Why I Write a Travel Blog with a Full Time Job and the Launch of Traverse 2013

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

I’ve read a lot of discussions recently about travel bloggers who aren’t constantly on the road and the debate of whether they can even be called travel bloggers.

Firstly, I like to travel. Secondly, I keep a blog about it. If we purely look at the semantics of it, I’m a travel blogger.

No, I don’t do press trips and I make absolutely no money from writing my blog. I do it purely for pleasure and as a much-needed creative outlet.

Does this mean, then, that my insights, stories, and tips about places I have been have less worth than someone who is permanently travelling? I don’t think so, personally. And I hope you don’t either.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Le me up the Eiffel Tower

I have a full-time job which, at the moment, I’m happy with and – quite honestly – I need to pay the rent. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there in the same boat as me, many of which like the security of a full-time job and the grounding of having somewhere to call home.

Whilst it’s sometimes nice to dream about being a continuous nomad, this is not always a realistic option or even one that is desired. For many, like me, reading travel blogs written by people who travel around their annual holiday allowance is a great way to see how it is actually possible to have the best of both worlds.

How it all started

I have always loved writing. When I look back, it has been the most consistent passion in my life since I began to read and write. My mum has hundreds of crazily imaginative stories I wrote in infant school about fairies and talking animals to prove it.

The first piece of travel writing I remember doing was on a family campervan holiday in the New Forest when I was about thirteen, where I kept a written and illustrated journal of my time there. Then in college we had a travel writing project which I threw myself head first into. My piece got a special mention in class and I think I got full marks for it (yay for me).

It had begun.

The new forest, winter in England

The New Forest – Where it all began?

At university I studied Visual Culture and did my third year dissertation on the representation of Africa in Western museums. Most people get sick of writing their dissertation, but I loved every last minute of it until the bitter end.

During these years, I took my first trip outside of Europe to South Africa as well as spending time travelling around Eastern Europe.

I had so many memories and stories from these trips and my friends and family started to get bored of me telling them over and over again. So, I began writing them down and saving them all on my computer. After a while, I wanted to put them all in one place where I could easily find them and read them when I wanted to.

The blog was born.

At first, it was simply for me; a place where I could keep my travelling memories alive as I entered into the ‘real world.’ However, I enjoyed writing it so much, that I entered National Geographic Traveller’s Young Travel Writer of the Year competition. It didn’t even cross my mind that I would do well, I just loved writing the piece for it.

But I came second and that’s when I thought I must be doing something right.

Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Site, Bosnia

Srebrenica – The subject of my Nat Geo Traveller entry

After signing up for twitter, I realised there was a whole travel blogging world out there (who’d have thunk it?) that shared the same passions as me.

I got sucked in. I enjoyed the thrill of reading about people’s wild adventures whilst I was sat at my desk and, with each new post I read, I gained more inspiration for my own blog and writing. The stories kept pouring out and I found myself writing into the night about my travelling experiences purely for the pleasure of doing so.

What happened next?

After discovering the vast and seemingly never-ending blogging community, I found out that there were also conferences where you could hone your skills and meet up with like-minded people.

Of course, I signed up and found myself at the TBEX conference in Girona as a blogging newbie.

I learnt a lot about the travel industry, met so many lovely people, and refuelled the fire for keeping my own travel blog going.

TBEX Namecard, TBEX Girona, travel blogging conference

See.. It says I’m a travel blogger

What’s next?

Whilst I got a lot out of TBEX, I found that much of the lecture material went over my head as a newbie blogger and I felt that a more experiential approach could have been taken instead of an authoritative ‘this is what you need to do’ one. I learn best by actually doing something myself, as do most people in the world and felt that this wasn’t taken advantage of anywhere near as much as it could have been. I’m not chastising TBEX in anyway; it was a great, well-organised conference, but it was suited slightly more towards travel blogging pros.

Whilst at a WTM (World Travel Market) event last month, Michael (of Travel Massive and One Damp Sock) told me about an exciting new project he was working on and asked me if I’d like to be involved. Of course, I said yes.

So, along with Paul (TravMonkey) and Dylan (The Travelling Editor) we give you Traverse 2013, a travel blogger conference that takes a hands-on approach.

Traverse travel blogging conference 2013

Traverse takes places in April 2013

There will be interactive workshops instead of lectures where you can get personalised responses and help with your blog from a professional’s perspective.

From a newbie’s point of view, this is beneficial in many ways. I found that in the TBEX lectures (and perhaps at many of the other travel blogging conferences?) a lot went over my head and, at the end of the session, I would have a lot of questions that I would be too scared to asked for fear of sounding stupid. This should not be a problem in the more intimate setting of a workshop.

