If you’ve been following along with me, you already know that just four months ago, I quit my corporate 9-to-5 job to pursue travel blogging full-time. On my blog, I’ve touched on the subject of how exactly I made this happen, but haven’t talked very much about how my life has changed since making the transition.
So, that’s what this post is about – me looking back on the past few months and identifying the exact ways that becoming a full-time travel blogger has affected my overall lifestyle and mindset.
While in many ways, I am living my dream and wouldn’t change a single thing, I will confront a preconceived notion about travel blogging up front: it is not all rainbows and sunshine. Being a full-time travel blogger is not all beautiful places, perfectly poised breakfast spreads and consistent happiness like my Instagram photos suggest it to be. Oftentimes, it is grueling work and sleepless nights. Sometimes, it is tired eyes and exasperated frustration – things that can never be detected from a perfectly curated Instagram photo.
I did my best in this post to highlight all of the positive aspects of my lifestyle, while also shining light on the negative ones in an effort to be as honest as possible.
(If by the end of this post, you are like “ummmm, I want to be a blogger,” this is how I can help)
“Office” is a word I am no longer familiar with
The traditional office has not only disappeared; it’s been tossed out of the window into a dumpster and engulfed in flames.
Dramatic, but true…
My “office” is hotel beds, airplane tray tables (where I’m writing now!), airport restaurants and long bus rides. The location, noise levels and working hours are inconsistent. At first, it was incredibly difficult to force myself to work in such unusual work environments, but it’s something I’ve gotten better at simply because I have to.
I post similar Instagram Stories probably 4x a month 😉
This requires a complete shift in thinking not only because my work environment is so unusual, but also because, after being at a 9-to-5 office job for so long, I came to associate sitting at a desk with making money. As a travel blogger constantly on the move, I’ve had to break this mental connection and realize that my income is not dependent on any one location.
Friendships are difficult to maintain
This is one of the uglier sides of travel blogging, but is unfortunately an inevitable outcome. Traveling inherently means that I am away from my apartment and my friends in New York City a lot. While I am off making memories of my own, I am missing out on my friends at home and on being a part of the new memories they create.
This extends to romantic relationships as well. Creating and maintaining a relationship with a guy who wants me to stay location-dependent just isn’t possible. The reality of my career choice is that I need to date someone who travels for a similar profession as mine (or is comfortable and confident with how much I do travel). Aaaand then, the other issue of how do I find the time to even meet this person?
While this may seem like a total negative, like all difficult things in life, there is a silver lining…
taking on the rugged terrain of Aruba with (from left to right) Kristin (@bemytravelmuse), Aggie (@travel_inhershoes), Mau (@maujl) and Christine (@tourdelust)… and me)!
Traveling constantly forces you to forge new friendships and make connections with people whose interests are more aligned with yours.
I can’t begin describe the value of the new friendships I’ve made with people in the travel blogging community and on the road. They’ve pushed me to be the best version of myself, to explore every corner of the world and to never settle.
Plus, my best friendships from before blogging have remained solid and those are the ones that matter in the end, anyway.
I will never travel like I used to
I sometimes think back on the days where I traveled and didn’t create any content aside from a handful of mediocre iPhone photos and laugh because it’s so different from the kind of traveling that I do now.
As a travel blogger, it is my responsibility to seek out the best that locales have to offer – the best dining, the most scenic spots, etc. While traveling, I need to be constantly exploring and collecting all valuable information to then relay to you all.
And as a social media influencer, it is my responsibility to create stunning, high quality photos and video. This means that I am constantly on the look-out for the best photo locations, waking up early to catch the sunrise & avoid crowds and spending hours setting up the perfect shots.
These two main responsibilities have changed travel significantly for me for obvious reasons. There are some days I wish I could shut off my travel blogger mind, put away my camera equipment and enjoy the moment. There are some sunsets I wish I could enjoy by myself without documenting the beauty. But still, there are far more others where my want to fully capture every aspect of a place to the best of my ability outweighs all else.
Photos are not just photos
This relates a bit to my previous point about never traveling the same again. While I do take photos of the unposed reality for my blog, Instagram photos are not just photos. They are perfectly thoughtful, every detail considered down to a T.
To show you exactly what I mean, I’ll walk through the behind-the-scenes process of an Instagram photo taken at The Museum Hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey.
- PROPS: We ordered a mezze and a meat dish for lunch. The meat dish didn’t look great visually for this photo, so I set it on a table nearby that is out of frame. I arranged the mezze in a color order that I thought looked best and added a hookah from the hotel lobby to add cultural context.
