Am I Done With Travel Blogging?

January Travel Round Up

This is a question I’ve been asking myself more and more lately, as the industry I was once so proud to call mine becomes, in my eyes, tainted by those who seek only to make money, to “cash in” on something that so many of us do from passion, love, and creativity. Travel blogging is becoming saturated, over-done, and, well, it’s being a little bit ruined. (Can I say that? Who cares – I just did.) The whole point of this industry, and of blogging in general, is that it was “real”. We became “influencers” because people trusted us to tell the truth. But then we write sponsored posts (because a “bloggers gotta eat”) and we say we’re telling the truth – but are we really? And we go on press trips where, even if we are totally honest about our experiences, those experiences were, in general, specifically manufactured to make sure we had nothing but the best time, and saw nothing but the best side of everything.

And especially now, I am noticing how frivolous and how pointless all of this seems. Here I am, floating about on an inflatable swan in Mexico, posting pretty blue pictures of the sea on Instagram, talking about how AMAZING everything is and what an AWESOME time I’m having, tweeting all the emojis, sharing nothing but good, fun, FANTASTIC things. Meanwhile, I’m worrying about how I’m going to make enough money this month because work hasn’t been what it usually is. And I’m getting bad news from home and missing family and friends, but I don’t post about that, because who wants to read about a travel blogger having a bad time, unless the story is very very funny?

My granddad died yesterday. I am sad, and far from home, and above all feeling guilty that I cannot be there for my family. I want to fly straight home, but what I find is that still, as ever, I am torn between the desire to be home, settled, part of a community, and the compulsion to be elsewhere.

Above all else, it has made me realise exactly how frivolous I have been, personally. The world is turning to shit around me, the news is full of more stories about hatred and anger and racism than I have ever seen before, and I feel scared about the future of our planet. I feel like I should be doing something, speaking out. But my job is talking about travel and, sometimes, my feelings on the internet. So I have no voice with which to speak out, because who would listen to a travel blogger besides her followers, and who among my followers is interested in what I have to say outside of the topic of travel? Never before have I felt so frustrated at what I have become, or noticed how pointless I am. If my blog, if all blogs, were deleted tomorrow, the world would not quake. Within a month, we would all be forgotten.

Sometimes I wonder when this great wave of free trips and free stuff and incredible, almost unbelievable, lifestyle will dry up. When a new movement or craze will set in, a new kind of influencer is born, and all the PR’s and tourist boards will abandon us. And when it does, I wonder what on earth I will do instead, because I have no skills beyond this world. I would have to go back to customer services and call centres, where I came from, and look back on these few years of insane opportunities with wonder and regret.

This post is not about me quitting blogging, or going home, or speaking out against the industry I love, condemning all travel bloggers as unnecessary, or saying we are all self absorbed, vacuous beings. But I am becoming more and more aware of how many self absorbed, vacuous beings there are on our corner of the internet, especially as I myself drift ever closer to becoming one. While my granddad was dying in England, I was lying by a pool in an all-inclusive resort in Mexico feeling torn between how much fun it was, and how awful it seemed. Awful, all of that indulgence and excess, when there exists so much poverty and suffering – things I’ve seen over and over with my own eyes. When a world is divided over a Muslim Ban, and hypocritical horrors are being committed in all kinds of areas by the governments of those nations that are supposed to be “great”. It struck me as horrific that such indulgence and the unimpeded pursuit of joy could go on at the same time as so many troubling, terrible things were happening. And yet, horrified as I was, there was me joining in – because it is so fun, and so tempting. Because it is easier to be frivolous than serious.

We are supposed to be, in some way, role models. (What is wrong with the world if the people that influence us the most are those self absorbed beings who do nothing but talk about themselves on the internet?) We say that we want to inspire people, show people how easy it is to travel the world, teach people how to save money or find affordable luxury or just show people how to be brave enough to go for it. It seems noble enough, but then so many bloggers are doing little more than posing for selfies in front of beautiful landscapes. Styling their outfits to match a famous landmark. Going on influencer trips and drinking cocktails on the beach and posting photos of it. I am one of these people, and sometimes, I hate myself for it.

Mount Batur Sunrise Trek Review

I wanted to be a serious writer, a good writer. I think I have that potential. And I can’t help but feel that lately, I’ve “copped out”. Writing silly listicles and “ten reasons to visit XYZ” instead of writing the more difficult, more in-depth kinds of posts that I claim I prefer to write. Because it is easier and faster to write a listicle than an intelligent, detailed travelogue. And – worse – because more people will read the listicle. A list post will rank higher in search engine results, will be shared and clicked more on Pinterest, will, in short, get me more traffic. And traffic is what I need to make my blog appear successful, to get the work from which I earn my living. It is so frustrating to me that I have begun to cheapen myself in order to improve my “worth”.

As I said, this post isn’t some declaration or announcement. I am not quitting blogging. I do not want to. But I find myself wonderingΒ sometimes if I should. For the longest time, I have been saying I would write a book “one day”. For me, travel blogging is a fun distraction from that – and I am very easily distracted. Blogging is the easiest and most enjoyable way to make a living doing something that I love, namely, travelling the world and having fun. But the thing that I always described as my calling, that I always told myself was my real goal in life, was to do something difficult and challenging and really discover the world (wasn’t that my intention with this blog, once?)Β and travel blogging is a distraction from that.

