Tim and I were just at dinner the other night with a group of his friends from work. I’d never met any of them before because my life as a full-time travel blogger keeps me on the go. A lot. After a few jokes that I actually do exist, the group was enthralled with what I do an how I get to do the seemingly endless list of cool things I’m always off doing.
This isn’t uncommon. The questions are ones a lot of people are interested in and I really don’t mind answering them. The truth is that travel blogging is still such a new profession that there is no clear cut answer on how to become a professional travel blogger. And there definitely is not a clear cut answer on what I actually do day to day, because it can be vastly different from week to week.
There are professional travel bloggers of all kinds. Some are digital nomads and travel from place to place always working on the road. Others, like us, have a home base and come home from trips to unpack, catch up on work, and do perfectly normal things like grocery shop, clean house, and go out with friends. So what do I actually do? Since I’m sure my mom, dad, and inquiring minds would love to know, I decided to share what a week as a full-time travel blogger is like for me.
It’s time to hit to the road for a busy multi-city trip through the US. After a delayed flight, I only got home last night at 9pm from a full week traveling around Gothenburg and West Sweden for the #inaVolvo campaign that Tim and I were hired to promote. I spent the night doing laundry, re-packing and I caught a two hour nap before I had to wake up and be on the train at 7am.
I’m flying out of Milan on one of Emirates new non-stop flights to JFK in New York City, so I’ve got to hop on the train to Milan. I use my three hour train journey to get work done for the university I also work for. I can get online anywhere there is 3G with my personal Huawei E5331 21Mbps Mobile WiFi Hotspot and I use the time to finish up my monthly social media sentiment summary and catch up on email from the last week.
By the time I board my Emirates flight, I collapse into my seat. Eight hours later I arrive at JFK, make my way through customs (but not without being pulled for questioning about my big fat passport that has had three extra sets of pages added to it and my travel history for the last few months), and finally fall in to a taxi.
I’m exhausted from being awake for nearly 24 hours now but before I can crawl in to bed at my hotel, I need to snap some photos because I’m reviewing my stay at The Empire Hotel (you can read my review here).
It’s a good thing I’m super jet lagged and awake by 3am. I make a few updates to my presentation for UBTech and practice my presentation in front of the mirror. I’m speaking at the top technology in higher education conference on social media strategy later in the week.
I take a break and head downtown to Pier 40. I’m taking an early morning flying trapeze class with the Trapeze School of New York. I’m the only new flyer and I intimidate myself by watching the other flyers and convincing myself I’ll look like an idiot to the rest of the class. With some excellent and personalized instruction, the coaches have me swinging and hanging by my knees in no time.
With scraped up knees and elbows, I head back to The Empire Hotel. I grab a sandwich and latte from Starbucks and settle in to work the rest of the day. I write a couple blog posts, have some meetings, and wade through an endless flow of incoming emails.
I was invited to see Disney’s new Broadway show, Aladdin, so in the evening I head to the New Amsterdam Theater. There are VIP tickets, an autographed photo, an Aladdin pin and drink vouchers waiting for me at will call. My mom was supposed to meet me in New York for my quick trip, but she broke her wrist and couldn’t make the trip. I give the two little girls to my right my autographed photos and Aladdin pins. They are thrilled and the show is excellent.
Back at my hotel, I fall in to bed exhausted.
Not exhausted enough apparently, because once again I’m awake by 3am. After an hour of staring at the ceiling, I get up to work. I go over my presentation again a few more times.
I work for six hours before I get dressed for the day and meet with The Empire Hotel’s public relations representative and marketing manager. We tour the hotel and then I pop out to Starbucks for a latte. The maid has come to clean my room in the hour I’ve been gone, so I can settle back in to get more work done.
And I keep on working for another three hours. I get a much needed break away from the computer and stroll down a few blocks to the Mandarin Oriental New York. I’ve been invited to have afternoon tea in their Lobby Lounge on the 35th floor.
I’ve got to head straight back to my hotel after tea because I need a quiet space to Skype. I’m also a travel correspondent on the satellite radio show On Travel, which is broadcast on the American Forces Radio Network. It’s a 25 minute show and though not scripted, I always make some notes so I don’t miss mentioning anything important. Even though I’ve been doing the show for two years now, I still get nervous! (Check out a podcast of the show here.)
I’m invited to dinner at Ed’s Chowder House right at The Empire Hotel. I’m glad dinner is at the hotel, because I’ve got to be up at 2:30am for a very early flight.
