travel blogging

Why I’m Concerned About Travel Blogging

Derek Everything Else, Perspectives 174 Comments

travel blogging
I’m a travel blogger. Wait. No I’m not.

As I like to say, I’m just a blogger. I happen to be traveling most of the time so I write about travel most of the time too. Maybe that makes me a travel blogger, I don’t know.

I also write about other stuff as well, including the tough times I face, and the occasional, yet very real, mental breakdowns I’ve gone through.

If I don’t have anything to say at all, I’ll even write about that.

What I won’t write is stuff that makes you, the reader, get a false idea of travel. I’m not going to tell you that travel is just flower gardens and ice cream sundaes. I won’t tell you that, without any effort at all, you can be bouncing around the world as you like, living out all of your travel fantasies. I’ll never tell you that the travel life I’m living is so unbelievably amazing that any other lifestyle you choose is just a waste of time, a waste of life.

I’m not going to tell you that everyone with a blog is living it up on the beach either, working 2 hours per day, filling our time with non-stop activities and experiences that the rest of the world can only dream of. And I won’t tell you that you can have that lifestyle too if you just snap your fingers. You can try, and you’ll probably get pretty darn good at snapping, but it just ain’t true.

As many of you know, I’m going to tell it like it is, as best I can. Travel and blogging, while it’s often incredibly enjoyable for me, is not always good times and I have no problem stating that.

Long-term travel is really just another lifestyle. Blogging is really just another job.

For me it has some great benefits but it certainly isn’t the only way to live, or the most rewarding for everyone.

Here’s where I’m going with this…

-When Blogging Becomes Fake-

First, it’s without a doubt an interesting time. There are more and more blogs out there every single day. It’s an exciting time, with so many people wanting to share their adventures, their knowledge, their advice with others.

And the great thing about blogging is that there are no rules. Everyone’s free to try it out, to blog as they see fit. I love to hear from new bloggers who are eager to get started and enthusiastic about where their efforts might lead. That kind of energy is exactly what helps motivate others to figure out what is important in their own lives and to make the necessary adjustments towards a happier existence.

But like with any field, sometimes that initial enthusiasm, especially if things maybe don’t go according to plan right away, can turn into something else. Due to an inaccurate image that long-term travel is often associated with – the nothing but constant flowers and ice cream sundae image – it becomes tempting to insist that the lifestyle we dreamed of is exactly the lifestyle we’ve created, even when it’s not.

One thing leads to another and before long, blogging becomes a bit, well, fake. The lives and travels being talked about are not the lives and travels that are actually taking place.

The thing I don’t understand is that it’s perfectly okay for things to not work out the way we imagined. And it’s also okay to let our readers know about it instead of trying to maintain the image that we’re living the dream each and every minute of each and every day.

Being holed up in a hostel for 18 hours per day working on a laptop, earning a couple of hundred dollars per month and trying to write about travel experiences that you actually don’t have the time or money to partake in, is fine. We all go through that stage.

Just tell it like it is. It would be far more useful than trying to claim something that isn’t actually happening.

Of course, there are many, many extremely genuine bloggers out there. There are a ton of great people working hard to maintain their traveling lifestyles, people who are honest about their work and what they go through and what’s involved with creating a life of travel.

-Disappointment-

It’s just that the more I discover how many stories out there don’t actually match a person’s reality in any way, the more disappointed I get.

The reason I’m writing this post is because this morning I heard about yet another travel blogger who is living a life that is so drastically different than the dream life they describe on their blog. The life so full of endless, wonderful travel experiences, and very easy money, that they tell people over and over again can be achieved so easily, is not what they are living. When I found out that this person actually rents a tiny studio apartment, is barely able to afford food, almost never ventures outside and basically does nothing that could be labeled ‘travel’, I couldn’t believe it.

Some bloggers spend months in a destination without actually getting to know the place at all, while writing about it as if they were out and about exploring every day, and having the time of their life. The reason they aren’t really out there is because, again, they are often working on their laptops all day so that they can afford a few more meals or their next train ticket.

