TBU and accepting I’m a travel blogger

I’ve been blogging for newspapers and magazines for years now but I’ve always been reluctant to call myself a blogger. Occasionally, I tell people that I write a blog but writing a blog and being a blogger are two completely different things.
When you’re a travel blogger you see the world in a whole different light, you look at things closely, you document everything and you explore every inch of every destination. Holidays are no longer holidays and you’re constantly searching for inspiration for your next post. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve realised that over the past few months I have transformed from being a regular traveller with a serious case of the travel bug and into the mysterious creature that is a travel blogger.
Blogging is expanding faster than anyone can keep track and bloggers are respected within their niches as industry experts and self-publishers with so many skills, so why have I avoided telling people I’m a blogger?
I think there is something in the back of my mind that still thinks blogging is geeky. It’s something that spotty teenagers do in their bedrooms as a way to vent their frustrations on the world. Blogging can also be pretty personal; I’m not into sharing all my emotions and deepest, darkest secrets but writing about my opinions and thoughts can make me feel quite vulnerable at times.
A few of you may already know that I’ve started working for Travel Bloggers Unite as the Social Media Manager and I headed out to Umbria for the TBU conference. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I got out of it and how much inspiration and advice I picked up in just a few days.
Here are a few little things I learnt that I hope are going to make my blog bigger and better:
  • The first thing I learnt was how much I love travel blogging. Blogging for me has always been a hobby and something that was in the side lines of my life but TBU confirmed in my mind that I do want to be a successful travel blogger. I know I have a long way to go but I hope I’m starting to pick up the skills I need to get there.
  • The travel blogging community are awesome. Not only are they a great group of people that are fun to party with (Club 91 anyone?), socialise with and have geeky chats with, but they are also a massive support network that can offer help, advice, motivation and inspiration. I also found that making ‘online friends’ is great but it can never compare to meeting people in the flesh.
  • Being a professional travel blogger is a real possibility but to make any serious money you need to diversify. Write books, sell your specialities and have more than one site.
  • Branch out without your social media channels to reach a wider audience (massive thanks to @legalnomads for sharing this). Everyone loves travel but you don’t need to talk about it 24/7 to still be considered an expert in your field. One of the best things about blogging is that you’re free to show your personality and social media is the best place to do this. For me, I love yoga and fitness but I’ve shied away from talking about it on Twitter because I always thought it was irrelevant but it’s a part of who I am and shows that I’m a real person and have a life beyond travel.
  • Text links are a massive no, no. Everyone is tempted because it’s a quick and easy way to make a couple of hundred bucks but it isn’t worth it if you want to stay on Google’s good side.
  • We should be calling ourselves ‘publishers’ rather than ‘travel bloggers’ to industry professionals. PRs clients very often don’t understand what it is that bloggers do but they do understand the term ‘publisher’ so use the type of language they understand to gain their trust and respect and potentially gain partnerships with big brands.
  • Many PRs really want to work with travel bloggers, they just don’t know how, so make their lives easier and tell them what you can do for them and how you will mutually benefit.
  • If you want to be a successful travel blogger it also helps if you don’t need to sleep, like ever. An unbelievable amount of effort goes into a blog and you have to wear many hats that will keep you busier than a bee during a honey drought. Dave and Deb from The Planet D said they often work 20 hours a day and it shows; just look at their blog and you can see how much time they put in. Abi King from Inside the Travel Lab amazed me when she announced at 1am (after a 16 hour press trip around Umbria) that she was going to her room to do some work. That’s dedication.
In some ways I learnt as much from being around travel bloggers as I did from the sessions. Seeing how people work and talking about blogging has given me so many ideas to improve my blog and so much inspiration.
So I’d like to say a massive thank you to all the bloggers that made it such a brilliant experience.

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a full time blogger and has travelled around the world in search of the best holidays. Monica lives in Wales with her growing family and now also blogs about travelling with young children!


  • April 26, 2012

    Love this and I agree, it was certainly a weekend to remember and I really took away so much from it.

    The thought of how long my to-do list makes me feel slightly sick, but I know it’s for a good reason. This is what I want long term and TBU confirmed that!

    And we have such a fantastic support network that help is never far away – SEO, PR, wordpress knowledge, writing styles – we all have something unique in our day jobs to offer to others!