- PERSONAL PREP: I did my makeup and hair to prepare for this shoot. I put on a cute romper that was inappropriate for the high 50’s temperature and threw on a jacket right after shooting. If I wasn’t an influencer, I’m not sure this romper would have been my outfit of choice, but it photographed well!
- OUTTAKES: There are around 200 versions of this image and it took around 30 minutes to shoot. Food getting cold while shooting the Instagram is a real thing, people…
- EDITING: After sifting through the 200+ photos from this shoot, I spent around 20 minutes choosing the best photo and an additional 45 minutes in Adobe Lightroom manipulating light, shadows and colors of the above.
- REALITY: This image wasn’t far from reality. While we moved the hookah after shooting, we devoured the mezze and wine shortly after shooting, and enjoyed each others’ company without documenting it all.
Of course, there are images on my Instagram that I spend less than two minutes planning and make magical in post-process (editing). And then, there are some that I spend even more time than the above planning. It totally depends on the place and the mood I want to convey.
I recognize that, to most, this might seem like a total nightmare and a waste of time, but it is my job and has become something that I really enjoy. I love the entire process of setting up a scene, capturing it in a hundred different ways, choosing the one photo I like best and then editing it in Lightroom to share with you all. While this takes hours and hours of my time, I no longer see photos as simply capturing exactly what is happening in a place, but as an artful manipulation of elements to convey a certain mood and emotion that a destination makes me feel.
I am more restless than ever before
I thought I had a bad wanderlust bug a year ago… Boyyyy, was I wrong.
Now that I am exploring new cultures and new parts of the world on an ongoing basis, I am filled with more wanderlust than ever before. The best way to describe this feeling is that, the second my plane lands at my home airport in New York City, I look up and immediately want to be in the most recently departed plane going wherever it’s going.
I have never had so much urge and drive to explore every corner of this planet and learn from every culture on Earth.
I work harder and I learn more than in my 9-to-5
I am no longer a junior-level Public Relations professional, only useful to do a small number of specific duties.
I am the CEO, CMO, COO and CTO of The Bold Brunette.
I manage my brand’s image, organize collaborations and pitch new business. I handle my company’s expenses and taxes. I write, I photograph, I film, I code and I edit. I am my brand’s everything and I wear many different hats.
Did I have any idea how copyright laws or self-employment expenses worked prior to this? No. And one year ago, did I know how to work with brands, promote myself on social media or create stunning photographs? Truth is… not really!
I taught myself absolutely everything that goes into my career today and handling it all makes me one busy bee.
Travel blogging is my life, not my job
One of the biggest differences I noticed when leaving my 9-to-5 job to work for myself as a full-time travel blogger were my hours. In a normal office job, I woke up at 7:30 am to get to work by 9 am. I worked all day and subconsciously counted down the hours until 5 pm when I could leave. The second I walked out of those office doors, I shut off my job completely. I couldn’t be bothered to care or think about work.
Now, I am on the clock 24/7. I am never off. I am always, always thinking of new ideas and ways to improve my brand. I answer emails at all hours of the day and sometimes write blog posts in the middle of the night. And this working around the clock isn’t because I have to. I work all of the time and love every second of it because I love working for myself and I love everything about the travel industry.
Travel is not just my job. It is my entire world.
I have full control
Where I work. Sometimes, I like to work in my bed. Other times, my desk, and more other times, airport lounges or cafes.
When I work. I’m not a morning person, so I work better and more efficiently from the hours of 1 pm to 2 am.
How much I make. I can charge the dollar amount I feel is appropriate for sponsorships and collaborations. I can advertise my Instagram Boot Camp as much or as little as I’d like and see a direct correlation in sales. I can optimize my SEO and grow my Instagram following to directly affect my blog views and social media followers and, in turn, my income.
Who I work with. Since The Bold Brunette is my business, I decide what brands and bloggers I want to work with.
shot on behalf of the Tourism Office of Spain, a tourism board/country I love
Money is inconsistent
R.I.P to the comfortable days of receiving a bi-monthly payment and knowing the exact number that will be written on that paycheck.
Nowadays, I have multiple streams of income and honestly, it is sometimes uncomfortable and unpredictable.
The truth of being an online influencer is that some brands are really bad at making payments on time. While I know I might have a certain amount coming in “any day now,” I sometimes have to dig into my savings to pay for certain things “in the meantime” until that payment comes through. I’ve had to email brands multiple times in a row following up on a payment they owe me for work I did. I’ve been paid weeks after the payment’s due date and once, three months after.
