With the rise of travel blogging, we have heard of the fabulous lives of these travel influencers and bloggers. And along with their awesome shots in exotic places, the inspirational captions of why travel blogging is the life to be, is waving at us in every status they post in their social media. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that it becomes unauthentic when travel bloggers start painting the lifestyle with their unicorn dust, rainbows and butterflies. And here are the common travel bloggers lies that they tell you.
1. I quit working to just travel the world
A lot of travel bloggers proudly claimed that they quit their job to just travel the world. But then they would eventually add that in exchange for free accommodation and food, they are offering their services. And these services include cleaning, marketing, web designing or probably teaching English.
First off, they didn’t really quit working. They just changed their job description. Secondly, unless you’re an heir from Warren Buffet’s kingdom, or you’re a trust fund baby with Upper East Side residence, I don’t think someone can really afford travelling for long period of time without working. So let’s stop romanticizing quitting our previous jobs and just call it is what it is: “I hate my previous job and I didn’t have enough time for travelling so I resigned and looked for a career that suits my needs.” There I said it.
2. Travel blogging is 4-hour/ week job
These past few years, travel bloggers sprout like mushrooms in the wild after a storm or bloom like flowers after the rain. Or whatever. I’m not good at poetic lines but you guys get the gist. You know why?
I must admit, I was also enticed by the promise of blogging gods and goddesses that if you blog, you make enough money to travel the world, brands will beg you on their knees and on top of that you will only have to work 4 hours a week. Isn’t that neat?!
Not until I started blogging and have to study SEO, plugins, keywords, themes and WordPress. On top of writing contents, editing images, compiling them in a neat article like this. Do you know how much time a blogger spends in promoting their contents, getting followers and building their social media presence? It’s excruciating and frustrating process. Especially that lately social media platforms are being anal (for the lack of better word). And I’m going to stop right here before I bore you with details.
It might be true that other bloggers, work for few hours a week (I only know one personally), but it is only because they have already built a massive following. They have established a brand that enough for them to hire people to work for them (note: there are other people who do the work for them). But this requires yeeears of experience, tons of hard work, credibility and over flowing patience and creativity.
So when travel bloggers tell their readers that they travel for free because of their sponsors, I can’t help but roll my eyes. These travel bloggers “work” for press trips and free accommodations. It’s not really free. Sometimes, they spend their whole time on these “free” hotels working. You think snapping 2 to 3 Instagram pictures are enough to pay for a couple of nights stay and then hang out in the pool all day with free flowing margaritas? They have to promote the hotels on their social media which takes time, creativity and skills. Write about it on their blogs and produce good images. This includes press trips where they have to move from one destination to another, take pictures, review places and produce promotional contents that leaves nothing for them to actually enjoy the place. It might be free technically but travel bloggers have to work for it. Much as I want brands to pay travel writers like me to just breathe and exist, unfortunately we have to work hard for it like everyone else is doing to pay their bills.
And of course, let’s not forget Couchsurfing, hitch hiking, dumpster diving and other classic ways of travelling for “free”. You don’t really expect your couchsurfing host to pay for everything including your meals right? Or at least offer to give something in return. Which also applies to hitch hiking and which is not always legal.
4. If I can do it, all of you can quit your job to travel too
Ah the classic. If I can do it, all of you can do it too. How many times have we read/ heard of this? Although I like the positivity of the message, we all know that what applies to some travel bloggers don’t apply to everyone. What applies to me as a single woman; with no kids, no debt, with stable and decent paying job and whose problems only consist (at least mostly) what cuisine I should eat next or if I can find L’occitaine in the next country I’m going to, does not apply to someone who is struggling student with student loans taller than her. Or a single mom of 2 kids who can barely afford a take out from her favorite Chinese restaurant, or a single guy with decent job but with ill parents to take care of, or a person of color that’s embassies always reject because they think he will blow up their countries. You see what’s the problem there?
Travel bloggers might not have the best lives either, but our situations are entirely different from others. It’s okay to inspire people, it’s something that I would also like to do, but inspiring people does not include rainbows and unicorns and living inside our bubbles. We have to acknowledge that we are what we are and we’re here because we’re blessed and privileged enough to travel.
5. Their travel blog income
Okay let’s talk about the money. We have heard of these all the time how much money these travel bloggers make that you want to fire your boss and start your own blog. But do they really make that amount of money as they claimed from blogging?
I’m not saying everyone is lying about their real income report as I know a couple who do really make a good amount of money out of it with proof to back them up. But I do personally know travel bloggers who blatantly lie about it. I’m not going to name names obviously (because I still want to live heh) but I’m going to cite examples how they lie about it.
Have you seen those blog income reports bloggers make every month? I was surprised at first to see bloggers make over $3000 a month on their first 3 months. I’m not saying it’s not doable but highly unlikely. Then I reviewed their “blog” income reports and I noticed that they are including their side jobs income. Which is almost the total of their monthly income and almost nothing for direct earnings from their blog. Which I find quite misleading.
To further explain this, this blogger (just one of them) included $100 from her travel blog combined affiliate links and ads earnings to her over $3000 earnings from her social media management jobs on her first month. If her blog is all about social media management tips and guides and the side gigs were a result of the promotion coming from her blog, I guess it is safe to say that she can claim her earnings are all coming from her blog? But it wasn’t. It’s like me – claiming I’m earning $12,000/ month from my blog and including my salary as operations executive – managing call centers. Which is not in any way related to my travel writing.
Another example, I also know this guy who always talks about his blogging success but in reality, he has to beg hostels to let him stay for free in exchange of his services because he doesn’t have money to pay for his stay and even his meals… But he says things differently when he is posting on his social media. How do I know? That’s a secret I’ll never tell. 😉
And it’s quite sad really.
To be honest, I really don’t care if people lie about their income reports. Or whatever travel bloggers lies they feed their followers. Whatever floats their boat. What I just don’t understand is the need to misrepresent travel blogging as a lifestyle. Why don’t we just call spade a spade and let people see what this lifestyle is all about?
In my line of work, I’m highly involved with hiring our sales representatives. During interviews, I always end it with selling skills test and ask them to convince me to buy a second hand toothbrush from them. And the common reactions I get are either they laugh at first or tell me “who on earth will buy a second hand toothbrush?” Exactly. But one thing I do is I don’t sugar coat the jobs we offer to be something easy when it is not. So to our future travel bloggers, you’ve been warned.