“Oh wow! That’s my dream job! How amazing is that? OMG, you must be so rich!” This is the typical reaction I receive when I reveal that I am a fulltime travel blogger. It’s flattering, it truly is. But we all know that you should never judge a book by its cover.
The truth is, every time I am presented with these questions I vacillate about my answer behind joyful eyes while reading the body language and facial expressions of the person in front of me. My natural reaction is to scream back YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH in my best Jack Nicholson impression.
The truth is, a peripatetic lifestyle isn’t what you would assume that it would be. And building a travel blog full time isn’t either. Let me enlighten you further on what having a travel blog is and is not.
Wrapping one’s mind around the realities of a travel blogging existence means doing away with the romanticism locked therein. After all, things never truly are what they seem. Gallivanting from airport lounges to junior suites, for example, or a wardrobe boasting designer gowns for photo shoots at exotic temples may be the reality for some high-level influencers, but it isn’t for me. Me, your average thirty-something travel addict with a knack for stringing pretty words together. In fact, my consensus from blogging communities is quite the opposite.
Don’t get me wrong, my life is amazing. I am living my dream, a nomadic existence that feeds my soul with the two things that bring childlike happiness into my life; storytelling and traveling. But, first, let’s just take a beat and discuss the realities of what building, operating, and marketing a travel blog truly entails.
What it isn’t
Let me clarify a few things and reiterate the fact that I am building my travel blog. I didn’t just snap my fingers, decide to step off of the cliff into the overpopulated waters of the travel industry and instantly land sponsorships that would sweep me off to luxury hotels in exotic destinations. With persistence and consistency (and a much bigger following), sure, it’s possible I can achieve those things; should I want them. But I’ve caught you romanticizing again, haven’t I? No, the reality of a bloggers life is not even close to that.
How do I do travel in order to blog then, you ask?
Strategy, my friend. I use my savings and my passion (and corporate roots) for research to seek out affordable means of travel. I move around the globe strategically by leaning on global networks and budget-friendly accommodations/transportation. Choosing to travel by region allows me to take advantage of traveling overland (or nautically) to neighboring countries, which saves significant amounts of money. But ultimately, I have become more than comfortable with being uncomfortable and have made peace with less than Western living conditions and relinquishing control over every detail of life. Don’t sweat the small stuff and keep trucking.
What it really is
Branding. In the simplest word possible. This simple word, however, requires countless hours of dedication to the backend of things; the things people don’t see. For example, as a blogger managing my website solo, I must spend hours glued to my laptop or smartphone editing media to post on my various social media outlets. Even more time must be dedicated to scrolling, reacting, commenting or sharing posts and networking in social groups to further my reach/connections in the industry.
There are companies and software programs that exist to help manage these things, but they do come at a cost. Thankfully, my organization skills have made building my travel blog manageable while constantly on the road, capturing images and creating content.
All of this work happens in the in-between. I no longer fear long layovers because I see airports as a convenient office space. Especially those with free wifi and charging ports. Same goes for train or bus rides. Making the time to create is honestly my favorite part. Most everywhere you’re writing about has already been professionally written and/or captured on film. As a creative, finding an intriguing way to bring my personal experiences in travel to my followers, is the foundation that creative joy sits upon.
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I appreciate your honesty as people need to know what to expect. You have achieved a lot in being able to travel blog full time. I look forward to reading more of your posts.
Many thanks Leslie! I vacillated on whether or not this level of honesty would be helpful or harmful (like a deterrent) to those seeking the same lifestyle, but honesty won out! I’m glad to know it’s appreciated!
Thank you for your insight. I must admit that even as a blogger myself, I find myself romanticizing the travel industry in the ways you’ve mentioned. I’m building the travel leg of my blog as well and I’m right where you are. Good luck with everything; see you at the top!
Thanks Taniqua! See you there!
Love your candid testimony. You’re a great writer too. I found myself laughing out loud a few times. I love traveling too, but you have to LOVE it to do what you do.
Thanks for the compliments and for reading Carla!
I think that this is such a great post. I’m trying to get into traveling so this helps me set my expectations.
Happy to be or service Alea!
Travel blogs do look like you just travel and post about it, but as a fellow blogger, I already knew there were behind the scenes things that make it happen. Thank you for sharing what it’s like for you.
Simone I would love to hear if your shared my sentiments or if there are additional tips you’d like to share.