By Emily Mandagie
Travel blogging. The most envied and trending job on the internet. Some people are even able to make six figure salaries from this kind of living! However, while social media might make you think this lifestyle is always rosy, we’re here to give you an insider’s looks on what this lifestyle is all about. And let us tell you from experience, it’s not all beaches and mountain top views. Often times we find ourselves buying gas station hot dogs for lunch or sleeping at a highway rest stops!
When Berty and I started to pursue this line of work in 2016, we wanted to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about travel blogging. We chose this life of travel freelancing and working for ourselves – not because we love fighting for our next paycheck, but because exploring new places together is what gets us up every morning. Here’s our story.
First, a little bit about us…
Residing in Seattle, Washington, Berty and I (Emily) love to explore around our city and discover new and beautiful places nearby. We feel like living in Seattle gives us the best of everything: the mountains are an hour away, the ocean is a half-day’s drive, and everything in between is gorgeous and green. We believe there is so much to see just around our area, so we’ve dedicated our blog to sharing our adventures in the PNW. We got married in May 2016 and have been in love with traveling together ever since!
6 Secrets Of A Travel Blogging Couple
1. There’s A Lot Of Behind The Scenes Work
Travel bloggers typically focus on showing you beautiful destinations. We certainly do that on our blog, and we love to share these moments with you! However, these pictures only represent a tiny part of the production process. There’s so much work, pre and post trip, to consider before we post something on our blog.
Here’s a little peek into an average blog post:
- Scout locations ahead of time (Could take anywhere from days to weeks)
- Wake up early (very early)
- Pack all gear, make sure everything is charged, memory cards are empty
- Drive for a LONG time (3-4 hours)
- Arrive at location, find the best perspective or vantage point
- Take lots of photos: scenery, portraits, products, details
- Return home, import all photos, unpack
- Spend 1-2 days editing, culling, choosing the best images
- Spend 1-3 days on blog post, focusing on SEO, links, being incredibly helpful, importing images, editing, reviewing, posting
- Share on social media which include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, 500px, etc.
So you see, there’s a lot that goes into sharing just one post. We have a lot of fun traveling and going to beautiful places, but we also spend a ton of time at home, sitting at our computers!
2. We Make A Lot Of Mistakes
Take last winter for example.
We had planned a jam-packed weekend trip up to Vancouver, Canada. I (Emily) had dreams of breathing in the crisp morning air at Buntzen Lake, peering over the Capilano Suspension Bridges, and strolling through Stanley Park. That is, before the biggest snowstorm of December descended upon Vancouver.
In the morning, the road to the Buntzen Lake was closed because of snow – (we barely got our car stuck out of a ditch.) Our Airbnb was on a hill and it took us 45 minutes of our car sliding on the ice to finally get it free. To make matters worse, one moment it was dumping snow, the next pouring down rain. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park was closed. Our plans fell apart right and left.
Now, we could have called this trip a flop and just drove home early. But with Berty’s creative mind, we picked up a map and started researching things to do around the city. If the weather wasn’t so horrible that weekend, we would have never taken shelter in Granville Island Public Market or gone up to the Vancouver Lookout. Because it was rainy, we holed up at Revolver Coffee and slowly enjoyed cup after cup as we took in the cool, urban setting around us. Little did we know we would have the most memorable “indoor” weekend trip in Vancouver!
Plans may not go exactly the way you imagine them, but with a little creativity and a good attitude you can make the best of any trip!
3. We Spend A Lot Of Our Own Money
A lot of the times people think travel bloggers will get paid to jet around the world and photograph beautiful places 24/7. We are fortunate to have worked with awesome companies that give us opportunities like that, but we also spend a lot of our own money to discover new places on our own!
We are currently planning a personal trip to New Orleans with our friends later this summer. Berty and I have been watching ticket prices to snag the best deal on Hopper and we’ve compared AirBNBs for the most cost-effective accommodations! When it comes to gear, we also like to spend money on quality items that will last us through the years of many trips.
Yes, we seem to spend more money on airfare and AirBNBs than the average person, but that’s really what we want to do! We’re okay holding off on daily Starbucks runs and shopping sprees because we’d rather spend our time discovering the world. When you prioritize spending money on what you love to do, anything is possible!
4. We Learned About Over-Packing The Hard Way
Last summer, we spent a month in Indonesia visiting Berty’s family. During this time, we hopped from island to island carrying around a giant suitcase that was far too big for the both of us. We ended up wearing not even half the clothes we packed, and bought too much to bring back home. It was such a hassle! Looking back, we carried lots of “one-time use” items and “just-in-cases” when we really should have left those extra 10 pounds at home.
Since that trip, we’ve learned to travel minimally. Last January, we challenged ourselves to only bring carry-ons on trips that are less than a week so that we could spend the maximum amount of time discovering our newest destination. It’s been a freeing experience to know that we don’t have to wait in baggage claim, pay for extra luggage, or wonder if our bag went missing! We needed to have those experiences of carrying too much to learn what was really necessary when packing for a trip.
5. We No Longer Have “Vacations”
Signing up for the travel blogging life, we kind of gave up ever having a 100% relaxing vacation. Every place we go, we’ve got our camera in tow and a list of places we want to see. It seems like the only true “vacations” for us are when we return home from a long trip; sitting on the couch and binge-watching a Netflix series is a rare occurrence!
6. It’s Still Work
We work together with brands to produce beautiful content, share their products, and reach their marketing goals. Just like people get a paycheck for showing up at work, we too must show up and perform to earn our living. Our desk may be anywhere in the world, but you best believe we still sit down and work our butts off!
All in all, Berty and I have the freedom to travel a lot more than the average person, which is a total blessing. We can work anywhere in the world, enjoy diverse projects, and get to meet with lots of different, awesome people. Traveling so much gives us an opportunity to share our experience with you so that when you go on vacation, you don’t make the same blunders we did!
We kinda feel likes it’s our duty to share the ugly stuff with the good stuff. That’s when the real lessons come. If our humble blog can give you any tips to make traveling easier for you, then our job is done, my friend. Thanks for reading about us and our crazy life, and I hope that it gave you a little insight as to the fun life that is travel blogging!
Follow us at TheMandagies.com for travel inspiration in the Pacific Northwest and beyond! We’d love to connect with you! Special thanks to NFReads.com for allowing us to guest blog here. It was a privilege!
Berty and Emily Mandagie