Evolution of the Travel Blogging Industry, and the Third Age of Travel

by Nora Dunn on April 10, 2013

 

 

 

My recent accident has given me a lot of food for thought as I remain stationary during my recovery, and try to figure out what is next.

 

What the hell. I’m sitting here on my ass while my full-time travel colleagues are enjoying all sorts of travel adventures.”

This inner temper tantrum is accentuated by my recent decision to set up a home base of sorts here in the Caribbean.

Am I missing the boat?

 

Evolution of the Travel Blogging Industry

When I started traveling and travel blogging seven years ago, it was very much a “wild west” industry; it was still very new, and everybody was busy carving a niche and trying to figure out how to turn it into a viable business.

 

Over the years, competitions like The Best Job in the World gained popularity, with sponsors collaborating to provide an experience for a travel blogger, including some income to cover personal expenses and write about the destination. Given the lack of income blogging alone could generate, this was a step towards making the industry viable and the career sustainable.

 

In fact, one of the earliest incantations of such a project was the World Nomads Ambassador program (in 2008), in which my partner (at the time) and I had use of a camper van and some complementary toys for a 6-week Australian adventure.

 

Unfortunately, there were still a number of kinks to work out with the idea, and despite the promise of “seeing a slab of Australia for free”, those six weeks ended up being among the most expensive in all my years of full-time travel.

 

Where It Has Evolved To

Now, blogger-centric press trips, blogger “jobs”, and recognition as professionals from tourism boards and PR companies are on the rise. The recent development of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association (of which I’m a founding member) and worldwide conferences like TBEX are taking the travel blogging industry to the next level, increasing its recognition, and providing a conduit between travel bloggers and travel providers.

 

 

Freebie Trips

Freebie trips, accommodation, and experiences are becoming commonplace. Most of my colleagues are currently accepting the hospitality of an organization, accommodation provider, or tour company who is sponsoring the experiences they’re writing about. And some of these experiences are dramatic, coming (for paying guests) with quite the price tag.

 

I have two beefs with this (personally).

First, as a writer of “full-time travel in a financially sustainable way”, I feel an obligation to have experiences that could be replicable by readers in the realm of my theme. As a freelance travel writer, accepting freebies is a legitimate complement to (a somewhat meagre) income, and as long as there’s no undue bias in the write-up, it’s a great way to introduce world-wide experiences to readers.

But if those adventures are too far out of the realm of being financially-sustainable, where is the line between serving my readers and serving myself?

 

Secondly, freebie trips are generally exhausting. They go at a breakneck pace, and keeping up with work on the way is often impossible. Most travel bloggers need some significant down time after a trip; not only to recover, but also to transform the large amount of information they’ve been given into content.

I get tired just thinking about it.

 

 

Where I Stand

The last year has been a whirlwind for me, in which I’ve made the emotional journey leading to a decision to create a home base in the Caribbean after six years of having no fixed address. This hasn’t been a function of any less wanderlust; rather, a desire to experience the world in a different way. (And to be honest, a cumulative feeling of full-time travel fatigue. Oh yeah – and a boy).

 

But it hasn’t been an easy decision given my branding and passion for travel; I’ve worked hard to develop a business around financially sustainable full-time travel in a burgeoning industry; I’m not getting soft now, am I?

Not now, when there are so many benefits to be reaped?

 

And so, I sit here (admittedly in a necessary period of recovery from the accident), wondering if I’m missing the boat. A boat that, in some egotistical way, I feel I’ve played some small wee part in building.

 

Losing Traction

Whenever I take some time to breathe, there’s always the double-edged sword of maintaining a certain presence in order to maintain traffic (and income). This comes from producing regular content and being active in social medial circles. It’s a rewarding yet relentless task.

 

This became abundantly clear to me during my forced digital detox of sorts in the aftermath of the accident.