I wrote this whole thing purely as a kind of therapy, as I do all the time, with no intention of actually hitting publish. My drafts folder is full of hundreds of lengthy, winding articles about whatever feelings I needed to get out of myself that day. But today, I decided I should publish this article. Maybe because I’m feeling sorry for myself and craving attention, maybe to see if people will tell me they agree. But mostly it’s because (as I’ve been saying for months now) I want to become more honest on my blog. I want to go back to publishing the kinds of articles I like writing, the kind I can feel proud of. Even if no one reads them. Because if the wave of travel blogging comes to an eventual end, I want to look back on these years with pride, and not feel like a silly girl who wasted her time having as much fun as possible when she could have been trying to live up to her own unreasonable expectations.

About Emily Luxton

An award-winning writer and travel blogger on a mission to explore the world through deeper, more intelligent travel. Seeking out adventure, cultural exchanges, food experiences and more as she attempts to get to know the world. Lover of the great outdoors, sunsets, good food, and the odd bit of luxury!

62 Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading the article. But if you think the world is somehow just changing and becoming angry and hateful. Id tell you that youve led some type of priviledge or were sleeping thru your life. Glad to see you wake up to the real world

    • Thank you for saying you enjoyed my post. And you are absolutely right, there has been anger and hatred in the world for a lot longer than this past week. It was just that this week, there was a surprising amount of it being posted all over the news and online, so I felt more aware of it than ever. And at the same time as everything that has been unfolding in the media, I was surrounded by self indulgence and excess that made me feel even more aware of the gaps between total privilege and disadvantage. The whole week for me, including the passing of my granddad, has made the contrast seem all the more stark to me and suddenly brought to a head some things I have been feeling for a long time now. I do hope you (and others) don’t think I have spent my life in some sort of bubble because that is absolutely not the case. This is just the first time I have spoken openly on my blog about those feelings.

  2. Writing something down is the best therapy, Emily! Also, turning a coin around to see that other sides identifies those smart people, those true travelers without a limited horizon. In essence, you are doing everything right!

    last year, my uncle died. And since the funeral was in another part of germany…well i thought, why not make an extended weekend trip out of it. So two days before the funeral I was sitting in my own private spa contemplating if this felt wrong. At the end of the day I realized, that my late uncle had two cruises planned for the remainder of the year and thought – he wouldn’t have done it any different πŸ˜‰

    • Well, Emily – chapeau! Not a lot of people would have the self reflection to admit all those feelings and the guts to make this public. I hope you can accept some points of that life you live atm – nothing’s set forever so you can change.
      Don’t hat yourself – speak up on some issues, maybe be a bit more selective about what travels and tours you accept…

      We’re running our blog as a side project next to our 9-5. we love telling people about foreign countries, we try to travel like locals and we also try to not take this all inclusive approach. Even though I still have the same feelings you have – how is it fair and ok that I can go on a trip while other people are hungry? Are at war? Are prosecuted? Some questions and I don’t have answers either.

      All the best, Dave

      • Thank you so much Dave. I don’t normally like the all-inclusive thing but it is so tempting when I can get it for “free” (in exchange for the work of a blog post), and some of the things I’ve got to do in the past few months have been amazing. But at the same time, I feel guilty that I get to do these things when others are suffering. I don’t know, its hard to make it all seem ok in my mind.

        My approach used to be all about travelling slowly, and getting to know places in as in-depth a way as possible. I’ve been trying to get back to that this year, and turning down most press trip offers even though they’re very tempting. I hope I can find away to be more “myself” at the same time as being successful and making money. I’m going to be taking a long, hard look at it all this and try to blog with more of a purpose and direction from now on.

        Thanks so much for your kind words πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much for commenting Norman. My Granddad loved travel, and actually it was him that inspired me to want to be a travel writer when he gave me the first travel book I ever read. I think that’s why I’ve been having a bit of a crisis for the past few days. It’s brought to a head everything I’ve been thinking and worrying about for a while.

  3. I loved very much your personal inquiry. It makes sense in any profession to take a break of yourself and stop and try to figure out what it doesn’t work. It is part of the growing up process. Particularly when it comes to writing, you should ask yourself what you are doing it and if the answer satisfies you, go ahead for the next stage.
    I agree that the industry is sometimes too aggressive and everywhere and the pressure to make a living is equally strong. But as a writer, you can set your own limits and insist to keep being informative and authentic and faithful to your mission. And if you realize that you cannot do anything in life better than writing, than you have a big responsibility, but it is fully worth the journey!
    Good luck! πŸ™‚

    • Aw thank you so much Ilana for such a thoughtful comment. You’re right, it pays to keep rethinking and adapting. I think there is just no point in me keeping going unless I’m 100% happy with what I’m doing. And I haven’t been feeling 100% happy lately, so I need to rethink and change some things until I am πŸ™‚

  4. Incredibly well said Em! I have one major problem with this post though;

    It is absolutely NOT TRUE that you don’t have any other skills besides being a travel blogger. You have set up and run a successful website from scratch, become a well known influencer and affected tens of thousands of people with your writing.

    Yes, so far you have inspired people to travel, but you have the power and the skill to turn your pen to any subject that you choose, and honesty like I’ve read in this post WILL affect people in the way that good writing should. In every industry there is an element of ‘selling out’ (unfortunately that seems to be how we all manage to survive or get us to the point where we can start making decisions) but as long as you’re finding the time to write what matters to you as well then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t also be able to enjoy the lifestyle you’ve worked hard to achieve.

    You’re doing a great job, and I’m looking forward to reading more bluntly honest posts in the future πŸ™‚ xx

    • Thank you Tay πŸ™‚ You’re so nice. I hope I’m a good writer (I think I am) but I live in constant struggle against my own self esteem! But this is really all I can do, so I hope I can turn it into something that lasts forever!

