This post is a paid collaboration with Travelstart, however all opinions are my own.
One of the most asked questions in the blogging community is how to become a travel blogger. When you watch vloggers like Fun for Louis, being a travel blogger seems like the best job in the world. You get to spend your days travelling to beautiful places AND being paid for it? Who wouldn’t want that life??
Once you’re an established travel blogger, the world is your oyster. But how do you get to that point, unless you’re Richie Rich? It seems like a vicious circle. You have to go on fantastic trips to get your blog recognised, but no one will send you on fantastic trips unless your blog is huge. And sadly, most of us can’t afford to jet off to the Maldives every few weeks.
But here’s the thing we often forget: travel doesn’t have to be expensive. Being a travel blogger isn’t only about exploring the furthest reaches of the planet (or going to Santorini all the damn time). It’s about exploring places that are new to you, and giving your readers suggestions for their future travels. You can even create travel blog-worthy content without leaving your city. Have you tried everything there is to do in your hometown? Probably not. Pretend you haven’t lived there your whole life, and spend a day out looking at it through fresh eyes. Eat at restaurants you’ve never tried, and do activities you’ve never done. If you’ve got a very small holiday budget, or you don’t have a car and can’t drive far away, book into a local BNB or guesthouse and review it.
Start with what you can afford, and grow your blog with that. You can go from exploring your town to your province to your country, and then look at the rest of the world.
Don’t let famous (well sponsored) travel bloggers make you feel like all your trips need to be luxurious to be worthy of blogging, either. There are ways to make travel cost-effective. Flying is quick and comfortable, but if there’s more than one of you, it can get costly. Getting a few friends together and renting a car will take longer, but it’ll work out far cheaper, and probably more fun. And in a place like South Africa, that’s filled with beautiful countryside and awesome padstals, you’ll end up making the journey part of the holiday as well, which leaves you with even more content!
You also don’t have to stay in fancy hotels all the time. The Radisson and the Hilton really don’t need you to advertise for them. Small guesthouses and BNBs do. They need the exposure; you need their prices. It’s a win-win. Once your blog has been going for a little while and you’re starting to grow a dedicated readership, you can even chat to the owners once you’ve booked your stay and see if you can wangle a discount since you’ll be giving them some exposure.
Camping is also a great way to keep your costs down. A night in a campsite will likely be at least half as expensive as a night in a guesthouse. I’m a student who works part-time in retail. In other words, I have no money. And Alan and I have managed to go on three camping trips this year, with another one lined up for two weeks’ time. As with any kind of blog, there are ways to create content with what you’ve got access to, rather than spending loads of money right off the bat.
As you can see, I’m all about ways to keep costs down, but I do like my creature comforts. That’s why my next tip is to look out for specials. Guesthouses, hotels, and BNBs tend to drop their prices in the off-season, so if you’re not a beachy person, plan your trips to the coast for winter. If you subscribe to Travelstart’s newsletter, they’ll email you whenever they run flight specials, like their current promotion where you can get cheap flights to Johannesburg.
I’ve spoken a lot about the content side of things in this post, but when it comes to things like hosting and gaining exposure, Travelstart have put together this handy infographic that breaks down the practical side of things for you.
If any of these tips inspire you to start a travel blog, leave a link in the comments! I’d love to see what you make of this!