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.
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.
I sometimes see the occasional Instagram post or travel blog from some extremely attractive person, striking a pose in front of a sunset in greece, or sitting in an infinity pool cheersing a cocktail to a curious elephant, and I just think…this isn’t travel. It’s all posed. And never in a million years would that person post a travel mishap, breakdown or tragedy.
Instead of making me want to put on my backpack and go, those kind of posts just feel icky, fake and posed. I put a lot of work into an illustrated travel blog that I run, called StickyMangoRice.com, where I sketch out things that I see on my travels, and part of redesigning my blog that way was to distance myself from that kind of traveller, and create something unique and personal.
I like that you show a very real, human side to travelling, sometimes getting very personal and letting us know who is on the other end of the blog.
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.
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.
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!
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 🙂
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.
[…] results (0.57 seconds)”. Now that sounds like a very noisy niche. Noisy means there is great activity in that market, which means there is money. But how do you get your share of that […]
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.
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 🙂
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!
[…] metamorphose free of links to your past is a myth. It’s a myth sold by marketers, travel bloggers (who are a subset of marketers) and lapped up by young people that’ve not yet had the fortune […]
Hi Earl, I’m a retired engineer, living in Bulgaria, aged 71 next month. I’ve traveled extensively over the years, and enjoy reading several ‘travel blogs’. One thing that I noticed last year was that many younger travelers staying at hostels, spent more time writing up blogs, than actually going out and seeing what was out there. One Japanese man, in Batumi, spent all of the three days that I was there, sitting cross legged on his bunk, hitting the keys on his lap-top. I mentioned it to the owner, who said that he hadn’t seen him go outside either. He may have done whilst I was not there, but I don’t think he did. Surely, one can limit to a couple of hours twice a week to inform your followers what you have been up to. Alternatively, I suppose when you arrive at a new destination, it is good to spend a day or so unwinding and catching up on your blog.
Much impressed with your thoughts. Fortunately, I have a pension that enables me to travel frugally and happily. Keep up the great work.
How do travellers like ‘Bruised Passports’ finance their travels around the world?
Dont know if my comment would ever get moderated on one of recent post on their site, so here it it in response to the post…. https://www.bruisedpassports.com/everything/2015-a-year-in-photos-and-tips-for-bloggers-and-travellers#comment-908812 Disclai…
Earl, thanks for speaking up and voicing your personal opinion on blogging and what’s going on out there! I’m amazed at the overwhelming response your getting from this article.
I’ve been blogging for just over 4 years now and its taken that long to learn the craft and keep it real and not fake as so many do. Thankfully, most of these sites come and go like the wind. I continue to learn and receive inspiration from people like yourself who have been blogging genuinely for a long time.
There are great rewards in blogging if you’re willing to put a lot of hard work and effort into it like any business. Those who think they can earn money in a short time or get sponsored easily, their dreaming! Marketing and Media Managers out there can spot the fakes quite easily when looking for potential bloggers to promote their product or service.
Be real, write honestly, work hard, don’t worry about traffic counts and things will happen and opportunities will come your way!
Keep up the great work and writing from the heart!
I love this post, Earl. I admit that at times, I have been very raw & real about expat living. People think me living in cape Town is sunshine and bliss all year round, however it comes with very real challenges being here as a foreigner and many ‘rights’ that we don’t have, for example the hassle to find a job (despite the fact that I could be qualified for the position and even if the employer would love to hire me), with visa regulations etc, it’s near impossible to swing from job to job or land the career of your dreams, let alone afford a plane ticket back to your homeland. That said, it is true that “reality doesn’t sell” like you say…and I try to balance it with humour (looking at a real-life challenge with humour so readers can laugh and be entertained too) and with inspiration (my attitude in how I face all these challenges). Keep writing and blogging xx
Quite an honest post and well written in terms of what’s actually happening in the real world of travel blogging.
I have a blog too but I never had the intention of making a business out of it, my main aim is to travel and I travel because I enjoy travelling and I enjoy photography, but in the last few years myself and my wife have seen quite a few “quit your jobs and travel the world” type blogs that seem to paint a rosy picture that all is well and this is how life needs to be and we said to ourselves, this cant be sustainable in the long run or how do they get so much time to go around a city or a country, spend enough time in a place to get to know it better and write so much about it.
We have seen blogs where they claim “we are going to quit our jobs and going to travel and live in South America”, guess what, a month of travelling around and all that’s been done is the main touristy trail and pretty pictures and some inflated comments on how this is the only way life should be…, and we thought if this is what is living in South America, Wow, everyone can live in South America!!
On top of it the time it takes to maintain and write a blog and feeding social media with constant and interesting stuff is just mind boggling, so its either too much time spent in social media and building a blog so that it can be used to get more paid for trips…
In the end we felt, many forgot why they started a blog or why even they started travel in the first place, it was because they like travelling, it made them feel fresh, it made a difference to their 9 to 5 lives, but with all this blogging business, they are again back to their 9 to 5 or even 24×7 routine that they have created it for themselves.
If you love blogging, love it and do it, but because someone said you can get free trips, and just because some one else did it and was successful does not mean everyone is going to crack it.
So we in the end decided that we would still do our normal day jobs and then make travel part of our lifestyle so that it gets more importance and priority and not doing it for the freebies. Isn’t it better to do what we are good at and that can fund our travels, what’s wrong with that.
If feeding social media and keeping up to date posts come in the way of enjoying a beautiful sunset, then blogging and social media can wait until a suitable time, I guess many seem to miss this thin line between enjoying the moment versus keeping up with the virtual lifestyle and unseen friends on the social media frenzy that they start drifting into the imaginary world too much.
Its quite easy for someone new to travelling to get easily fooled by such false propaganda that quitting a job is the only way to enjoy a life of travel, so be very careful before making such decisions and its bloggers like Earl who constantly remind us of this false alarm and portray the reality of the scene.
Apologies if there were any negative thoughts mentioned, I was just speaking my mind and the various stages that we went through ourselves over the years before we came to a decision to choose a life of travel or a travel based lifestyle.
What an honest blog. I always fond of reading blogs with a good and bad side of each experience. It makes it realistic rather than focusing on what’s only good.
I am so proud of you!! Totally weird of me to say considering I don’t know you, but it’s just so refreshing to see someone out there ‘keeping it real’. It’s just like you said; I get distracted reading other people’s travel blogs and feel envious of their sponsored posts and paid trips because I’ve never had those fancy opportunities myself. But the truth is, I never started blogging for any of that, anyway. I just wanted a place to express myself in an honest and open way; to share my experiences and lessons learnt to hopefully help others should they find themselves in a similar situation. I’m quite new to the whole thing, so it’s easy to get disheartened by these fake personas and ‘pretend lives’ that these bloggers are living. Your post has definitely inspired me to keep going with it and not be so concerned with what others are doing. Thank you 🙂
[…] WHY I’M CONCERNED ABOUT TRAVEL BLOGGING: Wandering Earl […]
I started my blog in April and it is seriously tough. I have earned less than $10 to date (although that was not my short term focus in any case) and spend a lot of time (outside a full time job and studying for my MBA) working on content, photos, learning and SEO. Having the blog has provided some amazing opportunities for me but it is definitely not going to allow me to give up my job anytime soon (boo hoo!). Thanks for keeping it real. I guess if you read enough of those posts suggesting it is easy all it does is make you feel inferior, but then to discover that the reality is not as shown in the blog would just be a real let-down
I started a blog nearly six months ago to document the planning and experiences I had interrailing Europe for the summer. I always keep it honest but when I visit other travel blogs, I end up thinking ‘maybe I should have done it like they did’, even though that wouldn’t be honest to me or my experiences.
I think that’s part of the issue and we all have to have confidence in what we’re putting out there.
Now, it’s grown into a travel and lifestyle blog, where I review books, food & drink and have also touched on mental health, so I guess you also have to go with what feels right and also test things out.
Blogging is HARD! I just started up a wee blog and I didn’t realize how much work goes into it. Money aside, just putting up a decent post with some images and an okay looking site, can be a nightmare. I work as a new freelancer as I travel and I found myself in these places. Sitting in my little bungalow, that I can’t afford, being underpaid by my client, and not having extra cash to explore the region and get out there. woo, thanks for the post! definitely inspirational to BE REAL 🙂
I’ve met such bloggers and everyday more and more pop like mushrooms. I’ve been seriously considering quitting because of how fake this whole “travel blogger ghetto” became and how disconnected and different I am. Then on the other hand, many bloggers have been making a living by selling that eternal perfect and happy image and the ebooks or courses associated with it called “quit your job and travel the word for free, become a travel blogger”.
Yeah I totally agree with you, Yara. I’ve considered it myself because for the past few months I’ve been traveling non-stop and hardly found the time to blog about it. Then I think to myself – wait a minute – how are all those travel bloggers actually getting out and doing anything, when they are posting so much on social media and blogging every day?? Just stick with it. It’s better to be different. The fakers can’t fake forever and let’s face it, there are always going to be shysters in every industry so that is just the form of them we have to face! xox
Great article and sound advice for anyone thinking about becoming or starting a full time travel blog. There is certainly that romantic, idolized sense that ‘quitting your job and traveling the world’ leads to ultimate happiness and stress free lifestyle, which seasoned bloggers and travelers alike understand is not the case. Thanks for keeping it real.
