How I Failed to Make Money With A Blog While Travelling – And Why I’m Glad!

I feel rather lucky not to have started travelling in the era of Facebook and travel blogs. Why? For quite a lot of reasons, starting with I could actually be disconnected on the road and not constantly checking in with friends and family back home. But more specifically, because at the time, it never occurred to me that I could make a living by travelling.

I did consider jobs that would let me travel easily: working on being a nurse, cruise ships, even a travel guide.  Nursing wasn’t an option because I don’t like sick people very much.  The cruise ship bit the dust as I recalled how terribly sea-sick I get. Travel guiding didn’t seem an option, as I had little respect for someone who actually needed to go on a tour of an English speaking country – and my poor language skills didn’t give me the option to be a travel guide elsewhere.

Instead I decided that being a Geologist would be OK because I could travel to really remote places. After a few too many boring years in really remote mining towns I switched to being an IT geek, so I could stay in town and have a life! And I still travelled – but only as a hobby.

Camping, Australia

The writer, not writing, camping, Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia

However during a bit of a midlife crises, in 2007, it seemed that yes, maybe I could make money from a travel blog. So I started one, just a few months before I left on an epic trip which saw us driving 35,000kms  on Australia’s outback roads.

The trip was amazing. The blog less so. You see, I forgot to take into account a couple of fairly basic things:

  • 95% of Australia’s land area doesn’t have mobile coverage. Outside of the cities and the Eastern Coast you can travel for days without a mobile signal. Yes country towns have Internet access – usually out of the shire’s offices and usually open Monday-Friday office hours only!
  • Its pretty full on driving most days, pitching a tent and camping. It takes quite a lot of time – all of the daylight hours anyway (which are only about 12 a day in most of northern Australia).  Although I’m a touch typist and we had some lighting, given the choice between blogging at night and drinking… the Aussie beers won most nights.

The travel blog’s content gathers electronic dust on my hard drive, but I’m glad that I chose to start a travel in quite possibly, still today, one of the most difficult places in the world to get online, the Australian Outback.  Because now I see lots of new travellers start and try to run a travel blog from the road. Most of the blogs fail, which is the nature of the business, but far more sadly, I think many of those would-be bloggers also compromise the delight of their first experience of real travel.

Because if there is one thing that is truly incredible about travel, is the ability to be immersed in the moment. Spending over 3 weeks doing nothing but walking every day on the way to Everest Base Camp, I’d still rate as one of my top travel experiences. There was a revolution happening in Kathmandu at the time, but I only actually heard any direct news about that a couple of times when a village I was travelling through happened to have a short wave radio picking up Voice of America or BBC World.  As it was I just walked and talked to the people I met both coming and going (there is only one track for most of the trek). I understood what its like to see the world at walking pace, an experience I’ve never had again.

So if you are thinking about travelling and blogging about it to make money. Can I seriously suggest that you don’t, expect to make money that is. Blog to let others know your progress, if you want. But don’t stay too connected. Turn off the electronic noise and just travel. Really, you’ll have a much better time!

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  1. Robert on April 25, 2012 at 3:31 am

    Sounds like you have had great experiences traveling. My girlfriend and I started our blog but have a long-term business plan and don’t expect to be making much money on the first few years but do see the potential down the line. But I agree 100%, traveling and what you experience is first and foremost. Blogging and sharing with the world comes 2nd.

    Safe Travels!


    • Elisabeth on April 25, 2012 at 8:21 am

      Yes if you put the travel second – then you might as well have it as job – which is not really the point of it all! Lovely blog by the way

      • Vi on April 29, 2012 at 1:26 am

        It was time when I was thinking about becoming travel guide, but then…It would be the job. Yes, it is probably lovely job, but still it is a job and it won’t be the same travel you used to do. with travel blogging is the same – you can place blogging as highest priority above travel it self.

        • Elisabeth on April 29, 2012 at 8:29 am

          Yeah herding tourists- no thanks. Being a travel blogger would be a bit more in your control – but yeah it has to be on my terms. I’m getting too old to compromise my travels!

  2. Glenn Dixon on May 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    The real trick is to travel slow enough that you have time to write and update your blog, but still keep your head out of the laptop long enough to actually, you know, enjoy your trip!

    • Elisabeth on May 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      I actually have got quite a lot diary stuff from the trip – I should post it up somewhere – again!

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