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I promise to share all kinds of crazy honest posts from now on. No more listicles. Well, some listicles. Enough to pay the bills! xxx

  5. I think writing about your travel experiences is a very good way to make people less scared of the “strangers”, the “foreigners”, so it is important, especially in times like these. I agree that the list posts are usually a bit shallow, and I don’t like reading them unless I plan to go to that place anytime soon. I do however enjoy reading more serious topics and personal experiences on travel blogs, so I would be happy if you went that direction!

    • Such a good point Eva, I never thought of that. I do really hope that I can do something valuable through my writing, and maybe that is teaching people to be less scared of the world. I really want to write about more personal things, I think it’s just so disheartening to me to see a “top five” post doing really well vs a post that I actually put a lot of heart and soul into, which usually does a lot less well. For a while I just started writing the list posts because if those are quick to write and they’re going to perform better, it seems like the easiest option. But I think I need to write the posts I love more, regardless of how they perform. Thank you so much for commenting πŸ™‚ X

  6. I am really sorry for your loss. Unfortunately I experienced something alike, not a family member, but a dear friend. That happened almost two years ago, and I am still up to write an article about that, because I think I should share how shitty I felt when a dear friend passed away. And I was there, having fun on a solo trip and suddenly I felt absolutely lonely without any friend around to help me cope with what was happening. I also have a travel blog, but I don’t earn a single cent with it, not even free trips, I write because I like to write and to share my experiences, and honestly, by reading other blogs I feel there is a massive gap of articles sharing real experiences. Who’s going to search for “how to cope with the loss of a dear friend while traveling”? No one. But to whom are we writing then? To have our articles appear on google’s first page or to our readers?

    • So true. For the past few months I’ve been spending a lot of time with fellow travel bloggers, both on and offline, and I think I’ve just heard so much about ranking and SEO and DA and all the rest of it that I’ve been caught up. What’s the point in writing anything if it feels soulless to me? I want to write for myself, and for my readers (even if that is just a small handful of people), rather than for Google. I need to learn to care less and compare myself less, and just keep doing what makes me happy and what feels real to me.

      Thank you so much for commenting and for your kind words. Sorry also for your loss – I know how it feels and I know that two years is not enough time to make it feel any less painful. Thank you πŸ™‚ X

  7. So sorry for your loss Emily. and thankyou so much for such a great post full of thought and feeling. I find the world of travel blogging most of the time to be overwhelming and far too big. sometimes it feels bigger than the actual world itself.

    • Thanks so much Andy. I know how you feel, I feel so dwarfed by the vast numbers of bloggers out there, and by all the people with better/higher numbers than me. Its tough. Trying to focus more on myself and what I want to achieve from my blog, and stop comparing.

  8. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your grand dad Emily. I can imagine how you feel disconnected from everything at the moment.

    I struggle with a bit the same at the moment (although a much lower level) as I’d like to start making money of my blog but feel like a sell-out looking for ‘free’ tours and stays, while I’m all about self planning (no tours) and buget accomodations.

    I think it is a good thing you want to do someting that you’re proud off. You can always write some listicles and in between, add a little more depth to showcase your writing. Or take a break and write the book!

    • Thank you Naomi. It’s been a tough couple of days, and it’s just made me even more painfully aware of how I’ve been feeling about everything for a while. I feel a bit disconnected and directionless, and want o be working towards something bigger – but I don’t know what. Maybe I just need to stop talking about it and work on a book!! I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks really thinking about everything and try to work out exactly how I feel and what I want. We’ll see. X

  9. Thanks for sharing this Emily. I think it’s brave to put your honesty out there but also important. I’m so sorry for your loss, I agree that at times like this we evaluate the travelling lifestyle much more.

    I’ve had similar thoughts to you, wondering what I’m doing and if my travelling is really the right way or I’m doing the right thing – I don’t make any money from my blog but it’s a hobby and passion, something I feel somewhat proud of.

    I hope you find whatever answers your looking for about what you want. And I personally have to say that I really like your blog and I’m going to Mexico in a few weeks so reading your entires makes me very excited.

    Remember that you’re not alone with your thoughts and I hope that writing and posting your article helped.

    • Thank you so much Helen. It really did help, not just writing it, which is always theraputic, but sharing it too. Sometimes I think it just helps to say the things we’re feeling “out loud” (or on the internet) and make them real. It seems to help turn problems into things I can start thinking about tackling, instead of weird clouds of confusion inside my head.

      I’ve been really surprised to hear from so many people that are feeling the same. I suppose blogging is getting saturated and growing so big that it can all feel a bit overwhelming.

      Where are you off to in Mexico? I’m about to start posting some “guide” type posts which I hope will be helpful, so stay tuned! And thanks again for commenting πŸ™‚ X

  10. This is one of my fave posts. I love how honest you are, and found myself nodding along with everything! I have a 9-5 job and do my blog on the side, but have very similar thoughts to you at times.

    I’m so sorry about your Grandad. From personal experience, please just go home. Whoever you’re in Mexico with will completely understand! I was living in Australia when my aunty died, I had high school exams starting the next day so didn’t go back to the UK for another 7 weeks. I missed that time with my family and I missed the funeral, and it’s one of my biggest regrets even ten years later. Another aunty of mine died very suddenly a few years later when I was back home, and I’m so thankful I got those first days and weeks surrounded by family. There’s just something very soothing about being surrounded by loved ones and all pulling together to help each other out in a time of grief.

