As a travel blogger or the more popular wrongly used term now – influencer, one encounters so many myths about the “dream job”. If you envy a travel blogger or want to be one/ work with one, there are some full-time travel misconceptions you should know about before jumping on board the travel blogging wagon. It’s not an easy path to success (though very attractive) and it’s definitely not as glamorous as it seems on the surface!
We have here Brittany from Life Of Brit to share her thoughts and personal insights about the common misconceptions we get as bloggers.
Brittany: From personally blogging for over two years and I have to admit that when I first started out, I also underestimated what it takes to become a travel blogger. There were a lot of full-time travel misconceptions I had and all I desperately wanted was to travel the world and write about my adventures. I thought it would be so easy to make money doing so. But slowly I’ve learned that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows on the path to becoming a travel blogger.
26 Misconceptions You Should Know if You Want to Become a Travel Blogger
1. Misconception #1: What you see is what it is
When you look at an influencer’s Instagram grid or blog, you’ll probably notice there is a steady stream of content they’re putting out there, creating the misconception that travel bloggers are constantly on the road traveling. However, travel is exhausting, expensive and takes a lot of time! Many bloggers and influencers actually take breaks in between their exciting adventures without taking breaks online. Just because you see a photo of someone in India, it doesn’t mean that person is actually in India at the time of posting.
2. Misconception #2: Travel is luxurious and glamorous
As I write this I’m actually seated on a hot and stuffy train, breathing in the dirt and dust of the rural country side in India. Travel is not always glamourous or fun. And since one of the biggest full-time travel misconceptions is that travel bloggers make a lot of money – quick reminder, we don’t 😉 – this often means travel for bloggers is kept with a budget in mind.
Even for those who can afford the nicer modes of transpiration or nights in fancy hotel rooms, travel often comes with stress, sweat, exhaustion, sickness, tears, blood, dirt, homesickness, culture shock, you name it. It’s rare a trip goes exactly to plan and visiting a new and unknown place and culture takes its toll mentally, physically and sometimes emotionally. And sometimes the most beautiful places take going through the roughest of routes to get there.
3. Misconception #3: This is a dream job for everyone
Traveling full-time does sound like a dream, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own stresses, challenges and complications. Travel is expensive, it’s a tough market to get into, and it actually does take a lot of work and determination to break through. I’m not kidding when I say it takes most people years to gain enough traction in online travel writing to make some sort of income from it. Traveling full time has its pros and cons same as any other profession.
4. Misconception #4: You have to quit your job to be a travel blogger
For those who wish to become a travel blogger and think the only way to do so is to quit their current job, it’s really not the case. Many online writers actually start out blogging as a hobby and grow from there. You don’t have to quit your job to travel the world or pursue travel blogging. You just have to prioritize your time the right way, use your weekends to the fullest, and take the plunge!
5. Misconception #5: Travel bloggers only want freebies
There’s been some viral stories lately of people complaining about travel bloggers, their entitlement and the myth that we only want free things. For those truly passionate about what they do, this isn’t true. What is true is that if travel bloggers put in the time and energy promoting something or offering guides and recommendations that help others, making a bit of money to cover the costs associated with blogging is very much appreciated.
Travel bloggers love traveling, writing about their adventures and helping provide insight along the way. The little monetary gains and sponsored things on the side just help make it possible in long term.
6. Misconception #6: You can become a travel blogger overnight
I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that anyone can become a successful travel blogger literally overnight, and while in theory that could be true, it honestly takes a lot more time than that. Deciding on your title, niche, branding as well as building your website, creating the content, snapping the photos, learning the ins and outs of online marketing, means that starting out actually takes some thoughtful time and energy.
7. Misconception #7: Anyone can do it professionally
Now technically, anyone can become a travel blogger, and I really believe that if it’s your dream, you should definitely pursue it. What I mean by not everyone can become a travel blogger is really quite simple, if you don’t have the passion or the actual interest in creating content, you’re going to have a hard time finding success and sticking with it. It takes so much time and trial and error before influencers figure out what works best for them and how the internet works. Not to mention the constant desire and determination to keep at it even when you get zero likes or attention for a post you spent hours creating, it can be disheartening at times.
If you want to become a travel blogger or Instagram influencer professionally, you need passion, determination, and an ability to roll with the punches.
8. Misconception #8: Travel bloggers make good money
Travel blogging is actually a really hard industry to make money in, so if you’re in it solely for the money, you’re going to have a hard time. Everyone these days wants to become a travel blogger, which means the market is completely saturated. And as a blogger selling travel, you’re selling information and inspiration versus tangible products that bring in commission or income. There are people out there making good money from travel blogging, but it’s very rare. I’d even bet that even some of your favorite bloggers with thousands of followers are making just enough to travel or just some extra money on the side to supplement their travels. It’s not a career that brings in the big bucks for everyone and travel can be expensive!