I’ve flown across the country and checked in to the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas before most people in the US are even awake. I also wrote and scheduled a blog post on the flight using GoGo Inflight Internet from 35,000 feet. As much as I’d like to do nothing more than lounge around the MO Las Vegas’ fabulous pool getting a tan, but I’m primarily in Las Vegas to speak at the UBTech conference.
I get registered and pick up my speaker’s badge for the conference. I check out the room that I’m speaking in and then head to the speaker’s lounge to test out my presentation on the projector. I spend the afternoon and evening at the conference networking events. Only one glass of wine for me and I’m in bed by 10pm.
Though I plan to have some fun while I’m in Las Vegas, the primary reason I’m here is to speak about social media strategy. My talk follows the keynote and I sit fidgeting through it because I am nervous.
I arrive to my room and get set up to speak. Just two others sat in the room looking back at me for what felt like forever. And then the room started to fill up. Slowly at first, and then it was standing room only. The next 40 minutes flew by and even though my talk ended at the lunch break, I had a line of colleagues waiting to get my business card and chat for a few minutes. When I finally head to lunch myself, I let out a huge sigh of relief.
Friday night in Las Vegas I can finally relax and just enjoy the weekend. I have just one blog post to write over the weekend, I am off for the weekend from the university, and a couple of my friends have flown in from Phoenix to hang out with me.
We’ve all been invited to Sugar Factory for the famous liquid nitrogen drinks. As smoke from the bowls and goblets of liquid nitrogen poured over our table, we felt like rock stars. It may have had something to do with everyone staring at us… And I’m fairly certain we sampled the entire specialty drink menu. Even though I was still technically working, it was an awesome way to end an insanely busy week.
Saturday and Sunday
I’ll tell you all about Las Vegas soon. I packed a lot in to a short trip there, including my flight in an open cockpit bi-plane. I did barrel rolls and loops in it over Hoover Dam!
So You Want to Be a Travel Blogger?
This is what a typical week traveling as a full-time travel blogger is like for me. I post pictures of all the awesome things we’re doing, but there is a lot of work that has to happen on the trip too. We’re not just on an endless holiday as our Facebook and Instagram might lead you to believe.
You might be wondering exactly how I end up doing all these fabulous things like getting invited to Aladdin on Broadway or flying in a bi-pane and doing stunts. Well, we worked really hard for a long time for free and traveled on our own dime to more than 20 countries in order to build a website with content. That content started a small community of readers that kept coming back and subscribing to follow along.
Now we belong to several professional writer’s associations that help connect travel writers like ourselves with brands. I also make it easy for brands to get a full profile of our site statistics and demographics with various tools. If you’ve got a travel blog and are thinking of making it a profession, here are some resources I recommend to help you take things to the next level:
TBEX, or The Travel Blog Exchange, is geared specifically for new media (blogs, video blogs, and online content creators). TBEX hosts two conferences annually, one each in North America and Europe, and is the place to learn, network, and connect with industry professionals. I’ve personally made excellent connections, met sponsors, and learned how to take our blog to the next level from a number of successful bloggers and marketers.
I’m also honored to have been asked to speak about social media strategy at TBEX Athens this October.
Brands naturally like to see a blogger’s site analytics and social influence when deciding to work with them on a campaign. They need feel confident that they are going to get a return on investment when taking a chance on working with a blogger for content creation. themidgame makes it easy for brands to see a full picture of both a blogger’s website traffic and social influencer profile.
It’s completely free for bloggers to sign up for a profile and you can even apply for sponsorships through themidgame’s network. We’ve already received several sponsorships through themidgame and the portal makes it really easy to negotiate the terms with in-dashboard messaging.
IFWTWA is a writer’s association that helps connect journalists with brands. Not only that, there are several recognitions for excellence in the industry, media trips, a number of member only discounts, and an annual conference. I particularly like the members-only newsletter because it packed with leads on brands looking for writers, upcoming press trips, and freelance opportunities both in print and online.
There is an annual membership fee and an application and verification process to go through to become a member. This is to ensure only professionals paid to write or produce content are accepted as members. If you review and meet the qualifications and decide to apply, feel free to list my name on your application. I get a one time $20 referral credit on my next annual dues.
Disclosure: We were compensated to write a review of themidgame; however, we were not required to write a positive review. As always, all opinions are entirely our own and we only recommend destinations, products, and services we ourselves use.