You’re probably reading this because you want to get paid to blog, and your dream job is to be a travel blogger. It’s in your best interest, however, to first inform yourself of some of the pros and cons of pursuing the travel blogger or travel influencer lifestyle.
Before I get into the pros and cons of being a travel blogger, I should preface this by explaining that I’m not a full-time travel blogger. I earn an income by writing website copy, acting as a content strategy consultant for various companies, writing content for various clients, and freelance writing on various topics. Travel writing is only one of many types of writing I do, so this advice is coming to you from a part-time travel blogger, not someone who does it as a full-time career. However, there are pros and cons to this so-called “dream job” that you should be aware of if you’re keen to pursue it.
Below are some pros and cons of being a travel blogger that you should consider if becoming a travel blogger is your goal:
The most obvious pro of travel blogging should of course be mentioned first. Yes, you might get some free vacations. Sometimes everything is paid for, from flight and food to hotel and activities. Other times, your trip is partially paid for in exchange for your travel writing skills and online influence. Not every travel blogger has a huge social media following. Some are chosen strictly based on their high-quality blog, or their stand-out writing skills.
After a full day of activities on a press trip, you might feel like relaxing. However, typically you have to write, not relax. Why? Because as a travel writer, it’s best to write while things are still fresh in your mind. Additionally, always having to worry about creating content or taking photos for your blog can actually take away from the travel experience itself. It’s important to schedule some “off” days if you can, even though as a travel blogger, you’ll never really feel like you’re “off” work while you travel.
Image: @The_Babe_Report in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Let’s take my Croatia trip as an example of how travel blogging broadened my horizons. I don’t think I ever would have gone to Croatia if my writing didn’t lead to the invitation. I’m not sure I would have chosen Croatia as a travel destination. I had no idea what I was missing out on, and I didn’t know how amazing Croatia truly is. It was an incredibly unique experience that travel writing gifted me with.
Some of the invitations travel bloggers receive are to destinations they either had never heard of, or never would have otherwise travelled to. That’s one of the most beautiful things about being a travel blogger, is its ability to completely broaden your horizons and shift your world view. You’ll discover a whole new range of interests, passions and hobbies you didn’t know you had.
When your trip is over, you’ll have a huge to-do list of obligations. You’ll likely have made promises to the hotels and travel companies that have hosted you, and you’re responsible for the production value of your travel blogs. All on your own, you’re responsible for everything from content creation and photo editing to blog formatting and distribution.
The distribution strategy you’re responsible for as a travel blogger is especially stressful. The onus is completely on you to promote the travel blog you’ve published, on a wide variety of social networks. The best travel bloggers deploy a distribution strategy that involves answering questions on Quora and Redditt with a link to their travel blog, as well as sharing it across various social media channels and tracking the blog’s performance. It’s wise to pitch magazines to see if you can get your travel writing republished or ‘scooped’ by a big publication for maximum exposure. Pitching, teasing content, following up, optimizing for SEO and tracking analytics requires hours upon hours of your time. A ton of strategy and discipline goes into this, but this hard work won’t typically be broadcast across a travel influencer’s social media highlights.
You’re running a business here, and you’ll have to be savvy in digital marketing, content strategy, and media communications.
Image: @The_Babe_Report at the Beverly Hills Hotel
Since hotels, tourism companies and travel agencies want to get positive reviews, bloggers and media representatives will often get the VIP treatment. If you don’t come from wealth and you’re not used to the VIP experience, you’ll get a thrill out of it, there’s no denying that. I’ve had luxury hotels like the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel Air upgrade me to rooms that would normally cost $2,000 to $4,000 per night and given me complimentary room service because I am a blogger. I’ve dined at 5 star restaurants where the hotel manager covered the entire bill, along with my suite. I’ve gotten press passes and VIP tables at music festivals. I’ve experienced the luxury lifestyle, always keeping in mind that this is not real life. I can appreciate the VIP experience without feeling entitled to it on a regular basis, and that’s key.
