9 Confessions about Travel Blogging That You Need to Know

I’ve been a travel blogger for almost six years. When meeting someone for the first time, people usually tell me how lucky I am to be getting paid to travel.
travel blogging secrets fb

While I am very fortunate to be doing something that I love to do, luck hasn’t had much to do with it. I’m able to get paid to travel the world from a ton of hard work and perseverance. Travel blogging is not always as glamorous as it first sounds.

Confessions of a Travel Blogger:

confessions of a top travel blogger

Me staying in a mountain hut that was previously where the king’s servants lived…and freezing!

Confession 1: Most of us don’t actually travel all the time.

Nor do we all want to. I’m based in Munich with my husband and two cats. As much as I love travelling, I also love being at home. I certainly travel more than the average person with a so-called normal job, but for the first six months of 2016, I’ve travelled ~6 weeks out of 26, or 23% of the time. This is in-line with my goal of traveling 1 week out of every month. While some travel bloggers are nomadic, many aren’t.

Lesson to You: Facebook posts of travel blogger friends only tell a small part of the whole story.

Confession 2: When we do travel, it’s hard work.

I don’t say this to get sympathy, but the days are much longer than most people realize. If you’re on a blogger trip, it’s not uncommon to have a solid schedule of activities starting at 8:00 am running through until 10:00 pm.

If you’re on your own schedule the days are usually still long. When I walked the Wicklow Way in Ireland recently, I stopped frequently for photos, much more so than I would have if I wasn’t planning to post it on social media or write about it. After walking up to 25km some days, I’d take a quick shower then start to work on editing photos, crafting social media posts, interacting with followers and answering emails. This is pretty typical when a travel blogger travels and we may have additional work to do on top of it. I rarely go to bed before midnight when I’m travelling for work. I truly love it, but I do come home exhausted!

Lesson to You: You may have to pay for your vacation, but you also get the freedom to enjoy it so take advantage of it.

Travel blogger taking notes while on a blogger trip.

When is the last time you took notes while on vacation?

Confession 3: It Can Take Hours of Unpaid Work Even Getting a Trip to Happen…If It Even Happens

Last year, I was fortunate enough to cycle the Iron Curtain Trail across Finland. It was an 18-day 1350 km long trip! It was truly the trip of a lifetime, but making it happen took several months.

I already had a good relationship with Visit Finland that I’d developed over several years by working with them on smaller projects. Then, I developed a 7-page proposal of the project outlining the benefits they would receive by agreeing to the project – that took 3 solid days. That was followed by hundreds of emails planning the trip over a course of two months.

I’ve also spent days developing proposals that were rejected. In fact, far more proposals get rejected than get accepted in my experience. That means hours spent researching and brainstorming campaign ideas without pay in the hope of making a trip happen. It’s the nature of the business, but one that you rarely hear about. Nobody brags that they spent 3 solid days developing a campaign only to have it rejected, but it happens….a lot!

Lesson to You: In any business there is so much behind the scenes stuff you never see. Nothing is rarely as easy as it appears to be. An overnight successes is ten years in the making. Tom Clancy, author

travel bloggers don't travel all the time

Monkeys and Mountains “headquarters” i.e. my outside office, with Coco, one of my black cats hard at work!

Confession 4: Blog Posts Take a Really Really Long Time to Write

I had never calculated how long it took for me to write a blog post until I started the 90 Day Year , a Proven System (for entrepreneurs) for Turning Your Biggest Goals Into Inevitable Outcomes. One of the exercises in the program is to estimate how long you think a specific task will take, then actually time it and see how long it actually takes.

I had estimated that by the time I edited the photos, uploaded them, done keyword research, came up with a catchy title, conducted research, consulted my notes, wrote the post and promoted it on social media that it would take me about 3 hours. I was wrong. Very wrong. From start to finish, an average blog post takes me about 10 hours! That’s 20 hours a week to write 2 blog posts a week! No wonder why I was stressed and so busy all the time! I took what I learned in the 90 Day Year and outsourced what I could. I.e. my VA now uploads the photos and adds text to the photos that I’ll share on Pinterest.  I set time limits for each of the other tasks that I try to adhere to. That’s freed up time to work on other areas of my business that generate more revenue. It’s worth checking out the video series of the 90 Day Year , even if you have no intention of doing the course.

