I’m a Professional Travel Blogger – Why I Don’t Get Paid to Travel

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Somehow, I’ve stuck to this website and social channels for a bit more than 3 years now. I’ve improved my photography, made my writing better, and recently even got into filming some videos. For 1,5 years I’ve been making a semi-normal salary just from blogging. Which in my definition made me a professional travel blogger – underlining the word professional, not full-time.

What does being a full-time blogger really mean? These days anyone with an access to the internet can create a simple WordPress site, throw a few photos together and say ‘I’m a full-time blogger now’. Which doesn’t mean that they’re making a full-time salary, or they actually know what professional travel blogging is all about?

If you asked me 2,5 years ago what did I actually do, I was going to tell you that I had no idea. Because while I was writing some articles and traveling, but it wasn’t what professional blogging was about.

Professional Travel Blogging

I somehow made it happen, but I’m not going to sell you this as a dream job. You’ve probably seen many articles about a couple that makes six figures by posting on Instagram, or courses that will show you how to get paid to travel the world. I wish making money as an influencer was as simple as ‘just posting on Instagram’ like the media loves to portray.

Is this how travel bloggers work? Not always…

I don’t mean that you can’t do the same thing and travel the world as an influencer. I’m no better than you or others. In fact, I’ll happily say that there are many photographers, videographers and writers that are far better than me, with better tools and professional equipment. BUT… a decent amount of them quit blogging full-time, as traveling vs traveling as a blogger is a totally different thing. It’s surely not for everyone.

Sidenote: I don’t want you to think that you need the most expensive equipment to get good content. What matters most is creativity, good editing skills and setting your shots right. Sometimes you can get a better final result when shooting with your iPhone than someone with a giant DSLR camera.

But instead of reading about skills and equipment, you probably want to know how much I get paid for blogging? I explained some of it in my other article about how I make money blogging.

I definitely don’t make six figures, but there are some people who do. It’s a very small amount if we count ONLY income from blogging and not other side businesses. The travel niche is not the easiest in terms of making money – that said, if you’re a food or fashion blogger, the money comes easier, but again – not overnight.

Anyone who’s stuck in an office, watching someone else’s Instagram feed full of colorful shots chilling on the beach and doing cool stuff, would probably want this job. Bloggers are being paid to go travel somewhere, take photos and write about it.


Do I get paid to travel then?

Absolutely not. At least not in a sense like most people imagine it. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but unlike you read in many catchy articles, I wouldn’t say that I’m being paid to travel. I’m also not a fan of telling people they could quit their jobs to travel and get paid for it by becoming a blogger. I find it a ridiculous scam.

‘Wait, what? Don’t you get paid 3-4 digit numbers per day and get free stuff to explore the world?’

My life isn’t always about having fun. I wish I could hug alpacas all day…

I do, but it doesn’t mean that I’m being paid to travel. At least not when you’re doing it professionally. (Sidenote: There’s a huge difference between being on a highly paid project and a free to attend press trips for journalists.)

Tourism boards, companies, hotels etc pay you to come and do your job. But they won’t pay you to just to go on vacation to hang out with friends and do whatever the hell you want, whenever the hell you want.


Traveling before the blog

I’d traveled for 7 years before the blog started. I backpacked my way around South America, I visited historical sites in Europe and natural wonders of Asia. On my travels, I listened to knowledgeable guides, partied at hostels, spent days on the beach and did everything you are probably doing on your own holidays.

I was deciding when and where I want to eat, sleep, drink, and whether to take a photo or not.

Traveling in Fiji (before the blog). Foggy photo from my point and shoot camera.

Now as a working blogger, I can’t just travel that way. In order to get good photos, I need specific conditions. Early mornings or blue hour evenings, great looking clouds, clean new outfits that match the surroundings. For videos, I often need to repeat the same scene over and over again if something goes wrong or if someone walks into my shot.

If I travel alone, I need time to set everything up with my tripod and remote shutter, often spending 30 minutes to an hour for just ONE photo.

In order to get good photos and video from the pink lake we went there twice and stayed overnight. It took around 6 hours to get footage for the video and another day we took missing photos we needed.


Traveling as a professional blogger

On my last year’s trip to Europe when covering a tour to Loire Valley castles I literally had to skip lunch and ditch the tour guide, in order to get my photos as the place was packed. And my guide was telling really interesting stories especially since I’m very into castles and history.

Before each shot I had to wait for people to pass, and set stuff up. Others attending the tour walked around, took some photos, learned stories and enjoyed their time at the cafe.