[…] Mesmo assim, blogueiros de viagem usam esse discurso vencedor “eu consegui, você também pode!” São posts que garantem picos de audiência, elogios e freebies. Normalmente trazem links para cursos como os acima e raramente contam detalhes de quando/como ganham dinheiro suficiente para sobreviver. Interessante exceção é o Wandering Earl, que desde 1999 está “living the dream” mundo afora (o slogan do site é “a vida de um nômade permanente”). É um blogueiro que se preocupa em mandar a real sobre como sua vida é. Numa publicação recente ele abordou a falta de transparência de vários colegas: “o que está acontecendo é que há tantas pessoas viajando e escrevendo sobre isso, que todo mundo quer fazer parte desse grupo que vive a vida ideal”. Leia aqui. […]
[…] Why I’m Concerned About Travel Blogging (Wandering Earl). The non-miles and point kind of travel blogging. […]
[…] Wandering Earl (perhaps the best-known English language travel blogger out there) wrote recently of his concerns about the rose-tinted world of travel blogging. […]
[…] Why I’m Concerned About Travel Blogging (Wandering Earl). […]
Seriously, you kept this so real. Blogging is a discipline and only serious hard work, commitment and even sacrifice can make a difference and in many cases, not.
I do think that travel bloggers do try to paint a picture of a fairytale that automatically makes their non travel blog readers resent their own life. If that makes any sense.
I think the point of a travel blog should be to inspire people not to travel per se, but to intimately share experiences that can offer a broader look into the world and allow readers to see humanity and themselves in peoples of different cultures.
[…] other day travel blogger Wandering Earl wrote an appeal for more honesty in travel blogging. He pointed out that we only show and tell the pretty, the picture perfect of our travels. I guess, […]
I completely agree that lots of travel bloggers present their lives through a different lens. Travel can be rough and scary. I totally jumped off the deep end with starting my travels (I left the US and started traveling around Europe with only about $1500…9 months ago) and I’ve had my share of days filled with questions like “will I eat today?” “where will I sleep tonight?” and “how on earth am I going to survive this?”
It’s been a road full of challenges, but so full of rewards I wouldn’t trade it for anything. However, as I travel and learn and grow, I also want to be able to enjoy the places I’m seeing, so I’m having to reevaluate and adjust my plans as I go.
But on my blog I try to keep it real. I started writing to inspire people and share my stories, not to make money. Going to TBEX helped remind me of that.
Keep on keepin’ it real!
EPIC post. Absolutely epic. We think you’re spot on about the responsibility we bloggers have in presenting things truthfully so that we don’t mislead people into believing they’re doing something wrong if they’re not traveling the world all the time. This insight is a question of ethics and motive: Are we writing sensationalized stuff so we can get extra clicks and sponsorships, or are we writing straightforward stuff so people know exactly what we’ve (and potentially they) have and will get ourselves into.
Because this is an arena where there aren’t rules, posts like the one you’ve written are an essential part of keeping travel blogging an honest, respectable profession.
I read the post twice before I decided to comment. In western countries the travel blogging is well advanced and better understood yet the misconception or hope of all glamour and no hard work some how seems to sell.
Here in India where I come from, travel blogging is just evolving and most bloggers are still trying to figure things out. Some are chasing brands for deals and trips others are trying to figure out ways to make money using their blog. I hope we are able to learn from lessons that pioneers like you have learned and shared over years. Happy and safe travels to you…
Not every trip is all good and nice. You get to experiment some negative things in these places. It’s nice that you tell the truth and share some experiences that no one of us thought of!
[…] my meeting with blogger 2, I came across Earl’s this post and found some solace in the fact that it is a popular problem within the industry (and […]
Good post. I guess it depends on what you highlight as “the dream”. We’ve stopped travelling and now have several months holed in France in front of us, trying to recoup some of the losses from a year on the road. However, for us, this is the dream! We have working hours (10.30–6.30 – half days on Fridays) and we work all day on our site. We reckon we’re earning about a quarter of what we used to earn when we had “proper jobs”: we can afford to buy a baguette of bread a day and once a week a patisserie, but that’s just fine. For us, we are living the dream – we’re our own bosses and waya from the rat race of London. It will all come out on the blog in good time once we catch up with everything we’ve been doing. For us, the reality is exactly where we want to be.
I suppose it can depend on how you position or brand your blog from the beginning. If you sell yourself as inspirational etc then you’ve got to try and deliver on that and feel under pressure to be just that. I guess you also have to define what inspirational is…
Anyway, good read. Thanks.
Thank you for an enlightening and honest blog post about travel blogging. I have always been suspicious that the lifestyle was not all it was cracked up to be and possibly unsustainable as we grow older, want kids and god-forbid start thinking about retirement.
I have subscribed to a different prescription of travel blogging. For 20 years I have focused on my career as a creative and graphic designer while taking breaks to travel the world and blog. Now as I near my forties (yikes* already) I have the savings, the clients, the travel blog and the freedom that will actually allow me to enjoy travel as a lifestyle.
In my opinion there is no shortcut to success – just hard work – BUT there is no reason to give up on our wanderlust in the process. We can love it, adopt it and make it part of our lives everyday no matter out career! Thank you for the honesty.
[…] the travel blogging industry and the perception of the ‘nomadic’ lifestyle, entitled Why I’m Concerned About Travel Blogging. It’s a great read for anyone I think, especially those who would like to make “Travel […]
How does one avoid doing this? I work a normal job, as do many people who travel, and then use the weekend to go out and do things. Obviously what I post to my blog are the cool things I do and see, not “I spent Tuesday sitting in my apartment doing my job, and then in the evening I went to my friends’ flat and played Settlers of Catan”, since that’s kind of boring and I wouldn’t expect anyone but my mom to read that.
I want to blog with integrity, but I also want to keep things interesting. Is posting my weekend adventures being fake just because I have to work during the week to sustain this lifestyle?
I have been expounding on offering the REAL TRUTH about travelling to a country for years. Sharing what you found awful or disappointing, even though it is totally your experience of a place and may be different from someone else’s experience, is just as important as sharing what was great. Honesty, honesty, honesty. When I read a post about how perfect a place was, I wonder how real the writer has been. When I read the good and the bad, then I have a real feel for the place, and have more trust in the author. Good for you that you believe in honesty above all.
This is another wonderfully written post.
We genuinely have loved all of our travel experiences, although we’re embarking on a new phase of our lives where we’ll be traveling for 6 months of every year. Hopefully our blog will paint a realistic picture of our experiences, showing the good AND the bad when it happens. Interesting topic for sure!
Very good post Earl!
I prefer blogger that keep it real. I recently read a lot of posts that go in the “You can quit your job an work as a digital nomad” it sounds mostly like super easy, especially if you buy their book or attend their course – then you’ll be successful immediately.
I think no matter which topic you are blogging on takes a lot of hard work and time, I don’t believe there is a shortcut to success.
Well Said. As our Kiwi friend Emma says “it ain’t all rainbows and unicorn farts”.. Travel, even while NOT trying to blog and earn income is hard.. it’s not a 2 week all-inclusive vacation package. It’s bad hotels and worse public transportation and never knowing where you’ll be sleeping or eating the next day. It’s heart wrenching contact with the locals (and local animals) and endless frustration. It is also heart warming and magical and awe-inspiring. But, like ANY job, it has it’s pros and cons. If you love to travel.. go travel. If you also love to write.. well good for you, but don’t expect Tim Ferris’ 20 hour work week to be your own reality.
Earl, great post!
I ended up here from Sherry Ott, via a fellow traveler, Malia Yoshioka….. anyway, it’s great to see bloggers taking a critical look at our industry. I’m coming up on my second year of blogging (about travel) and have really started to almost dislike the industry for those people who are creating “aspirational” travel blogs that do very little to inspire actual travel and instead, just make everyone feel like their own life and path isn’t good enough. Especially when those bloggers are either struggling to make ends meet at all, or barely even experiencing a place before jetting off to the next one.
It’s heartbreaking, really. Neither hitting “milestones” in terms of followers nor visiting countries should be a “to do list” we feel compelled to check items off of, but that’s the world that many bloggers have created.
It’s tough though, as an early blogger, not to get pulled into trying to create that illusion for the sake of possibly having an easier go of being a travel blogger. I feel torn a lot, and usually end up writing angsty posts on my own travel blog as a result 🙂
Anyway, it’s a ramble happening here! Thanks again for being honest. We (bloggers, and blog readers) need it!
I was actually talking to a quasi-perpetual traveler friend of mine, Colin Wright, a couple months ago about how he manages to make it on the road by writing science fiction and minimalist philosophy books. He has been traveling for a few years, moving from country to country every four months, and he has written 31 books. He makes it look a lot easier than I am sure it actually is. I was very fond of a blogger named Wade Shepard, maintaining a blog called VagabondJourney, which was sort of like Vice News meets travel writing, but just a few months ago, he basically got crushed by the increasing time requirements and decreasing financial benefits, amplified by larger blogs literally stealing his writings, so he had to cut all of his contributors and scale back. It’s always sad to see your favorite writers struggling. I hope this never happens with you and I wish you the best!
Your post is very timely! It seems that there is an onslaught of the type of articles that you are talking about by new bloggers. Bloggers who haven’t quite “made it”, whatever that means, but give the illusion that they are living the dream, even though as you’ve said, the reality is very different. I agree that it’s misleading. I’ve been blogging for over 5 years and while I enjoy it and the perks that it brings, working for 2 hours a day is unfortunately not one of them!
I absolutely appreciate the integrity of this article.