9. Misconception #9: We’re always perfectly happy
Social media has this way of making the lives of travel bloggers and Instagram influencers look endlessly happy and carefree. It’s important to remember that we only put on Instagram what we want our audience to see. What we don’t show you is the stress, anxiety and work that goes behind every photo and trip. Travel bloggers are people too, and contrary to what our grid may show, we’re no exception; we’re not always perfectly happy.
10. Misconception #10: We’re always dressed beautifully and stylishly
Another big full-time travel misconception is that travel bloggers are always dressed in the cutest, cleanest and most pristine outfits. The truth is, it’s not uncommon for influencers to hike to the top of a mountain in one outfit, drenched in sweat I might add, only to change at the top into that cute outfit you’ll see on Instagram, before changing again to make the trek down. We’re not always beautifully dressed, we just have tricks up our sleeves to show our best sides in our photographs.
11. Misconception #11: We have professional photographers follow us
I think many people would be surprised to learn that a lot of Instagrammers actually take their own photos or ask their friends or even strangers nearby to lend a helping hand. We’re not all fortunate to have a professional photographer as a significant other and we definitely don’t have one just tailing us throughout all of our travels. I’ve traveled solo before and relied solely on a self-timer and tripod to capture shots of myself on vacation.
12. Misconception #12: We’re always confident and outgoing
Again, Instagram shows the people what we want to show the people. And just because a travel blogger seemingly puts their entire lives on the internet, it doesn’t mean they are confident, outgoing and open with everyone. Travel bloggers can be just as introverted as anyone else! Sometimes Instagram is just a nice way to put yourself out there while mainlining some level of privacy and anonymity. It’s an important reminder never to judge a book by its cover.
13. Misconception #13: Influencers get tons of goods for free
One of the perks of traveling full-time as an influencer is that sometimes you receive things for free; things like beautiful clothing, adventure gear, places to stay etc. I think what people don’t understand however, is that it takes a long time for influencers to reach that point where companies begin sponsoring them. Not only that, but even once you’ve hit the point where brands are noticing you, the things you get for free are usually small and far and few between.
It’s also extremely important to note that in reality, influencers get nothing free. Sure, they may receive goods without paying for them, but it’s often an exchange of goods and services. If a company gives a blogger something, they expect that blogger provide services as an online marketer to share their product on social media platforms, write reviews about them, and in general create viral content that gets their brand noticed. That takes a lot of time and energy.
14. Misconception #14: Travel bloggers get all of their trips for free
This idea that travel bloggers get all of their trips for free is a complete myth. The logistics of travel are expensive and it’s rare that someone would just offer to cover all of the costs of a trip in exchange for marketing content and services (that’s really all travel bloggers do – market and create content selling a destination, a place, a desire, a product). Once you reach Do You Travel or Gypsea Lust status then maybe, but until then, it just doesn’t happen for 99% of travel bloggers.
15. Misconception #15: You have to be rich or have your parents pay for everything to become a travel blogger
Another full-time travel misconception many people have is that you have to be rich or have parents who pay for everything to become a travel blogger and travel full time. This couldn’t be more untrue. I’m sure these people exist in the world, but it isn’t your only option if full-time travel is your dream. I’m a great example. My parents haven’t helped me pay for anything since high school and I manage to travel while paying off my massive student loan payments every day.
How? I just make travel a priority in my financial budget and save every penny I have while working jobs abroad that help me maintain my travel lifestyle. I don’t often buy expensive new clothes, or splurge on fancy meals out. I find jobs abroad as an English teacher, freelance writer, etc. so I can live, travel and explore a new place. Not every travel blogger is rich.
16. Misconception #16: Blogging and Instagram is our only source of income and full time job
This couldn’t be any more incorrect. Ultimately travel blogging is a form of online publication and marketing. If a travel blogger doesn’t have a typical 9-5 office job, they most likely have side freelance gigs related to writing, SEO marketing, social media consolation, and sponsorships. Trust me when I say that most people don’t make all of their money from their blog alone. It takes a lot of hustle to maintain a travel lifestyle and I feel so strongly that this is a big fulltime travel misconception we need to dispel.
17. Misconception #17: You need expensive travel gear
I’ll take this time to admit I’m a mega thrifty person, and I don’t own anything that anyone would classify as high-end travel gear. All you need is a functioning backpack, some clothes, and a mid-level camera to hit the road and explore the world. If you want to become a travel blogger, add in a laptop that turns on and can access the internet and you’re good to go! Don’t let the fear of needing expensive travel gear turn you off from starting a blog if it’s really what you want to do.