Lesson to You: Really track your time and see if you’re spending it in a way that makes sense. For a business context, you should be spending more of your time working on your business, not working in your business, which many entrepreneurs do. In your personal life, track how much time you spend on chores, cleaning, watching TV. It may surprise you at how much time you spend on tasks that could be outsourced, like cleaning. Or perhaps you don’t have time for your hobbies because you didn’t realize just how many hours of TV you were watching.

top adventure travel blogger hiking in Glacier National Park

Me hiking in Glacier National Park on a rare vacation day. I.e. I haven’t written about it….yet!

Confessions 5 & 6: Travel blogging is a misnomer, most travel bloggers do additional work to pay the bills.

The actual blogging is just a small part of what most travel bloggers do. Yes, it does take  & considerable time, as you’ve seen from above. While bloggers may get paid to write some blog posts as part of a campaign, like the #inLombardia365 one that I did recently, many posts will be without payment. As a blogger, it’s important to produce content on a regular basis to maintain and grow your audience, even if you’re not being paid to write it. I also think it goes a long way to building trust with an audience since people can see that you’re writing about a topic that you believe in, and not just because you were paid to do it.

In addition to the actual blogging, many travel bloggers do additional work to pay the bills. This may include accepting paid guest posts, social media campaigns, writing for other publications, or taking on freelance work in an area that they’re skilled at, such as graphic design. Personally, I am the #BBCLocalite for Munich for BBC Travel, do social media campaigns, run affiliate campaigns for products like hiking gear and for tours like the Wicklow Way and am the co-founder of #AdvTravelChat, the largest adventure travel chat on Twitter. I also  have a new initiative that is launching soon, which I’m very excited to share – stay tuned! When I started out, I also taught online course for universities in Canada and did freelance writing to help pay the bills while I built up my audience. All the multi-tasking can make it difficult to focus. If you find it difficult to focus, you will find this very helpful: Are You Focusing On The Right Thing at The Right Time?

So instead of saying travel blogger, in most cases  it would be more accurate to say travel blogger/photographer/social media specialist/digital influencer/freelance writer/…. you get the idea!

Lesson to You: If you really want to travel more, you may be better off finding a better paying profession that you can do remotely. There are a million easier ways to make money than from travel blogging that will still give you the freedom to travel.

blogger trip prmoting ziplining near Como, Italy.

Me on a blogger trip with Simon and Paul promoting ziplining near Como, Italy. Read about it: http://monkeysandmountains.com/ziplining-adventure-como-italy

 

Confession 7: Being a travel blogger can be really hard on relationships.

Nobody talks about this much, but if you travel without your significant other, as I often do, it can be tricky to find a balance. My husband gets 6 weeks of vacation a year, but much of that we spend in Canada each summer. As a result, I often go without him. While I aim to be away for no longer than a week at a time, it doesn’t always work out that way. In May, I was in Ireland for over 2 weeks, home for 22 hours, then off to Italy for 5 days. It often feels like a  tug-a-war between spending time with your spouse or travelling. My irregular schedule can also make it difficult to maintain friendships. Friends often complain, but you’re never here. I don’t have all the answers, but try my best to balance travel with relationships. Both of which are important to me.

Lesson to You: Everything has a trade-off. Yes I may travel more often than most people, but you probably make it to more friend’s birthdays and are there for the important stuff more than I am. My husband was less than impressed when I missed his birthday last year to present at a travel conference in Turkey.

adventure travel blogger hiking in Germany

Me hiking on my birthday weekend in Germany on a trip that I will be writing about.

Confession 8: Many travel bloggers only talk business with other travel bloggers.