Well said. I have a travel blog but I’m not into long-term travelling. What I do is I visit places only for days or weeks as a break from my office work, a time to bond with friends, and an opportunity to explore and enjoy a place. Some might even argue that I am more of a tourist than a traveler. I’ve often pondered why I never got around into leaving my job/s and making travelling as my full-time activity. When I read other travel blogs about people turning their back from their normal jobs to make travelling as their main occupation, I salute them, yet envy them, at the same time. I couldn’t just figure out how I would be able to sustain myself if I’d follow the paths they have taken. While I enjoy travelling, I have always been fearful it won’t really provide for all my necessities in life. On the other hand, I’m not one who would venture to a place and be cooped inside my hotel/hostel room because I needed to write. For me, that thing can wait on my office desk until my return, so I make the most of my time while I’m gone. Your post has assured me that it’s okay to keep my day job, with travelling as an occasional activity that I can truly enjoy. I can be content with the kind of traveling that I do and I thank you for stating things the way they are.
[…] A life of perpetual travel isn’t cut out for everyone. It’s not realistic to think that anyone can sell their belongings, start a blog, live a dream life and be an overnight success by snapping their fingers. Like fellow blogger Earl said, “You can try, and you’ll probably get pretty darn good at snapping, but it just ain’t true.” […]
Thanks for letting it all out, Earl. When I started my blog last year, I had big dreams, but thankfully my husband helps keep me grounded and realistic about managing my expectations. Every other day, I want to quit my wonderful and highly satisfying job as a Physical Therapist in favor of going out there in the world and being one of those travel blogger success stories.
I try to remain true to the reasons why I started this journey: to inspire others (as represented by friends who keep telling me that they wish they could travel as much or as I do) while developing a revenue stream that would help support my family.
I appreciate how you advocate for transparency in travel blogging. The bloggers that I follow and admire have been truthful about the ups and down of their own walks, and so the hard part is not a surprise to me. Still, it is quite easy for impressionable millennials and those stuck in jobs that they don’t love to see travel blogging as an escape strategy but without having a realistic plan.
Wow I’m really glad to see this on your blog. Sometimes I’ve worried that you were trying to paint a rosy picture of long-term travel but I’m happy to read this very honest, interesting post. I spent 3 years in Korea that were mostly unhappy. Now I’m in Thailand, with PLENTY of challenges. I should’ve gone back to the US for an MA but I was so intent on staying abroad that I ended up in this predicament. I love living abroad but it’s not great all the time (but I guess the same could be said of living in the US). 🙂 Always love your blog Earl!
True! This is an article that a reader will love to and have to share it with people. As a fellow digital nomad (photographer) I tottaly agree with everything you wrote. You have a new follower!
Keep up the good work
Cheeres from Sei Lanka
Such a great honest read. Travel blogging does seem glamorous but blogging is really hard work. Unless you’ve done it, you don’t realise. I recently started a second blog to share family travel tips & experiences but we aren’t full time travellers & don’t pretend to be. Besides, I’ve got my other blog to work my ass off on as well to earn some bucks in between freelancing so I can stay home with my kids. My choice. Not an easy way to make money but I love it. Good on you for writing this!
you’re probably better off not trying to blog for money at this point but instead putting all your time and energy into building a successful freelance business.
A blog itself is not a business! It can be a (very time consuming) part of a business, but it’s not a business.
And even if you’re the best blogger in the world you’d still have to become really good at sales and marketing to make a living from your blog.
Running a successful freelance business (or any business) will teach you sales and marketing.
Thank you for this! As someone who is a complete noob at all this, these are the things I need to hear. I’m not dissuaded by this, and actually, you’re helping me realize that it’s okay to be as honest as I’d like to be and that those who only want flowers and sunshine are probably going to have a very hard time of it.
I totally agree with you William. It is better to hear the truth. I’m also a noob when it comes to this, glad I bumped on his blog as well.
I really love this post!! you show us the reality and the true!! and i have to confess it is not as easy as it looks! but it worth it
Hi Earl, your blog is the first one that I read not searching for specific information, nice entry. I think if you have traveled long enough (thinking in year terms) the novelty wears and it just becomes your life and no one is always happy, even on ‘permanent holiday’ there are good and bad times. I still feel very lucky and enjoy the lifestyle, but a different bed and ‘home’ every third night on a semi-permanent basis is not for everyone. Well done on having a full time job, while on the road, sure it can be tough. Yes, many travelblogs are so full of bull, it feels like reading very long facebook status update, ‘look at how cool I am”, not very informative and definitely not something to base important life decisions or even travel decisions on. I usualy have to browse a couple of blogs, articles and youtube videos to get what I feel is an accurate view a potential travel destination. Thanks and safe travels.
What a great post…. Yes, I like the fact you keep it real and straight forward. Me personally I like reading blogs that tell the good, bad, and the ugly. It helps to prepare me for future traveling locations and what to expect in certain places.
I’ve been binge-reading your blog this morning and I’m so glad I’ve stumbled onto it and this post. You raise so many issues that I think about all the time and that I struggle with as both a consumer of blogs and a beginning blogger who often writes about travel, the total flood of travel blogs about “amazing” destinations with super saturated sunset photos and maybe over-glamorized writing about the life. I’ve read other critical voices out there but they normally come off as aggressive or a bit condescending or holier-than-thou, but I find your critique here super classy and sincere, which I appreciate so much as a reader.
I think about this all the time, even on the really small scale, for instance what you post on your personal Facebook, how you talk to your friends and family, what kind of messages you’re constructing for the people in your life that you influence in some way or another… I struggle sooo much with the opposite urges to be the cheerleader that tells you “anyone can do it!” but also not representing my own ramen noodle lifestyle or implying that any lifestyle other than the one I choose is wasteful.
This section you wrote particularly appealed to me:
“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.”
This really spoke to me and I feel like it applies to my own recent time in Mexico City, where I spent almost every day inside the hostel (where I also worked) trying to develop my own location-independent work, including my blog, and in the end not learning the city any better in five months than most people do in a week passing through. In fact I’ve been struggling with how to address this on my blog, and last week I purposely wrote a post about how screwed up my plans got and how I fell financially flat on my ass and had to totally scrap my plan and start over, but even that post had a sort of platonic edge of “but it’s all okay because travel!” to it.
Sorry for the disorganized stream of consciousness, I just felt very engaged by this post and will certainly be reading more! Sincere thanks for this blog, and I hope you’ll keep at it.
hello jacob (and Earl),
I needed to respond to your post because i feel what you are saying. I am myself saving and planning to start off my journey because that is what I feel like doing. I know this is going to be rough for me because i will not have any other sources of income when i will leave my job and I am not sure I will become among the ones who will live out of their blog, certainly not at the beginning. So i know my trip will be about saving as much as i can in order to see as much as I want which is the reason for my decision to travel. I am reading a lot of blogs where everything is glamorous and fancy and honestly I never doubted it was true for them and I felt a sort of envy in some way ( a good one, not evil 🙂 and i was also very luck to find very good bloggers like Earl and a few others that have been realistic and very inspiring. The good thing is I know approximately what i will be facing and I had even imagined the worse case scenario, and decided that it is all worth it to give it try. Not because it is fancy to travel and there is no other way to live, but because this is the way I want and chose! because it is good for me! don’t give up! ciao
Yours is one of the few travel blogs (I’ll go ahead and use that term) I still read. I never thought much about why this is, but now that I do I think it’s because you are so honest.
Several blogs I read (present or past tense, it’s your call) made it seem the author banged out a few paragraphs before noon on a Bali beach and spent the rest of their month surfing and drinking with the locals. It reeked too much of something from The Travel Channel.
There was another blog I read (I won’t name it) but the author didn’t seem to be very emotionally stable and it went from “look at me having fun” to “I hate you all”.
I really don’t know where I was going with this other than I’m on your side and I have learned from you every lifestyle has its pluses and minuses, so hitting the road for endless travel isn’t as realistic, easy, or exotic as it may seem.
Hey mate, great post. Very true and it actually made me stop and think if I’ve been inadvertently guilty of that as well because so many people say “Oh wow, you’re just always having fun!” I decided to write a post of a ‘stop and reflect’ about this https://goo.gl/6Bi24D
Always enjoying your posts even though I’m not always commenting.
All the best and cheers
No one likes a liar and that does seem to be what a lot of travel bloggers are doing – lying to their readers. I definitely prefer to read the blogs that talk about all aspects of travel: the good, the bad and the ugly. One of the reasons I love your blog as well as Never Ending Footsteps. Truthful stories from the writer’s experience. I also hate when bloggers blog about places that they haven’t even been to and if I see another Hipmunk sponsored post about a destination I think I will scream, especially when I know for a fact that at least a couple of bloggers definitely haven’t been to the places they are writing about. Thanks for calling out the fakeness Earl
This was a great read, thanks for saying what so many of us are thinking. At my first Tbex after starting my blog while maintaining a full time job, I was naive thinking everyone traveled to the places they wrote about and have since learned ALOT about the various “travel” blogs.
I’ve been traveling solo for over twenty years as well as managing corporate finance/international travel so I’m more selective in who I follow and respect in the travel landscape on the leisure and corporate sides.
I choose to write about the good/bad/ugly (including the meltdowns) of my travel experiences because it’s real life – it gets messy, is complicated and utterly gorgeous at the same time. Every day, I’m thankful that I have this addiction to travel that needs to be fed
I think each person who actually does travel, sees the rubbish and knows it is. It’s those who tend to think life is an iPhone and read stuff thinking things are really all rosy paths and ice cream parlors – I feel sorry for them in a way.
Spending long nights in bus stations trying to avoid the local weirdo’s, getting totally lost because that free tourist map hasn’t been updated for 20 year, fighting of various diseases (and catching a few) are but a part of travelling around. Not to mention the great places you experience.