    C x

    • Thank you so much Catherine. You are absolutely right, and I’m planning to go home as soon as I can. Going to book the flight today and see what happens. Everyone back home is telling me I don’t have to, but I feel like I need to for me. And sometimes the universe just tells you exactly where you should be going. I’d been feeling a bit directionless in Mexico, despite absolutely loving in, and then all this happened and I just know that the place I am meant to be right now is home. Really looking forward to being with my family.

      Thanks so much for your lovely comments. I was feeling broken yesterday, but today I feel strong. X

  11. Hey Emily,

    Thanks for writing from the heart, we too have been through this conundrum and have come out the other side extremely satisfied and excited for the changes we made. Like you we got sick of writing articles in return for press trips because even though we were extremely picky with the adventures we went on, we still felt the need to write a bias ‘bubbly’ blog… In 2016 we decided to look outside the box and instead of making money through our blog we make money through jobs all over the world. We work hard for a few months somewhere, save like crazy and then travel for 6 months where ever we like. This change has been incredibly freeing. It keeps our writing honest, helped us love our blog and the blog industry again and allowed us to stop worrying about our stats and got back to why we started our blog in the first place, because we love adventure!! The beginning of 2017 has been great, we bought a car in the UK just after Christmas and will road tripping all over until May 30, without one comped trip! haha. Bliss! It’s been an extremely freeing journey and maybe something to consider? Anyway, just a quick chat from one blogger to another.

    You will find your equilibrium Em.

    x
    Prue

    • Hi Prue!

      Thanks so much for your comment (can’t believe I almost missed it). What you’ve done is actually something I’ve been toying with doing myself – taking some time out from making money online to make money in real life. It would really help give me back my original blogging energy I think. But I’ve yet to find a place I feel ready to stay in for several months at a time! It’s tough. Going to spend the rest of February doing some soul-searching and see what I come up with.

      I definitely want to do less comped trips and more travelling that’s just for me. That way, when I write about the trips, I’ll know I’m writing just for me (and my readers) too. I’ve already decided to completely stop caring about numbers. No more following formulas or trying to grow my accounts. I’m just going to go back to being myself and posting the things that make me happiest, and hopefully some people will enjoy that.

      Definitely sounds like you’ve achieved the freedom I’m searching for, good on you. And it’s some food for thought for me! Thank you πŸ™‚ X

  12. Thanks for sharing this Emily! I’ve been feeling a very similar way these last few days, brought on by an all too familiar situation to you. My mother passed away on Monday after a long, long illness and most family and friends’ first reactions were “Shit! Is Rhiannon home?!” Luckily I was, but it really put things into perspective. I started thinking what’s even the point of continuing with travel blogging, if me travelling so much causes that kind of panic and worry in such situation. Especially as I don’t make any sort of viable income from it right now, so it just seems frivolous and unnecessary. Plus with everything going on in the world, I find myself thinking am I just exercising my privileged white girl trump card for the sake of it? (No pun intended).
    I am so sorry to hear about your granddad and hope that both he and you find peace <3

    • Oh my gosh Rhiannon, I’m so sorry for your loss. My mum died 11 years ago and it was a really tough time, I know exactly what you must be going through. Glad that you are home and can be around family. And yes, it does put things into perspective. Sometimes though when I’m at my most doubtful, I imagine what my mum would say to me if she could see me now. She always encouraged me in my dreams to be a writer, she always let me be exactly who I was, no matter what that meant. She would be so proud of me – and that makes me realise I should be proud of myself.

      Sometimes, I’m painfully aware of my privileged white girl status. But I grew up poor, and I had to struggle and balance crappy jobs to get my university degree, and I had to fight and struggle and work crappy jobs to build up this career. I am privileged now but I have earned it. And now that I’m here I want to find ways to give back and help the world.

      I wish you all the best right now, and sending you love and hugs from across the ocean. I’m sure your mum would be proud of you, and would tell you to follow your dreams. So you should do that!

      Much love <3 XXX

  13. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandad, Emily. I hope you and your family are OK.

    I can totally relate to this post. I think we all go through this at times. I have the same thoughts about every 2-3 months! I think you have to keep doing what you love, keep doing what you’re good at and keep writing the stories that you’d want to write – not necessarily the stories you feel people want to read.

    I’ve stopped taking press trips at the moment because it just doesn’t feel right. Being bused from one location to the next while everyone is hurried off the bus to take a photo and then move on. I don’t enjoy them and I don’t feel like I can really blog about these half experiences that aren’t really travel experiences at all. They’re just photo opportunities really.

    Keep doing what you’re doing and blog about the things that matter to you because I’d read them!

    • Thanks so much for commenting Monica! I’m with you. I always have a lot of fun on press trips, especially the ones my friends are on, but I never feel that we go very deep into the countries we’re visiting. As you said, it’s often more of a photo opportunity. There have been a few exceptions but on the whole, I often find myself feeling I’m “acting out” a holiday situation to play for the folks back home, rather than actually travelling. And since my goal with my blog is always to “travel deeper”, I absolutely feel that I need to start being true to that again. Perhaps less people will read, but some people still will – so I’ll write for them.

      This year I’d already decided to take less press trips, and coming to Mexico was about travelling for myself again. Now I’m realising that my goal is to have a bit more purpose and try to actually make a difference in some way. So I’m going home, going to hit reset, and set out to find the joy I used to find from blogging. Going to start living up to myself a bit more!