 

Out-of-sight/out-of-mind is a real problem in the ever-changing blogging industry. Ask any digital nomad, and they’ll admit that their choice of destination is at least partially predicated on having solid wifi. Going for long periods without connectivity is a problem.

 

Now, I look up from my own little bubble and re-assess where I stand in this industry which continues to move and shake. I see people developing courses, writing books, experiencing amazing travel adventures, and speaking on topics I thought were reserved for me (ha). Increasing numbers of sites are surpassing me in traffic and recognition. (Cue inner foot-stamping temper tantrum).

 

Then again, maybe I’m not being left behind; maybe I’m moving on.

 

 

My Travel Style: The Third Age of Travel

Truth be told, one of the most rewarding forms of travel for me is the ability to go somewhere and just live there for a few months. To feel the pulse of daily life – and through existing (and often volunteering) there, to learn about the culture and ultimately – to form rewarding friendships.

 

I am less inclined to go out and “conquer” the world, nor to rack up a huge repertoire of experiences, despite my adventurous disposition. I’ve got a pretty big arsenal already.

(Okay that’s not entirely honest; I wouldn’t turn down a complimentary trip befitting of my bucket list, or a world-tour shooting a tv show. All my waffling is conjecture until there’s a dotted line to sign on, at which point my high horse will probably take a flying leap. What’s changed is that I’m not pounding the pavement looking for these opportunities any more – despite their relative prolificness).

 

Last year, some travel colleagues of mine had an awesome sponsored trip to Switzerland, during which they had some experiences that made me green with envy.

At the same time, my own three months in Switzerland weren’t any less rewarding. Just different.

 

Maybe as with the three ages in life, there are three ages in travel.

 

In very broad strokes, the three ages of travel could be:

  • Younger travelers hit the backpacking scene with energy and enthusiasm, doing everything they can, everywhere they can.
  • Digital nomads and people for whom travel is a career tend to take travel experiences to a new level with greater income and access, but have also learned to pace themselves.
  • Slow travelers and expats derive a different sense of satisfaction and feeling of travel by integrating into a culture and “just being”.

 

I still see myself in each of these stages (and expect to fluctuate between them in coming years), but having been through this progression, the last stage currently resonates the most with me.

 

 

What’s Next?

I’m still recovering, and the universe has set the stage for me to be still for a while, and just be patient (a virtue I don’t possess with grace).

Until recently I was gearing towards an upcoming 3 month house-sitting job in Panama, but once again, the universe has put a few roadblocks in the way. It may or may not come to pass now.

But in my not-too-distant future, I see some exciting possibilities of slow travel, fast travel, (and yes, even some freebie travel), as I continue on my passion-based travel path and career. I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeve yet.

 

But for now….ohhhmmmm…lamalamalama…..patience.

 

In the meantime I’m musing on how my third age of travel melds with the travel blogging industry – which could be bound for a third age of its own as it continues to grow and evolve.

 

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Jade April 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm

I loved reading this!
I have definitely noticed the plethora of insanely luxurious and expensive looking blog trips people are taking these days and am both green with envy and confused at the message being sent… obviously who would turn such a free trip down, but then again who is able to benefit from the information apart from those with a tonne of money!
Shamefully I haven’t read a post of yours before but I am definitely going to peruse your archives now!

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theprofessionalhobo April 10, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Hi Jade,
Thanks!
I’m treading carefully here because I don’t want to challenge other travel bloggers’ own ethics. For many of them, the trips they are doing befit their audience and message, and they’re well within their rights to accept those freebies.

The problem I have with accepting some of these trips is entirely personal; my choice of financially-sustainable travel as a niche somewhat precludes it!
But it could be argued both ways; independent of my site, my freelance travel writing work for other publications could well justify accepting a free trip. It all depends on what comes along, I guess.

I’m glad you found my site….there’s a ton of stuff, so feel free to send me an email if there’s anything specific you’re looking for.

