What Travel Bloggers Know That You Don't: Tips From The Insiders

Quitting a job and traveling around the world, checking off one bucket list destination each month, sounds more like a movie script than a realistic plan. And it is. Few people actually manage to pull it off, despite how it looks on social media.

Travel is not the norm

They don't travel all the time, even if they do it full-time. "Every travel blogger is different. Some travel only a few weeks of the year, some relocate to a foreign country so it looks like they're traveling all the time, and some are like me: Constantly on the move," Alex Reynolds from the popular Lost With Purpose travel blog says.

Most of their job is not the traveling part

Even if you travel as often as you can – and if that is 2-3 time per month, like Maria Stoyanova from Travelling Buzz does – Most of the "job" actually is not the actual trip, it's the writing and storytelling after that, Stoyanova says. "All of us have countless travel stories we share all the time; that is why it may seem that we are constantly on the road, even if we're not."

They work long hours

Days can get quite busy, and that doesn't have anything to do with going from one place to another. "Balancing a travel blog/business while still finding time to get out and see the places I'm visiting isn't always the easiest," Reynolds says. "I usually do some sightseeing in the mornings and evenings, then work in between."

Instagram “rules” their lives

"I totally feel the pressure!" Reynolds says. "I get a bit anxious if I don't come up with any 'Instagrammable' photos after a few days. My camera is always on my hip, but there's a certain sort of photo that does well on Instagram—girl looking off into the distance somewhere pretty, that sort of thing—and I have to go out of my way to take photos like that, as they're not really my style. The things we do for the 'gram!"

Rest is not always an option

"Travelling is sometimes very tiring especially if you only have a few days at a destination," Stoyanova says. She tries to relax at the hotel or in a park, but there are so many hours during the day. "Many times, the day is full of planning the next step, finding a good place to eat, figuring out how to reach the airport, and so on." There is plenty to do, especially when people are counting on you to write about it.

Growing their blog consumes them

"When I first started I spend few hours every day to write, research, grow my social media, etc.," Stoyanova says. "Now, when my blog is a bit more established and it can sustain itself, I spend less time on it. I would say I spend around 30 percent of my time on the blog now." That's still a lot, though – for something that isn't your full-time job.

Planning ahead is not always advised

"I tend to just get my visa, have a loose idea of where to go, and figure it out from there," Reynolds. She is in the minority, though. "Planning ahead too far always leads to failure for me—I always get sidetracked by recommendations from people I meet, and I'm not one to say no to a spontaneous adventure."

And it takes time, too

"I would say it takes me about half a day to a day to organize a trip – booking flights, accommodation and then researching what is there to see in the place I go," Stoyanova says. "I leave most of the researching part for when I'm actually at the destination – or while I'm waiting at the airport." It takes much longer to plan a trip if you're looking for sponsorship and are pitching your ideas.

Companies pay them…sometimes

You can pitch to companies, and whether you approach them or vice versa, there's always some kind of written agreement about what you'll offer them, how much they'll pay you (if anything), and so on, Reynolds says. "Some work is paid, some isn't. It depends on the job, the value of what I'm getting from it, and how much I want to do it."

They hang out with other travel bloggers a lot

"It's true that most of my friends are also bloggers or workers in the digital or creative field," Stoyanova says. "It is just way easier to share your struggles with like-minded people."

They are tied to electronics

"Some people think I'm exaggerating when I tell them how much time and effort goes into running the website and making content, others judge me for being so tied to electronics while traveling," Reynolds says. "People have this idea that bloggers are on a perpetual vacation and all they have to do is post photos to Instagram every once in a while...but there's far, far more to it than that!"

The pressure to write is real

"I'd say I got too bogged down in trying to write something about every. single. place. I visited," Reynolds says. A mistake she says she would fix is to be selective with what she writes about; "otherwise you'll end up drowning in work before you've even gotten off the ground!"

It takes years to get noticed

A lot of people don't understand how much work, effort and time goes into maintaining and growing a blog, Stoyanova says. "Firstly, it takes years to create something sustainable; then it takes most of your days to write, pitch companies, grow your audience and many other things people don't actually see," she adds.

They don’t blog about every trip

"When I feel like not sharing anything on social media after a trip, I'm okay with leaving it for another time," Stoyanova says. "There are many trips I took that I didn't share anything about for months." But most of the time, she admits, she posts about it because she takes blogging seriously, "especially when people are counting on me."

Writing an article can take a week

Everyone agrees – writing is a huge part of traveling and is very time consuming. "I find writing quite challenging, and it's quite a laborious process for me," Reynolds says. "I could take anywhere from one day to one week to write an article, depending on how well it flows from my mind and how long it is."

A lot of the articles are unpaid

"I do write sponsored content that I'm paid for, but the vast majority of the articles on my blog were written simply because the story was interesting, or the information wasn't yet available on the internet," Reynolds says. "No one would want to read my website if every article I wrote was paid for by Hotel X or Travel Company Y."

There’s isn’t much time for hobbies

"Photography was always my hobby, but it's gradually becoming my job," Reynolds says. For Stoyanova, her blog is the hobby. "Whenever I have some free time, I do something new for the blog." She also paints.

They don’t like to talk about how much work actually goes into blogging

Talking about how much work it takes to keep a blog is one of the things nobody wants to hear, so they don't like to talk about it, Stoyanova says.

They often write for online content mills

They have to pay the bills, too. Many bloggers have full time jobs. "A lot of bloggers work as freelance writers, and make money writing articles for online content mills, news sites, etc.," Reynolds says. Some also do digital marketing for brands, some are virtual assistants, etc., Stoyanova adds.

Or consult about social media

Many travel bloggers offer consulting services about blogging, social media management, Reynolds adds. "Blogging or consulting about blogging (meta-blogging, I call it) is more lucrative than travel blogging!"

They are often judged by other bloggers

"Trying to please everyone was one of the biggest mistakes when I started," Stoyanova says. Bloggers usually support each other but many times there is a lot of judging in the community, she adds. "So trying to create the perfect post, or to follow certain steps in order to be liked by others, was a thing I slowly learned to not focus on."

They often miss birthday, weddings…

Traveling and blogging takes a toll on personal relationships. "I haven't lived in the same country as my family for almost 5 years now, and it shows," Reynolds says. "I miss birthdays and weddings, births and deaths." She keeps in touch via Whatsapp and Facebook, but it's certainly not the same. "It's hard much of the time, but that's the price I have to pay for following my dreams of travel," she adds.

It’s hard to talk about other things than travel

Travel bloggers have other interests other than going places. They have friends that haven't made travel their life. "But, I admit, I do find it a bit depressing that few people have any interest in what I've been doing over the past few years. Travel is a massive part of my life, and it's hard not to talk about it at times!" Reynolds says.

Some have to buy likes and followers

Due to how social media and the algorithms of different platforms work, many travel bloggers feel pressured to pay for likes or followers. Their posts won't show up high enough unless they have a lot of people engaging with their content.

What others say makes them nervous

That actually depends on how "sane the commenter is," Reynolds says. "Some people are totally bonkers, and I don't have to take them seriously. But if someone seems legitimately offended for a valid reason by something I wrote, I do get a bit upset and feel the need to remedy the situation."