I also found that it was all well and good being told what things I should be doing and how to do them, but things are different for every blog. As a new blogger, it can be daunting if you think you should be doing something one way but don’t know how to. At Traverse, the workshops will show you how to do what you want in order to cater to your specific blogging needs.

This project particularly resounds with me because it also targets those who have full-time jobs or who would rather spend their money on actually travelling rather than learning how to blog about it. It takes place from Friday the 19th of April 2013 to Sunday the 21st of April in Brighton – a 45 minute journey from London – so those who are committed to a nine-to-five don’t have to give up any of their holiday allowance (woo).

Although it is different from other travel blogging conferences in many ways, it will still have a heavy social and networking aspect to it, with evening events on the Friday and Saturday and a working lunch on the Sunday morning where you can follow up with any of the workshop leaders.

Want to know more about it?

Visit www.traverse-events.com and sign up to receive notifications and follow @TraverseEvents on twitter.

Whilst I don’t plan on quitting my job just yet, my travel blog still remains a creative outlet that I am very passionate about. Events like these are great for networking, learning, and gaining inspiration – and I don’t intend on giving that up!

Will you be there?

About the author: Lizzie is a full time marketing assistant and part-time travel blogger promoting the ways to get the most out of grab-it-when-you-can travel. She spends her time creatively thinking of ways to plan trips around her job and advocating the idea that you don’t have to be ‘homeless’ to enjoy the perks of frequent travel. Aside from this, Lizzie likes questioning why people travel and the psychology behind it, watching crap American TV programmes, and drinking too much tea (cider). You can find out more about Lizzie here (go on – I know you want to see what’s behind the melon…)

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Lizzie Davey

Lizzie is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer who's written for big-name brands like National Geographic Traveller, Cheapflights, LateRooms and more. After quitting her job in August 2014, she had one month to get her business in order and off the ground. Somehow, she did it (magic, maybe?!), and now she runs Wanderful World, a place for creative freelancers to congregate and learn how to grow their kick-ass businesses and travel more. Join along for the ride!

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54 Discussion to this post

  1. emilyluxton says:

    This is a great point – I also run my travel blog (www.emilyluxton.co.uk) from the UK alongside a full time job, and I don’t think that makes it any less of a travel blog! Besides, there’s always plenty of interesting things going on right here in London! The conference sounds like a great idea – I may well purchase a ticket on payday! 🙂

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that you can’t work full-time AND have a fully-functioning travel blog! As you say, there are loads of great things going on around us all the time 🙂

      It would be great if you could make it to the conference – London is so close to Brighton afterall 😀

    • I think to say that someone is less of a travel blogger because they don’t take a year off etc. is absolutely ludicrous! There are many ways to travel and just as many to write about it. Some of my favorite blogs out there – offering great insights, writing, and photos – are by people who have day jobs.

      Keep on blogging!!

  2. janeisawake says:

    I’ve been blogging for about a year now, and this post is so refreshing! Maybe there are conferences and skills workshops like this in Australia? I’d love to know if there are 🙂

  3. Lisa says:

    I have a full time job too. For me, I’d like to travel more and write more. But life keeps getting the way. I’d love to go to a conference too.

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      That is one of the downsides of having a full-time job – not a lot of time to do much else. Plus, you’re right, life does have a habit of getting in the way! Are you in the UK Lisa? You should try and get to the Traverse conference if you can 🙂

  4. Your post really struck a chord with me! I’m blogging for the love of writing, but I’m learning that blogging is about so much more. I also only travel in my time off – to be fair, the full-time job funds all my flights, so I’ve no plans to give it up!
    I am really excited to know more about the Traverse conference! It’s still early days for my blog, but I just want to learn and keep going, so I hope to attend – it shouldn’t be a problem as I’m in the UK.

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      I learn so many new things about blogging everyday – sometimes it can be overwhelming but I love it so it’s mainly all good! I’m the same.. I need the full-time job to fund my travels at the moment which I imagine is the same story for many others out there 🙂

      You should definitely try and make it to Traverse – it’ll be great for getting hands-on advice plus it’s on a weekend so you don’t have to take any time out from work 🙂 Would be great to see you there!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    This is awesome, sounds like an amazing conference, I am a newbie (kinda) blogger and I would love to go to something that is more for people like me. Good Luck to you guys, would love to go but maybe you should have the next one in Asia. (why are there NEVER any conferences in Asia?!)

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      Thanks Elizabeth! Hmm maybe you should come back especially 😉 I’m joking, that’s a bit of a mission. There’ll be live tweeting and blogging from the conference so you can follow along that way! Damn there never being any conferences in Asia – maybe you should start one yourself? 🙂

  6. vickyflipflop says:

    Yay, full-time workers unite. You guys are leading the revolution – love it! See you there…

  7. Amanda says:

    Those people who try to say that us full-time-job-holders-who-also-run-blogs aren’t “real” travel bloggers deserve a good kick in the ass. I’ve been blogging for nearly 3 years now without being a permanent nomad (at first I was working full-time, now I’m in grad school full-time). Like you said, I feel like there are more people out there like US than like those permanent nomads. I get e-mails all the time from people saying how nice it is to see someone fitting travel into a more “normal” lifestyle and writing about it. If you ask me, there need to be more of us writing about how to make it possible!