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Sofie April 11, 2013 at 3:57 am

Agreed!
I also think it depends on the profile of the blog, but how much I’d like to go to exclusive resorts and luxury hotels, I just can’t connect as much with ‘such’ an article as with an article about something I could pay for myself.
On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with a little dreaming:-)

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 9:29 am

Sofie – It begs the question of who our readers are and how well we know them. Many travel blogs command a readership of “armchair travelers” who might like the idea of a full-time travel lifestyle but only have the means/desire for more standard vacations. Some of the more exclusive resorts and tours might be right up their alley.

What’s really important is to know your audience, I believe.

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Sofie April 11, 2013 at 9:58 am

I believe so as well:)
It’s not always easy knowing, though.
I haven’t been blogging for so long and so I try to pay a lot of attention to what pieces get more attention and more comments to find out what interests my readers.

I think it isn’t bad either to make a difference between ‘price neutral’ travel blogs – that don’t profile themselves specifically as frugal, budget, or luxury… – and blogs that do.
I’m not saying you can’t go for something luxurious if you’re blog is focusing on budget travel or that you won’t know anything about traveling budget if you normally stay in 5-star hotels, but it might need some explanation if you occasionally decide to write about ‘the other side’. Just thinking out loud here:)

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Sofie April 11, 2013 at 9:58 am

I think what I wanted to say is that it’s important that we keep our integrity as writers and that we don’t leave our readers with the feeling that we write about one thing, but do the other.

theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 10:25 am

Sofie – Tools like Google Analytics (and even Facebook page insights) can tell you who’s reading demographically. And like you say it’s about seeing which of your posts resonate most with readers that will determine your style.

And yes – integrity is oh-so important, since trust is an important component between reader and writer.

Tiffany April 10, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Nora, oh you hit on so many points here. Thanks for putting so much out there. I can relate so much to the double edge sword of having what I call ‘domestic’ time balanced with ‘travel’ time which all fits into the creation of my life. I could keep going and going making this comment just about as long as your post, so I will just reiterate, thanks for sharing some of those inner musings in your post!

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

Hi Tiffany,
I tweaked this post for ages after writing it, fearful that it was a little too rambling or covered too much territory. But it’s all very related, and – like you say – a topic that begs long missives!

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Paul April 11, 2013 at 12:03 am

Really great article Nora. I enjoyed reading about it and it’s nice to see someone being quite reflective on what travel means to them, in the context of their life. You highlighted this quote, so clearly it’s important to you but this really resonated with me too:

“one of the most rewarding forms of travel for me is the ability to go somewhere and just live there for a few months”

To me, this is a big part of what travel is about. I don’t want to rush around the world ticking the boxes, I want to know what it’s like to live somewhere. Having moved back to Australia after 3 years in London, what is it that I miss most? The walk from my flat to the the tube station, my local grocery store – the kind of things I’d have never experienced and gotten to love if I hadn’t spend at least a few months in the one place.

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 9:36 am

I’m glad you agree, Paul! It is often the little (sometimes undefinable) things that create the biggest imprints in our travels. At least it has been that way for me.

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TravelBloggerBuzz April 11, 2013 at 1:33 am

As a fairly new blogger focusing more on the miles/points Blog niche this post was very educational. I had no idea of how prevalent the free trips are. Nobody has offered me one yet by the way, therefore they may not know I exist:-) I would have a huge conflict of interest if I was ever faced with such predicament!

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 9:44 am

Hey TravelBloggerBuzz – Sponsorships don’t generally come knocking until you have a highly-ranked site and solid readership within a shared niche (I don’t know where you are on this curve yet).

When I had been blogging for 1.5 years, I met a traveler who specialized in monetizing websites (mostly for big companies). I asked him for advice (and leads to advertisers), and he said the best thing I could do to monetize was to keep kicking out content and building a readership, and that Google Adsense (which at the time couldn’t buy coffee) was still my best bet.