    Here’s to our future as publishers and travel geeks and hope we forever share the love! Great post 🙂

  • April 26, 2012

    Lovely article to read Monica. I think for many years “blogger” was a bit of a dirty word. It implied someone who sat at their computer for hours typing about something only a handful of others were interested in while doing something completely different as a day job. (I should add there’s nothing wrong with this; it’s actually how I started out!) But bloggers simply aren’t these people anymore. They are experts, they are professional and most importantly they love what they do. They are great people to work with for these reasons and more…
    As a new-ish travel blogger I am so excited to see how the industry changes over the next year. Bring it on! Birdie x
    P.S. You should include yourself in that list of hard-working bloggers! As someone who was reading the tweets from afar, you did a great job on the social side for TBUMBR!

  • April 26, 2012

    A very good overview of the conference, I’m sure lots of other bloggers will relate to what you say here.

    One thing I totally agree with is the fact that immersing yourself in the travel blogging world and hanging out with like-minded individuals for a few days was almost as instructive as the seminars themselves! It is also lovely to be with a bunch of people who see the world the same was as you do – you can talk in shorthand and not have to explain, or apologise for, blogging.

    In fact it was only when I chatted to a lady who worked in traditional publishing at the airport that I realised I still had my ‘blogger blinkers’ on and it was a shock to the system to be back in the real world where people ask questions like ‘So, can I find a blog on Google?’ !

    Plus, at TBU I learned how to play Flip Cup. What more can I say?

  • April 27, 2012

    Inspiring round up Monica, thanks. Sounds like you guys had a great time. I definitely need to go in September. I think however far you get with a blog there will always be a list of at least 50 more things you want to do. Obviously I’m no pro, but don’t get to wrapped up in it – you should make sure you have fun while you’re travelling too!

    Although I say this, but I was up till about 2am working on my blog last night. And I already have a list of things I want to write about from my trip to Oslo next week…

  • May 16, 2012

    Great observations, especially “Holidays are no longer holidays and you’re constantly searching for inspiration for your next post”.
    I can’t tell you how accurate that statement is (at least in our world). At times we’ve been guilty of focusing more on the story than enjoying the actual travel experience!
    Travel can lose its novelty when it becomes your every day. We’ve recently passed on a few great press trip because we didn’t want to take on the associated workload that comes with it – never thought that day would come!

  • May 17, 2012

    I’ve been mulling over what I like about blogging/writing so much. Being an experiential person, travel blogging suits me wonderfully because by writing about travel you’ve achieved the reward already. Having an outlet like a blog simply motivates you to live out more stories.
    Making a living out of that Winning loop is just a bonus.

    That said, its discouraging to hear that *gasp* to be successful at it you really need to work hard. When I was in motion I found myself really motivated to live in the moment and looked forward to writing about it when the time was right. You really have to create that momentum though, it almost comes easier when you’re on the road and occupied constantly.

    I’m still continuing that active energy now that I’m settled home but am less compelled to write about it as my brain has wrongly convinced me the novelty isn’t there.

  • June 10, 2012

    I don’t think blogging is seen as geeky any more. Whenever I tell people about the great people I’ve met/experiences I’ve had/support network I’ve built up before my first big solo trip, I can tell they’re uber-jealous.

    As for changing the way you travel so that now you’re searching for inspiration for your next post, this just means you’re more likely to stay alert, notice the finer details, talk to locals and generally have a more meaningful, engaged experience. It can only be a positive thing.

  • June 11, 2012

    Blogging really it a bit more of a hobby now, you are so right. I love the energy of this post, it’s inspiring!

  • June 23, 2012

    What do you mean by text links?


  • February 20, 2013

    Hi Monica!
    Thank you for this post! I have recently really started getting into this travel blogging – I’ve done it for a couple of years, but without really publicizing through social media and it’s been quite a change, but I love it! I was so close to signing up for that TBU conference last year in Umbria especially since I was living in the UK at the time, but didn’t. Hopefully I make it next time!! Would love to meet the travel bloggers I follow, in person!
    Best wishes,

  • March 13, 2013

    Great post – agree with so much you’ve said! I love the travel blogging community too. I’ve been working on it for nearly 3 years now but don’t have a huge fanbase because I didn’t have the time to put the work in (and oh God yes, it is so much work!). The most important thing is that I’m enjoying it and if it makes me a few bucks on the side, great. That might change the more I work on it, but for now s’all good! Thanks for sharing.

  • March 14, 2013

    I also thought of incorporating other interests into my blog but was afraid it might not be acceptable, so I can definitely relate Monica. I think you’re right, it can only add to the personality of your voice and blog.

    Being a publisher is what we do, but one of the other debates about travel blogging is that not all bloggers are writers. I disagree – writing is writing, no?

    Hope to meet ya at TBEX in June and share more insight!

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