      Thanks again for your lovely comment! It means so much to me. X

  14. Hi Emily
    I am so sorry to read about your granddad and I hope that your memories of him will bring you some comfort at this time of reflection. You are certainly doing some soul searching and I admire you for being so honest about it.
    From what I have read on here in the short time I’ve known about your blog and your other published work, you are obviously a very talented travel writer. You also have great insight as you are obviously aware of the ‘real’ world around you and sensitive to the dreadful things that are going on. Things that we struggle to accept, knowing that there’s not a huge lot we can do to change them.

    I’m only getting going with my travel blog and it’s really just a little hobby, somewhere to share my travels and photos, to perhaps inspire others. I do feel privileged to have travelled a lot already, and I am so conscious that it’s all down to the fortunate circumstances of my birth – I could have had a lot less opportunities in life. I am also acutely aware of the frivolity of it all, but I think that by being aware of our place in the great scheme of things, we never take anything for granted.

    I really hope that you keep writing!
    All the best
    Nat

    • Hi Nat! Thank you so much for commenting, it really means a lot. I’ve honestly been overwhelmed by all the messages and support I’ve had after posting this, and I’ve woken up today feeling far more positive.

      It’s really helped to know how many people are feeling the same way as me. You are right, we could have had far less, and we are privileged. But I loved what you said about being aware of it. You’re right. I hope I never take the wonderful opportunities I’ve had for granted. I also hope I can find a way to be more deserving of them, and to give back and help make the world a better place, even if that’s only in a very small way.

      Thanks again for taking the time out to read and comment X

  15. Hey Em, I just read your latest post. I feel you on all points. I have been struggling with the anxiety, feeling of purposelessness and shallowness of what this industry has become. Of what people want to see. It’s utterly annoying. And I am very sorry for your loss. For me, it was the other way round but somewhat similar. I was in a spot were all the 9-5 didn’t make sense, where I saw the misery in my friends and family and hitting depression and then I decided no one really cared enough to help me get out of my hole, so I turned to travel. Just before I left, my grandpa died. He would have been super proud of my travels, I know. And it was so hard to tell all my friends and family just after he died that I would leave for the other end of the world.
    Travel and blogging helped me find more happiness but then it become a source of stress because of the resentment people have for bloggers, because of the fakeness of creatung these instagram worthy journeys. We have become like marketeers (only underpaid and undervalued). But society says corporate jobs are acceptable so I think we are pushing more self hatred around because of the stigma of blogging.
    What I hate the most is that however small we might be, we do have a voice. And we could speak up about the state of the world.
    That is what ultimately made me so passionate about travel. The fact that you see people in different countries, learn about their culture and question yours. You question everything you’ve learnt as wrong or right, as good manners and expected attitudes. It all comes down to culture, to a different perspective on the world and I truly believe we wouldn’t have such a problem with racism if travel would lose the luxury and holiday tag and would move more towards exploring new standpoints, as on-site educational research. But with that, I am also unsure of how to translate that into blogging because people don’t actively search for that. It doesn’t help their escapism, which is what blogs mostly cater for. It’s all so tricky and I hope you know you are not alone!

    • Thank you so so much! I’ve honestly been blown away by how many people have said that I’m not alone in my feelings. I felt like I was the only one, that everyone else was just riding the great blogging wave and having fun. The fact that so many of us feel frustrated at having to become, as you said it, marketers, makes me feel very reassured. If more of us start striving for honesty and creativity in our writing again, perhaps blogging will go back to what it was once.

      The stupidest thing is, despite all the numbers games and everything else, I got as far as I did without ever trying. I never used to care about DA or traffic, but it grew anyway. Now that I’ve started to care, I feel depressed and frustrated and do things that feel like selling out, and yet my numbers don’t actually grow. For me, that’s a sign that I should go back to doing things how I used to do them.

      Travel and travel blogging have helped me really turn my life around. Like you, I was trapped in a 9-5 and really depressed. I never got over the loss of my mum and I carried around with me like a curse. It was travel that turned me around, gave me back my joy and purpose in life. So I hope that will continue. I am going to take some time to rethink and reset myself, figure out what direction I want to go in, and that make more strides in that direction. I could fail, or fade into obscurity… but at least I will have tried.

      Thanks so much for such a long, thoughtful, lovely comment πŸ™‚ X

  16. This is the paradox of blogging – when you do it professionally. Trying to not sell your soul to the devil, while maintaining an authentic voice. It’s tough when you see the staged life and over filtered photos being rewarded. I am glad you wrote this, it is honest and true. Refreshing.

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting. You’re right, it’s a tough paradox. And it’s even harder when I see people doing “better” than me or getting more likes/followers or whatever when they are just sort of “faking” it or not being real. I really try hard to be authentic and true to myself, and to write in a way that I think/hope is good. but when I know that something cheaper and easier, like a listicle, will probably do better – it’s easy to be tempted. Lately I’ve stopped doing as many of the posts I like, and as a result I’ve lost the joy of blogging a little bit. Need to get back to doing me and not worrying about how I measure up in comparison with other bloggers. Thank you πŸ™‚ X

  17. Hi Em, you have all the right to doubt travel blogging and the glamour it portrays, especially at a time like this. I’m sorry for your loss. My grandma passed away while I was on a first long trip abroad (with school). It was such a strange mixture of feelings.. But I decided to keep it all in till the moment I came back home.
    I think that’s the worst on travel – not being with your closest at times when it’s needed the most. Even those of us who’re fully flexible can’t just fly across the world anytime they please. It’s all part of the ‘lifestyle’.
    I personally think that you just have to push through these hard times, do what feels best and the sky will become brighter again, hopefully soon.
    Good luck with handling all the turmoil till the path looks clearer again.