Then there are the people. You meet them, in real life, no smartphone, cloud cuckoo land stuff – these are flesh and blood human beings with whom you could end up making friends with. The list goes on and a blogger who just copies is missing out big time, but then they’d more than likely fall apart out there, when it all hits the fan and I suppose I’d let them 😉
Thank you for this post! I really needed this to bring my feet back down to earth again! I am always working and always fantasizing about travel and this article helped me realize that even a career traveler must live with routine to make a living… It’s just a fact of life. I hope you are well and still hope to meet you one day as you have been very wonderfully inspiring in your blog, emails and books! Keep smiling and teaching the world, D./ E. ! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Great read, refreshing, thought provoking, thanks for sharing your views. Cheers!
Hi Earl. Unfortunately, I feel as soon as money becomes a prime motivating factor truth and conscience get bent to serve their master. When someone sees two taxi drivers trying to be the first to offer a priest a ride transforms into “I can’t believe I met the pope in a taxi while in Baghdad” then you’ve crossed over to fantasy land. But I can understand because fiction has always sold better than reality. That’s just how it is. Deal with it.
Excellent article Earl! We have met so many people that think travel blogging is all rainbows and kittens and not a real job. You’re right that we need to be honest and upfront about our lives working as travel bloggers and traveling in general. Keeping it real really goes a long way. Cheers!
Great article. I’ve been struggling to describe my blogging niche because of those all rosy travel blogs. Mine’s expat life, travel warts and all.
I’ve joined a local group of travel bloggers but wasn’t sure at first if they’d accept me because my blog isn’t all gloss! I don’t make any money from it and although I’m an expat I still have to cook the meals, do the dishes and pick up the dog poo from the back garden! I still love it though
This is a great, refreshing post. Thanks for this.
I started my blog when I moved abroad as a way of letting my family not on FB how things were…then it just seemed to grow.
I often read other blogs and attend some conferences and almost always come away feeling either small, wondering if I’m writing ‘correctly’ so this post of yours has really helped confirm my deep down feelings: I’m not interested in competition, I just want to write about my experiences honestly.
Even though I’ve just started blogging, I’m also concerned about it in general.
Mostly because it seems like there is a worldwide trend making pages that all look the same, all have the same content, all promoting the same lifestyle and finally all selling the same thing. Something like fashion trend – when people don’t even try to be unique, but just copycat each other and then call it a fashion.
I know that not being creative and not being unique is a way easier, but as always I don’t get how fulfilling is even not to try making a difference.
Nevertheless, there are blogs that I still enjoy reading, but they are far less popular than those exposed ones. I am sure there are many more I would enjoy reading too, but unfortunately in the crowd of all those copycats it’s pretty hard to stumble on those worth reading.
Thank you so much for this post!
I went through a blogging crisis recently… Everybody was saying the same and kind of looking down on others. It totally losts it sense… But I guess what matters is what you do when you blog. So you can be happy about.
But, that’s refreshing to see a “big fish” writing so honestly.
To be honest all these quit your blog to travel the world blogs do make me feel bad! They make me feel like I need to turn my blog into a career and gallivant around the world, while I feel like I’m wasting my life working an expat job to pay off my student loans. But on the other side I’ve begun to get a bit bored with a lot of these blogs because they seem a bit forced and they all write the same things. I now skip over a lot of destination posts even if I want to go to that place because I barely learn anything new! I love the longer posts with stories and personal insights about a place, like your blog for example 🙂
Great post, I know you touched a nerve with this because so many people are talking about it. We started our blog 4 years ago, to stay in touch with family while we traveled, we knew nothing about blogging or the blogging community. The more we learned about it the more we realized that for many it’s less about the destinations and more about “selling the dream” and for others it’s living off of the profit they made from selling a house or their trust fund (we’ve met both). We’ve never pretended to make our living from blogging, if we lived only off of what we make from our blog, we’d be living under a bridge.
i totally agree with you. and great article. thanks Earl cheers
In all honestly, I would never trust a blog without some honest experiences (either positive, negative or a combination of both).
Sponsored travel is a double edged sword and few travel bloggers today have the courage to write honest articles such as the one you wrote about your trip to Turku, Finland mostly because they (the Bloggers) would be scared about what the Tourism Board would think if they were to say that their destination was “unexciting and without any highlights or landmarks”.
Travel Blogging has come to a point where some of the big guys write for the PR’s and Search Engines and not for the readers anymore.
I have noticed there are a lot of travel blogs aimed not at travelers but at those that want a travel/travel blog lifestyle and wondered about it to be honest. There are a lot more travelers than people looking to start travel blogs. However there are a lot of affiliate products aimed at those starting a blog and selling this dream might be easier/more lucrative than writing to the average traveler.
Thank you for this post. I started reading travel blogs for information on travel. I loved reading them. Then I started my own and I would read all the “you can do this too” posts and they made me feel bad because I seemingly cannot do that too. I don’t think blogs are supposed to make you feel bad. Especially not ones with pretty pictures of gorgeous scenery. It is nice to read someone be real about it.
I believe travel blogging as we know it today is going to be a vastly different landscape in a couple years (https://www.tnooz.com/article/travel-blogging-fade-sunset/). A big reason for that belief is all the reasons you mention. Thanks for bringing attention to the issue.
Chapeau! I have been reading travel blogs for some three years now – actually your blog was the first one I stumbled upon while doing research for an upcoming trip. I love travelling and I do it a lot but I couldn’t imagine doing it full time.
I have to say that most travel blogs tend to have certain smug undertone that I dislike. I don’t need anybody to tell me that it’s okay to travel or not to travel. I don’t read blogs to justify my own life style. You, too, sometimes have this tendency.
However, what has really started to annoy me recently is the number of travel blogs that seem to solely post sponsored content. No matter what they write about – they’re always having the time of their life, supported by some company, hotel, airline, you name it. I understand that even a blogger/traveller/digital nomad needs to make a living but when a blog becomes the online equivalent to a shopping channel on TV, then I feel exploited as a reader. And then I can’t believe the living-the-good-life-stories that work as a context to the concealed advertisement anymore.
I’m happy to say that I don’t get this feeling with your blog, which is why I still follow you. Keep it up! And keep up writing about downsides and failures. It’s what keeps your blog real!
I appreciate your candor, Earl. It is so easy to “make up” travel stories just to sell a blog. Writing about the hardships and challenges of traveling is actually a service to those who are considering it. And you do this in a educational and entertaining way. I always try to find out about the downside of something before I commit to experiencing it. So, thank you for this post.
THANK YOU so much for writing this. It was exactly what I needed to read. I’m a new travel blogger and am searching for new blogs to look at and read but I find a lot are just too perfect. I want to hear about the bad moments people have, maybe that will help me deal with a similar situation I may run in to. I like watching travel bloggers snapchats who snap things like being at a restaurant by themselves or sitting in a hostel sick. It shows the reality of the situation. I feel pressure to want to write perfect travel posts and about how amazing everything thing is because that’s what people want to read, it’s what they want to believe. I have every intention to share my bad moments and horror stories on the road. This post just made me even more confident in my decision, thank you!
Like many other readers, I’m SO JAZZED that you wrote this, Earl. I used to be absolutely obsessed with reading travel blogs from 2009-2013ish, and then I more or less stopped. The content was not only boring, but just seemed so fake. It’s like so many people were ‘sold’ on the quit-your-job-to-travel dream that the new blogs just spewed desperation. It seems like so many travelers have forgotten that travel writing isn’t the only way to make a living while being mobile. It’s something I’ve been meaning to share more about, but I’ve been too busy with my freelance work. (Seriously, guys, travel writing isn’t the only way!!!)
Wandering Earl is one of the few blogs I still read. I just hope that other bloggers take notes about the type of content readers love. There’s more to this world than inflated rankings and free trips with tourism boards.
I totally agree with your blog post. I have been travelling off and on for about 2 1/2 years and I know from experience travel isn’t always puppies, butteries and rainbows. At this stage I save up lots of money and travel. I blog for fun and I am in awe of people who do this for a living but I know it’s not easy. I took an 11 month break from blogging because I wasn’t in travel mode nor was I inspired to write at the time. The ammount of effort it takes is a lot even more if you want to be successful. My old roommate is a successful travel blogger who would often spend 12 hour days in his room blogging away and chasing leads. I like the idea of blogging as something to look back on and share with family, friends and strangers. It’s therapy in a way. A new way of journaling. Something I can look back and say “oh yeah I did that, I ate/drank that… that horrible and fun thing happened to me”. Thank you so much for sharing!
A great post. I would add that a lot of new travel bloggers are also working ‘day jobs’ to support their travel habit and it’s hard work doing two jobs at once. There are no easy rides in life…
Well said Earl! Travel bloggers must be responsible and many are the complete opposite!
I definitely believe in sharing the good and the bad sides of travel, because that’s what travel is, there are always nightmareish moments on the road, and to act like there’s not is just stupid. I also love those moments because they make for the best stories!
I think the aspect of traveling that keeps me doing it is the uncertainty of it all. And if I’m totally honest, some of the scariest and most uncomfortable travel memories are the ones we reminisce the most about, but I totally agree that as a travel blogger it is important to be honest about all of it- the good, the bad and the mediocre. When writing about personal experiences, it doesn’t feel authentic when it is all roses and sunshine- at least my life is never quite like that.
Amen! I don’t travel full time and at this time in my life I’m comfortable with that. Would I like to? Of course. Am I jealous of those who do? Hell, yeah. But when I do travel, I do what I want, I experience what I want and I don’t spend hours in my room slogging away on what is, let’s face it, not really different to working in some office cube farm. I don’t blog about blogging, and I definitely don’t blog about places I’ve never been or things I’ve never done. Everything I “teach” or “show” my readers is something I’ve personally learned to make my travel better, or experiences I’ve actually had, in places I’ve actually visited. Anything else is just a mirage……..
