our skills at video production, to boost our social media presence, and so on.

There are those travels that I’ve conceptualized or managed completely based on the videos posted online. Then there are those few videos that have been a disappointment because those do not serve any purpose.

Self-deprecating disclaimer: It is subjective to speak of serving a purpose because even such videos clearly serve the purpose of making the creator happy. Being happy is an end in itself, because who am I to judge what rocks your boat 🙂 However, if you are the one who is looking at up-leveling the usefulness of your videos by conveying more in less, then this blog post is for you. I’m sharing my personal opinion on what makes a video useful to me. I shall try to be objective and give tangible points that you can understand without much wonderment.

When shooting/recording

  • Use both, the audio and the video channels in a video. When shooting, see if you can capture the speed of the wind at the top of a mountain to subtly convey how windy it was, the chirping of birds at the dawn to indicate how musical the mornings are, the raging sound of water to indicate how gushing the flow is, or record your own voice to convey more context and info than what’s recorded on video.
  • What is the neighboring area and its natural beauty? What does the terrain look like? What is the degree of climb? What are the nearby water sources if any? Where is the tree line? If it is rocky, then how difficult is it to walk on it?
  • What is the complete view of the object and not just a myopic, zoomed-in view of the activity you may be doing there. For example, if it is waterfall then move the camera a little to indicate the height of it, the force of falling water to indicate if one can bath under it, the outflow from the basin to indicate how fast the water is, the approach to the waterfall to indicate if it is risky or not to walk, speak out how cold the water is, and so on.
  • What is the roads’ tarring quality? What is the width of the road? What is on the sides of the road? How dense is the road because it’ll get darker faster in the evening than open roads. Very dense forests near the roadside means possibility of having wildlife at night on the road. All these parameters indicate the quality of drive and safety.

When uploading

  • Spend a minute to write a good title. All media hosting platforms allow you to update to a more meaningful name than the file name. Make sure to use a few keywords like place name, event name, what you are showcasing in the video, etc. in the title.
  • Do a dry run before uploading. Make sure the video is in the desired shape. Re-uploading video will change the URL so use this option only in dire straits.
  • Deleting older videos is a big NO. It will also change the URL and break the backlinks or embeds for your users.

When sharing

  • When sharing on a social media channel, be cognizant of the basic SEO like description, tagging, location, date, etc.


Work in progress — more tips to be added soon!


Child, elderly, and beginner friendly easy treks in the Himalayas

I am compiling a list of the child-friendly hikes and make this post a one-stop shop for all the trails that kids can accomplish. Of course, your kid’s mileage may vary so please do your due diligence.

This list, by its very nature, will always be a work-in-progress compilation. I’ve made public the incomplete details hoping these will help many folks. Leave your insights and suggestions in the comments section to update this best.


Trek Base city Accommodation* Distance to hike (km) Comments
Abott Mount Lohaghat Hotel, tent 5 Photos
Pangoot local hikes Pangoot, Nainital Hotel 3-12 A long trek, A short trek, photos
Barot local hikes Barot Hotel, tent 3-10 Jallan Guest House; Waterfall near the trolley tracks; Badagaon area
Bashleo Pass Shoja, Jaon Tent
Bijli Mahadev Hike Kullu Hotel 3 km from Chansari, 15 km from Kullu Info1, Info2
Chakrata Moila Tibba and Budher Caves Chakrata Hotel, tent 4
Chakrata Tiger Falls Chakrata Hotel 2
Dalhousie local hikes Dalhousie Hotel
Deoria Tal Sari, Rudraprayag Cottage?, Tent 2-3
Dugadda to Lansdowne Lansdowne Hotels 8
Hatu Peak Narkanda Tent 7 Photos
Jamu peak Renuka Ji Hotel, tent May get longish and heat may take its toll.
Kamru Nag lake Karsog or Rohanda Sarai, tent, hotel 4 km from Rohanda Listing; Photos
Kapil Muni’s hill Renuka Ji Hotel, tent
Lal Tibba Mussoorie Hotel
Mussoorie local hikes Mussoorie Hotel Info1
Rajagunda forest Bir, Billing Hotel, tent Hike from Bir to Billing on road; Billing to Rajagunda forest and alternatively to Badagran
Serolsar lake Jalori Pass Tent Info
Shikari Devi hike Karsog Hotel, tent 18 km from Janjehli; 1 km from road head if going in a vehicle Info1, Info2
Shimla TV Tower Shimla Hotel
Solan Tibba Solan Hotel
Taradevi Shimla Hotel 4 km from Tara Devi station on highway
Vaisho Devi Katra, Jammu Hotel, sarai

* Accommodation is categorized as ‘sarai/huts’ for basic roof (carry sleeping bag); personal ‘tent’ for camping trips; ‘hotel’ option for day hikes or short hikes where you can come back to the base city or reach the next town.