    • Hi Veronika, thank you so much for commenting. It’s been so hard being so far away, and feeling useless. And it brought to a head what I had been feeling more and more lately. I hope that the path will seem clearer soon. I think I need to find away to work towards something bigger and more meaningful, to feel like I am making a difference. Hopefully it will all become clear soon.

      Thanks so much for taking the time out to read and comment. All the kind words I woke up to this morning have really made me feel so much more positive already. X

  18. Hello Emily again from Canada! I just read what happened to your travel buddy from Journalist on the Run on her birthday and now I am here πŸ™‚

    I also disagree with you have no skills except travel blogging. Travel blogging itself requires lots of skills and you have earned the press trips and all paid travels by very hard work. You have every right to enjoy the tropical paradise, and take people, on the other side of the world whoever suffer the poverty, war and tragedy, to travel around the world with us, virtually.

    It is very sad to not see your family before they are gone, but I believe your grandpa is very proud of you for who you are and what you have achieve to this day. He will watch over you and blessing you for your time in Mexico. So keep blogging and have a good time with Janet in Mexico. If you need a good news to cheer up, I have featured you as my favorite blog of the year again on one of my blog posts (this article was written few weeks ago and I still have a small audience and page views, but if you do not mind, please celebrate:)

    All the best, – Julie

    • Hi Julie! Thanks so much for commenting. Yep, poor Janet, it was such a rough day. There’s often a dark side to travel unfortunately but it’s important to focus on the good I guess, as that far outweighs it.

      You’re right, I have worked hard, and I’ve earned everything I have today. Thank you for saying it. But despite having earned it all, I can’t help but feel that I have become a bit complacent, that I’m not being true to myself. Because I feel that if I worked a little harder, especially at my writing, I could become something much, much better. Hoping to figure out more of a direction and find a way to channel everything I’m doing towards some sort of higher goal.

      Thank you so so much for featuring me as you favourite blogger. That really means a lot. You’re always one of my top commenters and I think you’ve been following longer than anyone, so it means so much to me that you stick around and keep reading!

      I hope Canada is still treating you well, and that you’re still planning your future travels!

      Thank you again πŸ™‚ X

      • Hi Emily, I am glad to be here and I enjoy reading your posts Speaking about writing, I believe you are on the right track to incorporate your personal experience to your blog posts. I have found that the best travel writings are stories. My personal travel stories and experience have received far more engagements than the plain travel guides and listicles. I have read other blogs and the same rule applies. After all we communicate with and write for readers not for magazines and machines, but too bad we all need to live and survive.

        I have booked a one-way ticket to Bogota this July and I am going to Thailand in April. Currently following your path several years ago so I will keep coming back to read your South America blog posts. Have a great trip back to UK!

        • Thanks Julie! That’s so exciting about your trips, especially a one way ticket! I’m jealous, Colombia has been on my mind a lot lately and I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t go there myself sometime this year. I miss that country.

          Happy travels and feel free to ask if you want any recommendations. I will try to remember my long-ago trip for you πŸ˜‰ X

          • Thanks a lot Emily. I will read through your South America posts and take it from there, so you do not have to remember your long-ago trip:). If you happen to revisit Colombia this summer, please let me know and I would love to meet you there!

          • If I’m there we will of course meet! It would be so nice to finally speak to you in person πŸ™‚ x

  19. As a newbie travel blogger, I think about this a lot. I almost didn’t want to start blogging because it feels like there’s no space for me in this specific corner of the internet. And in order to make space, I would have to cop out. It’s so tempting to want to write listicles and “reasons why” posts in order to generate traffic to help get my site off the ground, but I also know that those posts aren’t me.

    I’m so glad you published a post like this. Hopefully being honest will be the new “trend”.

    • Thanks Victoria. Let me tell you, there is definitely space for you on the internet. I think the best new bloggers these days are the ones who stand out and do something really different, have a unique voice. Don’t feel like you have to conform and follow all the so-called rules and pieces of advice that fill up the internet. These days, it seems like every travel blogger has an ebook out telling people how to make it as a travel blogger, but really there aren’t any rules. I made it as far as I did without really trying, and it was when I started comparing myself more and trying to conform that I started to feel really disconnected from blogging.

      I would love it if being honest became the new trend. I’m certainly going to start trying to be more true to myself and my preferred writing style. Good luck with your new blog πŸ™‚

  20. Oh Em! First of all, I’m so sorry for your loss. What a trrrible feeling to be away from home at a time like that. Second, I do think you are not alone in your conflicted feelings about the blogging “industry.” You hit the nail on the head when you say that many people started blogging for the fun of it, and to share information, and to maybe inspire others to get out of their comfort zone, and when destinations and brands then offered to pick up the tab so they could continue to travel, then why not? But you’re right that there’s a hidden cist to that. And third, you are a really talented writer, with lots of other skills that come along with blogging – social media, graphic design, project management, rock climbing, floating on inflatable swans…. but if writing is what you want to do, there are plenty of ways to do that without selling your soul to the next hot party destination. Perhaps you need to shop for a book deal. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Paige for such a lovely comment. Especially your third point, thank you thank you thank you! I try my best! Although rock climbing I’m not so sure about πŸ˜‰

      It’s such a tricky paradox. We want to be honest and creative and inspirational as writers and bloggers. But the only way to fund it all is by working with brands, and sometimes that has a hidden edge of in-authenticity to it that I don’t like.