It was a very interesting reading indeed =)
I suppose it’s just somewhat human nature to try to make our lives and experiences look so much better than the reality. Read too many Facebook feeds and you risk a bout of depression or anxiety feeling like you’re the only one not out having the time of your life. But when it is done in a way that misleads others for personal gain it becomes a whole different thing which is why I’m glad you chose to discuss this issue.
Along a similar line another thing that bothers me is that many of these ‘travel bloggers’ who claim to be making a great living merely by traveling and writing about it are actually making their money by teaching other travel bloggers how to create a successful blog. I don’t have an issue with the concept itself, I’m a huge fan of entrepreneurship, but it’s the way that it’s sold that gets me. “You too can be a successful travel blogger just by taking my course!” When in reality they are making most of their money off the fees you pay them to learn what they did…which ultimately didn’t provide them a living. Obviously they don’t openly disclose this fact or nobody would buy their course.
Now of course there are some bloggers who really have worked their asses off and do make a decent living but they are the minority. I also think that the good ones don’t go around boasting about the amazing life they have. They are probably too busy working their asses off.
Having said all of that I am one of the thousands who hope to some day make a fair living from my blog and other ventures so that I can continue to live this slow travel life. What I don’t, and never will, do is mislead people into believing that I have a perfect life and that they are missing out on something. If anything I downplay it and try to somewhat discourage others from following me. Not because I hate it or don’t want anyone else to have what I have, but because I know how tough it is and it’s definitely not for everyone.
I made the decision to sell up and become nomadic based on knowing what I wanted and what it would cost me and I was willing to pay the price. I’m poor, I work long hours and I own nothing, but I’m also debt free and living my life the way I want to. It’s not always a pretty picture but I’m happy.
Thanks for listening 🙂
Earl, I couldn’t agree with you more on this. Actually, I’d be fascinated by a blog if a person told me they were online 18 hours a day and living on nothing in order to travel! That would be cool.
I see so many blogs that in the about section they say they’ve “sold everything to travel the world,” and then those blogs are gone a year later. I think there are many ways to have your foot in both worlds. Not many people can do what you do. You are an inspiration. But there are jobs – like teachers, seasonal resort workers, tour guides – in which a person can work seasonally at a real job with benefits and a stable pay check, and travel 2-4 months a year on those savings.
I have been working seasonally in Alaska in tourism for 11 years and I travel about 2-3 months every year. I save as much money as possible in the winter and spend it on the road, knowing I have a job to come back to. It is a great lifestyle for me, but like you said, not all puppies and rainbows.
There is a false dream out there, perpetuated by sites like Matador network, that travel writing is easy and you can make money and live on the lam doing it. That is only true of a select few people.
Hello Jeff, I hope you don’t mind me following up on your comment, but I find it very interesting 🙂 You did say the magic words – there are some sites (many sites, for that matter) that do perpetuate false dreams. I often consider writing one of those list posts they love to publish, something along the lines of “9 reasons to never read x publication ever again” or “Why I can’t take one more piece on dating/not dating a boy/girl who travels”.
Jeff, your way of living is lot more realistic than many of the sites I read, and you make a lot of good points!
Some people travel more lavishly than others, some are dirtbaggers. Some have travel blogs, some Dont. Those who have successful travel blogs sacrifice lots of free time to share those experiences with others, at the expense of their own experiences. I’m having that struggle right now, trying to discipline myself enough to consistently share content on my blog, but it takes me away so much from living and actually traveling! Thanks for writing this post Earl! It’s important that people don’t compare their lives with other bloggers’ sugar coated highlight reel!
I love my nomadic life, but it’s definitely not for everyone. And it’s not wonderful in the ways people think it is. I work all day most days. Sometimes I don’t have a comfortable place to sit. I try to work in cafes and lonely people sit down and chat with me. It’s hard to get enough money coming in, and I’m juggling multiple ways to earn a living. I sometimes go weeks without sharing a meal with anyone. And I love moving every couple of weeks or months, but for someone who likes roots, comfort, stability it would be miserable.
I’m always honest about the good and bad in my blog (and I’ve written about dark times, loneliness and depression) and people always tell me they appreciate the honesty.
Yes! I just spent a year studying abroad in Ecuador and it was awesome buuuut also really hard. I’m honest to people when they ask me about the time there-the culture was difficult, I was harassed constantly on the street, and I’m still dealing with health problems I picked up there. Their reaction is always like oh well I’m never going to Ecuador then! But just because my whole experience wasn’t super amazing doesn’t mean that it’s not worth visiting. I also straddled the Ecuador, paid $25 to go white water rafting, snorkeled in the Galapagos, and made some really great friends. I feel like people just expect to hear the good stuff about travel and that’s all we end up sharing with others. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to admit to ourselves that parts of the experience was hard. But then, like you said, we’re setting up false expectations for others who think their lives are less-than because they’re not traveling.
Thank you for this very honest post. It needed to be said. I share your frustration after only having realised quite recently that the reality for too many is different than they pretend it to be. Writing fiction and living a dream online but not in real life is fine but please don’t lie to your readers about it.
Thanks Earl. You are the one travel blogger who I feel I can trust the reality and honesty of what you write about. I always look forward to whatever you have to say.
I think I get why you’re writing this, but for me I write about travel and not about travel blogging. It is a good read and something aspiring bloggers need to keep in mind. I had never read a travel blog before I got started, only points blogs, but once I started writing about it I realized it was not for me. What I really loved was the actual destinations. So aspiring traveler should really think about why they’re starting in travel blog, what is their intent? Or they’ll be doing some back tracking like me. I also want to point out that not all Travel bloggers are Nomadic and live location independent lives. Many of us have held on to career jobs for years and still traveled extensively. There are so many different types of travelers that we really can’t lump them all together. And one last thing, it’s about Balance. There really is no perfect trip, all travel eventually includes ups and downs. The key is balancing the good and the bad. Writing about our experiences. Not all destinations are for every person and that’s why each of us have niches. And probably our readers are similar to us in the things that they like to do and see.
This is gold and a sentiment I can really connect with. I definitely have a hard time finding a balance and, often times, it is in the other direction. When I am back home and talking with unhappy friends about life and what we’ve been up to, I find myself self-conscious of my own happiness and try too hard to downplay it. This, in effect, is also disingenuous.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have traveler friends who post non stop about their glamorous lives while in person they will tell you about all of their unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life… I guess in the end, travel bloggers (in general) are representative of the rest of the population. Everyone wants to be interesting and relevant so they do their hardest to build that front via social media. I’m not perfect but I am definitely conscious of the implications and do my best to give real advice and real opinions. At the end of the day I want to build a blog based on my reputation and values both as a traveler and a human being.
Thanks for sharing!
Yep, spoken from my heart! I’m amazed about the number of ‘desktop travel bloggers’, who sit at home (or where ever) and churn out these dumb listicle articles, like “15 places not to miss in Mexico” – and have never even been to Mexico. If you as a reader have been there you probably discover gleaming errors in the third or forth paragraph.
They get even up in rankings with these posts because all they do all day long is work social media to increase their reach. Then people like us, who are real full-time on the road, struggle to get a post up because we’re somewhere so remote that there is no internet within miles and miles. Forget about social media engagement, I’m often happy to post once every 5 days to our Facebook page.
I’m feeling sorry for readers who *trust* this faked advice, these inaccurate snippets thrown together from internet sources as unreliable as the publishing blog! Longterm it might turn people away from reading travel blogs and go back to the large trusted travel agencies, or other sources of inspiration and advice.
…but by then the now 30 year old ex travel blogger will have found the next hot trend to work into the ground.
I’ve been reading your blog (and quite a few others) for awhile and this post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just wanted to say thank you for writing this! The last few days I have been at a point where I was getting really frustrated because I wanted the perfect travel blogging lifestyle (and I don’t even have a blog yet!). You’ve made me realize that there is nothing wrong with the way that I am currently living my life, and I really needed that reality check.
Yes! I’m so tired of hearing the either/or argument. This is why I try to tell as many people as possible that you CAN build a career and work 9-5 while also traveling the world! You can have both, you don’t have to give up a good job or career because everyone tells you to travel the world instead.
Great article – was just telling someone today that its not all roses to move and travel in a lifelong way and there are plenty of people working traditional jobs and moving around the world too. I’ve kept moving since 1983 but its certainly had its moments – additionally keeping 3 kids fed and housed as I move which has meant working in traditional jobs as I go – and I have had to go slow because of this (interspersed with short and long jaunts between countries and school changes) – blogging was not an option back in the 80s anyway given no internet, no mobile phones, no laptops etc etc! Not having a home base can also be in some ways lonely especially as you get older. By the time people hit 40 or so they are usually settled with that home-base and ensconced in a group of friends, busy with their kids etc, and there aren’t many like you moving around that are happy or have the time to quickly strike up a new friendship as you do when you are 20 or 30. People can also be very critical of how you are bringing up your kids as well! Good to see you write this article – its not for everyone – its not the dream for all – its not better than another lifestyle – its just one way, and for some its the way they want to keep going. Great food for thought.
Sydney, thank you for the comments you made. Being an older traveler myself, I appreciate your perspective on travel. Traveling for long periods of time when one is in their 40’s or 50’s, compared with the groups I see in their 20’s or 30’s, can be be a lonely experience. Most travelers in my age group are taking group tours or meeting friends who are like-wise financially retired; the former that I avoid as a way to travel, the latter which I doubt I will ever have enough money to do. You are a remarkable woman for traveling with children and for all you’ve done!