Simple photo, but it took forever to get with many tourists around walking in my shot.


I’ll give you another example. When I was recently invited to Italy I had to attend a photoshoot, and for 2 days I saw nothing but one spa and one side of a ski slope, as each scene and shots had to be repeated and took hours. For me this is work. And in the evening instead of enjoying drinks and beautiful views, I have to answer emails, edit photos (that often take 10 minutes per photo), and prepare all my equipment for the next day. Does it seem more like work or a holiday to you…?

What about when I get home from a trip? Unless I was a blogger only posting photos and not providing my audience with useful information, I still need to research facts, write everything up, and do some administration work. My work doesn’t end with the trip, it pretty much starts there.

So while you might see some fantastic colorful photos and stories, think twice if that’s something you want to do. Don’t you sometimes go for a fun lunch at the office? Or have some cool after work drinks with your colleagues? You have fun at work too, and so do I. But it doesn’t mean that my life is always a bed of roses.

After work fun with colleagues…

I think that the life of a travel blogger can also be lonely. I’m a very social bee. When I used to work at the office I chatted with my colleagues all the time and was meeting friends after work too. But as a blogger I work at home.

I’m blessed now that my boyfriend also works at home. But, when I was living in London my friends were gone to work and I was stuck in the apartment all day by myself as I had a lot of work to do. While I had the freedom to get up and leave whenever and travel whenever, if I did it all the time I’d have no blogging business and that would be just fun.


Again, I’m only talking about professional travel bloggers making money from their blogs and things related to their blogs. Because there are many people out there who are technically full-time bloggers and live on the road, but their income doesn’t necessarily only come from their blog.

They could have other businesses, properties and income sources you might not know about. They’re making money through other means, and the blog is a side project.  So while it might look like someone is uploading some unedited photos directly from their phone to their social media, it doesn’t mean that this is the only way they make money. Or that you can do the same as a full-time job.

What are your thoughts? Are you a blogger? Do you want to be a blogger? Ever thought of how to get paid to travel? How do you imagine or experience traveling as a blogger?

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18 Comments

  1. Sue
    May 6, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    Great article, Anna!! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, first-hand, how much time is involved in your work!! YIKES!! I think this honest assessment will help others.

  2. May 6, 2017 / 6:06 pm

    Hi Anna. This is a great post. I thought that I too wanted to live life as a professional travel blogger. I’ve actually attempted it twice and found out it just wasn’t for me. The first time I left a high-paying contracting job with the Army to go live the life as a nomad. It turns out the universe had other plans for me because I got very sick and couldn’t go. I had even packed up almost my entire house.

    Fast forward 3 years later from 2013 an my husband and I left our jobs again last summer to travel and blog. Well, we traveled around Mexico all summer and loved it. Just one problem, I missed teaching history and having a place to come back to. So we decided to downsize and find a place that we can afford to maintain while we travel, and I went back to teaching to save for a rainy day.

    Now we are perfectly content to travel just during the summers. My salary as a teacher plus occasional freelancing more than covers this lifestyle. My point is (sorry if this was long) is that the lifestyle you describe above isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok. I still have my blog, but it’s no longer all-consuming. I love being able to travel and just enjoy it now.

  3. May 6, 2017 / 8:31 pm

    This is a great article. I started a travel blog a month ago and, happily, there are some bloggers willing to be authentic like this post so that the rest of us know what we’re getting in to! The more I learn about the profession, the more my goals shift so that I can find a way to travel that works for me. Really appreciate this post and the honesty 🙂

  4. May 6, 2017 / 8:50 pm

    Great article Anna…. indeed professional bloggee is not.an easy thing

  5. May 7, 2017 / 9:30 pm

    Thank you for sharing this article, it’s a great reminder for anyone looking to get into blogging. My blog is newer but I have been contemplating and planning for a long time and I have done a ton of research. I know that it takes a lot of work but I know the alternative is to be stuck in a desk job. I’ll take the option of adventure even if it’s a lot of work I’ll know I am fully responsible for the success. Thank you!

    -Rachel @ Backcountry Petite

  6. May 8, 2017 / 1:36 pm

    Great article, Anna! I’m a travel blogger, but I really don’t want to be a full time travel blogger, otherwise, it will ruin all the travel experience for me. I’m an Instagram addict, but taking photos doesn’t take as much time, as producing videos, for example. I feel like when you’re invited by tourism boards constantly, you can’t really go and do whatever you want, you need to follow a strict schedule instead. For me traveling is about enjoing and relaxing, so I’d prefer to have my own company and blog just for fun and nice freebies (sometimes).

