Do you love Travel?
Do you want to Travel the World for a Living?
If you’re like me, then hell yes you do! Today is the day to stop daydreaming about a life of travel and start on a new path towards your goal. I’ve interviewed 14 top travel bloggers to get an idea of what it takes to travel the world for a living, and where it will take you.
It all started over a year ago for me.
I had been traveling for nearly three years when I met Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere, the #1 travel blogger in the world. Star struck, I asked him a few questions over lunch about how he affords his life of travel.
I wanted to know how I, too, could be a Travel Blogger and commit my life to my one true passion- traveling the world!
We had a nice, Thai-style spaghetti bolognese as I pestered him about every detail of his life. How did he afford this lifestyle of Travel? How many countries had he been to this year? The more I dug up, the more I wanted to know, and that’s when I discovered that there are others out there just like me, people who threw caution to the wind, quit their crappy jobs and set off instead for a life of adventure! Sick and tired of working 9-5, of listening to what others thought was best for them, these passionate individuals all have one thing in common, they travel the world for a living! I read their articles religiously, hungry for any detail on how to create a life of travel.
A year later, I’ve somehow managed to convince these Top Travel Bloggers to answer my questions, interviewing them about how they travel the world for a living. These are my heroes in the Travel Blog world, and I admire each and every one of them for their dedication and commitment to their passion in life- Travel.
Here are their stories, and their answers to my questions of how they manage to pull off what the rest of us are only dreaming about. I hope you find their words as inspiring as I have, and make Today the beginning of a new chapter in your life; one where you stop listening to what everyone else thinks is right for you, and start living the life you were meant to.
Kate McCulley – adventurouskate.com
I’ve been shipwrecked in Indonesia. I’ve taken a boob to the face in Istanbul. I’ve hit on Jon Stewart in New York City, which got me subsequently mocked on The Daily Show, and I’ve been an extra in a really, really bad German movie. In September 2010, at the age of 26, I quit my job to travel Southeast Asia for six months. Six months turned into three years across more than 45 countries.”
How long have you been a Travel Blogger? I’ve been blogging for more than 11 years, and Adventurous Kate is almost 4 years old.
How many countries have you been to in the past year? I’ve been to 22 countries i the past year.
How do you afford a Life of Travel?
I’ve been making my entire income online since 2010. Over time, my earning methods have changed significantly. Today my income comes from several areas. On the blog, I make money through the following methods:
1) Advertising. Today this takes the form of A) branded content posts, meaning posts that advertise products; B) banner and video ads; and C) social media and newsletter promotion. I reject at least 98% of advertising offers I receive and only select ones that I think will be of value to my readers. Posts that contain branded content contain a disclosure stating so.
2) Sponsorship. While the vast majority of my travels are at my own expense, sometimes travel companies and DMOs (destination marketing organizations, like tourism boards) pay me to visit their destinations or take part in their activities. They cover my expenses and pay me for my time; they do not pay for coverage, as coverage is provided strictly at my editorial discretion. I reject the vast majority of sponsored travel offers and only accept the ones that genuinely interest me.While I receive monetary compensation for most of these trips, I occasionally take part in unpaid trips and activities. Posts that cover sponsored travel contain a disclosure stating so.
3) Affiliate marketing. I link to products I recommend and earn a small commission if people buy them. Most of my affiliate earnings come from Amazon. Off the blog, I make money through the following methods:
4) Freelance Writing. I write regularly for sites including Answers.com and Eurail.com, along with publications like The Boston Globe and TNT Magazine.
5) Consulting. I consult in three areas: blogging, travel, and social media. I help bloggers build better blogs, I help readers plan their travels, and I help small businesses manage their social media.
6) Public speaking. I take on a variety of speaking engagements, mostly at conferences. Sometimes I get paid for them; sometimes I speak in exchange for free entry, travel, and lodging.
What does a typical “day in the office” entail for you? I have days blocked out into different tasks, from writing blog posts to pitching publications to doing my regular writing gigs.
Do you ever pay for trips out of your own pocket? I pay for nearly everything out of pocket. I do press trips on occasion, but the vast majority of travel I do is planned, organized, and paid in full by myself.
Do you sell any of your own products to fund your travels? I consult privately.
What’s the best way to build an audience as a travel blogger? Spend the first year working like mad. Post prolifically. Comment everywhere. Guest post anywhere that will take you. Build connections on social media.