Just wanted to say, I love it. I follow a lot of travel bloggers, and while I don’t always read everyone’s posts when they go up, I always read yours. When people ask me why you (I like recommending travel blogs to people), I tell them it’s because yours feels the most real, and so is the most interesting, and the most fun.
Very well said, Earl. I’m still new at all this, but I’ve try my best to give a unbiased view of what is going on when I post new things. I feel like what makes a story real is telling the good and the bad, because it makes the good worth so much more.
Woah, Earl. I’ve (sort of) been following your blog for a while now but this post hit me square and centre. I feel like the general mass media and its accompanied advertising industry have propagated this kind of deceit for eons: You’ll be more beautiful/desirable if you buy x, on your way to Hollywood/sporting/A List stardom if you do y, etc. And with social media pushing into the space that mass media once occupied, it’s only natural that it has assumed the same role in selling the lie. I’m sure everyone’s Facebook/Instagram/blogging/whatever profiles (mine included) display a very skewed picture of one’s self.
It’s unfortunate that this guy you know feels somehow inadequate for taking a ‘normal’ job, when the ‘grass is greener’ picture sold to him is so unrealistic and, frankly, unattainable. All I can say is that I write about my travels (when I have the motivation) only because I find it so much more noteworthy to me than my 48+ weeks per year life. But, if it wasn’t for the income that came from a ‘normal’ job, then there would never have been any opportunities to indulge in my number 1 hobby of travel.
I don’t follow many travel blogs, but I’ve turned off some pretty quickly once they just become megaphones for a corporate sugar-daddy (eg cruise companies). Kudos to you for trying to stay true to yourself, and I hope you retain a good audience because of it!
We’re now heading towards month six of the eighteen month career break to travel. The last two months have been spent in one hostel on the Sunshine Coast, BC. Suddenly it all makes sense – slow travel is for us! I’m exhausted even thinking about what we did I the first four months. We are 30+ after all.
Great article, however you could argue that the same guy that is depressed in his first job would have felt the same reading Lonely Planet books or Nat Geographic? Just a thought.
Thanks for putting it out there that long-term travel is hard work! I couldn’t do it, frankly, and admire people who do. When I’m travelling I’m having too much fun to be blogging more than occasionally. And, I’m way too lazy to get up early/stay up late to blog. Most of my posts are written upon my return.
I love how you are able to write about the good and the bad in travel while keeping everything positive. I struggle with that and after trying that route I decided to just avoid mentioning the negatives so as not to dwell on them.
This is a huge issue for me as I found myself facing the ‘slumps’ of travel recently and had to just step away and now have found a full time job that will support my blogging rather than just living on next to nothing to support the lifestyle I seek.
I feel inspired by those blogs and books that talk about living the dream and do hope I can do it *while having money* but it’s, as you say, DEFINITELY NOT EASY.
Thanks for the great read, Earl.
Just be real people! People love reading about the negatives of travel just as much as the positives.
Earl, this is great! I prefer to read about the hardships and realities. I put my blog and travel on hold to teach history because that’s what I love, but I still dream about travel full-time. Fortunately I have a small retirement to fall back on and I can keep writing about history without having to worry about getting all of my income from a blog.
You’ve proved why I respect you so much with this post! Thank you for sharing this!
I started blogging in 2008/09 about travel, and my desire to work in travel. This year, in 2015, was the first year I ever made anything even remotely over minimum wage. It’s definitely no dream-come-true in terms of it being easy or always fun. Like you said, and I couldn’t agree more with you, it’s a job. It has a better desk than others, but it’s still a job. It’s not for everyone. And it’s not what it always seems. I try very hard to be honest about it, yet like you said I also have to balance the needs of the paying clients I do have and sometimes that means being more falsely positive than I’d like to be. That’s a very difficult balance to strike, and a constant work in progress.
Wow, this was such a great post! I have been reading such misleading blog posts a lot lately and am really confused. Am I doing travel blogging ‘wrong’? Is there a magic key to it? Will it be much easier than a 9-5 job? I have been refusing to write posts on how amazing travel blogging is because I simply do not think it is everyone’s cup of tea. Instead, I like to see people fulfill their dreams but it’s so hard to keep that in line with with the general outline of a travel blog and all these ‘business requirements’ to ‘sell’. In the beginning when I had not many followers, I got some cool gigs but now that I have an ‘older’ blog, I find that companies do only care to see my numbers, which puts a lot of pressure on everything. It completely misses the point as well. I’d rather have a small engaged group than heaps of disinterested followers. I think this travel blogging business is really twisted.
Agree – it’s not all sunshine and rainbows! In fact, I was thinking recently about writing a post called: ‘How travel blogging will make you fat and anti-social (plus 10 other bum deals that come with travel blogging)’, because I’m tired of reading those ‘It’s fabulous, you can do it on no money, go on: quit your job’ kinda travel posts.
Truth is, it’s long hours, it’ll turn you into a narcissist, and it will change your relationships with the people you love, as well as your hips! At least, that’s what’s happened to me!
I love to sell my dream. Now it’s my life 😉 Even during lean years I focused on selling a dream because nobody wants to live like a hobo, LOL! The trick is being authentic, in that you share you struggles while explaining the sweet side of travel. That’s what I did pretty dang well and that’s how I got through the dips. Takeaway; sell the dream, share that it takes work….and don’t share your struggles too much, or you’ll attract a bunch of struggling bloggers, none of whom have money to pay for your products or services, perpetuating your nightmare 😉 Learned from some tough times on the road. Thanks for sharing!
Earl, I’ve been following your blog for a long time and this is possibly your best post to date.
I follow a number of travel blogs and only a few of them talk about the downsides to long term travel and blogging.
What annoys me most about travel blogs and I think you’ve covered it in your post, is that you often only get a polished up version of who the blogger is and what they actually do in terms of how they manage their blog and day to day affairs.
I had the unfortunate situation recently whereby I read a post on an Australian city (I live in Australia by the way) which was filled with pretty pictures but reflected nothing of the true spirit and nature of the place. It was obvious that she, the blogger in question had either never been there or if she had, not taken the time to get to know the place sufficiently to be able to tell the true story about it. I pointed this out the the blogger by way of comment on her blog and she became angry and abusive at me. I no longer waste my time reading her blog as a result.
My solution to all the fake bloggers and BS artists is to simply stop following them. If you stop following their blogs, they will have to take notice. I’m not in favor of naming and shaming people but if it is glaringly obvious and the person has been warned about their actions numerous times, I suppose that is a course of action that people can take too.
I just wish people would be more authentic and real both online in travel blogs and in life more generally. There are no prizes for being fake. Eventually you get caught out and you look like a fool for your efforts.
Anyways Earl, thank you for being real and for all that you do.
Interesting post as its something that I personally try to improve on all the time.
I am a professional family travel blogger. I travel with two preschoolers. My husband is currently dealing with a poo accident while I hide in my room typing this to get a moment’s break. Many moments are not glamorous. In fact, as parents, many moments are just like they are at home.
The problem is how to mix that into the informative articles I produce to help other families travel with little kids, feel that it is possible and just see all the things there are to do. Most my day is mundane, but if I write an article about Tuscany (where we currently are), if I filled it with the mundane it would be utterly boring – and pointless. The aim of my blog, after all, is to show what you can do with kids is Tuscany. I certainly don’t say it’s easy. I always say to have realistic expectations and that as a parent, your job travels with you. I do try to show how to make it the easiest and most enjoyable for everyone though.
This doesn’t mean I lie or be fake, but it does mean I segment. My latest post is about the realities of the last couple of months of our travel and I sometimes write posts like “a typical day travelling with toddlers”, etc to try to show the reality. However, I don’t think I help anyone by harping on about the fact that the toilet training on the road is hard, that toddlers have tantrums, etc etc. Any parent knows this anyway and casual travellers are not going to toilet train on the road.
What I don’t do much is write about the realities of travel blogging on my travel blog. For me, my travel blog is about travel. People who read my blog are people who are wondering if travelling with a baby is crazy. I have a separate blog where I talk about being a travel blogger and I think I talk about working too hard more than anything else!
The push to improve how I incorporate the reality is to ensure no one reads my blog and comes away thinking travel with kids is easy. My aim is for them to think its awesome and lots of fun but they will still have to work. I think I can always convey that better.
Anyway, I agree with what you are saying – mostly. I just wanted to give a different perspective.
Sharon, wonderfully put! Traveling sans kids here, but I vibe with your take.
Lol your perspective is why my blog about making money from blogging makes no money. It’s bloggers who aren’t ready to financially commit to making it happen.
I don’t have the temperament for full-time travel, but I have lived overseas. The same problems exist with the “expat” space as the travel space. In fact, there’s one well known and prominent company that creates such a rosy look at all their destinations that, IMO, it borders on fraud.
Congrats on an honest and thoughtful post.
We have talked a lot about my blogging plans, and I owe you a lot in terms of practical help, inspiration and constant encouragement. I am new at blogging, but contrary to what most people may seem to blog for – the belief that they can live their life working 2 hours per day and just travel and have fun the rest of time – I have started it way later in my life (hell, I have just turned 40!) and knowing that I want to inspire people, help them, motivate them to live their dream. As you rightly say, it is a hell of a job: I work an average of 12 hours per day, every day. I see no financial benefit as of yet. But I refuse to give an image of myself and of my life that is not truthful. My (few) readers know that I make no money. They know that I work hard and that I struggle to keep motivated. They also know that I say the truth, whether it is about never meeting a kind person in Cuba or having to pee in the helm hole on a boat to Colombia. The reason I wanted to blog all along was to be able to actually express myself fully – not having to put up an appropriate office face and respect an etiquette I never felt fit for. I will be damned the day that I stop being myself.