Like I said, I’ve been through it all myself.

It’s a perfectly fine lifestyle of course and there’s nothing wrong with it at all but, again, it’s no automatic dream.

It’s a job, with a routine. It’s just like many other jobs that any of us do.

So why can’t we admit it? Why do we need to maintain this image?

-Reality Doesn’t Sell-

What’s happening is that there are so many people traveling and writing about it these days that everyone wants to be the ones living the ideal lifestyle. Few people want to show the negative side of their own travels or what they’re really going through at times because they don’t want to be the ones who couldn’t make it.

Besides, such a reality doesn’t make for the kind of story that will help you earn money from a blog. It doesn’t help sell advertising space or convince a company to pay you good money for a sponsored post on your site.

Isn’t it better to provide a real look at travel, complete with the ups and downs, the rewards and the struggles, so that readers can make informed decisions as to whether or not they want to try to achieve their own travel goals?

Isn’t it better to provide real advice and information, based upon real experiences, so that readers can learn from us in ways that will truly be useful?

Offering up BS doesn’t help anyone.

Yesterday, I also heard about a young guy who studied extremely hard at university, completing his degree in computer science. Upon graduation he landed a job, his first job, with a company that many people in his field would dream of working for. He also volunteers, plays sports and does many of the things that he always wanted to do. Yet he is still quite unhappy with this lifestyle at this point, at age 22, because he suddenly feels the need to drop everything and travel all over the world instead.

Why does he want to do this?

After reading some travel blogs, he felt that he was doing something wrong by taking this ‘normal’ job, by not giving up the standard routine in order to travel. After all, ‘everyone else’ is doing it and making the traveling life look so easy and good, all while telling him he’d be a fool not to do it himself.

Here’s the issue…

-Misleading People Is Not Cool-

Travel is amazing. Long-term travel offers benefits that can absolutely change your life in ways you could never imagine.

But if we as travel bloggers don’t provide an unfiltered reality of what our complete lifestyles are all about, and only focus on some ideal lifestyle that we want others to think we have all the time instead, we’re misleading a lot of people.

When travel blogging is making young men and women feel depressed because they’re not out there doing something that others are saying they must do, that’s not right. Especially when those talking about it might not actually be living that life themselves.

When this happens, travel blogging is no longer serving its purpose. It just becomes more crap in a world filled with plenty of it already.

-Keep It Real & Inspire-

I believe in inspiring and motivating people. After all, there are people out there who are constantly inspiring and motivating me. We all need that every now and then.

So let’s inspire and motivate through what we know, what we experience, what we learn through our travels. We can do that by telling it like it is, by being honest. We’ll be helping a lot more people achieve their travel goals as a result.

I know that I’m not perfect. It’s certainly been challenging keeping up with a blog for 5+ years and while I try my best to stick to my principles, I’m sure I stray from time to time as well. I’m certain that I do. I try to catch myself when it happens and get back on track.

And by no means was this post designed to be an attack on anyone. Like I said, the genuine enthusiasm that most new bloggers display in terms of wanting to help others achieve their own travel goals is admirable and I love to see it myself.

I just think that once things get going and maybe the money doesn’t come as easily as expected or the lifestyle isn’t what we thought it would be, it becomes difficult for some travel bloggers to admit it. Whether it’s competition, image, income goals or something else, some feel as if they don’t have any choice but to pretend as if everything is as perfect as we would want it to be, or even better.

But again, by not admitting it, we’re messing around with our readers and with their lives, and that’s not the idea of travel blogging, at least in my opinion.

Thanks for reading this post. I know it was a long one. I appreciate you reading more than you can understand.


Photo: Linda Gaarder (photographer) / Ricardo Rohr (artist)
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Since 1999 I’ve been traveling and living around the world nonstop. With this blog, my aim is to give you an honest account of this lifestyle – from the brilliant moments to the major challenges – in order to help you achieve your own travel goals.