Please share the discoveries and the experiences of your kids or beginners with us in the comments section.

Dry foods to pack on a trek and an analysis of trek rations

For the self-organized trekkers out there without the support of porter out there, it is an interesting exercise to pack food. While food is not the heaviest item in our backpack, it is one of the most flexible category when it comes to optimizing it. If you do not want to carry a stove and can make do with dry food, then read on. I shall continue to update this post with new ideas/discoveries. Keep coming back 🙂

I do not hire a cook. On a few treks, I was fortunate to avail the services of cooks of other groups by paying a small amount but otherwise I subsist on dry rations. I speak the following from my limited personal experiences; it may not suit your needs. Do share in the comments below as to what rocks your boat. If you find the post useful, it’ll be nice to know so in the comments.


  • Dry fruits: As if, you didn’t know 🙂 In my opinion, this is a costlier option. There are cheaper and equally good options! Read on.
  • Chocolates: In my opinion, chocolates are costlier per unit weight or calories provided. Take protein bars, if you must.
  • Dates, biscuits, and Chikkis: Offers fantastic energy to weight ratio, much cheap than other options, and have some decent nutritional value too. This is my preferred food on a trek. Did you ever notice that Parle-G has almost the same energy density as other fancy biscuits?
  • Noodles: Filling, energising, tasty food that can be eaten cooked or raw, if need be. I like Wai-Wai noodle raw better than raw Maggi.
  • Cereal and milk powder: I am not big on cereal but to each their own. These two items can be eaten raw (separately!), if you cannot light a fire.
  • Fresh fruits: If weight permits, these are excellent too. Pick these from the base village or orchards on the trail, if any. Fruits are refreshing, quench thirst, are appropriately filling, and provide roughage.
  • Specific trail food: Rich food created specifically for hikers is available commercially and is a great option if you are willing to shell out some money for it.
  • Potatoes: You can find potatoes anywhere in the hills. Buy some from the village folks enroute. Mind you, these will add good weight to your backpack but are worth it. You can either boil these or roast these in campfire. To avoid charring of a thick outer surface, wrap in tin foil.
  • Glucose and ORS: Technically not a food as it is not filling. But a mix of Glucose and electrolyte salts are quite refreshing and energizing, as these make up for all the sweating. You can substitute this with the likes of Gatorade.
  • Peanut butter: Quite a dense food calorie-wise that does not occupy much space in the bag. Recently, I saw Sundrop’s small sachets worth Rs. 15 in a supermarket. I find this option slightly above average in cost per unit calorie provided. Some folks may not like the taste as well.
  • Boiled eggs: From a base village, if possible, you can get a few boiled eggs for variety. Though be strongly advised that these weigh much and can drain you fast. The only USP is protein and variety.
  • Maggi Masala: Technically not a food, but a Rs. 3 sachet of Maggi cooking masala can add much taste to your boiled food on a trek. Sometimes, I carry a custom mix of spices in a very small bottle in my backpack!
  • Homemade snacks: Provides good variety and a nice reminder of the warmth of our loved ones back home. Though this option requires preparation in advance and may add weight, volume, or both to your luggage. Heck, I once carried homemade laddoos and matthi on a trek!

Packing dry food on trek


A request here is to carry the rubbish you generated back with you. Food items tend to generate a lot more rubbish than other items carried on a trek.

Waste disposal

While we are at it, here’s a shameless plug of an oft-wondered, barely-asked, and rarely-followed tips on pooping in the hills. Here’s a “hilarious and practical thread” on Indiamike.com about the topic. While I recommend reading the entire thread for its fun and educational value, but for those in a rush, directly jump to reply #8, #23, #24, and #28 for some fantastic tips.

Trek calendar for a travel or an activity group

I have created a shared calendar to update my travel/trek schedules (and sometimes those of my friends). For now, the calendar is lacking data entry big time 🙂 I’m sharing this more as a POC (proof of concept); something similar can be (and should be!) done for activity groups.

If there is such a need for your group, create one. If you need help, leave a comment or email me at blackfog at Gmail. For self-help, see Create and share a group calendar and Organize events with a group help articles.