      I think for me, I need to start being fussier with which press trips I will accept, and maybe asking for more control and input when it comes to the itinerary so I can make sure I do the things that really make sense for my blog. And, second to that, any time I do a press trip I’ll try to stick around solo in the destination after the trip ends, to give myself time to see another side of the place. When I headed to Indonesia I got so much more out of the trip because I did exactly that. And yes, I would LOVE to start looking for a book deal. First, I need to find some kind of story though! Starting to come up with some ideas so we’ll see πŸ™‚

      Thanks so much for commenting X

  21. I wasn’t going to leave a comment because I thought what more can I say that you haven’t already said? and you’ve put it so much more eloquently than I probably ever could. But this is how I feel too. I haven’t achieved the success in travel blogging that you have but I already feel that the kind of posts I’m writing is changing because I’m writing them to rank high in search engine results, I’m writing them so that they’re more ‘accessible’ to an audience I’m desperately trying to grow.

    My travel blog was borne out of a combination of passions – travel, writing, and photography. It was my creative outlet away from the monotony of my day job, a way of documenting my travels that I could read back over in the future. A way of keeping my travel memories alive.

    I know it must be difficult for those of you who make a living off the back of your blog, because at the end of the day we all need to make money in order to live, and if it’s a choice between not being able to afford the rent and taking on another sponsored post, then I know which one I’d choose too.

    It is a very real struggle for bloggers nowadays and although it’s an industry I’ve been trying to break into for years, there are times when I wonder whether it’s all worth it :-/

    • Aw, thank you Kiara. I’m not sure I’ve ever been accused of eloquence before, thank you! The more I hear that I’m not alone in feeling this way, the more encouraged I feel to start breaking away from the things I feel I “have” to do, and moving back to the things I love to do. I want to strive for more honesty and stay true to my own creativity and style.

      I think most people’s blogs, at least “in the old days” of travel blogging (three years ago or whatever it was), were born from the same desires as yours. It was all people like us, who just wanted to share our stories and pictures and maybe inspire people a bit. But now I’ve noticed a lot of people starting blogs purely as businesses, with no desire to be creative or tell stories. Just the desire to make money. And then there’s the fact that I have to sell out a bit to make money, which is always disheartening. My friend Jon pointed out that that’s the case with a lot of creative industries – obviously designers and photographers have to take boring jobs as well as interesting creative ones. I think as long as, for me, the fun creative stuff outweighs the boring stuff, then it will all be ok. Just have to work on that!

      I hope we can all start a trend for some more honesty, more truth, in our blogging. I’m going to be trying, and I hope others will.

  22. You’re amazing Emily. I agree with 99.99999999999% of this too. I think some of the best travel times I’ve had have either been with friends (ie YOU!) or trips I’ve been in control of. I have days when I question it all, feel like I don’t know what my end goal is, and figure I have to slow down and look at life again. I still need to post that blog about travel burnout – all feels related! Chin up and let’s have some fun soon, at home or abroad. Cx

    • Thank you Chloe! You’re also amazing πŸ˜‰ What’s the 0.000000000001% you disagree with?!

      I definitely agree that my best travel moments have been the things I did for me, or the ones where friends were there and made the trip. I still think the ski trip was one of my high points of last year. Thanks for being there for me and being lovely! Miss you xx

  23. So sorry to hear about your Granddad. I have had a few family who have been ill recently and it’s really tough to be away from them when you’re on trips. Your blog doesn’t have a name linked to travel so you really can blog about whatever you like and I think it’s great that you’re branching out to other additional topics that are more in tune with the way you’re feeling. I’m sure many will feel the same. Take care

    • Thanks so much Suze. It’s been really tough. I just booked my flight home and I’m really looking forward to being back home with my family now. From there, I will have a bit of a rethink and see if I need to go in a new direction.

      I’ve always been so happy that my blog name doesn’t tie me into anything. One day I might need to shift in a new direction and it won’t take much to do that. I still love travel above everything else, and I don’t feel ready to quit yet, but I do feel the need to change something and give myself a bit more purpose. Going to spend a few weeks thinking hard about what I want to achieve and see where I need to go! Thanks so much for commenting πŸ™‚ X

  24. Hey Emily, so sorry about your Granddad. It must feel rubbish being away. It sounds like he’d be totally proud of you though. And he knew you loved him, not being there in his final days definitely wouldn’t have changed that. Totally get that you want to be with your family. You’ve done a good thing booking the flight.

    Couldn’t you use your relative freedom to do something different, like volunteering either in the UK or abroad, or writing for an NGO? Something along those lines. That way you don’t have to stop blogging and you can have more purpose to what you’re doing?

    Anyway, I’m moving to Southsea at the end of the month. Let’s hang out and be best friends, if you can get through ten minutes without insulting me. πŸ™‚

    See YOU on the south coast very soon. xx

    • Hi Vicki, thank you for such a nice comment you lovely thing! I promise next time I see you I will not insult you for at least a full hour, hows that?! When I move to Hampshire and get a flat filled with the hammocks and alcohol I’ve collected from all over the world, we can hang out all the time. I might even learn to cook!

      I love your idea about volunteering or working with an NGO. I need to look into something like that. You’re right, I do have so much freedom – could definitely put it to some good use. Just need to figure out what I’m doing with my life etc etc and then, once I’m straight, I can find some way to be more helpful and give back to the world. Thanks for some good input and a lovely comment!