Image: @The_Babe_Report in Rome, Italy
As a travel blogger, I’m a one-woman show. I don’t have any coworkers, or a team to work with. It feels very isolating working on my own all the time. It’s just me – by myself on my laptop – working and writing. It definitely gets lonely. Even the trips themselves get lonely, because travel blogging trips don’t always involve a group of bloggers. Sometimes as a blogger, you’re invited by yourself to experience a destination or resort, and you’re not with a group. You’re often not even allowed to bring a plus-one. Even if you were allowed to bring a guest, you might find that you can’t find anyone to go with you, since many travel blogging opportunities are very short notice. It all depends, and it’s always different, but for the most part, I find that it does get very lonely. Luckily, solo travel is something I got used to, and I now consider solo trips to be very therapeutic and recharging.
Travel blogging requires a lot of research and first-person participation in the area’s culture and history. In Croatia, I spent an entire afternoon learning about how olive oil is made, and visited olive trees that are over 1500 years old. The next day I got a tour of old-town Dubrovnik and learned about its medieval history. For example, I learned that in the Middle Ages, Dubrovnik’s maritime influence resulted in it being the principal competitor of the Venetian empire for the Adriatic waterways. Today, Dubrovnik is renowned for being one of the most well-preserved medieval cities in the world. It’s truly a fascinating site to see, and if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you’ll enjoy it that much more for its filming locations.
At the iconic and historical Beverly Hills Hotel, I got a tour of the over 100-year-old grounds, and was shown Frank Sinatra’s booth at the hotel’s polo lounge and Marilyn Monroe’s favorite bungalow. Tales of other Hollywood royalty who lived at the Beverly Hills Hotel were told while I was also shown the interior of the exact bungalows they lived in.
In Rome, I received a private tour of the most historic landmarks, visited the Vatican, and got a guided tour of the colosseum complete with a history lesson.
If you become a travel blogger, you might be surprised at how unkind some people can be if they’re even the slightest bit jealous of your travel blogging life. I’ve always wondered why some people feel the need to be cruel just because they’re envious of you. It’s one thing to feel that sting of jealousy, but it’s a whole other thing to decide to give that person attitude or cast judgment.
As a travel blogger, many people unfairly assume that you’re spoiled, entitled or not in tune with reality. You will be misunderstood and misjudged a lot, but you can’t control other people’s perception of you.
It seems most people aren’t ready to acknowledge that being a travel writer is a real job that requires actual hard work. It’s therefore quite difficult to gain the respect of your peers, especially if they think what you do is cool, but that it’s not actually a real job.
It’s important to celebrate the success of your friends, family and peers. Travel blogging is unique and exciting, sometimes it’s even very luxurious. However, there is a dark side of it from loneliness on work trips and potentially dangerous situations while solo travelling, to unfair stereotypes and a struggle to make any real money. Why do you think I’m not a full time travel blogger? Because it’s very difficult to earn a living, since most of the time, you’re offered a hotel stay, press trip or some sort of travel experience in lieu of monetary compensation.
I’m personally very aware of the trade-off. The more I pursue travel blogging, the more I risk losing valuable relationships and connections to my roots.
Image: @The_Babe_Report at Quivira Los Cabos
People always say, Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, who doesn’t love travelling? If travel is your passion, and your job is to write about travel, you won’t be lacking any passion for what you do, that’s for sure. This job might not be easy, but it’s certainly not boring.
Unexpected costs arise all the time in the travel blogging industry. I’ve been invited on an all-expenses paid trip before, and committed to it, only to later find out the cost of the flight was not included because I’m Canadian. I’ve missed flights before that a travel company paid for, and of course had to pay for the new flight myself. One time I was on a press trip and I used the phone in the hotel room to call home a few times, not expecting a $200 phone bill later. These are only a few examples of unexpected costs that travel bloggers get hit with, so just be aware of this possibility, and prepare for it.
Image: @The_Babe_Report at a bloggers’ dinner in Pag, Croatia
Anytime and anywhere, a travel blogger always has a story to tell. People will want to hear your travel stories, and sharing your tales of adventure is a great way to re-live the experience, too. Someone who has chosen to pursue the life of a travel blogger will never have a shortage of stories to tell, and the stories I’ve told in this article only account for about 10% of all my travel stories.
You’d be surprised how many relationship issues can arise from being a travel blogger. It’s not easy finding a partner who is okay with you being away that much. A ton of trust is required. Codependency can’t be a thing.
Not only will your partner not always be invited to join you on press trips, but if they have a traditional corporate job, they won’t always get the time off to join you, either. You’ll need a partner who misses you while you’re gone but supports your endeavors, and appreciates their time with you when you’re back home.
