Anytime we meet someone new and the conversation and get asked what we do, we’re always hesitant to say we’re travel bloggers. It’s not because we hate our jobs (although sometimes we do), but because the perception of travel blogging tends to be skewed. Our answers are followed by a slew of questions and remarks like “it must be nice being on vacation all the time.” I’ve even had one person tell me it’s not a real job.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of aspects about our line of work that won’t have us crawling back to a 9 to 5 anytime soon. But if you step a day in our shoes, you might not think it’s a dream job anymore.
After talking to some of the top travel bloggers and influencers and gathering their thoughts, we decided to share the many common themes that give you a glimpse of the worst parts of what goes on behind the scenes. Also, because we want you to see both sides of the story, stay tuned later this month for the flip side – the best perks of being a travel blogger.
Last Updated: Aug 14, 2018
The Ugly Truths of Being a Travel Blogger
What You Imagine vs Reality
We made this pi chart as a fun intro. I saw a similar pi chart when we were in the photography business, where people constantly thought we spent most of our time shooting photos and traveling to exotic places.
Other People Won't Respect It as a Job
It’s still a pretty new profession. I grew up in a community where people don’t completely understand what blogging is, let alone travel blogging. They may have a vague idea what it is but not a full grasp of it, despite me explaining it many times over. It’s easy for them to just slip into an assumption that all I do is travel and I think that they struggle to find value in it. For example, my own family doesn’t understand it. I write movies on the side — as a hobby — but because members of my family don’t understand blogging and they understand movies well, they introduce me to their friends as a screenwriter instead of a blogger. It makes me sad a little bit because I am really proud of my work as a blogger, much more than my work writing movies. But I know that it’s hard to expect the people around me to be proud of something they hardly understand.
Many still don’t understand the hard work that is required to keep a travel blog running full-time. Travel blogging is composed of two words, and people always forget the second half of it: blogging. And blogging isn’t just about writing. Being a professional blogger these days means you also have to take care of marketing, your own branding, maintaining your social accounts, taking photos, editing videos, brainstorming, strategizing, finding clients.
Yoshke from ThePoorTraveler
It's a Grind
Contrary to what you see on Instagram, being a travel blogger isn’t just about sitting on the beach and snapping Insta-worthy photos. It’s a grind! You’re never disconnected, always networking, working social media, writing, reading, dealing with trolls, and learning new skills like coding and SEO. Like any business, everything is on your shoulders. That is very liberating, but it can be incredibly stressful at times too (especially if you’re a workaholic like me!). I’m definitely not complaining, but this job is not nearly as glamorous as the internet makes it seem!
Matt from NomadicMatt
It might be the dream job, but it's the worst vacation
I think often people see the travel blogging lifestyle as one big vacation but there is a ton of work that goes into planning, creating content while on a trip and then publishing that content after the trip. It is an amazing job to have but at the end of the day it is still a job. We don’t post the pictures of editing videos into the night and the days spent writing or editing photos in the office.
Josh from CalifoniaThroughMyLens
Dating is a challenge
It is hard enough to date in a large city like NYC, but when I do meet someone that I want to go on dates with, I struggle to find time when I am not traveling. I have had to tell guys before, I’ll be back from this country in one week, so I’m free Saturday or Sunday but Monday I head to this country. My schedule is always changing, so dating can feel impossible. I have also met a previous boyfriend while traveling and tried and failed at the even more challenging long-distance relationship. In addition to not being in one location long enough to really date, it is very tricky to describe what I do to people on a first date. Most people have no clue what I do and so an entire first date can be spent only answering questions about what I do. I like talking about my job, but it is so distracting on a first date. If I’m only explaining what I do, I cannot learn more about the other person.
Jen from The Travel Women
You Sacrifice Your Personal Life
The biggest negative is the lack of personal life. We lost our circle of friends because we worked so hard to build our careers and spent so many years traveling full time. We lost touch with family and friends. Our nieces and nephews grew up and we missed it all. That is time we’ll never get back. And while there are things like Facebook and Skype that allow us to chat online regularly, nothing is better than human contact.
