My Life as a Travel Blogger

The truth about travel blogging
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This is Part 1 of a two-part series on my life as a travel blogger.

Life as a travel blogger

This lil' ol' blog of mine is more than four years old. FOUR YEARS! That's long enough to age a barrel of whiskey. To earn a college degree. To get pregnant and give birth to multiple children.

I have done none of those things in the past four years, of course. (Well, except the degree part — I did get a master's degree.)

What I've done instead is made the transition from hobby blogger to full-time freelance travel writer/professional blogger. This is what I DO now. I live and work on the Internet, where it's more or less all travel all the time.

When people learn this about me, they immediately go slack-jawed and exclaim something about how awesome it must be to travel the world for a living and tell me how jealous they are.

And yeah, it IS awesome. … Most of the time.

While they (and maybe you) are assuming that my life is all tropical beaches and five-star hotel rooms, though, I'm here to share the truth with you. And the truth is that this whole being-a-professional-travel-blogger thing is NOT always as awesome as people think.

A typical day in my life

Believe it or not, even though I'm a travel blogger, I DON'T travel all the time. In fact, I'm at home on my couch for the majority of the year.

Here's how a typical day goes:

  • 9 a.m. — Wake up, shower, and have coffee.
  • 9:30 a.m. — Get online and check: email, Facebook, Twitter, blog comments from overnight, the news, other travel sites, etc.
  • 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Work. And that 8 p.m. “end time” is often stretched to 9 or 10 p.m., depending on how much I have to get done.

What do I work on for that many hours a day, you ask? Well, there's the usual blog-upkeep stuff: responding to comments, posting updates on social media, making tweaks to the site, and writing new posts.

I also currently moonlight as a behind-the-scenes website manager for another big travel blog, and an apprentice to a company that creates online training resources for small businesses who want to learn more about social media.

Oh, and then there's all the freelance writing I do. On any given day, I have at least 1 or 2 posts that need worked on. Whether it's researching facts, editing/sourcing/creating photos and images, or actually putting the words together on the screen, this takes up a lot more time than you might expect.

And when I'm actually traveling? Well let's just say that I still spend a good deal of time getting work done!

The truth about travel blogging

The downsides of being a travel blogger

I'm not going to lie to you — being a full-time travel blogger is HARD. It's an incredibly challenging gig that often means working long hours for barely any money or recognition. I work my butt off to be able to share my adventures with complete strangers on the Internet.

Yes, I get free things from time to time from the partners/sponsors I work with. But I am by no means swimming in piles of money like Scrooge McDuck.

As with most freelance work, I am never guaranteed a steady paycheck. I have to be careful which advertising deals I agree to. I usually have to spend time searching for new freelance jobs. And sometimes I have to chase down money that is rightfully mine.

It's STRESSFUL some months, to say the least.

There's also the elusive work-life balance that I probably will never have — I'm too invested and have to work too much to ever take a lot of time off. I have to wear roughly a billion hats every single day. Not only am I a writer, but I'm also a photographer, video editor, social media guru, and businesswoman. Not that I mind this most of the time (I LOVE what I do and enjoy that no two days are exactly the same), but it's worth pointing out that this job requires a ridiculous time commitment.

And then there's trying to keep this all up while actually traveling. You do not know true frustration until you have a deadline to meet but can't find strong enough wifi to even log into Gmail.

The awesomeness of being a travel blogger

But I'm making travel blogging out to sound like it's an awful time-suck that keeps me from having a life. This isn't true, of course. Not in the least.

Even though I spend well over 40 hours per week pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into my blog and freelance work, it doesn't usually FEEL like work. I don't feel like my brain is leaking out my ears as I sit in a cubicle completing monotonous tasks over and over. There's no boss to answer to or workplace drama to worry about.

Sure, I often have to force myself to put on real clothing and go out into the sunlight every few days, but being self-employed feels like freedom to me. Do I miss having “work friends”? Sure. But now my “work friends” are other travel bloggers spread out all across the globe who I get to meet up with in places like London and Hong Kong and Berlin.

My office in Mykonos

I also get to call places like this my “office” sometimes.

The biggest upside to what I do, though, is that I have the freedom (and the means) to travel the world. In many instances, it IS the dream job my friends and family assume it to be.