      See you sooooon xxx

  25. I think what you have done on your blog is fantastic! I think the way the you have marketed and branded yourself under your own name is refreshing. There are so many other ways to monetize than to rely on being a marketing engine for the travel industry. I think if you sold e-books, t-shirts, tours, etc.. your readers would support you with that.

    If we start thinking outside the box, we can get away from what is being done in the current industry. Think about it like this.. you don’t monetize a blog.. you monetize your audience. Let your audience support you, and that will lead to much more authentic travel stories.

    You can still do listicle posts to drive traffic to your blog, but you can write them in a page format, so it doesn’t bother your readers feed. Write the travel blog that you would want to read!

    • Hi Jimmy! Thanks so much for such awesome feedback. You’re so right, I need to start thinking outside the box and stop just doing what everyone else is doing. I am going to start doing a lot more of the stuff I want to write, the stuff I can be proud of, from now on – so hopefully my readers will respond to that. Looking forward to finding out anyway.

      Thank you again for such a helpful and insightful comment, and for reading πŸ™‚ Means a lot! X

  26. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I am not a big blogger and doubt I ever will be, but my blog is still important to me and I read a lot of other bloggers work. Even though my audience isn’t very large and probably wouldn’t mind too much if I did post something outside of what I usually do, there are things that I want to write about and get off my chest but feel like I shouldn’t or I can’t because it is “outside of my niche”. I can only imagine how much worse this is if you are doing blogging for a living.

    Thank you also for acknowledging the elephant in the room. The market is becoming saturated. Everyone wants to be a travel blogger, or post beautiful pictures on Instagram, and it can seem incredibly shallow given come of the things that are happening in the world. Even when visiting a new country, how many people acknowledge any difficulties that country might be going through? Other than acknowledging that it was “eye-opening”. We all need some frivolity in our lives, and I have to admit I’d read fewer blogs if each post attempted to be mind-expanding, but we also need to learn when to acknowledge it which you have done beautifully.

    • Thank you so much for commenting. Its been crazy to hear how many people this resonated with – I guess I’m not the only one feeling frustrated with blogging!

      If there’s ever something you really want to write but think its out of your niche, I say go for it. I never really had a very strict or strong niche and I have made it this far. I think if something is important to you it will always be your best writing, and it may surprise you how many people respond to it. When I first posted my story about “why I don’t count countries” it had a huge amount of comments from people saying they felt the same. I really thought it was going to alienate most of my audience because most people seem to feel the opposite. But as it turned out, many of them agreed with me. So if there’s something you want to get off your chest – go for it. Write from the heart πŸ™‚

      You’re very right about the fact that most people wouldn’t read a blog if it was really serious all the time. But I do hope I can find some kind of balance between just mucking about for no reason, and bringing a little depth to my posts. We’ll have to see!

      Thanks again for your comment!

  27. For some reason that is increasingly becoming a mystery to me, this is my first time on your blog. This is such a great post! You are right in that the industry is saturated and it can be hard to see if there’s really any point trying, especially when as you say, you can spend hours writing an in-depth article on your experiences or advice for a destination, or whip up a quick “listicle”, and what gets the most views? My most successful post by far, the only one that I can say has gone “viral”, is my only listicle. It’s frustrating because there is so much good content out there – and everyone’s reading the content they don’t actually have to think about; you can scroll through it mindlessly and move onto the next one. I think we can thank Buzzfeed for that trend.

    But I totally disagree that you don’t have a voice. You have a BIG voice. You have followers who follow you for travel, but they also follow you because they like YOU and want to hear what you have to say. Whenever a blogger posts something personal or negative or open about their life, every comment regards it as refreshingly honest.

    To be honest, I think if you can look back on your life as it is now and see someone wasting their time having as much fun as possible, that is DEFINITELY no bad thing. All the bad news in the world is getting me down too, but that’s just another reason I want to try to make myself happy, because if we can’t do that, then really what IS the point?

    • Hi Clazz! Thanks so much for such a lovely, thoughtful comment!

      I was getting really disheartened by the fact that whenever I tried to write something really good and worthwhile, it just wouldn’t get the same reaction as my more basic posts and the listicles I write for sponsors etc. I have to do these things to pay the bills and keep myself in a position where I can also write the stuff I want to, but it can hurt when stuff I poured my heart and soul into doesn’t do as well as something I wrote in half an hour just to please a sponsor. Or worse, when I spend time with certain bloggers who ONLY write listicles and rubbish posts and just do everything to get traffic… and I see them doing “better” than me. At the end of the day, though, I’ve realised I have to be true to myself and if that means having slightly less traffic then so be it.

      You’re absolutely right too in that having spent the past few years pretty much just having fun isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I count myself seriously lucky to be able to do what I do – not just to have this job but to have nothing keeping me home etc. I’ve also been through some seriously tough times in my life and I think I deserved to spend a few years mucking about. There’s no point to life if you don’t enjoy it – and I’ve really enjoyed the past few years. I think I needed to start thinking about doing something a bit more worthwhile, which I’m doing now. I’ve got a flat in the UK and I’ve started travelling less, focusing more on building my blog into something a bit more successful (without selling my soul or giving up my real voice) and giving my life a bit more structure. It’s been really good for me so far.

      I also want to start doing some more stuff to show the world that travel isn’t such a scary thing, and that foreign people are exactly the same as people at home – that we have more in common than we do different. I’m not sure what the plan is yet but I know that I want to start using my voice and my work online for more good. You’re right, I do have a voice – albeit a small one – and I want to start trying to make a difference. Hopefully that will start coming through as I focus down my blog a bit more.

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