I think this is a huge mistake and one that I made early on as well. It’s inevitable that if you get a few travel bloggers together, we’ll quickly end up talking about the business of travel blogging. I.e. new projects/campaigns/income generation, etc. While I truly value the travel blogging community, especially the peeps that I interact regularly with, it’s a mistake to only stay inside the travel blogging bubble.

Entrepreneurs outside of the travel industry provide a new perspective. They may also be willing to share more information since they won’t perceive you as competition. I met some fabulous women from the 90 Day Year conference that I I attended in Las Vegas, as part of the course earlier this year.

The great thing about meeting entrepreneurs through a course or conference is that you know each participant has a high level of commitment and takes their business seriously enough to invest time and money into  it. Several of us connected so much in person, that we’ve created a Mastermind group to keep our business momentum going. We hold regular meetings online every two weeks to discuss our business challenges and give each other feedback. This has enormous value and has taken my business to new levels. They know when to push me, when to support me, and we all exchange our best advice as we’re each in different non-competing industries! As Todd Herman, the founder of the 90 Day Year says, business happens at the speed of relationships.

Lesson to You: Regardless of what industry that you work in, ensure that you take the time to build your network not only in your industry, but also outside of it. The advice and perspective you get from people outside your industry is invaluable.

travel blogger visiting the Palace of Versailles

Me in front of the Palace of Versailles, France

Confession 9: We Have a Hard Time Relating to People Who Don’t Travel

I used to be an extrovert. I was really outgoing and could hold a conversation with almost anyone. After working at home alone with my two cats for almost six years and getting paid to do something I love, I feel I’ve become socially awkward when I meet  people that don’t travel, nor have the desire to do so. Not don’t get me wrong, I can talk about other things besides travel, like world events, hiking, cats, pop culture, etc, but my small talk skills are definitely diminishing.

I remember one such conversation vividly with an acquaintance I bumped into when I was back in Canada visiting friends. He flat out told me that he thought travel was frivolous and that his interest was on his family and not in seeing the world. Fair enough. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and while I respect that, I didn’t have a response. An awkward silence filled the air until our mutual friend returned.

Lesson to You: If you talk to us and we appear aloof, we’re probably not trying to be a travel snob who looks down on anyone with a normal job, we just might be socially awkward from working so much alone.

 

If I was Catholic, I’d be feeling pretty darn righteous after all these confessions :). Let me know what else you want to know about the world of travel blogging and I’ll try to answer it in a follow-up post.travel blogging secrets

Note: these are my personal points of views about travel blogging. These will apply to many, but not all travel bloggers.

The link for the 90 Day Year is an affiliate link, meaning I will receive a commission if you purchase the course at no extra cost to you. As an added incentive, I’m throwing in 3 1:1 sessions if you buy the course where we will focus on what you need to do to grow your business. 

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their active holidays in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.
2017-03-13T04:51:19+00:00

33 Comments

  1. Natasha June 8, 2016 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Great post Laurel – I can imagine all of the hard work and time that goes into this, especially in terms of blogging and recording all that you do! I do hope that you manage to get some down-time soon, and a chance to recharge your batteries. – Tasha

    • Laurel June 8, 2016 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      @Natasha – Thanks so much! Yes, it does take a long time, more time than most people would expect, but I’m so fortunate to love what I do. I’ll be on a semi-vacation in Canada for a month in July so will recharge then :).

  2. Julie Miche June 9, 2016 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    A dose of reality for sure… Everything takes more time than we imagine it would…. Still worth it though!

    • Laurel June 10, 2016 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      @Julie – Completely agree! I feel very fortunate to love what I do.

  3. Larissa June 11, 2016 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Okay Laurel, I’ve been thinking about writing a post like this for a while . . . but now you’ve done it and described my life! Can I just copy & paste into my blog?? (then it wouldn’t take me 10 hours to put together )

    Seriously though, you touch on some very valid points. I recently spoke at TBEX about focusing on what matters most to our business, and I could see identifying how much time each activity actually takes as a natural follow on to that.