Now, with so many more sponsorships and freebies available, you can be more proactive in approaching sponsors you feel are a match. With a solid media kit/press page to show your traffic/followings/audience and a pitch for how you can help each other, many companies are tuned into the idea that bloggers carry influence and they’ll consider your offer.

Also, attending conferences like TBEX, and joining associations (like the Professional Travel Bloggers Association) will get your name out there.

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Fab April 11, 2013 at 3:36 am

Hi Nora,

have you ever thought to invent a reality show about travels?

You could sell the screenplay and make money with the royalties or you could even co – manage the reality show and make money as well!!

Here is a wonderful book about the subject:

“Greenlit. Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas From Concept To Pitch” by Nicola Lees

Here are two possible titles:

“Thrilling Adventures around the world on a shoestring”

“Fast Travelling around the world on a shoestring”

All the best!

Fab

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 9:47 am

Hi Fab,
Great suggestion – and I’m all over it. I’ve had no less than four different shows/production companies/etc approach me with similar ideas, and pitches/demos galore have been produced. But if there’s anything I’ve learned about the tv business (which I’ve been in for over 18 years), it’s that nothing is predictable!

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Annie André April 11, 2013 at 5:39 am

Thank you for writing this Nora. I sometimes have these inner tantrums too. After travelling for years as a single person doing odd jobs to working for the man for over a decade i am now back to travelling but with a family.
I have felt like a whimp because I just don’t like the fast paced break neck RTW travel, never have and with the kids i like having a home base in France and slow travelling out to cities throughout Europe a month here a month there.
I think you hit the nail on the head when you said thre are three stages of travel. I am at the point now where I still love to travel but I do sometimes I were back in Montreal or California my two homes. I never thought I would feel like this but I do.
I have no idea where we will be next year but it is nice to be able to go and do what you want and not be tied down to one place unless I want to be tied down. which i do FOR THE MOMENT” :)

Hope you have a speedy recovery.

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 9:53 am

Hi Annie,
I think the best demonstration and application of lifestyle design is the ability to accept that in some moments you want to be “tied down”, and other times you want to move around.

So often we make choices in life that we feel must be black or white. After rejecting the “rat race”, it’s tempting to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction and disregard all middle ground. But once you’ve done that, what do you do when the pendulum swings again? Do you fail if you revert to an old lifestyle that you once rejected but feels good for now? Of course not. But sometimes, it feels that way.

So kudos to you for accepting change into your life so gracefully!

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Laurel April 11, 2013 at 5:44 am

I think a lot of travel bloggers are getting fatigued and questioning their next steps. My style has always been and is currently to experience travel as an expat. I like having a home base and experiencing a culture in a way that can only be experienced from living there, not visiting it. Being based in Munich is ideal for me though as I do love to travel, but am cutting back on my travel to focus on developing a new business. In a perfect world, I would be traveling about a week a month which is working out well so far. I think it’s a matter of being honest with yourself and finding what works for you, which it sounds like you’re doing. I’m now in the phase of feeling established enough as a travel blogger that I want to also start expanding my identity in new ways.

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 9:56 am

Hi Laurel,
Good for you!
Keep expanding and pushing those boundaries – both your own and the travel blog industry’s!
I think when we’re doing what truly sings to our hearts, the passion is reflected in our writing. That passion is what’s really important.

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Dalene April 11, 2013 at 6:30 am

A great, honest post Nora. You were THEE very first blog that I read, thinking: “people can actually do this??” and what you have done to help shape this crazy blogging world (especially ours) is so important. :) I still consider the blogging world to very much be like the “wild west”. A third age? I’m not sure we’ve even past the diaper stage yet. :)

Oh, but please don’t call them “freebie” trips! They may not cost a dime, but they are so, so much work. We deliberately have been very selective on these sorts of trips that we take, for that exact reason!

You haven’t missed any boat. There is no single boat. We all have different boats and different journeys to take in blogging. My boat won’t take me in the same direction as yours, or anyone else’s. That’s one of the great things about blogging, we can all carve our own path in any direction. I think we spend WAY too much time comparing ourselves to each other.

