I remember the moment I decided to change my life like it was yesterday. My friend Marieke and I were sitting in the garden and drinking wine. It was a hot summer night and Martijn was guiding in Iceland for a while. I was telling her that even though I had all I could possibly ask for (a nice boyfriend, a fun job, a large house and some money in the bank) and yet I wasn’t satisfied. I traveled a bit and I wrote about it but could not imagine living the same life twenty years from then on. As we were talking, Marieke pushed on and asked me what I really wanted. ‘To travel the world and write about it’ was my answer. And so that happened.
It’s three years later now and looking back at those three years, I can’t even grasp how things have changed. Yes, I still have the same boyfriend, the same job and live in the same house (only it’s raining right now). Martijn is still guiding, only now in Alaska, and I have more or less the same amount of money on my savings account. Yet I’m living such a more satisfactory life. I found something I truly love doing and can’t even imagine not doing anymore. I found something that is my creative outlet. I’m talking about travel blogging.
Three years later and it’s time for some reflection. About two years ago I started writing Confessions of a Travel Blogger. Although not everyone enjoys reading them, I very much enjoy writing them. They add a bit of personality to my blog, something I miss in other blogs from time to time. In addition, I think sometimes we should just speak up about things we either love or hate, because if we leave things unsaid, they will never change. I’m starting with a few things that I enjoy most about travel blogging:
1. Having a major goal
When I started blogging I never knew that it would become such a great part of my life. Now that blogging has become more than just a hobby for me, I feel like I have a certain goal to work towards to. Goals such as losing weight or making more money are not my kind of goals. I need creative goals and I find being a travel blogger highly satisfying. Blogging is exactly the creative outlet I need.
2. Having a creative outlet
I’ve always loved writing. There’s a box up on our attic filled with diaries. Then there are two more boxes with letters I received from my penpals from all over the world. Ever since I could hold a pen, I’ve been writing. Feelings, thoughts, emotions. Details, impressions and observations. However I don’t think I’d be a good writer because I’m way too impatient for that. So whenever I don’t feel like writing I can edit photos, do social media, socialize or make a video. Travel blogging is all about creativity and finding a way to express yourself.
3. The amazing new people I got to know
When I met travel bloggers at a blogging event for the first time I was pretty impressed by them. That same night We12travel was chosen from a big list of Dutch blogs to travel to Curacao and write about my experiences there. Although I’m not your average travel blogger and tend to follow my own trail rather than the path the majority chooses to follow, I’m thankful for meeting so many inspiring people. Sometimes we meet in daily life on blog events, sometimes we meet to grab a bite or some drinks. Sometimes we meet online and have a chat or encourage each other. Sometimes we meet while traveling. Most travel bloggers are inspiring people and great fun to hang out with!
4. Living on a high without using drugs
Being a travel blogger is not easy. I’m sometimes incredibly stressed because the work of a travel blogger is never done. I’m sometimes a zombie who spends way too much time behind her laptop. However, occasionally something happens that gives me an incredible high, without using alcohol or drugs. When a large company reaches out and wants to work with you. Or when a really big blogger leaves an encouraging comment on my blog. When a major destination asks you to come back because they liked the job you did or when I receive positive comments on a blog that I spent hours working on. Those are highs on a totally different level than any drug could ever give me. You should try it, really!
5. I get to travel more
Unlike what most of you people will think, I still pay for the majority of travels myself. Which is fine because I prefer to have freedom to write whatever I want. However I also travel for We12travel every now and then. Sometimes it’s for a day or two, sometimes it’s for a whole week. Travel blogging makes me do stuff I normally may not have done, such as bungy jumping from the pier in Scheveningen, doing the highest zipline in Europe or drink wine with the mayor of a German town on his private winery.
Of course there are also things I don’t like about being a travel blogger. It wouldn’t be a real confessions without mentioning those and I know some of you enjoy reading those most. So here are five things I’d like to see differently. I know I can’t change the world by myself but sometimes it just feels good to express myself. If you feel like some of the below applies to you, then know it may be time to consider a change!
1. Follow/unfollow on Instagram
Seriously, I don’t get this. So many bloggers out there are following and when you don’t follow back, they will unfollow. Or worse, they will unfollow once you’ve followed. It’s super childish and pathetic but it still upsets me. Follow me if you genuinely like me. Not because you want me to follow you. Just stop it.
2. The poor writing
A while ago I launched my Everest Base Camp storytelling series where I am going back to the roots of blogging: storytelling. Storytelling is why I started this blog in the first place and is still what I enjoy doing most. However, by just doing this, visitors won’t find you. So I write the so-called ‘lists and top fives’ which do well on Google and Pinterest. The more blogs I read, the more crap I read. Some websites are solely about making money and although that’s totally ok if that is your goal, it sometimes saddens me that there is not more appreciation for blogs that tell personal stories or go beyond the top fives or top tens.
3. It’s extremely time consuming
In the first year I spent about ten hours a week on the blog. Then in the second year about twenty or thirty. In addition to my full time job that is. Travel blogging is not just about writing stories but there’s a lot more to it such as SEO (search engine optimization), social media promotion, administration for the government and much more. I should really consider to hire an assistant to help me with simple tasks.
4. I’m away from home a lot
Yes, I want to travel, as much as I can. Over the past years I traveled more than 100 days a year and combined that with a full time office job. However, sometimes a certain happening makes that you don’t want to leave home anymore. Or sometimes it happens that you are far away when someone in your circle of family or friends needs you to be there for them. I recently had to come home early from my Iceland trip because of personal reasons. Although I know nobody blames me for being far away (the person in question is always telling everyone how proud he is of me that I travel the world) but it can get to me I’m not always there when someone needs me.
5. I’m a perfectionist
I can be incredibly harsh for myself. Looking back at number two, I sometimes see blogs that have just five sentences and three pics in it. I can’t do that. I want my blogs to be long enough to tell all a reader may want to know. There need to be many good pictures. I can’t deliver crap. I want to be on social media each day and I want to improve my numbers each month. However I found out that’s impossible. I’ve decided that once Martijn is back home from Alaska, I’m going to take one day off from blogging each week. No computer, no social media, no updates. It’s a next step towards my goal of putting my phone away more and I’m not sure if it’s going to work, but I think I will be able to do it.
So that was my latest confessions. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let’s see if this blog is going to last another three years. I’m actually thinking of changing the name because We12travel doesn’t really cover what it’s all about anymore, but we’ll see about that…
Have a great Sunday!
Want to read more confessions? You may also enjoy these:
– The blogger burn out is watching you
– How Instagram ruined travel for me
– 6 Things I stopped doing after two years as a travel blogger
Thank you for sharing!