    It’s not all unicorns and rainbows, but like you, after 5 years of doing it, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    • Laurel June 12, 2016 at 5:13 pm - Reply

      @Larissa – Glad that you can relate :). I think so many of us have out hands in so many different pots that it has a huge impact on our focus, productivity and profits.

      Love the “it’s not all unicorns and rainbows” – although I’ll take those too 🙂

  4. David June 12, 2016 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Hi Laurel – I am glad I found this as I am a fellow Travel Blogger and its good to see the honesty of how difficult it can be even for us newbees – I don’t get paid to travel but travel as much as I can – it’s my passion and has been for the last 20 years. So far I’ve clocked up 59 countries and have so many stories I had to start writing them down after a break for a while.

    Great post and muchly appreciated.
    A Wandering Memory

    • Laurel June 13, 2016 at 8:55 am - Reply

      @David – Congrats on 59 countries and traveling so much! Travelling is such a great experience, whether or not you’re being paid to do it. Besides, you can often score some great perks as a travel blogger and save $$$, even if you’re not being paid directly.

  5. Clelia Mattana June 12, 2016 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    Loved this post Lauren! So many truths in here.

    I am particularly sensitive when it comes to (try) and separate my private life from my job. I came to a point where they are basically the same thing. Ok blogging, traveling and photography are also my passions but sometimes It can get heavy. I laughed about being socially awkward, just the other night I went out with a dear friend and a person I hadn’t met before and at some point I realized that I was talking non-stop about my trips and misadventures. I stopped and just said: “sorry guys, these days the only conversations I’m having in real life are with my cat!” 😀 (sadly true, I’m working on a few projects 12 hours per day since March, I don’t even know what the word socialize means anymore)

    But hey, we have an awesome job, no matter how hard it is. Great read!

    • Laurel June 13, 2016 at 9:04 am - Reply

      @Clelia – I so hear you and I also struggle with trying to separate my private life from my work life, where even my vacations often involve work. Cats do make fantastic company…even if hanging out with them too much does lead to a loss of social skills with people :).

  6. Clelia Mattana June 12, 2016 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Laurel not Lauren. See? Proof that I’m working way too much. I can barely remember my name these days!

  7. Mercedes June 13, 2016 at 12:23 am - Reply

    Hi Laurel, what a great post.
    I recently started to blog about my travel experiences because some of my friends gave that advice. As an IT person, I could quickly learn how to put a humble blog together and now, after 8 months, I find it fun and interesting.
    I don´t know if I want to make money out of it but it will definitely be a great challenge.
    Confession #9 did resonate with me a lot! as I have been feeling exactly that in the last 2 years but I thought it was only my usual weirdness. I am glad I read this because it gave me perspective of why I don´t find some people interesting and I don´t talk much. I am also an extrovert, but in the last few years, I tend to be silent in many conversations simply because the topics are not the ones I like.
    In fact, is not only about traveling, it is about lack of passion on something. Conversations that are around gossiping or complaning and not about how passionate you are about something new that you discover, really make me silent.

    Fantastic post, thanks for sharing.

    • Laurel June 13, 2016 at 9:07 am - Reply

      @Mercedes – Congrats on starting a travel blog! It definitely is humbling and figuring out the making money part of it takes time, and the tradeoffs definitely aren’t for everyone.

      I so agree with you that it’s hard to relate to people who lack passion about something – that’s truly what makes a person interesting. I think when you’re around people who are so passionate all the time (in my case mainly travel bloggers and entrepreneurs who love their businesses), it makes it even more difficult to connect with people who aren’t passionate about something.

  8. Ursula June 13, 2016 at 6:46 am - Reply

    Thanks for this great post Laurel. It really shows the reality.

    We started our Travel Video Blog because we have a passion for travel and would like to share our experiences with others. You are absolutely right, it takes a lot of time and effort. If we only had focussed on earning money, we would have failed.

    Sometimes I find myself spending to much time on irrelevant things. Your article also reminds me to concentrate on the essential things and “spend more of my time working on my business, not working in my business”.

