Q: How did you start traveling?
A: I have had the travel bug for as long as I can remember. When I was 14 years old, I went on my first trip without my parents to AUSTRALIA! I went with a student ambassador program and ever since, have had the itch to travel. I took any chance in college to study abroad—I did one semester in Seville, Spain, and a winter break course in London. When I graduated from college, I made traveling a priority when it came to spending money. I also worked in sales, which allowed me to travel all over the country for work… since 2014, I have been on an airplane at least every 2 weeks (until the COVID Quarantine).
Q: How old were you when you started travel blogging?
A: I started my travel blog at 26 years old.
Q: What was your job before travel blogging?
A: My first job out of college was a Sales Rep for an SEO and Digital Marketing Company in the Hospitality Industry. We worked with some major hotels all over the country—including many Marriott and Hilton Properties. I then briefly switched to the Staffing Industry for Travel Nurses. After 2 years of working in the corporate world, I took on a sales position at my family company (my Dad always said I needed to learn how to show up on time elsewhere before he would let me come work from him lol). I did Sales for him for 2 years, then became an Account Executive where I managed over 100 accounts across the country (we do HR services for large corporations, nothing super exciting, but a much-needed service!) Once I started making an income through my travel blog, I switched to marketing and event planning for my family company and did that up until the current COVID Pandemic.
Currently, this is the first time in my life, that I’m solely living off my income from travel blogging. I received a lot of questions on why I still work a 9-5, can I live off my income from blogging, etc. And this is a bit of a complicated question, but here are the reasons I continued to work at my family company for so long:
- I love working with my family!! My Dad, Brother, Cousins, and Uncle are all in the business and I live in a different state than all of them. I love getting to see them on a monthly basis at work events and conferences and the feeling of all being on a team together.
- I liked having a guaranteed paycheck. The blogging industry definitely has it’s ups and downs, high seasons, and low seasons. 4th Quarter is usually GREAT for us because most brands save their budgets to advertise for holiday shoppers, but that is also followed by a usually pretty slow 1st quarter. It was nice to know that I would always have x amount coming in from my event planning job in addition to my blogging income.
- I still like to be able to enjoy my travels and vacations. I’m not going to lie to you, press trips and comped hotel stays are no walk in the park… if you make a deal with a hotel, tourism board, etc to stay at their property for free… you’re most likely going to be working from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed with little to no downtime to actually enjoy the property or destination. Killian has been on a few press trips with me and I KNOW they’re not enjoyable for him… most of the time he’s stuck taking photos or exploring by himself while I sit in the hotel room and edit. I love paying for my own travels so that I can actually enjoy them and spend time with the people I’m with, which is why I still pay for about 75% of my travels.
So, that all being said… I have recently, stopped working for my family company and am full-time blogging. Regarding the “can I live off solely my blogging income?” Well, this is my first month trying, so we will see! Ha! But honestly, yes, I 100% believe so. It’s AMAZING what you can do when you can put 100% of your time and effort into something! I’ve landed more blogging deals in the past month than I have in the past 8 months because I have 100% of my time to pitch brands, negotiate campaigns, create content, etc.
Q: Is blogging a lucrative business? Will I be able to do it full time or will I always have to have a side job?
A: All that being said, I know for a FACT that you can make a living from blogging. Not only am I doing it right now, but I have lots of blogger friends that make a KILLING blogging full time. Most of them worked in the corporate world and quit their corporate job once they were making equivalent from blogging and NOW, they’re making twice as much from blogging as they were in the corporate world.
Q: How many Instagram followers do you need to go “full-time?”
A: This is a great question, but there is really no magic number! I went full time at around 50k, although I think I could have at 30k and been comfortable. I’ve also seen some girls with as little as 5k-10k Instagram followers go “full-time” because they have other platforms. Maybe your Instagram only has 5k followers, but your blog is getting 100k visitors per day from Google Searches… brands will also pay you to be featured on your blog! (More about all of this later!) If you are JUST trying to make a living on Instagram, then I would expect to go full time around 50k-100k followers.
Q: Should I quit my 9-5 to see if I could make it full time as a full-time blogger?