18. Misconception #18: You need an expensive camera to create good content
I think this is something that every photographer would like to shout from the rooftops to make clear to their audience – you do not need an expensive camera to create good content. The camera doesn’t make a good photograph, it’s the person behind the lens. A good camera can help with specialty things such as zoom or increasing the resolution of a photo, but the artistry of a photograph comes from the composition, creative eye, and post-production editing after the button is pressed. Assuming a good photo is all in the camera equipment discounts a photographer’s talent and creativity.
19. Misconception #19: You have to have a super good body and be insanely gorgeous to be an influencer
I’m sure you’ve seen those popular accounts starring a gorgeously tall, slim and well-dressed woman. While it’s true that we live in a vain society and these traits can help immensely in creating a popular Instagram account (trust me, I know the frustrations), I’m here to tell you it’s not a requirement. As much as people love to enjoy a fantasy, they also really love having a role model they can relate to and see a normal every day person doing the things they want to do as well. You don’t have to be a model to be successful, you just need to find your niche and target audience and appeal to them.
20. Misconception #20: You need thousands of followers to be successful and good
Many people believe that to become a travel blogger, you need to have thousands of followers on social media to be successful. While sometime these numbers do correlate, there are a million different ways to be successful as a travel blogger. I know plenty of ‘small’ travel bloggers who only have a few thousand followers on Instagram but who are killing the writing game behind the scenes and making money as a social media consultant or freelance writer. These are fields that are completely unrelated to how many Instagram followers you have.
21. Misconception #21: If you have thousands of followers on Instagram, you’re rich
In a similar vein, it’s not uncommon for people to mistakenly believe that if a travel blogger or influencer has hundreds of thousands of followers, they’re making big money and are super rich working with all these big brands. I follow so many influencers who release their annual income reports to share that although they’re super trendy on the gram, they’re really only making enough money to live and fund their budget travels. This is a major full-time travel misconception – just because an account has thousands of followers, it doesn’t mean they’ve made it big. Instagram is a competitive market! It takes more than follower count to bring in money.
22. Misconception #22: We have endless brands waiting to work with us
Sadly, this just isn’t the case for most newbie travel bloggers. In order to become a travel blogger sponsored by various companies, you need to first build your website and create great and trustworthy content. You need to draw the right people, in large quantities and keep them on your website. You need to sell various things and do so well. This is what attracts companies to your blog. It’s a tough gig and breaking through to gain sponsorships is insanely hard and doesn’t happen overnight.
23. Misconception #23: All of our photos look candid and effortless
Let me tell ya, most photos are planned down to every detail. Influencers think about everything. How the color of their clothes will look against their backdrop, what style of outfit will appeal to their audience best, and which pose will get the most likes. We like to call these ‘plandids’ in the biz. Travel bloggers want their photos to look candid, but they most certainly are not.
24. Misconception #24: We get the perfect shot every time and on the first try
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about photography with a model, it’s that you need to take many shots of the same thing in order to nail your perfect shot. Every little detail counts and sometimes you take a photo that looks great on your camera review screen, and you blow it up and realize your fingers are slightly weird or your eyes are squinted shut. It’s a rare occurrence that an Instagram influencer gets the perfect shot the first time. In reality it can take time in one place to get a good photo that will attract positive attention.
25. Misconception #25: Everything you see is exactly as it is in real life
As with anything in social media, you have to take everything you see with a grain of salt. When you look at a perfectly stunning photo shared by a travel blogger, what you’re seeing and feeling is a specific mood the content creator wanted you to feel. The photo is very likely edited in their desired tones and style, and may even be slightly edited to fit in with their niche and aesthetic. I think everyone should know that when you see a beautiful photo on Instagram, it’s most likely been enhanced.
26. Misconception #26: We’re always holidaying
What a lot of successful bloggers don’t tell you is that while they’re exploring a new and beautiful place, there’s a good chance they’re also spending hours on their computers to produce new and exciting content for their followers. Even while visiting a pristine beach with perfect weather, those who are the most dedicated may end up spending a few of their days in paradise inside a café frantically hunched over their laptops working hard on their travel blogs. You should keep this full-time travel misconception in mind – travel bloggers aren’t always traveling on their trips. We spend a lot of time working as well.
All of these full-time travel misconceptions aside, if you’re passionate about writing, photography and travel, you shouldn’t let these myths stop you. If you want to become a travel blogger, you just need to prepare for the work ahead and set your expectations accordingly! It’s a rewarding hobby and can turn into a great way to make some money on the side while doing something you enjoy.
What are some full-time travel misconceptions you have?
Brittany is the content creator behind lifeofbrit.com, a blog originally created to share tips and guides for living and teaching English in South Korea. She left South Korea after two years to backpack Asia and continues to write and share guides for female travel in Asia.