    I know it is a hard way to sucess, but I think as long as I am passionate about what I do, I am on the right way.

    • Laurel June 13, 2016 at 9:10 am - Reply

      @Ursula – Glad you enjoyed it. Agreed about the money. I truly believe the money is a byproduct of providing a service and fulfilling a need for our audiences.

      I was truly shocked at just how much time I wasted by doing the non-essentials. While I do still struggle at times to “work on my business and not in my business”, I’ve seen a huge impact when I’m consistent with it. Also agreed that it’s important to do something that you’re passionate about, it makes it much easier to keep going during the difficult times.

  9. michela ricciarelli June 14, 2016 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Great post & thanks to share it!!

  10. Irene S. Levine June 14, 2016 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Nice piece! Thanks for sharing~

  11. Megan June 14, 2016 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    This is all so true! Especially about travel being hard work. We make up at the crack of dawn to get sunrise pictures and stay up late to be able to write about the night life. It’s hard work!

  12. Paige Conner Totaro June 16, 2016 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    So so true. All of it. The relationship one is pretty tricky if your partner and family are not in favor of your solo travel. I started as a family travel blogger, but now kids are busy and my family can’t travel with me, so now I go solo! Which does not always go over well with the fam. Balance is key.

    • Laurel June 16, 2016 at 9:08 pm - Reply

      @Paige – I can see how it would be even more tricky with children. Glad that you’re able to balance both! It’s not easy!

  13. Mike's Road Trip June 20, 2016 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Hey Laurel! What an interesting article. I have been a travel blogger for over six years and can say each point is spot on! I took comfort while reading, knowing that someone else out there is like me.

    • Laurel June 20, 2016 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      @Mike – Glad to hear that it resonated with you 🙂

  14. Brian June 23, 2016 at 12:24 am - Reply

    I haven’t made any money yet, so #4 & 9 were my favs. I wish I could have been in the room when someone told you that travel is frivolous. I would have had a good response!

    • Laurel July 1, 2016 at 11:18 am - Reply

      @Brian – I wish you would have been there too 🙂

  15. Michael June 23, 2016 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Hello Laurel, just found your blog and I love it! This was an especially insightful article, especially as someone who has just recently started blogging! Glad to know that someone is out here telling the truth.

    • Laurel July 1, 2016 at 11:16 am - Reply

      @Michael – Thanks for your kind words and best of luck with your blogging journey!

  16. jungritchie6416 July 2, 2016 at 2:14 am - Reply

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website? My website is in the very same niche as yours and my users would certainly benefit from some of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Cheers!

    • Laurel July 4, 2016 at 10:55 am - Reply

      Sure, that’s fine. Thanks for checking.

  17. Turner July 24, 2016 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Well said. I think the additional income is the biggest misconception. The idea that you need savings to, well, work, is difficult for non-bloggers to understand.

    • Laurel August 14, 2016 at 6:55 pm - Reply

      @Turner – Thank you! And very true!

  18. markdeafmcguire August 24, 2016 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    A lot of these points, especially the one about family and friends, are very true. Not just when it comes to traveling but also living as a nomad. I have made many great friends over the years living in 9 different states but the second you move away, those friendships fall away into memories as they tend to prefer to being able to access your attention within the same zip code to shoot the breeze with.

    I’m starting to get into the travel groove and am realizing how much “travel work” can take away from other tasks like social media posts, etc… It does require planning ahead to appear active 24/7 year round. Just like any business. I also agree on connecting outside your comfort zone. While I love to travel, I realized I’m a huge advocate for accessible travel/tourism for all people with disabilities and often that means connecting with a wider range of people who share the common thread of travel in addition to other interests.

    Thanks for sharing this terrific, honest, insight. You helped me keep my delusions of granduer real. 🙂

    • Laurel August 24, 2016 at 4:37 pm - Reply

      @Mark – Thanks so much for your comment. Congrats on playing such an active role as an advocate, you’re inspiring!

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