It’s been almost five years since I started my travel writing journey. I gave up my well-settled job and a stable life to travel the world. To be frank, it wasn’t easy to earn money while travelling. Moreover, travel blogging itself changed so much in the last few years and with new challenges like Instagrammers, YouTubers and anyone who has got a phone camera suddenly became a Social Media Influencer.
But Travel Blogging or content creation is not an easy job. It requires a lot of hardwork and patience. Most importantly, before becoming a successful travel blogger you have to become a super traveler by acing all the travel hacks that enables you to get good travel deals and create content that is unique. Every time I upload a picture on Instagram or share my travel story on Travel See Write I am bombarded with questions such as how do I get paid to travel the world, how much money do bloggers make, what are the different ways to make money while traveling or how to raise money for a trip. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is there are no free lunches – no one will pay you to work and travel unless you offer something that others aren’t. Travel blogging for beginners is a classic case of chicken-egg. The key to monetise your blog or just to support yourself while traveling is by becoming a SUPER TRAVELER. Here are 10 travel hacks I used when I started my travel blogging career:
1) Reach early morning on SATURDAY
Most of us work till the last minute on Friday, only to enjoy the weekend travel. Most weeks do not have any holidays during the week and hence most of our travel ends up on weekends. Leave as soon as you can on a Friday evening, even if it means getting your luggage to office/workplace. Avoid all chit chat, coffee and have a quick lunch to get most work done quickly and leave asap so that you can make most of the weekend. Reach your holiday destination early on a Saturday to leave you with at least two full days to enjoy!
2) Use FREQUENT FLIER MILES
Most of us forget but there are such things. You collect frequent flier miles every time you fly (except low cost). Use them regularly to save money on your flight tickets. I recently booked a Chennai – Singapore ticket on Malaysian airlines for less than INR 5,000. Yes, I flew a full-service airline. It is important to note that miles have an expiry date and even more important to keep checking your account statement regularly for details. Many airlines run offers on air miles and some offer extra perks to frequent fliers like additional baggage, quick check in etc.
3) Plan EARLY
The holiday calendar is out at the beginning of the year yet most of us plan only a week in advance. We then balk at the prices and push our travel plans to a later date, only to repeat the exercise of not planning later. Plan early for your travel. Plan your travels in the off season. Not only it burns a smaller hole in your pocket but also provides you an opportunity to explore the place peacefully without people peeping into all your pictures. Planning early gets you the best deals, best places and more importantly, hassle free approval from the boss. Once you have shown that you can plan early, a promotion is easy at your workplace 🙂
4) Check for deals REGULARLY
Sometimes all the best-laid plans go for a toss. But worry not, if one plan goes for a toss, make another. Keep checking travel websites, coupon sites for various deals that come along. If you had planned for a 3-day holiday and the boss had to cancel your Monday holiday, worry not. A 2-day holiday close by can also be as rejuvenating and enjoyable as a 3-day one. If not for anything, check into a spa or a wellness resort for a 2 day stay to be one with yourself and give your body some well-needed rest.
5) Do not be a TOURIST
The last thing you want to do when you travel is to go to all the places that are a part of a tourists’ guide. You are better than this. You are a traveler. Check offbeat places near your destination, do some research online and at the hotel/hostel/resort for information. Travel to places where the locals would go. I have a golden rule – If there is an entry charge at a spot, it surely is going to be crowded and also a perfect tourist spot, that a traveler can well avoid.
6) READ about the place
Do read about your destination. It is very important! You don’t want to land up in Bali without having any semblance of the exchange rate or the local culture or something as simple as the name of the capital city! Reading up about the place helps you avoid asking stupid questions and then getting taken for a ride. I ended up paying $ 5 for a taxi trip from the Bali airport to the hotel instead of $15 asked by several cab drivers at the airport because I did my reading. Reading does help keep you sharp and also saves you a lot of money 🙂
7) ALIGN with the local culture
Blend in with the local culture. Do not be loud when the natural demeanor of the locals is being soft spoken, do not wear beach wear where the norm is to cover up, do not bargain if you do not intend to buy and most importantly, do not intend to travel if you don’t want to align with the culture there. I have been to several countries across the world and the one thing that makes travelers endearing to the locals is their investment in understanding them and viewing the country through the lens of their culture. Don’t try being a round peg in a square hole. Enjoy the country for what it is, through their eyes and ears.
8) VACATION like a Boss
Yup. I said it. Take a vacation like a boss. Forget all the worries behind. Turn off that data connection, put your phone in the airplane mode and use your eyes to see, ears to hear and the mouth to ask for directions. Wander around on your feet, discovering places and smells that many might have missed in the fervor to see everything. Thinking about your office emails or your friends will only make your vacation suck. Make friends there, talk to the locals, immerse in their lives and rituals. 9
9) Are LIMITLESS
Unless you figure in the Forbes billionaire list, this is not about money! Be limitless when it comes to energy and passion on a travel vacation. Sometimes, a travel vacation is very intense. You immerse yourself in the culture, stories, and people, only to come out as a different person. Be limitless when it comes to experiences, be limitless when it comes to interacting with people, be limitless when it comes to asking around, be limitless when it comes to smelling the food and hearing the music. What is a travel if you have not inhaled and walked!
10) Do REFLECT
During every moment of your travel, reflect on what you see. Everything that you see has a reason and always ask for it. Most of my learnings have come from reflecting during a travel to an unknown destination. Every destination teaches you something, Vietnam taught me patience, Kota Kinabalu showed me that climbing mountains is not enough, Ladakh showed me what true love is. This is an endless list but I will stop here.
Now are you ready to know the secret of becoming a successful travel blogger? Well, the truth is there’s no secret.
This is how I make a living out of Travel Blogging:
- Stay updated: I always try to keep my social media up to date by posting regularly content that creates genuine engagement. I check my DMs and emails on regular basis. Most of my assignments come through Instagram.
- Be in the sight: I tag relevant brands and destinations that I am working with or visiting. A simple reshare by them has got me plum assignments from others.
- Cross promote content: I keep my content liquid and linked by creating content that is easily sharable on multiple platforms. For example I embed my Instagram posts in my blogposts and have share buttons on all the articles. Also, all my social media channels have my blog link.
- Collaborate: Whenever I am visiting a new destination, I find out who are the biggest or most influential content creators from that area. If our synergies match, I reach out to them for a collaboration. We both benefit from it by reaching out to new audiences.
- Influencer agencies: I try to be on the mailing list of influencer agencies for paid gigs
- Media kit: Have creates a media kit and a rate card that I share on the fly with any work enquiry that comes my way
- Work on your strongest area: While you can be jack of all trades, it is better to know what you are best at and concentrate your energies on that field. Not every writer can be a good photographer or vice versa. I try to outsource the rest.
- Diversify: While I focus on one area (writing) the most, I make sure I don’t keep all my eggs in one basket. For example I earn through my website (travel campaigns, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and advertising), writing for third party publications, social media campaigns, public speaking, selling my pictures, providing consultancy, and handling social media campaigns for travel clients among others.
- Sell your strengths: to earn while on the road you can start by any of these – content creation for a third party, bloggers outreach, social media management of clients, sell pictures/videos on websites such as flicker, getty etc
- Attend networking events: In a digital era, word-of-mouth is still the most potent ammunation in influencer marketing. Invest in winning people’s trust by delivering good work. Trust me, this is what has worked the most in my case. And, attend travel specific evenst like TBEX, WTM, ITB, ATM, and SATTE among other travel specfic conferences.
Do you have any Super Traveler tips or other ideas on how to support yourself while traveling?
If yes, please do share in the comment box below.