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Comments 174

  1. Nicole @ Unsettled Down

    Thanks so much for writing this. I’m just starting up a lifestyle blog focused on honesty, and I searched “honest lifestyle blogs” trying to see if anyone else is out there and yours came up. Happy I’m not the only one! I’m so tired of all the perfect, filtered lives everywhere.

  2. Rose

    Earl, I love reading your blogs, and today I’ve read several while plaiting my hair (which take hours to do hehe) which is how I got here. And having met you, I can say you sound the very same way as you sound in your blogs. One of the reason I follow your journey is because I can relate to you, and I wouldn’t have been able to relate to you had you only shown the perfect side of your journey, since I’m far from perfect. Thank you for you kind and motivating words. Keep doing what you do. Keep being you and doing you! We need that.

    1. Post
      Author
      Derek

      Hey Rose – I really appreciate that comment and it was wonderful to meet you as well! As you know, I don’t see the point in talking about my journey if I don’t talk about both sides, positive and negative. That’s what I like to see from others so I definitely want to offer the same!

  3. Deepika

    Extremely honest and refreshing article. I appreciate that you have been so blunt and ‘tell as it is’ in this post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As a newbie into the travel blogging community, I am really glad to have stumbled upon your article and realize that I travel and then blog- not the other way around. Thanks so much 🙂

  4. FabioRosado

    I really enjoyed reading this post and I can relate with what you said. Although when you start blogging, you don’t have many followers(if any) and you might think that the only way to get known is if you just say how amazing everything is – even if most of the trip sucked.

    I remember reading a post in which the blogger mentioned how he saw this girl under the weather and feeling like crap, she was exhausted, sick and just didn’t look good. Yet, the next morning on her Instagram was a selfie and she looked radiant. Unfortunately, all this “my life is way better than yours” trend came to stay.

    Personally, I enjoy reading a blog in which the author is truthful to the experience. Overall everything might go well, but if something went terribly wrong or a disappointment he/she don’t have any issues writing about it.

  5. Pingback: Is Travel Blogging Still as Lucrative Today? - Pat Bagano

  6. Claire

    As someone who is currently hoping to start blogging about traveling, stumbling onto this article has really raised important questions like why I want to blog and the kind of blogger I’d like to be. I certainly don’t want to create posts that makes anyone feel bad for not making the same choices. Thanks for writing this refreshing article, I have no doubt that I’ll be coming back to it again and again as I start on my own blogging journey.

  7. Emma

    I love this post, it’s so easy to get caught up in it all. I think lines get blurred when people start taking sponsored posts and write about destinations they haven’t actually been to, so I always try to look out for original photographs in blog posts!

    Thanks for you honest and real approach to blogging 🙂

  8. RunawayBrit

    Thank you for this post.

    I have been blogging for around 6 years now, but I am still very much a ‘hobby’ blogger. I am an International teacher and I have lived in some pretty cool countries (currently, India). I get 15 weeks paid holiday a year to travel. I was in Rajasthan for Holi last week and next week I will be doing yoga in Goa. It is the stuff that travel blogs are made of. Of course, it is not an easy life – anybody who has lived in India (not Goa or Rishikesh) will tell you that it is a far cry from the romanticised hippie version that the yogis like to promote 😉

    However, I read travel blogs constantly and am often made to feel that having a secure job is somehow a lifestyle letdown. I don’t write often, because teaching is time-demanding; when I have lots of grading to do, my blog becomes a barren wilderness for months! And when I travel, I often don’t write because, you know, I’m out exploring, eating, and enjoying the place I have come to visit. I considered the full-time blogging thing a few years back when I took a year out to travel around South America, but I didn’t enjoy the amount of time I sat in the hostel on the laptop. That’s when I knew it wouldn’t work for me.

    More bloggers need to keep it real. Yes, the shot of the laptop on the beach surrounded by cocktails really sells the ‘this is my travel office’ image, but really? Sand and liquid next to a laptop? Glare from the sun? Risk of theft? Who are you kidding? We all know that really your office is a dingy $5 room in a back alley somewhere, which is fine – just tell us that!

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