Whether it’s online or when I meet people in person, I get asked a lot of questions both about travel and my business. I decided to pick a few questions I get asked most often and answer them here, but I’m also happy to answer any other questions you might have – just ask away!
What is experiential luxury travel?
Good question, especially since for me it’s an always changing definition. I used to say that I was an adventure luxury traveler. Then after some injuries I had to scale that back a bit and while I do certainly enjoy adventure travel, it’s not what I do 100% of the time. No, instead I think it’s more appropriate to call myself an experiential luxury traveler. I define it in a couple of different ways, just to be confusing. There are some travel experiences, some entire trips even, that are so exceptional they are de facto luxury travel experiences. These run the gamut, from African safaris to a cruise around Antarctica, but their commonality is that they are once in lifetime activities that do more than just take you to a new place, they transform who you are as a person. The second definition is more normal, which is luxury travel but luxury that doesn’t cut the traveler off from the places they visit. Thankfully, this has been the norm lately and all of the luxury travel experts have been quoted saying that experiential travel is the new luxury, and I couldn’t agree more. Sure, spending some time at a nice tropical resort where you do nothing but rest by the pool can be fine, but more often people want more. They want to get out and explore, experience local communities and cultures and feel like they’ve actually traveled somewhere. Nice pools exist everywhere, but those cultural connections, those are unique. I usually explain it by saying when I’m in Bangkok I love staying at the Mandarin Oriental or the Peninsula, but during the day you’ll find me in the markets, eating $2 street food meals and getting to understand the city on a personal level.
How do you make money?
An oddly personal question I get asked almost daily, I wish I had a more succinct response. But, as any freelancer will tell you, there is no single source. I do a lot of different types of work for and on behalf of companies and destinations around the world and get paid for it. Honestly, most of what I do is editing work for corporate web sites. It’s fun, engaging work and allows me to expand my own writing abilities in the process. Is it sexy and cool? No, but that’s just fine with me. My site does generate income as well, but in the form of fully disclosed partnerships that make sense for everyone involved. That’s definitely not the bulk of my income though. Finally, I consult. I spend a lot of time in the digital space and in the 5 years since I started my web site I have learned a whole lot about it. More than I ever thought I would, to be perfectly honest. Those skills are now part of my business and I love helping others navigate the space I have come to think about day and night.
How do I start a travel blog?
There are a multitude of guides, how-to sites, courses, you name it – there is no shortage of people trying to sell you a way to start a travel blog. Some of them are good, others are cheap ways to steal your money. I’ll chat about this more in a second, but what’s most important – more than a knowledge of WordPress or sharp photography skills – is passion. Not just any kind of passion, but a deep-rooted, at the base of your soul kind of passion for all things travel. It’s the same for any niche or even any profession. If you don’t love something then you won’t excel at it, it’s as simple as that. Other than that, spend some time learning about the tech side through one of those aforementioned courses, think about a proper name (do NOT include the words travel, traveling, travels and so on) and then take a writing course. As the editor for a corporate travel blog I’ve hired a number of writers and have learned the hard way that just because someone has a travel blog does not mean they’re a good writer. Even if they are a good writer, we can all improve – so take a course and hone those skills. Then just start working. I hate seeing social media accounts that say “Blog coming soon!” Why soon? Why not now? What are you waiting for? There’s no better time than the present and the longer you wait, the longer you’ll have to wait to be (maybe) successful.
When is the best time to go to…?
When people start to plan their vacations, they’re curious about the best time to travel to certain places, and I understand that. There are issues of weather, costs and crowds to contend with and no one wants a bad travel experience. When it comes down to it though, I think that most answers are hackneyed and really avoid the real solution, which is there is no perfect time to go anywhere. It all comes down to you and what you enjoy and look for from a trip. Travel is an intensely personal experience and we’re all different. As an example, I love traveling around Europe in the winter, when it’s rainy, cold and pretty dark. I know that this isn’t a preferred time for most people, but it works for me. So if someone told me to go to Europe in the summer and I followed that advice, I’d be pretty upset. Every destination has something going for it almost any time of year; travel beauty can be found in many different forms. Sure, prices may vary and that’s a very real consideration, but if you plan far enough in advance even these costs can be mitigated. So there’s no perfect time to go anywhere, not really, what’s most important is that you take the journey in the first place.
Should I quit college and travel?
I actually had this email and it nearly broke my heart. On the one hand, I’m personally happy that I (and a few others like me) have been able to somehow, through luck and hard work, make a career out of travel blogging. But I fear that we somehow make it seem as if it’s easy, that anyone can do it. Like any profession, some folks are better at it with others but blogging in particular is problematic. There really is no barrier to entry, anyone can start a travel blog and see how they do. The problem with that is that anyone can start a travel blog. Most will give up after seeing how much work is required and how many years it takes to go from earning nothing to earning a little more than nothing to maybe, hopefully, making a career out of it. If travel and tourism isn’t what you think about every moment you’re awake, if it’s not your true passion in life then being a travel blogger won’t work for you. That’s true for any profession really, but for some reasons bloggers get more offended than others when this issue is brought up. Back to the question at hand though, the answer is HELL NO. A college education is one of the best things you can do in life. Not only will it forever keep doors open to you that would be otherwise kept locked, but it’s a great primer for life in general. No matter what one actually studies in university, the ability to write well, to problem-solve and develop interpersonal skills is all worth every penny spent. I am a firm believer in the power of higher education, and also believe that no sacrifice is too big to make in order to achieve the goal of completing a degree.
How much do you actually travel?
It fluctuates depending on the time of year and it’s been a really hard balance to try to achieve. I understand that it’s hard on my partner when I travel a lot, so I try to limit my trips to no more than 10 days (7 is better) and not too close to each other. It’s no fun being the one at home and I try hard to respect that. We also love to travel as a couple, that’s how this site started, so I make sure we plan a few private getaways throughout the year to keep both of us sane. That being said, I travel around 25%-33% of the time. It just depends.
There you are, some honest answers to some good questions. Is there anything else you’d like to know?