“Daming pera ah!”
“Sarap ng buhay, puro travel!”
These are just a few of the usual comments that travel bloggers get from friends and strangers. At first glance, it may seem like an non-stop vacation full of Instagram-worthy sunsets, lazing around on hammocks and sipping cocktails by the beach. But that’s not always the case.
We reached out to members of the Philippine Travel Blogger (PTB) community to ask them about the most common misconceptions they face and the realities behind blogging as a job. Here are some of the main issues they shared.
Misconception #1: That it’s easy.
Reality: A lot of work goes into travel blogging and maintaining it.
“Most people think that travel blogging is easy. But what others probably don’t realize is that it involves discipline. During trips, we need to take notes, capture photos and videos, post social media updates in various platforms and draft travel stories,” says Melo Villareal of Out of Town Blog.
There are costs involved including investing in the proper tools to do all these well as blog maintenance costs (domain name, hosting, etc.), internet service and more.
“Apart from writing and photography, maintaining a travel blog is a completely different story. It takes a lot of patience to learn basic “HTML” skills. As you grow your audience, your web hosting requirement also increases which converts to higher cost.”
Misconception #2: That all we do is travel.
Reality: Traveling is just one aspect.
Yosh Dimen of The Poor Traveler points out that the travel part is just one half of travel blogging. It actually involves a lot of multi-tasking and constantly learning new skills.
“Those who thrive in creating informative travel guides have to research and gather data, verify them, and interview locals and tourism workers.”
“Since we are our own publishers and marketers, we’re also in charge of marketing our channels, building a brand, engaging with our followers, moderating conversations, editing photos and videos, taking care of the technical side, and constantly learning to keep up with all the trends and changes in the digital world.”
Misconception #3: That trips are always free.
Reality: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
It may seem like travel bloggers are always traveling for free to exotic destinations, but Mervz Marasigan of the blog Pinoy Adventurista says that trips are not exactly free.
“There are services rendered in exchange for the trip in terms of media mileage, exposure and promotion. It takes a lot of time and effort to produce content. You need creativity and skills to write an article, take photos, edit and promote a destination,” says Marasigan.
Misconception #4: That we’re always having fun.
Reality: We have our down moments too.
Most people think that travel bloggers are simply “a bunch of people having fun all the time,” says Micaela Rodriguez of the blog Senyorita. “We have our down moments too that we just don’t share on social media.”
Claire Madarang of I am Traveling Light agrees. “People think our lives are perfect and all is rosy, because that might be the impression if you just look at our Instagram and other online posts. Travel bloggers have problems similar to what other people may face too. Some of us just might choose not to say it online, and we don’t have to.”
Misconception #5: That it’s glamorous.
Reality: Often, it’s not glamorous at all.
In order to write a good travel blog, you need to travel. And constant traveling can be tiring and physically demanding. Long travel time, early morning flights, airport delays, lost luggage, lost passports and other stressful aspects of travel can take its toll.
“They don’t see the rough side of things. There are days we hike for hours under the heat of the sun or ride on a fishing vessel that wreaks havoc on your nose just so you can explore a far flung area,” says blogger Anna Varona.
Misconception #6: That we’re rich.
Reality: We’re rich in terms of life experience.
According to Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer, the biggest misconception people have about travel bloggers has to do with money.
“They think I must be loaded, given all the travels I do. They borrow money from me and either don’t pay it back (because they think I’m rich anyway) or get mad when I don’t lend it to them.
So while a lot of travel bloggers may be rich in terms of life experience, their bank accounts and wallets would say otherwise. “What I’m rich at is the passion and determination to live the life I’ve always wanted,” says Taboclaon.
Misconception #7: That travel bloggers quit their jobs to travel the world.
Reality: We just change our job description.
You may have read all those success stories about travel bloggers and influencers who “quit their job just to travel the world.” Other people think that travel bloggers are mostly unemployed or that travel blogging is “not a real job.”
According to Christine Rogador who wrote 5 Lies that Travel Bloggers Tell You in her blog, The Traveling Pinoys, most don’t actually quit their jobs, but just change their line of work in order to travel.
“There’s always this romantic notion about giving up everything and readers buy stories of people taking the leap. But what a lot of people don’t know is travel bloggers are still working.”
Misconception #8: That we’re full time travelers / bloggers.
Reality: We can travel while balancing a full-time job.
Kin Enriquez of the blog Boarding Gate 101 shares that the biggest misconception he gets is that he can’t have a meaningful career in an 8-5 job while traveling on a regular basis.
Contrary to popular belief, not all travel bloggers are freelancers. Many have regular day jobs, work online (which gives them more flexibility to travel) or are just really good at managing their time. Enriquez works full-time as a Risk & Compliance Manager.
“I get a lot of ‘Do you even work?’ and ‘How do you manage?” questions. I think the key is time management–using my vacation leaves strategically, and taking advantage of long weekends and holidays when planning, as well as parlaying business travel to include personal trips as well,” says Enriquez.
Misconception #9: That we’re walking Lonely Planet Guidebooks and / or travel agencies.
Reality: We just write about our experiences during a trip.
“How much was the tuktuk from Khao San to the Royal Palace?” “Where is the best place to eat in El Nido for a vegan?” “How much is the total budget for 4 persons traveling to Bohol?” Receiving questions like these are a normal occurrence for travel bloggers like me,” says Marky Ramone Go of Nomadic Experiences.
Readers think travel bloggers know every detail about every destination in the world and can be consulted anytime regarding itineraries.
“In reality, we don’t know everything, because we just base our knowledge from what we experience during our trips. Each journey produces a different set of experiences for every traveler.”
Travel bloggers also get mistaken for being travel agencies or the owners of hotels and resorts just because they wrote about a place.
“I always receive messages asking how much the package tours are that I offer. Or if they can join my tours,” says Jonathan Espina of Jon to the World.
“I have to constantly explain that I am a travel blogger, that writing about my stories and experiences about a place doesn’t mean that I organize tours or I own a travel agency. I hope that readers will actually read our content so they can fully understand the work that we do,” he adds.
Misconception #10: That travel bloggers are responsible for destroying a once-pristine place.
Reality: We’re all responsible for preserving tourist spots.
Lastly, in recent years, some travel bloggers have gotten flak for popularizing once-pristine or offbeat destinations.
Gian Jubela of Adrenaline Romance says some people believe that travel bloggers are ultimately responsible for instigating mass tourism and the destruction of nature just because they write about it.
“A blogger visits a pristine, virgin, undiscovered place and blogs about it. Because of the blog post, more and more people will then visit that place. This supposedly produces negative effects such as mass tourism, the imposition of hefty fees, garbage, destruction of the area, etc.,” says Jubela.
However, he points out that each person who visits a place (whether or not they’re travel bloggers) should be responsible for its preservation.
“Locals and LGUs have the responsibility of regulating activities to protect the place from being destroyed. Each person should clean up after himself, respect local customs, practice Leave No Trace (LNT), etc.”
Celine Murillo of Celineism adds: “Keeping a place a “secret” doesn’t guarantee its protection. We lost too many a beautiful place simply because no one knows about it, hence no one wanted to protect it.”
These are just a few of the many misconceptions travel bloggers face. Got any others you’d like to add or debunk? Sound off below!