I’m with you and the lack of patience, my sista from another mista. :) Can’t wait to see what tricks you’ve got coming up.

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 10:03 am

Hi Dalene!
You bring up a VERY important point about “freebie trips” that I only touched upon – they’re not free! There is an expected – and often pre-negotiated – amount of publicity you’re expected to generate from the trip: from tweets (#hashtags-r-us) to social media promotions to posts. And to keep it all up in the thick of a trip can be a real challenge.

But like I said, freebie trips (as I’m still dubbing them, for ease of reference!) are a legitimate complement to income….it’s not money in our pockets, but it’s a subsidy of our lifestyles.

The boat I feel I may have missed is the sheer prevalence of sponsored trips that are available now in comparison to when I was really pounding the pavement for them.
But like you say, it’s still a wild west industry, and there are many boats!

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Escaping Abroad April 11, 2013 at 7:14 am

Hi Nora, I’ve been enjoying your blog over the last year – you’re a sort of inspiration to me as I’ve been planning and preparing for my own departure from static life in the U.S. and head out abroad. Hope you recover well from your injury and know we’re all jealous you’re in the Caribbean and we’re not.. well, I’ll be joining you there shortly ;)

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 10:09 am

Ha ha – thanks! I must admit there are worse places to recover from an accident… :-)

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Helen McClure April 11, 2013 at 7:27 am

Thanks for the insight. I’m still struggling with the technical elements of blogging. While, I’m busy exploring and trying to encourage and introduce a new world of travel opportunities to others through my blog, half of my brain is trying to work out viability. Travel, to me, is about trying to figure out how the world ticks and why we live where and like we do.

Also interested in your three ages: I’d like to be a nomad, but with small children and an expat lifestyle I haven’t yet reconciled myself to the change! I’m still trying to pack a three year old into a rucksack!

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 10:17 am

Hi Helen,
I think the entire scope and logistics of travel is different when you have children. You can still live a nomadic life to be sure, but it will have different characteristics from the nomadic life others might lead. The greatest thing is that there are no rules! (That’s also something I have to regularly remind myself of).

One of the greatest challenges I had in the first few years of travel was to not only figure out the world of travel, but to concurrently figure out how to blog about it. It involved a lot of work, and I generally advise that people get the blogging/business part off the ground before leaving. So I hear you in your own struggles to carve a niche on the road! Keep at it….it will pay off! :-)

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John April 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

Great to hear of your recovery, no matter how frustrating it is. As a fairly new ‘accidental’ blogger, I’ve yet to attend a blogging conference or have I ever directly sort advertising or sponsorship, my own current priority is to travel and I haven’t developed my own blog in the ways necessary to warrant much attention. I’m still surprised at how supportive some of the most successful writers in the travel community have been to us, offering time and unsolicited advice and tips, despite this being a full-time profession for them. I’m now considering, with the spare time I have on the road, giving our blog some much needed love and attention and seeing where we can take it. Thanks for a great read and I look forward to learning the 4th and 5th way as your journey in travel continues, especially your next ‘sponsored’ trip to some incredible destination.

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Thanks, John!
My own path into travel blogging was accidental as well; it started as a way to stay in touch with friends and family instead of sending group emails! Who knew other people would start reading too! :-)
Have fun carving your own path in the blogging world!

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Sofie April 11, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Couldn’t hit ‘reply’ anymore so going to respond here.
I’m already using Google Analytics since I started up my blog, but it only shows me location and language. No age or other demographics. Maybe there’s a setting I’ve missed?
I know I can check Alexa for that as well, but as Alexa only counts the people using their toolbar (right?) that doesn’t look too reliable…

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Sofie – I find Analytics a little lacking on that front as well. If you have an active FB page, you can fill in some of the gaps by analyzing that data. Obviously not all your site visitors will be FB fans (and vice versa), but for the most part you can still get a gauge for who’s interested.

