Why Travel Writing is Misunderstood

I’m sure we’ve all had our moments when we feel misunderstood. I can only speak for myself but I’ve had many of these moments in the past year alone.

Pursuing a career in the arts already puts me at a disadvantage compared to those who have a more stable and safe job. I sometimes feel that my family and friends don’t completely understand my life and while I am fully aware that I’ve taken the road less traveled, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are some misunderstandings about being a travel writer that I wish other people realized.

Press Trip Assumptions:
I’m sure that other travel bloggers can vouch for me when I say that press trips are not easy to come by. Every year there are thousands of new bloggers who are either starting a Round the World trip, going on an extended vacation or just eager to get their foot in the door of the travel industry. Whatever your reason, the competition is stiff.

Still a newby myself, I’ve researched tour companies, sent countless emails, sent follow-up emails, attended networking events and taken advantage of meeting people who also live in New York and work in the travel industry. Without this added effort, I doubt that I would have had a shot securing a press trip. The majority of Tourism Boards have had their budgets slashed this year, making my odds even slimmer.

So whenever I hear someone say “oh Megan has another one of these free trips coming up” I cringe. It’s not like I’ll be laying on a beach basking in the sun. I will be working while I explore, writing as I travel. I find these statements, although perhaps meant as compliments, insulting.

Making Sacrifices:
Making the leap from the music industry to the travel industry can definitely be seen as jumping from one failing industry to another but this should not mean that my sacrifices lack significance. Right now I’m renting a small room near Columbia University and freelancing from local coffee shops. For me, this is the ideal situation for my current lifestyle. Freelancing gives me the flexibility to travel while giving me time to grow Bohemian Trails, which is a full-time job in itself. Not being attached to a lease means that I can move to Paris at the drop of the hat.

When I mention this to my family and friends back home, they are immediately horrified that I’m living without a TV and that my flatmates speak Spanish better than English. Sometimes their faces are so distraught that I have to remind myself that I’m living in a decent apartment and not a sewer in a third world country. One day I want to feel more settled and have a nice house with a picket fence but for right now I want the ability to travel and make any city my home. While this is certainly unorthodox, it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

My life at a coffee shop

Not Being Able to Stop:
Since I stopped working full-time for someone else and started working mainly for myself, I’ve found it hard to stop working. I’ve heard other travel bloggers express similar concerns. In fact, I actually feel guilty if I’m not tweeting, writing or marketing my site. There is always something else to do. I’m basically a small business owner which means I’m responsible for finding my own work, recording my yearly earnings through a tax software system and taking care of my own expenses out of pocket. Although I went home to Virginia this past Thanksgiving and Christmas, I spent a good chunk of my “time off” catching up on freelance projects and getting ahead on my writing.

Sure, I could technically take a break or vacation whenever I want, doing so would not benefit me in the least. While this sort of lifestyle is difficult, I ultimately feel more fulfilled because I’m doing something that I love and therefore I’m willingly put in the time. Finding a balance between working and enjoying life without being connected to the Internet non-stop is a skill I hope to better master in the coming months.

Searching for Balance in Chile

Travel is Priceless:
I think the main worry of a parent with a travel writing daughter is wondering how I will support myself. While I understand and appreciate this concern, I believe that if you want something bad enough, you will make sacrifices to make it happen. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m living simply, not over-spending on things I don’t need and have been doing a good job of finding paid work that is not only in the travel industry but also allows me to work from any destination.

Although there is nothing wrong with having a stable job and income, I want to allow myself to be as bohemian as I please before I have a family to support. The experiences I’ve had while traveling are truly priceless and I’ll keep going until it is no longer a top priority of mine.

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Hi! I’m Megan,

a Scorpio sun and Libra moon who left her job in the music industry to travel and write full-time. Since then, i´ve explored more than 60 countries in the hopes that you will, too.

The world is made of magic and so are you!


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