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Since I started blogging full-time nearly two years ago, I knew I wanted to ramp up my travel content. When I was still at my 9-5, I had to turn down quite a few press trips due to my lack of PTO — and boy, that FOMO was real.
Now that I’ve been able to fully dive into the travel world, it’s a bit different than I expected. While I love travel blogging, here are four things you should know about the industry before getting started.
4 Things to Know Before You Start Travel Blogging:
It’s Not The Most Lucrative Vertical
The number one question I receive about travel blogging? How I make money off of it, of course! To be completely candid, I generate way more income with the other verticals that I blog about (fashion, beauty, lifestyle), and the travel vertical pulls in the least amount of income for me.
Most hotels and CVBs only have the budget to cover experiences, and I would say that ~15% of the time, they have the budget to pay on top of a comp. Not to mention, I “self-produce” travel content as well — meaning I write about the actual trips that I go on and pay for out of my own pocket in order to produce unbiased, organic travel pieces.
Some things I’ve done in the past to generate more income from these comped trips? I’ve licensed out my photos, and I’ve done some freelance writing for other outlets about some of the press trips I’ve been on.
Staying Healthy Requires Discipline
While I love travel blogging, it’s not the healthiest thing I could be doing for my body. For starters, it’s easy to fall off track with any sort of diet. We sample a lot of food while on press trips, and while I love being able to sample an entire menu, I’m not gonna lie: I’ve definitely gained a little bit of weight because of it!
Sometimes I’ll be home for 24-36 hours between trips, and grocery shopping doesn’t make sense whenever this happens. I’ve found myself eating out a lot and falling off of a regular gym routine. I’m really trying to work on this since I’ve been feeling sluggish for months.
There’s No Such Thing As A “Free” Trip
I love what I do, and I love the opportunity to collaborate with tourism boards and hotels. However, I would not consider a comped trip to be a “free” trip by any means: you are there to work and get a job done.
Before we leave for any trip, Tom and I will usually plan out a shot list and brainstorm ideas for articles while we’re in town. I try to get at least 2-3 articles out of every trip I go on. If I’m going solo, I’ll need to pay to rent some camera equipment, because I don’t own the wide lenses you need to get the perfect hotel room and landscape shots. When you get to your destination, you need to be “on” the entire time — you’ll be chatting with a slew of PR folks, other influencers, and maybe even a few marketing directors while you’re on a press trip. I’m an introverted extrovert, and sometimes I just want to go back to my hotel room and not speak to anyone on these trips — but you’re at work, and you need to be enthusiastic and attentive 100% of the time.
Lastly, there’s the follow-up work. Creating a full travel guide usually takes me 3 hours since I need to fact check, go over the notes I took on my trip, cull through photos, and look up websites for brands. Some brands ask for analytics after press trips, so I’ll need to pull together a report. Then, I’ll need to promote all of my posts on my social media channels.
See why I wouldn’t consider any media trip to be a “free” trip?
Take the Time to Listen on Assignments
Do you know what’s honestly my favorite thing about travel blogging? It’s getting to know people and hearing their stories. Travel blogging is not about you. Your OOTD in a grand location isn’t the focus. The community and the people that live in said community should be the focus of your piece.
When I was in Baltimore last summer, I met a restaurant owner who reminded me of my grandmother. When I was in New Orleans, I met the team of a locally-owned jewelry boutique that had been creating the most exquisite designs for years. When I was in Raleigh, I got to sit down with a man who owned a bakery who had immigrated to the U.S. from France. Every single one of these shop and restaurant owners has their own unique story. Take the time to listen and get inspired the next time you’re visiting a new destination.
Outfit Details: Sweater | T-Shirt | Jeans | Boots | Similar Hat | Sunglasses
Photos by Tom McGovern