Do you have any advice for up and coming travel bloggers? Remember that it’s not about you. It’s about your readers. Produce content for them, not for your own benefit.
Turner Barr – aroundtheworldin80jobs.com
“Hi, my name is Turner. I travel the world, hustle to find interesting jobs, and write about what happens when you read too many self-help books.
Fed up with filing TPS reports and refusing to do tedious and meaningless shit that no human being should ever care about, I set out abroad 6 years ago doing different jobs around the world with the goal of finding a way to work and live overseas full-time. This website hopes to cut out the romanticized fantasies about what it takes to live life overseas and aims to show you how to find meaningful experiences and gainful employment abroad. From doing feel good volunteer jobs with sick elephants to bizarre odd jobs in strange outfits that offer once in a lifetime unique cultural experiences, to getting your hustle on to find money making jobs abroad that keep the lights on, I hope that I can show you that it is possible to take the less traveled, unknown road and come out alive.”
How long have you been a Travel Blogger?
Well – this is a loaded question, as I don’t really consider myself a travel blogger. I am just a guy who travels, finds interesting works, smacks buttons on a keyboard or hits a record button – and occasionally something intelligible (I hope) comes out. But for brevity sake – I have been traveling for 7 years, and producing content on the inter-webs for 2 years.
How many countries have you been to in the past year? This year has been a light travel year in terms of countries, as I am almost knocking down 30s doorstep and my old bones don’t like to carry backpacks, but something like 12 countries. I lived in Bangkok the first 7 months of the year.
How do you afford a Life of Travel? Some of the jobs I find on the road pay the bills, while others are more for personal fulfillment. I used to dabble in trading equities (stocks and options) online, and also I edit academic papers for European business professors on occasion.
What does a typical “day in the office” entail for you? There is no such thing as a typical day for me really, as it depends on what job I am currently on. This past year a day could be walking tigers and corralling tourists (volunteering at the shady as fuck Tiger Temple), cleaning elephant excrement (volunteering at elephant nature park), or most recently, working like crazy to find internet, shooting video and fundraising for children in the Philippines for Christmas (Toy Drive Fundraiser: Executive Elf). But when I am not on a mission, I try to work online a few hours a day, read books, news, and spend entirely too much time on Facebook. I will also go out and about and explore wherever I am at. I like strolls. It seems like an adult thing to do.
Do you ever pay for trips out of your own pocket? I pretty much always pay for trips out of my own pocket. I like to write what I want to write and only work with people and projects that I believe in. Thus, I am a picky bastard. Probably to my detriment but that’s just how I roll.
Do you sell any of your own products to fund your travels? Nope – I don’t really have anything to sell and do not really affiliate any products. If I don’t use it or believe in it, I don’t advocate it.
What’s the best way to build an audience as a travel blogger? Good question. I think being interesting and having something unique to write about. I know that isn’t the magic pill people want to hear. People want to hear about SEO or social media tactics or link to other bloggers or whatever. But the reality is that everyday 100 more travel bloggers spring up, so do you want to be part of the pack or blaze your own path? So write, photograph, video – and make beautiful things that if you weren’t trying to be a “blogger” and self promote would actually want to share. Improve, evolve, get feedback and then improve some more. There are no rules and there is no formula – the true self always comes through in the end, so don’t be afraid to do things your way.
Do you have any advice for up and coming travel bloggers? Be authentic. Be you. Be leery of anyone who talks about “living the dream” and how everyone should have a blog or whatever. Do what you like and are inspired by or you will lose interest and die broken hearted. Do it for you. Write meaningful, interesting stuff that doesn’t just fill up space on the Internet. Help people. Do big things not for page clicks but because they are awesome. Action speaks louder than words, so practice what you preach. And lastly, enjoy the process and have fun. Don’t miss out on enjoying the travel journey because you got too wrapped up in keeping up with the Joneses.
Caroline Makepeace - ytravelblog.com
Caz Makepeace is a serial traveller, blogger and sunset mojito drinker. She is the co-founder of Australia’s biggest travel blog with her husband Craig. They are currently road tripping around Australia with their two daughters. They share their travel lifestyle and tips on their travel blog. You can also connect on Google+, Facebook and Pinterest.
How long have you been a Travel Blogger? It will be four years this April.
Gary Arndt – everything-everywhere.com
Johnny Ward – onestep4ward.com
Do you have any advice for up and coming travel bloggers?
