I found out that not all travel bloggers are actually happy with what they are doing
“Will you do something for me? Picture your life 30 years from now? What does it look like?”
“There is no easy way. No matter what I do, someone gets hurt.”
“Would you stop thinking what everyone wants? Stop thinking about what I want, what he wants, what your parents want. What do you want? What do you want?”
This dialogue from The Notebook is not just about love and relationships. It’s about living the life you want without seeking approval from other people. I’ve been back home since October 2015 from long years of traveling the world and I tried to weigh the difference between being back here and being out there. What I want right now, at this moment is very surprising because I actually want to stay put and travel more at the same time. They are exactly on the same level.
Still, I will lay down the cards on what I want on a long-term basis: sustainability. I want a huge house with a stunning kitchen, beautiful children that I will home school, being able to grow my own food, and a loving husband who will accept me and support my hopes and dreams. I also want to be able to travel with my future family because this is something I was not able to do with mine.
Upon analysing my thoughts, what I want is affected by huge factors from being home: I see my girlfriends with children (not 1, but more!), one of my friends hit her first million at 30, and my mother. Arrgghhh, my mother is planning to sell the house I grew up in and I don’t have the money to buy it yet. I really really want to keep it.
I want all of this but I also want to travel more. I know you cannot have it all but I recently had deeper connections with a few long-term travelers about how they see things. These people have traveled for over 15 years non-stop and is now either fucked up in the head or living life in a robotic way. They don’t know how to be normal again.
My best friend said if I tried hard on working on the blog, I could be really “famous” by now but who said I want to be famous? After all, the most “famous” travel blogger is not famous anyway. I don’t mean to attack anyone here. I just didn’t get why she said that when she clearly knows that I am updating this blog so that one day, I will be able to tell the story of my life to my children and grandchildren, exactly the same as it happened. However, because of winning a beauty pageant title in 2013 (Miss World), she has this marketing mind that she can’t help but blurt strategies.
At one point, I believed that travel blogging will get me through life but it didn’t last long. This ‘job’ is exhausting so now, I am just doing it as natural as I can. I don’t want to be dependent on my blog. Ever.
I’ve had travel coaching clients who are now a part of the travel blogging league. In our first session, they asked me what should they do to get their blog noticed? I didn’t know how to answer that but I said it anyway, “There are thousands of travel blogs out there. You need to do something that will make you stand out. Different.” Some of them started writing about personal travel experiences but everyone ended up publishing articles that you can easily google: things to do, travel tips, city guides, etc. You know why? Derek of Wandering Earl was right when he said reality does not sell. 85% of readers don’t really care about life. They are more enticed on travel pictures and how many countries a travel blogger has been to. Which lead me to think that I should remove the Where I’ve Been tab on this blog. It just doesn’t make sense to me anymore.
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I recently re-connected to these travel coaching clients and asked why they diverted to this kind of blogging. And yes, I was right: they think the selling points of their blogs are writing about destinations. Shraddha of Street Trotter is one brave example of speaking up about overdoing this travel blogging thing. She used to write about destinations, too and I was really happy that one day, she just stood up from being overwhelmed about the boom of the travel blogging industry. It’s not a bad thing. Boom is actually positive. My mother just started her own blog and she is the best writer I know. From her, I learned that you should not make a big deal out of writing — you just do it. She writes so beautifully that you won’t get enough of her posts. I was really upset when she started publishing travel tips when she moved to Jakarta. Everyone just keeps doing it and at the end of the day, nobody’s really happy about the guides they have written. It’s just for… search engine optimisation’s sake. Again, this is not an attack. Every travel blogger is entitled to write whatever they want. Some actually find satisfaction and I have nothing against that.
On the other hand, it’s not just about blogging. It’s about traveling itself. Mike of Bemused Backpacker whom I met in a press trip in Indonesia last year said he experienced travel burn out a lot of times. The idea of not having a home and moving constantly is so tedious it gets so boring. The same goes to travel blogging couple Alesha and Jarryd of Nomadasaurus who were able to find a way to extinguish the burnout. Well done, mates!
Talon of 1dad1kid who is traveling with his son for a long time kept it real about life: “I sometimes want to see MY photos and art work on the wall, with my selection for furnishings, and I want a fully equipped kitchen. And we REALLY miss having pets. We have a couple of house sits coming up that have quite the menagerie, and we’re really looking forward to that. Still, we miss having our own cat and/or dog. One that we aren’t constantly leaving behind and who has been raised with us and feels a stronger connection.Sometimes you just want to know that stain on the couch came from you.”
It’s good not to feel alone in this battle. It’s good to have people who are honestly showing two sides of travel blogging and long-term travel. Nothing comes easy. Nothing is indefinite. One thing’s for sure though: we travel differently and we always have our own story to tell.
If you are to start a blog, make sure you have the heart for it. It’s the key. Passion will take you a long way. The first question to answer when putting up a blog: “what makes me different from the rest of the pack?” I hope you’ll find your way into being a travel blogger. Inspire, keep it real and may your writing end up really really beautiful. The force is always with you! 🙂
Are you a travel blogger? What are the ups and downs of your travel blogging career? Would love to hear your thoughts!