Travel Blogging: 9 Confessions That You Need to Know

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When meeting someone for the first time, people usually tell me how lucky I am to be getting paid to travel. But I have some confessions to make about travel blogging.

I ‘m very fortunate to be doing something that I love to do. But 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.

I get paid to travel the world from a ton of hard work, much of it unpaid in the beginning and perseverance. Travel blogging is not always as glamorous as it first sounds.

Confessions of a Travel Blogger:

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

Nor do we all want to. I live in Munich. As much as I love traveling, I also love being at home.

I’m certainly away from home more than the average person with a so-called normal job. But I also get to spend a lot of time at home. 

My goal is to 1 week out of every month. Of course, this does vary according to the work I am requested to do, but I try to stick to this as much as possible.  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 blog trip, it’s not uncommon to have a schedule of activities starting at 8:00 am running through until 10:00 pm.

The days are usually long even when you’re on your own schedule. When I walked the Wicklow Way in Ireland, I frequently stopped for photos. Much more so than I would have if I weren’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 get to work on editing photos, crafting social media posts, interacting with followers and answering emails. There is a lot more that goes into travel blogging that most people realize.

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 traveling for work. Truly, I 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.

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

I was fortunate enough to cycle the Iron Curtain Trail across Finland. It was an 18-day 1350 km long trip! Moreover 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 work with me. That took three solid days.

Hundreds of emails followed to plan the trip over the course of two months.

I’ve also spent days developing proposals that resulted in nada. 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. Travel blogging isn’t all about just packing your bags and being on your way.

It’s the nature of the business, but one that travel bloggers don’t like to talk about.  Nobody brags that they spent three 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. Overnight success 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 took a productivity course and started tracking how long it 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. Boy, 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 two blog posts a week! No wonder why I was stressed and so busy all the time! Travel blogging can be really time-consuming.

After seeing how long it took, I 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.

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.

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

The actual travel 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 pay.

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 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 (now discontinued, do social media campaigns, run affiliate campaigns for products like hiking gear. and for tours like the Wicklow Way and I was the co-founder of #AdvTravelChat, which was the largest adventure travel chat on Twitter (now discontinued).

In 2016 I launched my newest venture, becoming a tour operator and offering hiking, cycling and wildlife tours.

When I started out, I also taught online courses for universities in Canada. I also did freelance writing to help pay the bills while I built up my audience.

All the multitasking can make it difficult to focus and impossible to get the results you want. 

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. And that still gives you the freedom to see the world.

blogger trip prmoting ziplining near Como, Italy.
Me on a blogger trip with Simon and Paul promoting ziplining near Como, Italy. Read about it:

Confession 7: Being a travel blogger can be 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. Your spouse or partner may have a full-time job that only allows a certain amount of leave.

As a result, you may often travel without your partner. 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 two weeks. Then I was home for 22 hours, then off to Italy for five days.

It often feels like a tug-a-war between spending time with your partner or traveling. 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. You’re likely there for the important stuff more than I am. Friends have been disappointed when I miss important life events.

adventure travel blogger hiking in Germany
Me hiking on my birthday weekend in Germany.

Confession 8: Many travel bloggers only talk about 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.

I truly value the travel blogging community, especially the peeps that I regularly interact with. But 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’m a huge fan of getting to know people outside your industry. 

The great thing about meeting entrepreneurs through a course or conference is that you know each participant has a high level of commitment. They take 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 and 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: 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 and I was outgoing and could hold a conversation with almost anyone. After working at home alone with my two cats for over seven years and getting paid to do something I love, I feel I’ve become socially awkward.

Especially when I meet people that don’t travel, nor have the desire to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I can talk about other things besides travel. I.e. world events, hiking, cats, pop culture – especially anything The Bachelor related, etc. But my small talk skills are 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.

His interest was in his family and not 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. Most of us don’t look down on anyone with a so-called normal job. We just might be socially awkward from working so much alone.

If I were 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.  I’ll try to answer it in a follow-up post.

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

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33 thoughts on “Travel Blogging: 9 Confessions That You Need to Know”

  1. 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

    • @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. 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!

    • @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 🙂

  3. 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

    • @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.

  4. 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!

    • @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 :).

  5. 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.

    • @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.

  6. 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.

    • @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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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. 🙂


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