Another surprising relationship issue I’ve dealt with from being in this line of work is contempt. I’ve had a partner who was jealous of my lifestyle and held contempt for me, which led to arguments I didn’t sign up for and some mistreatment. It didn’t matter that he often reaped the rewards of my job such as complimentary hotels during our trips together. Contempt was in the air, and it’s not a great feeling.
One major lesson I’ve learned from travel writing is the truth behind that expression, The best things in life happen outside of your comfort zone. There are countless occasions where travel writing presented me with an opportunity that was outside my comfort zone. For example, flying all the way from Canada to Croatia by myself and putting my trust in a brand new tourism company I knew nothing about to take care of me when I got there? Ballsy. Outside my comfort zone? Yes. But I’m going to cherish that experience forever.
When I travelled to Orange County, California for the grand opening of a new Marriott hotel in Irvine, I felt grateful to have been invited. However, that event was very social and required so many meet-and-greets, I definitely had to push myself out of my comfort zone since I struggle with a bit of social anxiety. I’d get ready for big events alone in my hotel room, and I’d have to walk to the venue alone and bravely introduce myself to all the movers and shakers. Professional photographers were snapping candid shots of me (another thing I’m not super comfortable with) and I had to feign confidence the whole time. This did help boost my confidence authentically, though.
In Italy, I went on several private tours for travel writing purposes as a solo, single female. I ended up in a couple of dangerous situations when one particular tour company wasn’t what it seemed. However, I learned a lot and I value the experience.
Many travel bloggers feel like they don’t have roots. They spend so much time travelling, that they don’t see the point in investing into making their house a home, since they’re simply not home enough. This can lead to a sensation of not having roots or a proper home base.
On a similar note, living out of a suitcase can be very stressful. The novelty wears off when you’re always living out of a suitcase, and this digital nomad lifestyle comes with its own set of drawbacks along with the perks.
As far as the physical toll of constantly traveling goes, a few things that stand out are the jet lag, early mornings and long days that come with organized press trips, and the expectation to eat a little more food than your stomach can handle. This is especially true if a hotel grand opening wants its media reps to also promote the hotel restaurants, and they want the media to sample a lot of different menu items. Sounds amazing, I know, but your stomach bears the burden later.
A more casual travel blogging adventure, however, involves a complimentary hotel stay without the organized press events. The absence of an itinerary, and the notion that all you have to do is experience a stay at the hotel, is much less taxing.
The truth about travel writing is that you’ll have a very rich and fulfilling life, especially if you’re passionate about travel. If you start a travel blog and it becomes popular, or you land an authorship at a big travel magazine, you will have an email inbox full of exciting travel opportunities. The places you can go – and the opportunities presented to you – are truly infinite. Many travel writing opportunities are very out-of-the-box, unique experiences. I was once invited on a river cruise through Europe, and had to turn it down due to a friend’s wedding, but that’s an example of the type of opportunities the average person doesn’t get offered. There are downfalls and trade-offs, and you might have to sacrifice personal relationships or a sense of belonging. But if you decide you can find aspects of love in your travels, you’ll be set for life.
The most important skill required to be a successful travel blogger is being a good writer. Your grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary and ability to write in a way that engages the reader is crucial.
Photography skills come in handy too, as do sales skills. You have to know how to sell yourself, especially when you pitch yourself to magazines, or pitch yourself to tourism companies.
Let’s not forget the very important skill of SEO content writing. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”, and the best travel writers tend to use strategic keywords and a well thought out writing style that promises the article will rank on search engines like Google.
Digital marketing skills are crucial in this industry. Marketing strategies can be very complex, but you can self-educate by taking online courses or reading digital marketing resources.
A travel blogger is the ultimate digital nomad, requiring the above skills in addition to a ton of self-discipline and self-motivation. Remember that you don’t have a team, colleagues or coworkers. Your success as a travel blogger rests entirely on your shoulders. With the right skills and dedication, you could get paid to blog as a travel writer, and collect a plethora of unforgettable life experiences along the way.
If you want to open yourself up to more opportunities as a blogger or influencer, you should sign up for Scalefluence today. Scalefluence helps connect people like travel writers and Instagram influencers with brands and travel companies that want to sponsor them. Take action today and get that much closer to your dreams.
For Bloggersby Sherry Gray July 18, 2021