I am glad you wrote it and it is a refreshing read. I do know many a blogger who behave exactly like you say – spend months in a destination without ever actually venturing out, not even so much because they don’t have the money to afford it but because they don’t care at all about meeting new cultures. They write endless posts on things to do here and there when in reality they have not tried a single one of them. That makes me sad.
I want to be happy 🙂
Such a great post Earl! I get so sick of all the travel cliches telling everything this is the only lifestyle and that it’s achievable if you just quit your job and take the plunge. I’ve tried to write about the more realistic aspects of my experiences….how I wasn’t as impressed with New Zealand as I thought I would be…how moving to China for a planned 3 years fizzled out after 3 months because of a breakup…and I’m always nervous to put those more controversial things out there. But I tend to get the most engaging and supportive interactions from those posts and I think people appreciate the dose of reality. Keep up your fine blogging Earl…I always appreciate your words!
Fantastic post Earl and I totally agree with you, misleading people simply to push your own brand is unacceptable. People are making important (and sometimes life changing) decisions based on information that they are finding online and if this information is skewed or flawed it can have a very real and detrimental impact for these people. We’re lucky in the fact that we don’t try to make any money off of our blog so we’re able to shoot it straight and discuss the realities of our life of travel – be it the good, the bad or the ludicrous. Living a life of travel isn’t easy. If it was, wouldn’t more people be doing it?
Full-time travel is an extremely interesting way of life, but it’s also an extremely demanding one (unless you’re independently wealthy of course) and certainly isn’t for everyone. As bloggers, we owe it to our readers to give them the straight unvarnished truth. These truths will in some cases inspire people to go places and see things they would never have otherwise. In other cases, we might be the reason that someone stays home. Both of these are perfectly acceptable outcomes so long as the decisions were made based on accurate information. At the risk of overexaggerating our own importance, the words we type can affect peoples’ lives and we owe to them to be accurate in our portrayals of this crazy road we have chosen.
Thanks for bringing this delicate subject to light and keep fighting the good fight!
Amen to that – blogging is just another job…in fact I probably spend more time blogging than I have on any other job…the only difference is I find it fun and it funds a lifestyle that’s a bit more fluid, so it’s totally worth the trade off!
Spot on! Also, I find that more and more people are blogging to travel instead of the other way around. Instead of paying attention to the place, travel bloggers are busy thinking of whether this or that selfie would work better in a blog post. In the end, travel bloggers aren’t exactly interacting with reality but rather recreating reality in HDR. They neglect to truly see the place as it truly is.
Well. You’ve burst MY bubble. I want flowers and ice cream. Seriously, though, it’s tough to retain a balance as a travel blogger. Some trips are FABULOUS. Some are tough. And in all honesty, I think there IS a pressure to be positive, even if few admit it. But there are a couple of ways around it. 1) Use humour. If you read Mark Twain’s A Tramp Abroad, you’ll get the idea. 2) When I write something negative, I try to put a fair share of the negativity on myself (my recent tantrum in a fancy tea shop in Paris being an example): What did I do wrong to contribute to the bad experience? Could I have reacted with more graciousness? I do think objectivity is key, because I’ve also read travel blogs that go the other way, when they’re proud of writing something negative, as if it’s a badge of honour, but without using objectivity. Then they just look like bad travellers. Great thought provoking post, Earl. Thanks.
Yes. Yes yes yes to all of this. A personal story:
I once followed this ‘life coach’ blogger. She was (and still is) beyond motivational and inspirational. Every day, I read her posts and self-made memes about how important it is to choose a career you love over money, and how possible it is to make a needed career change to improve your life.
And so I did it, too.
A year or so later, she wrote a post in which she admitted that she hasn’t actually, you know, been EARNING ANY MONEY from her ‘dream job’ of Internet inspiration and that she lives on her husband’s six figure salary.
I WAS SO ANGRY. Still am, if my use of caps is any indication.
Now, in my own (travel) blogging, I strive to keep it annoyingly real. I even started a series with the loose theme ‘sometimes travel sucks’. Because nothing in life is perfect, and I never want to mislead someone into believing it is.
YES YES YES!! Painting everything in a falsely positive light does a lot of harm. It looks so wonderful to travel the world for a living, but it’s a lot of hard work and years before most will make it worthwhile. And there are soooo many ways to live life and be happy. I enjoy blogging, and I do make some money from it, but not enough to live on, and that’s ok. I have a home, I’m not nomadic, and that’s ok. I think it looks fascinating and I have days when I wish I could live that life, but then I know it’s not for me. I’m miserable when I try it because I like having a comfortable place to come home to. As for bloggers who portray themselves as living some glamorous life but in reality they’re completely different…I’m not a fan. The point of reading a blog (at least ones that are more based on a person) is the personality and the individual aspect of it all. If it’s all fake, just write a fiction novel instead. And most of us want to read about the bad stuff too, because we can relate to having ups and downs.
Thank you for writing this. I always love your honesty.
Earl, I’m in upstate New York. My things have been in storage in New Mexico for the past eight years! When I travel, I go for months at a time. I even finally received a Polish passport in addition to my US passport, with the thought of living permanently in Europe! Some people say “why don’t you just get rid of your things in storage and live in Europe? What a dream come true!” But they usually have the image of idealized travel experiences. They don’t know how much work it can be to travel for months at a time, the isolation one can feel, the hassles of just living in a foreign country. Others ask why keep things in storage, and one of my replies is that $100 a month paying for storage and giving me the freedom to travel is cheaper than $1000 per month for a mortgage where I could live while wishing I was traveling! But the other reason I keep these things, like my guitars, music, DVDs, tools, hobby and household things, is because I still have the dream of having a home to return to, to share with friends, to have my own space, to feel like I belong. I am still looking for that place. My point is, while many bloggers (and TV travel shows!) glorify traveling, the truth is that we are all looking for the same things, and maybe some of those things are not just found on the road, but on the paths we take in life. I DO appreciate your blogs!
100% true! The worst thing is not being honest with everyone else around, but with yourself as unless you admit what’s wrong, you cannot move forward and do something about it.
Well said. Thank you for telling it as it is. I’ve been a traveller and it certainly isn’t all roses but what I hope the embellishers come to realize is that sometimes its the journey into and back out of the abyss that makes the more interesting story. Kudos to you for keeping it real.
Excellent piece. I’m relatively new to the world of blogging for a wider audience than just my family, but I want to enjoy travel – and not just for the blog that may result – and I want to enjoy blogging – but not because I think it may lead to more travel. I want to be authentic and, and describe my experiences as vividly as truthfully as I live them – the positive and the negative.
Happy (and truthful) blogging!
Earl, love the post! Hmmm, I think people are just afraid to admit themselves that the dreams don’t really go like they planned. I think they suffer inside a lot and each blog that is written in lie makes the pain stronger.
But honestly, when I blog, people rather read about the mistakes I’ve done or maybe failures, disappointments or even my diarrhea problems then about happy moments… Not sure why though, but maybe they feel better when seeing that also “dreams” are not perfect and that being home, not chasing theirs, is actually not so bad either 😉
Brilliant stuff mate and a post we agree with entirely. We have met a few people who claimed they have discovered a place and yet never left their dorm room. That’s cool with us. When we were on the road and broke we did the same. Just be honest! That’s what blogging is all about. Or should be.
Amen, Derek! I could not agree with you more.
Like any other craft, there are plenty of people who do get into blogging for all the right reasons. But there seems to be an ever-increasing percentage of bloggers who are selling the equivalent of snake oil, as if a life of constant travel is somehow a cure-all for whatever ails you. The fact that some people do so by creating a pyramid scheme of teaching others how to “Live the Dream” that they know is really a lie is disheartening, to say the least.
We took a lot of heat a few years ago for a post casting light on what we saw as a dangerous trend: What happens when people who turn to nomad life as “the cure” realize that it can also exacerbate pre-existing symptoms? What happens if they fail to make their dreams come true or, even worse, they do come true and ultimately realize it didn’t change a damn thing about the core issues they’re trying to fix? One of our blogger friends committed suicide mere days after posting happy photos of her travels.
There’s a HUGE difference between “Living the dream” and selling a dream that isn’t nearly as dream-like as certain people’s posts seem to suggest. Kudos to you for keeping it real!
That’s one of the best articles I’ve read in a while. I was actually thinking of writing a similar post myself, but then again people would unfriend me, call me a traitor and say it’s not true. I’d also add that as much as travel bloggers call themselves friends and community in reality a lot of people don’t have any interest in supporting one another.
Anna, very true about bloggers. I have been noticing that if someone gets better than others, they just act like they don’t even know you… Some of my “friends” even ask me like, “Hey, were you anywhere traveling lately” and I just know they know all about it… Always on facebook and they like everyone photos and post, but guess what, never like mine… They are just green of envy…unfortunately 🙁
Now that’s not fair! What about me hosting you for free in Chiang Mai?? 😉
And you can tell the world that in 5 months I didn’t see much of the city as I was working non stop on my blog, I don’t mind… but certainly I don’t feel entitled to write the definitive guide about Chiang Mai. I’d rather post something like “Is eating rice from 7/11 every day good for your health”
Great post, loved it!
Haha Clelia, well, you know I said ‘a lot’ not ‘this bad Clelia who’s eating rice from 7/11 😛
But I can confirm that you don’t have much faith in travel bloggers helping each other. You should have seen your face when I told you how much you owed me for your stay 🙂
Haha, if only you didn’t laugh so quickly 😛
Well said. Do you think the moment you accept free stuff the pressure begins to write nice? Or even just about the free thing (i.e. you might not mention at all where you are staying but instead focus on your digs because it was a gift)? Maybe you have to be someone like Paul Theroux before you are truly free to tell it like it is?