It’s important to have people in your life that know you for you who are. Not business associates, not people you meet on the road, or at conferences, but people that are lifelong friends who know the good and the bad and still accept you. We have had to rebuild those bonds and it takes time. I think a lot of people have tunnel vision when building a career and let something slide. We let our relationships with family and friends slide and are working to fix that. It’s important to make time for people no matter what the career.
Dave & Deb from The Planet D
Seriously, it just sneaks up on you
My dedication and love for my work is endless, but I almost lost my partner and the love of my life because I did not take the time to prioritize and nurture our relationship.
It is easy to get caught up in your work, especially if you are passionate about it, there is nothing wrong with that – until it takes up your whole life. Almost losing the most important person in my life made me realize that my work will never be as important as the people I love.
Everyone is always trying to find their purpose in life, but what we don’t often realize is the toll it can take if we let it consume us. Learning how to blend work and personal relationships has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and it is still a process I am learning everyday.
Your Job is Never Done
The downside of being a travel blogger is the fact that your job is almost never done. There’s always something more you can write about, always a new place to discover, always something you can improve on your blog and so on.
As a blogger, you also need to develop several skills such as photography, social media, SEO, networking, marketing and also some basic knowledge about design and web-developing. So, being a successful blogger nowadays with all the competition out there requires the skills of several regular jobs, all in one.
Some people think it’s a constant vacation, but in reality it’s almost never like a vacation, even though the experiences are fun and worthwhile (at least for me). I used to work 40 hours a week, now it’s more like 80 hours per week. However, since it’s my passion, I’m more motivated to work 80 hours as a travel blogger than 40 hours as a salesman like I used to.
Alex from SwedishNomad
You can work from anywhere, but that means you're working everywhere
One of the positives and negatives is that I can work from anywhere. This usually means I work long hours, much longer than my friends that have 9-5 jobs do. Also, I often don’t get to fully enjoy a destination or do a ton of sightseeing. Instead, I’m usually working and writing about my previous destination(s).
Johnny from JohnnyJet
You are Doing Multiple Full Time Jobs
For each trip there are countless hours spent researching potential partners, negotiating contracts, planning itineraries, taking/editing photographs, taking notes, doing keyword research, writing blog posts, creating pinnable photos, posting on social media, marketing content and creating ROI reports for clients. Phew! And all of that doesn’t include general blog maintenance, updating old posts, brand promotion, doing interviews, creating for collaboration posts, answering reader emails and managing freelancers.
Annette from BucketListJourney
You have to keep Investing time and money
Although most people think that all we do is travel and play, what a lot of people don’t realize is that there’s a lot of work that goes into every photo, article, social media post and more. While a lot of people think we just write and post a bunch of pictures, because our blog is our business, we put a lot of work into what we do. Every article is properly researched so we can rank on Google, tons of time is put into editing photos, writing great content, not to mention all the skills that we invest to keep improving.
Most bloggers juggle multiple hats as a salesperson, tech guru, photographer, videographer, social media strategist, writer and more! At the end of the day though, starting a travel blog changed our lives and although it is a lot of work, we wouldn’t be doing anything else! It is now our full-time income and has funded our travels around the world for the last three years.
Anna from Adventure in You
And It's A serious investment
You lose money for at least the first year. Not enough people recognize and talk about the necessary investment of money in travel blogging especially in the beginning. Travel, gear and educational resources all cost money. One of my biggest regrets was not saving more money before jumping into full time travel blogging as so many things that could help me travel to new places, improve my blog, the quality of my photos and videos and my marketing would cost money.
Jen from The Travel Women
There is no roadmap - you have to keep learning
Without sounding redundant, we echo what they’ve all said about the hardest, unseen parts about being a travel blogger.
In addition to the long hours, lack of community, and constant grind, another tough part is that there is no road map. It is still the wild west in the space, which gives you the freedom to make it up as you go, but also makes it difficult because there is no set model.
Fortunately, Esther’s background in photography and creatively pairs well with my background in sales and account managing. Regardless of that, things are constantly changing so you have to stay on your toes, adapt to the flowing landscape, and keep learning new skills to stay on top.
Below is a photo of Esther working from an Uber. It’s on the more extreme side of how we work, but when we have back to back deadlines, this is what we look like.
Esther & Jacob, Local Adventurer
Have you considered being a travel blogger?
ESTHER + JACOB
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in NYC.