    • May 8, 2017 / 5:17 pm

      Yeah, group trips have strict schedule. Individual projects don’t do – that’s why I prefer these as you can get your schedule tailored to your preference 🙂

  7. May 8, 2017 / 2:31 pm

    Another great article, it is true that quitting a job for traveling and earn money from blogging is not an easy so its a kind of scam , I am a blogger and i know how know how hard it is to earn from blogging and engage visitors. Thanks for sharing all the tips

  8. May 8, 2017 / 9:42 pm

    Great post – I love that you are sharing the reality of being a professional blogger. This is a lot of the reason why I decided to blog about travel as a more of a hobby than trying to make it a profession. For the few times I’ve done paid/comped work, it was definitely worth it, but I’m glad its not every (or most) trips I take!

  9. May 11, 2017 / 7:09 am

    Hi Anna, i’ve followed your blog for a while now and you’ve done really well with it. I started my travel blog back in 2012 when I left my job to go on a trip around the world. I was blogging regularly back then, and just started to make some money from sponsored posts as I arrived back in the UK although it wasn’t enough to live off. I have found it hard since to find the time to actually blog and it is more of a hobby now and I just do it when I have chance. I do admire people that seem to be able to find the time to write blog posts whilst having a full time job! What is clear…building a successful blog that will sustain you financially doesn’t just happen overnight and takes time and effort!

  10. May 15, 2017 / 9:20 am

    Hey Anna,

    interesting insights of your blogging business. Thanks a lot.
    You are totally right, most people will think that travel bloggers are just doing endless vacation and getting paid for it. It is the same with people watching sports (just playing some soccer for 90minutes and making millions).
    Just a few know how much work you need to put into something, especially in arts (For me arts include writing, photographing and everything else creative). Additionally in blogging you need to learn about webhosting, wordpress and all the technical stuff, too.
    I started my blog just a few month ago and know I realize how much work it really is. Especially while doing it besides my normal day job.
    But even when it is a lot of work and i get stucked in all the technical details I really enjoy it. Because it is something total different from my job.
    Do i need to monetize my blog? No I don’t. But why shouldn’t I try?
    Would it be nice if some money is flowing? Yes it would.
    Living just from a professional travel blog? I guess this will be a dream in the far away future and a very long journey.
    A journey which contains a lot of learning, creativity and a lovely scene and which is totally worth it.

    • Jun 11, 2017 / 1:36 pm

      @Borris I 100% relate to your comment here! I started blogging about 6 months ago more for a personal recollection of my memories and where I’ve been so that family and friends can follow. Just a month ago I decided I wanted to become a full-time digital nomad and I’m striving to achieve being able to travel full time while making money through travel blogging. I’ve definitely spent considerable time learning the technical stuff and now I’m educating myself on social media marketing strategies. It is TOUGH to build followers and keep up the engagement.

      @Anna I know myself to be someone who jumps between commitments and I really value you sharing this genuine post. I don’t know whether to focus on following my digital nomad goal 100% or apply for a part time job and do this on the side. I have so many bog posts and zero followers so I feel like it’ll be 10 years before I make any success monetising!

      Instagram @thefrugaltraveller
      Blog – thefrugaltraveller.com

  11. May 16, 2017 / 7:07 am

    Get it girl! I love how real you are in this. Seriously if one more travel blogger’s ‘Get Rich Using My Methods By Paying Me Lots Of Money For My Secrets Which Probably Aren’t Really Secrets’ Course in gonna lose my mind haha. Have fun in Aruba!

  12. Elle
    May 16, 2017 / 7:13 pm

    Great and inspiring! Thank you!!!! ????

  13. May 17, 2017 / 4:47 pm

    That’s absolutely true, solo self-photography and videography are just so hard! And yep there’s a ton of work behind a single blog post or Youtube video people don’t even imagine.

  14. May 20, 2017 / 8:56 pm

    ha you summed it up perfectly! on a side note I think I have a permanent hunch now from the constant laptop/ phone work. and yea… it can get pretty lonely working from home! when i had an office job I thought working from home would be *the dream*. goes to show you how much I knew!

  15. Aug 15, 2017 / 12:09 pm

    Good day Anna,

    Thanks for writing details on how it is like to be a travel blogger.
    We really appreciate your effort for getting best photos and videos.

    Its really inspiring for us.

  16. Aug 30, 2017 / 11:24 pm

    Great read, Anna! Very useful information – especially for those (me!) trying to start their digital nomad life!

    Keep up the great work!

    Mick

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