Travel bloggers are constantly learning.
Whether you’re learning how to optimize your posts for search engines, or how to market your blog on Facebook, there is always going to be something new to learn next.
But as we look back at the past year as travel bloggers, it’s rarely the technical lessons in blogging that stick with us. You may spend forty hours learning how to tweak and perfect your new WordPress theme, but you won’t remember those hours the way you’ll remember the big picture ways in which travel blogging can affect our lives.
The most valuable blogging lessons are often the ones we learn when we step away from our computers.
We asked our community of travel bloggers what blogging taught them in 2016, and their responses illustrate the many different ways in which travel blogging adds value and new experiences to our lives…
Bloggers can help dispel myths about lesser visited places.
“One of my biggest takeaways from 2016 was that, as a blogger, I can help dispel myths and convince people to take a second look at destinations that they may have never considered visiting before. I think it’s SO important right now for us to see more than just negative coverage of “the world.
“For example, I went to Russia for the first time last year. And, as an American, I had some pretty strong ideas about what Russia would be like — but many of those preconceptions turned out to be nothing more than overused stereotypes. For every destination that faces tragedy and negative news coverage, there are positive stories and messages we can be sharing about them as bloggers, too.” — Amanda Williams, creator of Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards: A Guide to Successful Partnerships
Social media is a powerful tool but it’s not a substitute for real relationships.
“I began 2016 with two months in Oaxaca, Mexico with no other goal than to spend time with friends I’ve met in various stages of my blogging career. I later visited Brazil, for the first time, for a friend’s wedding. Through most of my 30s, I was in a rush to see the world, traveling solo, without compromise. What I’ve learned is sharing experiences through a blog and social media, while fun and meaningful, is not a substitute for sharing them with the people closest to you.” — Dave Lee of TBS and Go Backpacking
You can discover opportunities when you step away from the herd.
“Travel blogging has taught me to be brave and to walk away from the herd. I used to be afraid to stray away from 9-5 jobs and leave the comfort of steady paychecks, but right now I’m doing the opposite. Many people couldn’t understand why I ditched my full-time office job, but I realized I’m no longer part of the corporate-climbing herd. What matters now is how much I love traveling and writing, and I would never give up this love for any more cubicles in my life.” — Eva of Trevallog
We must be open to allowing our dreams and goals to evolve.
“This year I stepped away from my travel blog, which briefly felt like giving up on a dream. But looking back over the years, I can see that my dreams had changed, and that travel blogging led me to exactly where I want to be.
“I loved having a blog, but I’ve grown to love freelance writing even more. It was time to make room for new opportunities by setting aside something that I no longer felt passionate about. I now regularly write for the types of outlets I once dreamed of working for. And I have my travel blog to thank for that.” — Britany Robinson, creator of Blogger to Bylines: A Guide to Freelance Writing
You can’t judge a place until you experience it for yourself.
“2016 and my upcoming trip to India taught me that people discouraging you from exploring certain countries actually know as much about those places as you know about isotropic turbulences. Not much!
“‘It’s going to be dirty, polluted and super strenuous!’ they say. But reality is utterly dependent on one’s perception. Yes, India is chaos. The country is the epitome of diversity and that’s what makes it so unique and fascinating. Blogging about those occurrences makes us honor them even more!
“Never let anyone except yourself stop you from facing new situations and creating memorable experiences. Listen to your gut!” — Robert Adolf of Rooting Robert
Pay attention to details for richer experiences.
“Travel blogging and writing have taught me to be more observant of my surroundings and pay attention to the details.
“In order to write a compelling story or social media post, it’s important to observe every tiny detail around me and convey that to my audience so that they feel that they’re right there with me. The smell in the air, the colors of the landscapes, the feel of the sweltering heat on my skin, or the sound of the gorilla’s breathing etc. are vital to making my story come alive. Observing these things has given me a new appreciation for travel and the experiences I have on the road. I feel like I gain new perspectives by seeing things on a micro scale.” — Nellie Huang, creator of The Complete Facebook Marketing Course
Travel blogging opens doors to new opportunities.
“I’ve been keeping up with my blog for a few years now, and this year I realized just how many doors it can open for me far beyond just strictly blog related. From having friends literally EVERYWHERE I could ever go, to finding my dream jobs, to being able to travel to places I never dreamed of, travel blogging has made my goals and dreams much more attainable and achievable!” — Megan Stetzel of TBS and Forks and Footprints
The most rewarding type of travel is sometimes the trip back home.
“In 2016 I learned the importance of going home every now and then. Over the past few years I’ve returned home to visit friends and family, but I’ve never stuck around long. Taking time off (another life lesson) usually involved visiting a new location: a beach or walking vacation, for example.
“I’ll still continue to take those trips, but there’s something deeply psychological about returning home and coming full circle that a vacation can’t provide. Being back where you began brings closure, giving you time to think about the bigger picture and where you want to go next.” — James Cave, Portugalist
Be flexible and don’t wait to take the scenic detour.
“I was driving through Canada after my mother’s funeral, mostly focused on just getting home to Alaska. On the day I passed through Banff the views were stunning, and I made a mental note to return to explore it one day.
“Then I remembered comments from TBS bloggers about the importance of being flexible. Even though I wasn’t in vacation mode, I took a spontaneous half-day hike up to a mountain teahouse. The stop was good for my soul, and also reminded me why I love to travel — and share experiences/inspiration for others.” — Julianne Marshall, Over 50 Travels
Work smarter, not harder.
“I have learned that (as in most businesses), it’s more important to work smarter instead of working harder on my blog. I started doing a lot of testing for things like Facebook posts, Pinterest pins, and tracking the types/categories of blog posts that get the most traffic. I regularly look back on the data I collect and adjust my course to do more of the work that’s effective in driving traffic for my site (and value for the brands I partner with).
“This philosophy to work smarter (not harder) helps me manage my time blogging better, and has taught me lessons I apply to other clients I work with – and how to better spend my free time doing the things I most enjoy.” — Valerie Stimac of TBS and Valerie & Valise
Be Confident and put yourself out there.
“Over the course of seven years of travel blogging, I have learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined when I started out.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned this year and throughout the process was to be confident to share and express my opinions. Naturally introverted, this was something I was never that comfortable with, but putting yourself out there in a public place repeatedly over the years, and having to face all of the good and the bad that comes with it, both toughens you up and makes you a more confident person in the long run, something I am very grateful for.” — Liz Carlson of Young Adventuress
You can be your own best travel companion.
“2016 is the year I decided to launch my travel blog and dedicate a significant amount of time to travel. I visited 5 countries and solo-traveled to two of them (Japan and France). The solo-traveling experience taught me to be my own best friend as I learned to rely on myself while navigating unfamiliar situations.
“I am grateful that I have been able to reap the benefits of travel in my life.” — Jyoti Jakz of Growth by Travel
Keeping a blog allows you to track personal and professional progress.
“Travel blogging has given me insights into my own life that otherwise would be imperceptible. Being able to look back at years worth of posts, and see inklings of progress between posts is encouraging. Less than two years ago, the idea of even having a blog to share my experience was only a figment of my imagination. It’s in these moments I am reminded to not focus on the end result, but to focus on the process. The rest will come.” — Billy Reed of Need for Reed
What did blogging teach you this year? Please share in the comments, below!