A: Oh gosh… this one stresses me out lol. Personally, I would never want to quit my full-time job and give up a salary unless I was making equivalent from blogging. BUT at the same time, you’ll never really know your full potential in blogging if you’re constantly distracted by a 9-5 job. For example, this month is my first month that I’m putting 100% of my time and effort into blogging, and I’ve landed more paid campaigns and deals in the past month than I did in the previous 8 months! My only advice would be– don’t quit your day job until you start to see a consistent trend of paid campaigns coming in from blogging.
Q: How did you afford to travel before you traveled for free?
A: I started working hourly jobs at 16 years old and started my first corporate job 5 days after college graduation. I would always save my money to spend on travel, but I also would prioritize travel over any other expenditures. My first year out of college, I lived in a 3-bedroom apartment with 4 people and shared a bedroom with one of my friends, so that my rent would be lower and I’d have more money to travel. I stopped shopping so much and have never been one for designer bags or shoes. ALL of my extra money went towards traveling. I also had a corporate job in sales that required me to travel every few weeks. I was able to rack up TONS of airline and hotel points from my 9-5 job, which made it SO much easier to travel on my own, as I could use my points to pay for my personal travel.
Q: I’m 18… Any advice on how I can travel right now and throughout my 20’s? I’m nervous about the financial side…
A: Yes! Here are my best tips! 1) Get a job that pays you… preferably one that either allows you to travel, so that you can make money and travel at the same time (flight attendant, sales position, teaching English or working abroad, etc.) OR is associated with travel so that you can eliminate your expenses. Working for an airline (at corporate, as a gate agent, etc) or major hotel company like Marriott or Hilton can alleviate your travel expenses and make traveling much more affordable. 2) Make travel a priority! Stop spending money on expensive rent, clothes, eating out, etc. Even if you just stopped buying your daily $5 Starbucks, you could save $1,825 a year! Enough to fly to Europe 2-3 times!! 3) Use your network. Do you have friends and family in different cities or countries? Visit them first! It’s a free place to stay and will only cost you the airfare to get there! 4) Travel with friends! Hotel rooms and Airbnb’s are much more affordable when the cost is split amongst friends!
Q: How much money do you need to start a travel blog?
A: This really depends, but unfortunately, in most cases, you do need money to start a travel blog. Until you gain a following or can offer some really incredible photos, you’ll still have to pay for 100% of your travel. I paid for my own travel for 4 years before I started my travel blog and then another year after I started blogging before I received my first comped stay. Before I started travel blogging, I was in a serious relationship and had been saving to buy a house. Once we broke up and I started my travel blog, my priorities changed… so I spent my entire savings (enough for a down payment on a home), on travel in 2018. And honestly… best decision I ever made. Not only was it an investment in my business, but I had a freaking BLAST that year. As they say, “travel is the only thing you buy that will make you richer.” I came out of that year with so many memories and experiences, I grew as a person, AND I started a new business in travel blogging! Although, I will say… it took me 2 years of blogging to make that money back that I invested at the beginning. It was well worth it because now I have my dream job and get to do what I LOVE every single day, but don’t go blowing through all your savings, expecting your travel blog to take off overnight. It takes time to grow a blogging business. I didn’t get a single paid deal for an entire year, but once you get one, it’s only up from there!
Q: Did you travel to Europe as frequently as you do now before blogging? How did you afford it?
A: I have been traveling to Europe consistently since 2014 and I could afford it because I have friends that live there and would stay with them! I always tell people, the more you travel, the more you’ll be ABLE to travel because you’ll start meeting other travelers and building friendships with people in different cities and countries. In 2015, I actually met a guy while traveling in Bali, who was from Germany and ended up dating him through 2016. I would visit him in Germany almost every month and sometimes visit other European cities and friends while I was over there. I still have a lot of connections in Europe, as my best friend from childhood moved to Prague to teach English! One of my friends I met while studying abroad is now married to a British guy and lives in London! I’m still in touch with my Spanish friends I met while studying abroad in Seville and my two best friends I met while living in Chicago are from the UK and Australia!
Q: What do you love most about traveling?
A: Oh gosh, I love it ALL! I love the food, the culture, the adventures, but most of all, I love how it brings people together! I love building memories with my loved ones on vacation together… some of my favorite memories of all time come from vacations with family and friends. I also love meeting new people on travels and building new relationships. I swear you can become closer in 1 week traveling with a stranger than you can with someone you’ve known for 10 years. There’s something about going through new experiences together that draws you closer than a regular friendship.