Derek Earl Baron - wanderingearl.com
“In 1999, I left home for a 3-month post-graduation trip to Southeast Asia and today, over 14 years later, that trip has still yet to end.
The non-stop adventure has involved over 80 countries, with a mix of backpacking, volunteering, danger travel, working on board cruise ships, teaching English and living in various destinations around the world. I created WanderingEarl.com in 2009 and ever since 2010, I’ve been a professional travel blogger, working full-time on my site as I continue to wander, lead my own small-group tours and ensure that travel continues to play a major role in my life.”
How long have you been a Travel Blogger? I began at the end of 2009, so just over 4 years.
Lois Yasay - wearesolesisters.com
How many countries have you been to in the past year? 5
How do you afford a Life of Travel? I live on as little as I possibly can. I don’t waste my money on cellphone bills, booze or clothing. I make a living from my blog, speaking at workshops and retreats, doing online campaigns and social media promotion for clients as well as an online shop that sells travel items. I tend to stay in places for longer intervals. I hardly make short term trips anymore unless they are for work on the blog. Most of the time, I pick a country, find a home base and integrate myself as a local as much as I can. I realize it’s the most cost effective way to travel.
What does a typical “day in the office” entail for you? I usually wake up late, around 11AM or noon. I have a full, healthy breakfast. I read a good book or spend a few hours surfing, depending on where I am. Or I take naps. My online work day doesn’t usually start until 4 or 5PM. I usually find a quiet space where I can still see the sky and start writing or sending emails. I know it sounds very leisurely. But there are days when I work until 3 in the morning and even on weekends. Every day is an opportunity to do what I love.
Do you ever pay for trips out of your own pocket? Only about 30% of my trips are sponsored, I pay for the rest myself.
Do you sell any of your own products to fund your travels? I sell clothing and other travel items on our online shop.
What’s the best way to build an audience as a travel blogger? Do good work and put it where people can see it. Make sure people also see your struggles as well as your wins. More often than not, they can relate to the former. Do something so extraordinary that others are inspired to do the same.
Do you have any advice for up and coming travel bloggers? Don’t stop. Whether your audience is 2 or 2,000. Whether people applaud or criticize you. Whether you feel insecure or overconfident. Whether you are doing something noteworthy or mundane. Whether you feel lazy or enthused. Just keep on writing, documenting your travels and sharing your knowledge. One day, the world will take notice. And if it doesn’t, do it for yourself anyway.
Audrey Bergner - thatbackpacker.com
“I’m Audrey! I grew up travelling but started doing so seriously when I turned eighteen. Since then I have travelled through Europe on three occasions, backpacked through northern Argentina, gone to India to attend a wedding (where I coincidentally cheated death on a rickshaw thrice in one night and bribed a cop within hours of landing in Mumbai), lived and worked in Korea, and am currently backpacking around South East Asia and wherever the wind blows.”
Sabrina Iovino - justonewayticket.com
Ayngelina Brogan - baconismagic.ca
Ayngelina writes the culinary travel blog Bacon is Magic. Four years ago she left a career in advertising, long-term boyfriend, apartment and friends to find inspiration in Latin America. Now she shares the people and places behind the meals she enjoys around the world.
How long have you been a Travel Blogger? I started blogging January 2010, four months later I left for a career break.
How many countries have you been to in the past year?
I actually have no idea how many countries I have been to and I never count. A lot of people see it as a badge of being an experienced traveler but I’d much rather stay in one country for a month than visit 8 countries in two weeks.
How do you afford a Life of Travel?
That’s a tough question. So when I originally left on my career break I funded most of it with 20K over two years. Since then I have also started working as the South America guide at About.com, freelance in marketing and have run some marketing programs on my site.
What does a typical “day in the office” entail for you?
There is no typical day really. If it’s a work day at home in Toronto I try to wake up early and start writing as it’s when I’m the most introspective and thoughtful. Sometimes I write at home but I find that I work best at a cafe with a big cup of coffee.
I try, usually unsuccessfully, not to be on social media too much, but I’ll take breaks and check in. The afternoon I’m usually editing photos or working on video and I try to end work by 8pm but I find even at night I’m scheduling Facebook or Twitter. Many people think the life of a travel blogger is really glamorous but the truth is we’re often chained to our laptop,
Do you ever pay for trips out of your own pocket?