In the past four years, I've gone swimming with sharks in Belize, hiked on a glacier in Alaska, went rafting in the Czech Republic, lived with elephants for a week in Thailand, saw the Northern Lights dance above northern Canada, cheered on Team USA at the Olympics in London, jumped off a bridge in New Zealand, floated down the Mekong River in Vietnam, and soared above Monument Valley in a hot air balloon.

It's been an incredible four years.

These adventures are the result of all the hard work I put into this site combined with the passion I have for traveling. I may not make a lot of money and may have to work harder (and longer) than a lot of people out there, but I wouldn't trade the memories I've made for anything.

So you want to be a travel blogger?

Being a professional travel blogger isn't easy. I would never suggest someone start a blog with the goal of “scoring” free travel — it doesn't fall into your lap as easily or as quickly as you may think. But, if somewhere along the line you decide to give blogging a serious go, here are some good resources for you to check out:

Travel Blog Success

Think you want to start down this path and start a travel blog of your own? Then invest in yourself and your time up-front and take a course like the one offered from Travel Blog Success. It covers all the basics about travel blogging and is a great place to start.

The MidGame
The Midgame

If you're looking to create a nice profile for your blog tand the influence you wield through it (and use this profile and influence to start monetizing your blog), check out The Midgame. I love the blogger profiles on this site (here's a look at mine), and the fact that you can use it to apply for some sponsored work.

PTBA
PTBA

The Professional Travel Bloggers Association is worth joining if you want to look a little more… well, professional! The organization is still in its early stages, but it is already planning blogging conferences and working with industry members to offer partnership opportunities to its members.

 

Stay tuned! Soon I'll be sharing exactly how and where I make money to fund my travels.

——

What else do you want to know about life as a travel blogger?

 

*Note: This post was written by me, but sponsored by a third party.

59 Comments

  • Ohmygod, the Scrooge McDuck reference might be my favourite thing on the internet right now!
    Sammi Wanderlustin’ recently posted..This Time Next Week….

  • Hahaha yeah, loved that Scrooge McDuck reference too! Very helpful post, thanks for sharing! Hopefully you’ll offer your blogging courses again after the summer! I’d definitely sign up for one when I’m done traveling after August.

    Happy travels 🙂
    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren recently posted..My Top 5 Activities for First-Time Tourists in NYC

  • Lauren says:

    I’d never heard of the Midgame before but I checked it out and started to set up our page there! It looks like a great place to have all of your stats in one place! I also enjoyed the Scrooge McDuck reference 🙂
    Lauren recently posted..Staying at Farm Sanctuary Bed and Breakfast in Watkins Glen, NY

    • Amanda says:

      Yeah, I love the profiles the Midgame comes up with – they’re really useful! And now they are also starting to offer up some sponsored opportunities, too, which is great.

  • Julie says:

    Great eye-opening post for anyone who may have misconceptions about the travel blogger/freelance industry. That’s wonderful you’ve been able to partake in so many incredible experiences as you have, but like everything in life, nothing is perfect! And in my profession (I’m a librarian), people think librarians are the people sitting at the circulation desk checking out books. Yeah, that’s not us and we do a bit more 🙂 So I hear you on the people just not knowing!
    P.S. Thanks for the tip about Midgame!
    Julie recently posted..Reading Roundup #3

    • Amanda says:

      You are most welcome about the tip!

      And yeah… I think people has misconceptions about so many jobs! Blogging definitely being one of them.

  • Thanks for the behind the scenes look at the reality of being a travel blogger. I have just started out and it is already a lot more work than I ever realised but also hugely rewarding. You definitely have to love it to stick to it as there are way easier ways to make a living!
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..My second award nomination for Blogging: The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

    • Amanda says:

      Yeah, for sure! If you don’t love doing all of this, it would be REALLY difficult to make a career out of it. It’s one that you have to work incredibly hard at!

  • zoomingjapan says:

    Yes, I can imagine how life as a full-time travel blogger must be.
    I’m so uberly busy every single day and my blog is ONLY about ONE country, namely Japan. I do travel regularly (several weeks throughout the year), but I also have a full-time job that has nothing to do with my blogging at all and that keeps me insanely busy.

    It must be so much more work with more travelling, more countries and more opportunities – although if one truly loves this kind of lifestyle, I’m sure it’s very rewarding.

    Thanks for being so honest about it! 🙂

    • Amanda says:

      Yup, it’s tough, but also very rewarding (and fun, too!). I love what I do. If I ever stop loving it, I will definitely have to change careers.

