Get Paid to Travel the World: Why It Doesn’t Work

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 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 4 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 all about. Here’s why.

Do You Want to Get Paid to Travel the World?

Of course you do! I mean, who wouldn’t want to get paid to travel the world and travel for a living?

I’m not going to sell you travel blogging as a dream and ideal job. While being a full-time travel blogger has its perks, it’s not as easy as many bloggers make it seem.

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, or pretty much NEVER…

I don’t mean that you can’t do the same thing and travel the world as an influencer (= Instagram personality). 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, have 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.

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.

While I make 6 figures from blogging it doesn’t mean everyone who blogs makes as much money too. The travel niche is not the easiest in terms of making money – that said, if you’re a food or fashion blogger, you can make money easier, but again – never 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.

Traveling For a Living – Is It Possible?

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 just 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 in just a few months. I find it a ridiculous scam.

‘Wait, what? Don’t you get paid 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 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.

You need to often spend hours getting this one shot, run around like a headless chicken to collect the best content, or you get stressed when you need X amount of photos and the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Traveling For a Living vs Traveling as a Professional Travel Blogger

I’d traveled for 7 years before the blog started. I backpacked my way around South America, I visited historical sites in Europe and the 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. Now, as a working blogger, I can’t just travel that way.

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

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. I don’t just snap a quick photo and sit at the pool sipping on Margaritas. I wish!

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. On top of editing it later, backing up my footage and other not-so-fun things.

In order to get good photos and video from the pink lake we went there TWICE and stayed the night. It took around 6 hours to get footage for the video and another day to take missing photos we needed. Not to mention the time spent to edit everything.

Professional Travel Blogging

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 through, and set stuff up. Others attending the tour walked around, took some photos, learned stories and enjoyed their time at the cafe. I did not.

A simple photo, but it took forever to get with many tourists around walking into my shot. If you think I should have shown random people in the picture think again – most people want to see idyllic images of things, plus I cannot technically publish faces of random people without their permission.

I’ll give you another example. When I was recently invited to Italy I had to attend a photoshoot. 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 many times. For me, this is work and not being paid to travel. In the evening instead of enjoying drinks and beautiful views, I had to answer emails, edit photos (that often take 15 minutes per photo), and prepare my gear 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 an Instagrammer only posting photos and not providing my audience with useful information, I still need to research facts, write everything up, work on blog’s back-end, and do some administration work. My work doesn’t end with the trip, it pretty much starts there.

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 can have fun while 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 full-time traveler can also be lonely as the sad death of Anthony Bourdain showed the world. 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. As a blogger, I usually work from home.

I’m blessed now that my husband also works from 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.

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 money and no blog as a business.

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.

If you still think that professional travel blogging is something for you and want to try your luck with blogging, learn how to start your travel blog.

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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