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      I completely agree with the kick in the ass! It’s just not an option for everyone to hit the road permanently (not to mention not everyone wants to). Whilst it’s great reading permanent nomads’ blogs for some kind of vicarious thrill, it’s better reading how people with ‘normal’ lifestyles fit in travel around all their other commitments – it’s more realistic 🙂 Hopefully Traverse will prove to travel bloggers with full-time jobs that there is a much needed place for them in the industry.

  8. hmmmm its a tough debate hey! Personally I feel that you can pass on heaps of advice wherever you are based – people use travel blogs for inspiration and help – you don’t necessarily need to be on the road to make that happen.
    As long as you love travel and are planning a trip than that’s fair enough to brand yourself as a travel blogger!

    However there are certain people that really bug me out there who still class themselves as backpackers and travel bloggers despite not backpacking anymore, only taking press trips or having everything funded by mummy and daddy!

    …but i won’t get into that now!haha!

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      I definitely agree that advice can come from anywhere (so long as the writer has actually been there and experienced it themselves!) Permanent nomads often suggest spending a long time in a place to really get to grips with it, but not everyone has the time to do this.. So I guess there is a place for travel bloggers with full-time jobs because they can perhaps offer a different ‘shorter-stay’ perspective and how to make the most of a short amount of time in a place.. If that makes sense?

      I understand that there are people out there who are lucky that their mum and dad can help them out with money but they are definitely in the minority – most people work hard to be able to afford travel and I always find it’s better (and more helpful) reading a blog by someone who is in the same boat as me.. i.e. not getting money from mummy and daddy 😉

      Thanks for your comment! 😀

  9. I can completely relate to you. I have a full time job and have been writing about travel for three years. I’ve had a little success with my blog including a 4 month travel series that I’ve been doing with Expedia. Yes, I’ve done this series with a full time job and enjoy what I do. I don’t like my job as much as you but it does pay the bills. I will never be a full time traveler but I love this experience.

    I’ve been to TBEX a couple of times here in the US. Interesting to learn about Traverse. As someone who has been doing this for a while but still fees like a newbie, I can relate to your experiences (I LOVE Eastern Europe!)

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      Hi Jeremy, thanks for your comment 🙂 I know how you feel about loving the experience – it’s going to be a long time before I can be a full-time traveller (if ever!), but I’m very much enjoying keeping the blog up at the moment, and will continue to do so until my heart is no longer in it (if that’s possible to ever tire of travel!)

  10. I have been blogging and podcasting on travel since 2005, and holding down a major marketing job (which as was global was actually why I was able to travel and get content). It is about what you create and the quality that is key. If you are delivering content that travellers (real people travellers, not just other bloggers!) then you are a good travel blogger. It is quality that is key! Very interested in the conference and wll drop you a note to see if you looking for speakers/ workshops as have some content that think can help.

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      I completely agree about quality! It’s important to think of our audiences’ as well – too many travel bloggers target other travel bloggers when it is ‘normal people’ (for want of a better word) who get the most out of posts. Thanks for your email about Traverse, we’ll get back to you soon 🙂

  11. kami says:

    I’m the same too, having a full time job but still travelling pretty much. And I don’t feel any worse than other who travel full time. I’m not saying these or that part is better, both lifestyles are totally different and I’m just proud of people like you or me who manage to live in both worlds. Sure, I would be able probably to travel full time too but then I just enjoy my job so much and I like spending time with my friends back at home so it’s better to have what’s the best of both worlds…

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      You’re definitely right – neither is better than the other, just different 🙂 I’m the same – I enjoy spending time with my friends and family too much to spend extended amounts of time on the road. Having the best of both worlds is a great way to describe it!

  12. Arianwen says:

    I’m very excited about this. Not only am I actually free then, but it’s in England! Easy peasy!!

  13. schumachergirl1956 says:

    Nice blog story. i found it quite interesting to read,well done.

  14. Liz says:

    Love this! Great post! I felt the same at my first conference, some of the talks went over my head. I agree sometimes it comes across that many of the “best” bloggers are traveling 24/7. I think there can be a happy medium and you can still be a travel blogger working full time in an office 🙂

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      Thanks Liz 🙂 I’m always a bit surprised when I find out that many full-time travel bloggers aren’t actually travelling full-time (I guess there’s hope for me after all 😀 )

  15. Jean says:

    It’s all about passion! Thanks for having a travel blog!