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Sara @ Travel Escapism April 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm

My goal is to get one of those freebie trips. Then perhaps I will retire. :)

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theprofessionalhobo April 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Ha ha – that’s the spirit! :-)

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Randall St. Germain April 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Thanks for the article, Nora. I’ve only been blogging for just over a year and even took five months off last year. It hurt my readership at the time, but I had to rethink what I was doing (and walk another Camino). In the months since I’ve returned to blogging, my readership has increased dramatically, although I’m sure not nearly anything comparable to you. I’m still learning and just in the process of accepting sponsors on my website, besides a couple of affiliate program ads. All your insight to the blogging industry are very helpful and I completely respect your values. Get better soon!

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theprofessionalhobo April 12, 2013 at 10:32 am

Thanks, Randall! In the first year or so, the best thing you can do for your blog is to build an audience and develop content. Great that sponsors are already coming out of the woodwork for you!

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Toni April 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm

This is such a sad yet inspiring post Nora. You’re realising that, for the moment, there are things that are out of your control and you’re learning to try and accept your current limitations whilst still looking forward. Not only that but you’re realising that maybe your perspectives of blogging etc have changed and although people may be surpassing you in terms of numbers etc, you still have a place in this world! Ultimately I think as long as you are happy with your current situation in terms of blogging and realise that we are all walking our own paths (whether they be in the same direction or not)…you can’t go wrong. Stay strong lovely x

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theprofessionalhobo April 12, 2013 at 10:44 am

Thank you for the kind thoughts, Toni! Very perceptive of you. Loss of control combined with a change of direction is rarely a seamless process. Hanging in there!

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Gigi April 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm

As always, lovely post.

I think I straddle your second and third phases (I had a brief fling with phase one, but man was that short-lived). I love love love feeling like I actually live in a place for a little while. And the longer I travel, the longer “a little while” becomes. :)

Wishing you a speedy recovery!

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theprofessionalhobo April 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Gigi – I like that: “the longer I travel, the longer ‘a little while’ becomes”! I just realized the other day that I’ve been in Grenada almost as long (cumulatively) as I was in Australia. My time in Oz dragged on and felt too long; my time here feels like a scratch on the surface.
I also think with the regular trips I’m (usually) taking from Grenada, that I am staying a little more stimulated – which keeps things fresh.

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Mimi Luk April 13, 2013 at 12:13 am

I really liked your description of the “three ages of travel.” I have gone through the first age. It was a lot of fun, but thoroughly exhausting. Though I toyed with the idea of the second age, I never did go through that, and have now settled into the last age. I love the idea of being able to integrate into a different culture and to live and experience life as the locals do.

Although I am sorry about your accident, it is obvious that it has given you the opportunity to slow down and to reflect. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

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theprofessionalhobo April 13, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Thanks Mimi! A down-coming of my “three ages” theory is the fact that it’s not necessarily a progression; and like you, ages can be skipped – or even experienced later. I’m bouncing between them myself.
And you’re right; this has been a great chance to reflect!

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Deb April 13, 2013 at 6:51 am

Great article Nora. You are certainly one of the leaders in the industry that we have always admired and looked up to. If there is a third and fourth wave of blogging, you’ll be at the forefront. I remember you writing about settling down and staying put in the Caribbean and I still think it is an amazing decision to be with the one you love. All the travel in the world doesn’t compare to being married to Dave and I think you feel the same way about your new man. To me (and this is just a personal point of view not for everyone) life is about finding love and happiness, then everything eventually falls into place. You found your love and are now working on ways to make all of that work together in a new way of living. This is where you are supposed to be and maybe the accident was something to remind you to stay put and slow down for awhile. I hope that you two are recovering nicely and I am so glad that you survived such a scary experience. Rest up and feel better. I know that there is nothing but great things in the future for the Professional Hobo.