Absolutely. The first 2 years were nearly all out of my pocket. Now it’s probably a balance of 50-50. For example, Exodus Travels sent me to Ecuador to go to the Galapagos but then I stayed an additional two months in Canoa and rented an apartment. But whether I pay or not my opinion always remains unbiased, my first duty is to readers so I always share but the good and bad. I don’t work with destinations or companies that don’t share the same philosophy.
Do you sell any of your own products to fund your travels?
I’ve never sold any photos. Everyone now has a digital camera or smartphone and so it’s even difficult for professional photographers to make a living. The same goes for writing. I’ll work with About.com and occasionally contribute to other sites but it’s too difficult to make a living as a travel writer and truthfully, I don’t have the talent for it.
I think useful e-books are a smart revenue stream. It’s not something I’m looking to do but I think the Getting of Out Auto photography e-book was brilliant and one of the best I’ve seen.
What’s the best way to build an audience as a travel blogger?
The best way is to start early, even 12 months before you start traveling so that you can build an audience as you still have relevant things to share about the planning process. I started late and so no one really knows I spent my first six months in Mexico and Central America. A lot of people just assume I started in Colombia because that’s when I hit the tipping point.
There are lots of sites with the same advice on how to become successful quickly such as guest posting, being active on social media and commenting on other sites. This is all true but the truth is that when I started in 2010 it was a hobby, no one was making money or getting free trips so we did all of these things just to be in the community. Now bloggers are impatient and they want to be known immediately, but the community is saturated and so it’s much more difficult. My best advice is to be genuine, sincere and treat people as you would in person. I have so many people I’ve never interacted with email me out of the blue and want me to promote them. You wouldn’t walk up to me on the street and ask that so why would you in person. Conversely I’ve had new bloggers comment on my site and tweet with me and when they ask for a link or if I can share a post I’m happy to help.
Do you have any advice for up and coming travel bloggers?
Don’t begin travel blogging because you want to be rich and famous as it’s likely neither is going to happen. Eat Pray Love has already been made a movie and she had the book deal before she started writing it. I spent 40-80 hours a week on the business, it’s not about taking your laptop to the beach.
Travel blogging is amazing, I love interacting with readers and I’d do it even if I didn’t make a single dime from it. If you don’t have the same drive to share your story then just go travel and not worry about blogging.
Samuel Jeffery - nomadicsamuel.com
Samuel Jeffery is the wizard behind the curtain pulling the strings of Nomadic Samuel cultural travel blog. He’s also the lesser half of Backpacking Travel Blog which he runs with his girlfriend Audrey Bergner of That Backpacker. You can connect with Samuel on his YouTube travel channel and on Google+.
How long have you been a Travel Blogger?
Stephanie Dandan - infinitesatori.org
Journeying James – journeyingjames.com
Hello! I’m JourneyingJames, an adventurer, backpacker andrunner and newbie surfer. I’ve been traveling the Philippines and Southeast Asia since 2003 mostly on a budget. This is my way of encouraging fellow Filipinos to discover the beauty of our own country even with minimal resources.
I just finished the most epic travel challenge in the Philippines “100 Days of Backpacking the Philippines the Cheapest Way Possible” which I started last February 1, 2012. Soon I will be publishing a book about it and a short documentary film, watch out for that!
How many countries have you been to in the past year? Only a few- Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and India.
How do you afford a Life of Travel? I can’t afford it actually. So I used the blog to organize tours in the Philippines. That way, I can enjoy traveling around the country and then use some my savings to travel abroad.
What does a typical “day in the office” entail for you? Chill. When I’m in the Philippines I just stay at home or surf. When I wake up, I drink coffee or tea then maybe write a blog, watch a dvd. If I’m traveling, I might be seen getting lost in the city or waiting for the sunrise and sunset.
Do you ever pay for trips out of your own pocket? Yes, I do pay for my trips a lot of times.
Do you sell any of your own products to fund your travels? I sell local tours in the Philippines. I also sell hammock and some souvenirs from other countries.
What’s the best way to build an audience as a travel blogger? Be you-nique and genuinely help your readers. Inspire them to travel and reach for their dreams. I don’t have a big audience but I have created a community of faithful readers and supporters of my blog.
Do you have any advice for up and coming travel bloggers? Reach out to your favorite travel bloggers. Combine your passion with your blog. Always surprise your readers.