  • Naomi says:

    I love reading ‘Life as a travel blogger’ posts as they are always so different! I can imagine the natural assumption that travel blogging is all fun and games would wear thin as well as the constant worry of not having consistent work. But I can also see that the reward is well worth the hard work!
    Naomi recently posted..The Joys of Travelling Solo

    • Amanda says:

      Yes to everything you just said! Some weeks I am SO stressed out because of all the work I have to get done and/or worrying about having enough money to pay my bills. But, at the end of the day, it’s always worth it.

  • Nick Paton says:

    Certainly interesting reading your insight to this especially as I’m considering taking this path. Thanks for the tip on Midgame, will check that out now.
    Nick Paton recently posted..Escape to Manali

  • Abbi says:

    Great article Amanda! I was a hobby travel blogger myself for the past few years, but in the last 6 I have been trying to make a go of it professionally. It’s not easy, even when you travel. You hate it when the WiFi signal cuts out and sometimes it involves sitting in your room staring out at paradise while you write. When I was living in NZ and blogging as I occasionally travelled, my flatmates coined the term the BC, short for the blogging corner, where I’d sit for hours on end with all my devices staring at the screen. It is a tough job, but you seem to be making a good go of it. 🙂
    Abbi recently posted..Getting my clothes stolen in Bali

    • Amanda says:

      The BC – love it! I’ve definitely spent many an hour there, including when I’m traveling. It IS really tough to find that work-travel balance. But yeah, as of right now I’m making it work and really loving it!

  • Renuka says:

    Excellent post. I wrote a similar one recently. Yes, being a travel blogger is tough (if you are a serious/professional blogger), but I would also say that it is definitely rewarding. I agree money making part is really challenging. I’m still trying to find my feet there.
    Renuka recently posted..Lamahatta – A Secret Spot For Kanchenjunga

  • Great post, my travel blog is tiny now but I am determined to see it through. Thank you for the resources. They will be great when my blog is at that stage.
    Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon recently posted..Guide to Exploring Harbin Food, Restaurants and Bars

  • Syd says:

    Personally I find the freelance life to be pretty awesome almost all of the time. More often than not, I am off playing bikes in the woods and not staring at my computer. I don’t make very much money, but daaaaamn it’s nice. That said, I often feel a need to explain to people that it’s not always awesome, that’s it’s really hard a lot of the time, that it’s really hard to make money, etc. I’m not sure why I feel the need to say this (instead of going on and on about all the GOOD things about freelance, which definitely outnumber the bad). I think it has something to do with wanting to be taken seriously — lots of people won’t take you seriously if they think you never have to “suffer” through a job. Or it has something to do with not wanting to make people jealous….like, I do all this fun stuff but don’t worry, sometimes it sucks.
    Syd recently posted..The Ultimate Burrito Guide to Taos, New Mexico

    • Amanda says:

      I totally know what you mean. People don’t even realize jobs like ours exist, and I think that makes us feel like we have to make them sound more “legitimate” somehow.

  • themidgame says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for the great mention of our site! 🙂 We’re very happy to hear you like our Influencer Profile. We’re always working to improve our service, so we welcome all feedback from our users.

    Our service is free for bloggers, so we encourage all travel bloggers to sign up and check it out, since we are focused on getting some great sponsorship opportunities for our travel users right now.
    We will also be adding Pinterest, Instagram and hopefully some other social media accounts to the profile in the near future, so stay tuned! 🙂

    Thanks,
    themidgame team

  • Very interesting read! Congrats on 4 years!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..5 Things I Love About Roatan

  • I totally know your feels. I’m a freelancer and a travel blogger (I can’t call myself a “freelance travel blogger” yet, as my work is completely separate from the travel industry). Trying to find working wi-fi to send an important email to a client is just the worst. But the freedom is SO worth it.
    Candice @ The Let’s Go Ladies recently posted..6 Unique Tips for Ladies Travelling Solo

  • Juliann says:

    I can relate to what you say. My blog is still more hobby/part-time job and probably always will be. But even that is a lot to manage with a full-time job and family. I love it, though. But the writing deadlines are hard; especially when I write once I’ve returned from a place and then wish I were back there to clarify something or get another picture.