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theprofessionalhobo April 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Hi Deb,
I can’t thank you enough for your thoughtful comment. You inspired me to reframe this waiting game I’m playing right now, and to appreciate my circumstances in a different way! My regular musing on next week’s Roundup will be testament to this – thank you again!
Happy Travels you lovebirds! :-)

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Heidi Wagoner April 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm

No matter the age/stage of travel, you are an inspiration. Just keep doing what you are passionate about. I find that “variety is the spice of life” applies to me in so many ways, especially with travel. We left the rat race last summer and are living in Spain with the kids. The 3rd age works for us with a sampling of age 2 and a peppering of 1 (gotta show the kids a little about backpacking). :-) As far as promo trips, none have come our way, but we are still “building”. Producing that content, loving our life and we will see what the universe provides and what doors may open. Thanks for sharing.

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theprofessionalhobo April 16, 2013 at 9:25 am

Thanks Heidi! Keep building your travel blog because you love it and write about things you’re passionate about….that’s what it’s all about. Like you say, we’ll all see what the universe provides. There will be many new doors as the industry continues to evolve.
Enjoy Spain!

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Heidi Wagoner April 16, 2013 at 2:14 pm

The perfect words for me to read. :-) Thanks

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A. Wannabe Travelwriter April 15, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Nora,

Why blog? For me, the impetus was the suggestion that doing a blog would “exercise my writing muscle,” until I might become a “real writer.” (I am still waiting for Nat. Geo. Traveler to find me.)

I don’t blog for income. I think it is the rare person, like you, that can actually make a go of that.

I don’t seek out sponsored trips, where they expect me to say nice things to make them look good, even though the pages, and pages, of “Special Advertising Section,” in travel magazines are made to look like actual travel articles. (Spoiler Alert: they’re not.)

If I am honest, I probably blog mostly for ego. There is something about seeing my stories in “print,” albeit on a free blog hosting site that would accept submissions from a monkey at a keyboard. (We get “published” while WordPress gets another spam magnet.)

I’m easy. If I get one blog comment that something I wrote made someone laugh, I’m “paid” in full for a month. (Hopefully, it was something I intended to be funny.)

While I once dreamed of producing prose a fraction of the magic I read from Tim Cahill, nowadays, it seems that most people are spending their time on Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, and whatever social media outlet has come out this week.

So, as an official old fart, my stage of travel blogging has become basically lazy. I have gone from two, or three, posts a week, to one every other week. (I didn’t even know that I could get blog stats in the negative numbers. )

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theprofessionalhobo April 16, 2013 at 9:30 am

Hi Frank,
You bring up an interesting point about “ego”. Blogging is a branch of the self-publishing industry, which in turn is a branch of the publishing industry….where the Tim Cahills of the world reside.
With our own blog we can be the Tim Cahill we always wanted to be, and looky there….we get to see our immortal words in black and white (albeit on a computer and not a bestselling book), and occasionally – people read and comment on it!
The instant gratification of getting responses and engagement from readers is one thing that authors working in the traditional publishing realm don’t get to enjoy.
Eat your heart out, Tim.
:-)

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Steph April 16, 2013 at 11:57 am

Hi Nora, I really enjoyed this post because it’s a rumination on the state of travel blogging that doesn’t take a left turn into judgement and bitterness (which I’ve been reading a lot of lately). I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years now and I’ve seen our industry change too, in both good and bad ways. I think it is still the Wild West in a lot of ways- everyone is scrambling around trying to find their own path, their own sustainable lifestyle. Definitely no right or wrong way to pull it off at this point- your only responsibility is to do what fits for you.

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theprofessionalhobo April 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Hi Steph – You’re right, it’s still the wild west. One of the themes coming up in related discussions on other sites seems to be about the ethics of taking sponsored trips that don’t serve the site’s niche or readers, and how easy it is for virtuous bloggers to get sidetracked by freebies, and start focusing on artificially boosting social media numbers to get free trips.