I read many blogs and I wonder how people upkeep the very very very (triple emphasis) expensive lifestyle of wearing new branded apparel, every week.
Sometimes, it makes me feel like a pauper in my other perfectly presentable humble, often non-branded apparel.
There is a lot of commerce done, but very little quality produced.
There is a lot of travelling done, but very little venturing & exploring.
Thanks for keeping your blog real.
Thanks for being authentic.
And this is why you are one of my top two favourites. There are many out there that I no longer follow for the exact reasons you describe so well here. Keep up the good work 🙂
This is EXACTLY why I’ve been a loyal follower of yours for many years. You are the real deal, proven over time.
I’ve followed other blogs, only to unsubscribe after a few months when I feel they are embellishing their lifestyles or, as in my most recent unsubscribed blog, unsubscribed from her blog when she admitted to only recommending the good places to stay and refusing to mention the bad ones she stayed at. This is done for purely selfish reasons, not in the interest of her readers, so I instantly unsubscribed after following her for years. Give it ALL to us straight up, both the good AND THE BAD, then you develop a reputation of honesty and trustworthiness. I won’t follow any blog where its obvious their MAIN push is an overabundance of selling their product.
You’re the best of the best Earl. Keep it up.
I couldn’t agree more. If you don’t have integrity, what’s the point?
very well said Earl!
I just started a thread on a FB to discuss this problem. There are MANY fraudulent “travel bloggers” out there, a lot. Many of them don’t live the life they brag they have. Some are so radically diferent in person, you can barely recognize them when you meet them.
Traveling is not always funny and being a travel writter can be a struggle. There’s always a yin for every yang.
Most only write happy, fluffy posts about every single destination to please brands and tourism boards and once you get to those destinations, influenced by some bloggers… you find out nothing corresponds to the truth. I quit reading blogs, except for the ones from people I actually met in person and admire. Well, and obviously yours, otherwise I wouldnt be writing this, hahaha
Fortunately there’s a handful of awesome ones 🙂
Hugs from Bangkok
Love this post – very well said! I took a year off to travel 2011-12, which is when I started my travel blog, but never with the intention of doing it permanently or to make money from it. Even so, when I was nearing the end of my trip, I felt pressure from various sides that I shouldn’t be going back to a full-time job, that I should somehow instead find a way to make it work so I could keep traveling. But I didn’t want to do that – I love to travel but I also enjoy the stability that comes with a full-time job. I’ve always tried to be totally open about the ups and downs of travel on my blog – and my posts about the challenges tend to be some of the best-received.
This article is why i love reading your blog… you are real, honest, and tell it like it really is.. Thank you so much Wandering Earl..
I agree with most of this and it’s timely as I work on the revision of the very honest Travel Writing 2.0 book. I think that one way around this deception is to have a blog that’s about a subject or place instead of a blog that’s all about you. That makes the earning a living part of it much easier too if you’re not trying to cultivate a cult of personality around an idealized lifestyle.
Having said that though, have you taken a look at many non-bloggers’ social media feeds lately? It’s human nature to project the good and bury the bad, especially to strangers.
This post was refreshing and inspiring and in no way surprising coming from you Earl. Blogging is so hard, earning money online is even harder, for me anyway. I haven’t been writing about the places I’ve been visiting on my blog because my husband and I are those travel bloggers working endless hours on our laptops. We’re not out seeing the sites much these days. I agree, bloggers have to keep it real. This lifestyle is definitely no cake walk.
Excellent post. Your honesty is refreshing. Thanks for telling it like it is
Totally, 100% with you on this. I only read the real blogs, or those that I perceive to be real. I’ve been mislead by many, not about the ease with which these people are filling their pockets, more by the “things to do in…” posts. They’re often vastly factually inaccurate, I’ve gone back to my trusty Lonely Planets in recent years. Interesting that you should post this just hours after I published one of my own ( a rare thing these days!) entitled “Winning the Lifestyle Lottery”. I believe we have, life is certainly very, very good and my “work” time is minimal. So some of us are doing it and having a good time. We have sh1t times too and with my customary honesty, splash those all over the internet. I don’t know who you’re talking about, I only read a small handful of blogs now. You’re one of the few. I suspect that posts on how to succeed at travel blogging are some of the most well read on the internet.
You nailed it Earl
As fellow long term travelers and bloggers we have to agree. Travel has its ups and downs as does any lifestyle, in fact at times travel sucks. Saying that, we would still rather have those downs somewhere that feeds our soul, than being stuck back in the suburbs. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Earl for such a wonderful post. I have been feeling exactly like you. It seems like the mantra is (and news outlets don’t really help, they seem to promote it too) ditch ‘real life’ and embark on a life of travel, everything else will just figure itself out. We all know it doesn’t really work like that. Many of us bloggers have been writing for years and at least in my case, it is a passion project, and not my bread & butter job. In fact so many people have written articles about moving to Italy as if it was easy that I had to write a few ‘let’s tell it how it is without being an asshole’ kind of posts because it actually is quite hard living abroad at time. Like anywhere else. I wonder about these bloggers who you mentioned, if they even went to the places that they write about. If it is flat out fabrication, that is honestly shocking to me. I tend to read more blogs that touch on the hangups as much as the amazing moments.
Grazie Earl for always keeping it real!
I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for this!! It’s a reason why I don’t like blogging anymore. The whole web (well not all…but a lot of blogs in this particular genre) is about life hacking, dreams that NEED to come true. Focus changes from materialism to sort of experience-ism. Which is the same…
I guess it’s about looking into what you have and are ..as deeeep as you can 🙂 Yes, traveling helps with this
Love it Earl – thanks for writing this (I couldn’t agree more).
We’re one of those lot you mention who are just really getting started and one of our big goals is to remain balanced and honest. To speak about the good stuff and the bad. Some bloggers’ aim of making money from their blog might make them want to misrepresent the truth but I think it’s human nature to hide what you dislike about your life and share only the good even if it’s just on facebook.
The funny thing is that I find the more honest blogs (your own included) end up being so much better to read. The stories of misadventures and mistakes are often my favourite to read and are what make me come back!
Thank you for your honesty Earl! It’s extremely refreshing to know that there are still honest and transparent individuals left in the world. I will be graduation this December and I have a lot of decisions to make about where my life will be headed. Reading your posts really allows me to consider all of my possibilities, good and bad. Safe travels!
Thanks for the good read Earl!
As you say reality doesn’t sell, I know I wouldn’t read a blog if all of its entries would be “gah, I’m sitting bored writing ’bout stuff” or similar.
Or, you wouldn’t watch a movie if it was full of ugly actors. We tend to show the best part of everything.
I’m gonna quit my job in November and travel. Yeah, sorry, I’m your typical 22y old boy who just gave up on a stable job 😀 But that’s something I feel inside, not just because I saw it’s gonna be flowers and candies from any blog.
Anyway, I know it’s gonna be hard as hell, and I’m gonna document it all, showing each side of the coin the best I can.
I love your truth Earl. How you just tell the truth. Not just that you don’t lie in your posts. That you actually express what naturally wants to be expressed through you. Next level truth stuff <3
Thank you for making this real and sharing from your essence.
Killin’ it! Although, this definitely isn’t unique to travel bloggers. Plenty of people in everyone’s daily lives act like they have it better, or do something different than they really do, or whatever. It permeates all lifestyles and it’s an affliction.
Fortunately, we tend to either repel people like that, or we’re fortunate enough to stay away from them. None of us in this world have time for bullshit. We only get one life, after all.
I tend to ignore the bloggers who I know are like that, and just focus on the ones who are for real. But, for most people, they have no idea if what they’re reading is truth or B.S., and that’s a problem.
Blah blah whatever, I’m going nowhere haha. You covered it all. Well done, my man.
I feel like that young guy sometimes. On my travels, I visited Australia and fell in love with the place. 3 years later I’m still here and do admittedly feel the pressure when I see Facebook posts from travel bloggers. I also feel pressure to visit as many countries as I can just to keep up! It’s ridiculous.
Some travel blogs are like a Disney fairy tale, full of shit and never gonna happen.
I appreciate this post. I feel like in some ways I was misled and now I truly understand how much work this travel blogging gig really is. I’m just starting out, as in the last 3 months or so, but blogging is seriously time consuming. It’s nice to hear your openness about struggling while traveling. Sure, being on the road sure has it’s upsides, but there are days when life as a long term traveler and blogger really isn’t so wonderful. I’m also tired of travelers thinking they have the golden ticket to life, I have plenty of friends back in the states who are married, having children, and living their own dream. That being said, here’s to honesty. Cheers, Earl. Cheers!
Thanks for writing about this Earl.
Hi “Keeping It Real” Earl
I love travel blogs that tell me the truth
I hate things and people that misrepresent
As a blogger myself I know sometimes it could be easier to gloss over the shit bits and before we set sailing around the world there was a lack of stories discribing the nasty, cold, wet, uncomfortable and most important scary bits. Yep sailing and travel can be wonderful but it is still life, and life as we know it is about good and bad. Travel is good because of the variations, the disappointments, and for me stormy weather.
Loved this post
the Miss from sail boat Miss Catana
Earl keeping it Real!
… i swear that sounded wittier in my head!
I recently started my own travel blog, but I’ve been an avid reader of travel blogs for many years. I love when blogs showcase the reality of traveling and earning money online. Travel isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and a life on the road has pitfalls like working a 9-5 job does. For me, I try to write about my flight anxiety and hypochondria and how both totally ruin some travel experiences. Honesty is great!
Thanks for the thoughtful post! I’ll keep it in mind as I hopefully build an audience. 🙂