    Thanks for sharing this glimpse into the life of a full-time blogger. All I can say is, your hard work has definitely paid off! 🙂
    Juliann recently posted..The Pis Family

  • Rebecca says:

    As someone who just started a travel blog in April, congrats on 4 years!
    Rebecca recently posted..I’m afraid of flying (but I do it anyway)

  • Rebekah says:

    I find people whose blogs turned a career so interesting. I just blog as a hobby/creative outlet and it still takes a shocking amount of time. Presently blogging has led to me meeting some really cool people both in real life and online. I’m pretty grateful for that and I have no current plans for trying to make money, but I find info like this good to know in case I ever get the urge to take a go at it.
    Rebekah recently posted..Iphone dump

    • Amanda says:

      When I started my blog 4 years ago, I would have NEVER predicted I would end up where I am now! I had never planned for it to turn into my career. But I’m certainly not complaining that it has.

  • Arianwen says:

    Yes, yes, yes! You put this so well and I feel exactly the same. I’m stressed about what I have to do on an almost daily basis, but would I change my life? Not a chance. While I still have the energy, I’ll make those incredible memories and work my butt off to create more. There’ll be time for proper sleep and reflection when I’m older and I won’t regret it for a second!
    Arianwen recently posted..Win a NOVICA Gift Card Worth $75

  • This is so great. My wife and I, after cajoling from some friends who come to us for travel advice, suggested we start a travel blog. We’re not full time in it, not even close! It’s a fun hobby at the moment and a great way to use some of our passion and interest to help other travel minded (and not so travel minded) friends and loved ones dive into the world more easily. But it’s great to read from folks who made the transition to full time, and what that looks like. At the moment, it’s just an adventure to find our authentic voice, so after clicking through your blog, I’ve got great respect and love for the way your voice comes out in all your posts!

    Keep up the great work!

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks so much! That comment about hearing my voice in all my posts made my day – I strive really hard to let my personality come through my writing.

      Good luck with your blog!

  • Chris says:

    Wow! That is a *lot* of work time. I’m lucky if I spend 2-3 hours a day on blog upkeep and social media.

    You’ve set the bar, haha. I’m going to try and apply that kind of dedication to my site when I’m home and no longer have a day job to juggle 🙂
    Chris recently posted..Why Canada?

    • Amanda says:

      Haha, well, it’s not all on MY blog! In fact, I spend way more time on the freelance stuff I do. I intern for a social media coaching company 20 hours a week, manage another travel blog, and do freelance writing. I’m lucky if I spend 2 hours a day on my own blog/social media!

  • Sofie says:

    To be honest, I admire that you can do it by “just” working from 10 am to 8 pm (or even 10 pm).
    Maybe my view on this is a bit twisted as I still have my regular job as well, but that combined with travel blogging and most days I’m working from 7.30 am until 11 pm.
    I’m hoping to make the switch to full time freelance soon. I’ve set a date and now I just need to not chicken out. When I get there, I hope I’ll be able to rock it like you do:)
    Sofie recently posted..In search of the light: City break Stockholm

    • Amanda says:

      It’s definitely tougher when you’re trying to balance the blogging/traveling with a full-time job. I have a part-time job not really related to blogging at the moment, and that’s part of the reason I spend so much time online per day! If only I didn’t need to sleep… haha.

  • Thanks for this post Amanda and congratulations on 4 years of blogging – very inspiring! I like the way that you are generous with sharing how and what you do, as many people see blogging as some sort of alien activity, or worse LOL!

    I’ve never heard of The Mid-Game but I’ll definitely, be keeping an ear to the grounds, and focusing on being a member of the bloggers association in the future. Thanks again. 🙂
    Victoria@ The British Berliner recently posted..Go North my son to Glasgow n’all that : 10 things you didn’t know!

  • Blake says:

    Extremely interested in travel blogging/adventure jouranlism. Lots of Romanticism surrounding the subject, thanks for some much needed insight, keep the dream alive!

  • I love being a travel blogger and I was nodding through every sentence. Yes, people think its too glamorous but its lots of work. Chasing money and handling it all day and night is the biggest challenge. But overall the experiences are just amazing. Glad I stumbled on your blog.

  • Very inspiring, Amanda! Being self-employed is definitely hard work, but the pay-offs are totally worth it! Thank you for this series!

  • Martinez says:

    I admire travel bloggers for what you guys do. It’s definitely not an easy job especially when you’re away from home often. I’m sure it has its perks too, it’s nice to be able to explore new places and share them to people!

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