This is because the industry is still largely unregulated; anybody can start a travel blog and hit “publish” (as it should be). So aside from a few income/affiliate disclosure requirements, people are still figuring out how best to incorporate this new sponsorship element into their businesses (ie: travel blogs) without compromising the blog’s mission and integrity.
And that’s up to each and every travel blogger to figure out for themselves.

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Alana - Paper Planes April 18, 2013 at 4:50 am

This is one of life’s greatest struggles isn’t it? Torn between trying to be completely content with what is happening in your own life and not putting too much weight on what others are doing that makes you feel like you should be doing something bigger/better/different. I regularly question my actions, choices and where I am in my life based on what I perceive of other people’s lives. While it’s good to be aware of other people and what they’re doing, you can’t compare…it’s so hard though!

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theprofessionalhobo April 18, 2013 at 8:50 am

Hi Alana – Wise words! And very true. No matter what we’re doing, there’s always a “Jonses” to keep up with, isn’t there? ;-)

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Danielle Kitchel April 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Nice post, Nora. Have you thought that maybe the stages have less to do with your physical age and more to do with your travel maturity? I see people who are just retiring ready to jump for joy at all the new travel experiences that await them. They are like kids, with backpacks. They are only ready for slow travel after they’ve hit all the items on their bucket lists…and they have fewer years to accomplish them. Once they have been on the road a while, they slow down, staying longer in certain places, or even finding a place to settle. There is a rhythm to travel, an ebb and flow. Some people find it and some just run around like headless chickens. I don’t see many long term travelers who have not discovered their own personal travel cycle. Because it is uncomfortable without it…like riding a bike with square wheels.

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theprofessionalhobo April 20, 2013 at 10:17 am

Hi Danielle,
Exactly! I wasn’t necessarily attaching the ages of travel to a specific chronological age. But like you say it’s often a progression.

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Linda May 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm

I read this when you first posted, and thought I’d commented then. Like other commentators I love your honesty in this post. One thing you realize as you get older is not to be absolutely dogmatic, well, about anything in life, let alone travel, and I heartily applaud your open-mindedness, that you feel you may swing between those “ages” over the next few years. Variety, afterall, is the spice of life + there is a lot of wisdom in what the song says “To everything there is a season…..”

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theprofessionalhobo May 30, 2013 at 7:51 am

Hi Linda – wise words indeed! And thank you; I do try very hard to see the many sides to a coin before trying to place my finger on it.

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Katie June 14, 2013 at 11:51 am

Great post. I especially love this: “maybe I’m not being left behind; maybe I’m moving on. ”

I wrote a post last summer while I was near the end of my 1 year career break trip, getting ready to return home and feeling like all of my friends had moved on without me – I even wrote that I felt like I’d been left behind. But I like this way of looking at it better. Thanks.

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theprofessionalhobo June 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Thanks, Katie – and I’m thrilled that you like this different perspective. We’re all moving in one direction or another in our lives, and rarely is it nicely synchronized. It’s a matter of being at peace with our own path. In many ways your friends may have felt “left behind” by you – ironically, since you felt the same way about them. Life is funny sometimes!

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Lori January 8, 2014 at 11:40 pm

Hi Nora, so love hearing from you! Glad you are doing better. Your honesty is great…so from the heart. You know as well as I do that the only thing that stays the same is change. Oh, and if the three month Panama house sit needs a sitter, my husband and I would be happy to do it! We are considering relocating to Panama.

Cheers,
Lori

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theprofessionalhobo January 10, 2014 at 11:17 am

Hi Lori,
Thank you! The Panama home-owner here has a small army of eager house-sitters (understandably – it’s an awesome place)! But I’ll keep my ear to the ground for you… :-)

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nail art brushes May 9, 2014 at 4:44 pm

My crush on Ralph Nader started more than a month ago at the Milwaukee airport albeit slowly, as all things go in the Midwest.

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