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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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…)