  16. sofiecouwenbergh says:

    So glad I found your blog. We seem to have some things in common 🙂 I also have a full time job in marketing but love to travel and write (about it).
    For my bachelor degree, I wrote a paper on the representation of Africans in Western literature. Yes, I did:D
    Anyhowz, the conference sounds interesting and I’ll definitely look into it.

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      I’m glad you found it too… we’re basically the same person! Haha. Would be great if you could make the conference.. there’ll be lots of great, like-minded people to meet 🙂

      • Sofie says:

        In fact, the only thing keeping me from getting my ticket immediately is that I have a dance show two weekend after the conference and that weekend will probably be filled with not to miss rehearsals:/

  17. Talon says:

    I have met some absolutely wonderful people through the travel blogging community, but sometimes I do find it quite irritating that there seems to be this need to degrade others. You’re not a REAL travel writer because you blog. You aren’t a REAL travel blogger because you aren’t traveling full time. Drives me nuts! If you write about travel, you’re a travel writer. If you blog about travel, you’re a travel blogger!

    Traverse sounds like a cool concept. Won’t be able to attend this time but will be watching out to see reactions. 🙂

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      Hi Talon! You’re right – the travel blogging community is great. We’re all in it together so why pick at people if they do something slightly different to how you do it! It’s great seeing how Traverse is unfolding, it’s a very interesting idea that I’m pleased to be involved with 🙂

  18. I also work full time; however, I do telecommute full time so my job is location independent and makes it much easier to travel regularly. Sometimes that means I’m working while traveling or on a press trip, but it is worth it.

    I am working toward the goal of making my blog my full time job. I just haven’t gotten there yet.

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      I guess a lot of people forget that some people who travel full-time are also balancing a full-time work load on the road. I have great respect for them as it must take some serious self-discipline to keep on top of everything! Good luck with making your blog your full-time job 🙂

  19. I’m another full time worker/part time blogger. The most frustrating thing is finding the time to write my own posts as well as reading and commenting on others. I try to write one post a week, but sometimes struggle. Do you end up writing blog posts when you’re supposed to be working? I know I do!

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      It is so difficult to muster up the energy to blog when you get home from work, I completely agree. Whenever I get a blog post idea I note it down on my phone and then when I have a spare half an hour (usually before I go to bed or at somepoint on the weekend) I will write it out. I have to do lots of blogging for my job which is often tiring too – thinking of so many ideas each week isn’t easy!

  20. simon flood says:

    I have a full time job at the moment and am travel blogging as well. I’m living in another country and while I’m not travelling right now, it doesn’t take anything away from what I’ve done.

    I agree that people can travel write from any location. Certainly don’t have to be travelling to do it! I’d love to get to Traverse 2013, it looks really good. Unfortunately I can’t as I’ll be in Burma at the time. Will be following on twitter as long as there is internet…haha

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      You’re absolutely right – just because you aren’t currently travelling doesn’t mean the advice you have given your readers is any less valid. At some point you HAVE been to these places so have some sort of expertise on them to offer people.

      Thanks for the kind words about Traverse! It’s a shame you can’t make it, I think being in Burma is a legitimate excuse though 😀 Would be great to have you following along.

  21. So many comments from full-time workers part-time bloggers – we can’t all be wrong! I love the idea of Traverse so will be booking my ticket – at last a conference I can attend, thank you!

  22. Hi Lizzie, bit late to the party finding this post but I’m glad I did! I’m in exactly the same boat and to me, it doesn’t mean that our views and experiences are any less valid than someone who travels full time. I still have plenty to write about and the motivation to find new subjects gives me an excuse to plan future trips, it’s ideal 🙂

    Very interested in the conference as well, I’ve heard a rumour that January will finally end soon and payday will arrive so I will be looking into it a little more then…

    • Lizzie Davey says:

      Yes to the motivation leading to planning future trips!

      Haha I’ve heard that rumour too, and I really, REALLY hope it’s true! Would be great if you could make it Traverse 🙂

  23. Scarlett says:

    I LOVE this! I’m so excited for Traverse… hoping to meet you there! x

  24. […] don’t tend to write about travel blogging but, when I do, it usually results in a great discussion. Go […]

  25. rachmak says:

    Nice blog. Traveling is more than just going to a foreign place. The planning, dreaming, learning about culture and history can be done anywhere, even from your office! I commend you are your travel blog. Keep it up!

  26. […] I have a full-time job (read: 9-5) in the travel industry, which is great because I get to write, read, and daydream about travel all day every day. But it also means that by the time I get home I just want to do something un-travel related and, for the love of god, not look at a computer screen! […]

  27. […] course not. I’ve seen far too many full-time travellers belittling others and looking down on people who work 9-5 or who are – god forbid – tied to a specific location. I remember seeing one comment […]

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