People no longer understand what I “do”
Public Relations professional was an easy job to explain to people who asked what I did for a living. Full-time travel blogger? Not so much.
“I didn’t know you could make a living doing that” and “Sounds too good to be true” are the most common answers I get. Quickly followed by, “How did you get that gig?” and then, either pure confusion or awe, or some combination thereof.
Don’t get me wrong – I love telling people how I created my own dream job! It’s something I take a lot of pride in. It’s just that the “what do you do?” question now prompts a muuuuch longer conversation than ever before. And 70% of the time, the person who asked the question still doesn’t understand by the end.
I am excited about life
I’ll end this post on the most positive note! I am happier than I have ever been.
I wake up every morning excited and ready to take the day on. I am self-assured and self-confident in ways that, arguably, I have lacked entirely in the past.
I am no longer confused about what I want to do with my life and the future is no longer a daunting grey space of unpredictability and confusion. It is bright & hopeful, and I feel in complete control.
I fully believe that I owe this drastic shift in mindset to the fact that I turned my greatest passion into my career.
If you’re interested in becoming a full-time blogger yourself, follow this link to learn how I can help!
What are your thoughts on being a full-time blogger? What would be your favorite and least favorite things?
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This was such a GREAT read, Christina! You lead such an interesting life, and I am happy that you are sharing both the positives and the negatives about life as a full-time travel blogger! It definitely is fascinating, and getting to control your own life, work and lifestyle seems like an amazing opportunity, in spite of the uncertainty!
Pinning this for others to read, and good luck on the rest of your journey! *heading over to find your perfectly curated Instagram feed*
Oh my goshhh Lisa, thank you so much for all of those kind words! I’m so happy you loved the post and are following along with me xx
thanks for this very personal and honest look-behind-the-scenes post. It was very interesting too read. Everyday we see those perfect Instagram images of bloggers but it’s even equally interesting how much work an effort is really behind that. I could really feel that despite all the ups and downs, this is what you wanna do. That fact plus staying authentic is what I love so much about your Instagram pics and stories, keep it up girl.
Btw. this is the first time I checked out your blog, should actually do that more often.
To be honest, I didn’t realize how much work went into blogging and social media before becoming a blogger myself! It’s a career not many know much about, and I strive to be as honest and authentic as possible with my readers. VERY happy to hear that that is coming across.
Thank you so much for reading, Kathi, and happy to have you as a new reader. Means a lot to me xx
It’s so funny you wrote about this because (randomly) this morning, I was making my on-the-go breakfast for my 7:30-4:30 job and I literally thought, “I wonder what TheBoldBrunette hated about working 9-5 and how her life has changed.”
I got a laugh out of “the traditional office has not only disappeared; it’s been tossed out of the window into a dumpster and engulfed in flames.” Thanks for sharing and can’t wait to register for Instagram Bootcamp in the near future!
Haha! I’m happy I read your mind and answered with a blog post 😉 And I’m SO excited to have you in the Boot Camp, Courtney!! Thanks for reading xx
Oh, one more question – do you ever feel awkward when you are staging your photos or for example, you said you wore this when it was 50 degrees out and it was chilly? Or does the staff know who you are and why you’re doing it?! I always get embarrassed even taking photos! Were you your own photographer in the Museum Hotel photo?
Haha! Great question. In this particular case, The Museum Hotel knew I was going to be shooting photos so they didn’t think much of it. I was traveling with a fellow blogger and she took the photo for me. But in other cases, yes – it is definitely weird because people around you have no idea what you’re doing! But you get over it the more and more you shoot photos in public, and just do what you gotta do 🙂
I’ve been waiting to read this ever since you posted that Instagram story at the airport 🙂 thank you for being so transparent about the positive and negative aspects of your new career. It can be difficult for those of us interested in a similar lifestyle to truly understand the pros and cons because they’re not always talked about or readily available, so your honesty is appreciated and necessary. I massively admire the life you have created for yourself from the ground up and can’t wait to see what’s next for The Bold Brunette.
Ahh Natalie, thank you for consistently being the most supportive human EVER! I’m so glad this post gave you more of an inside look into what life as a travel blogger is really like, aka what you’re getting yourself into hehe. Thanks again babe!
Natalie, this is exactly the same thing I was about to say!! 🙂
“I’ve been waiting to read this ever since you posted that Instagram story at the airport”
Hahah, I caught a glimpse of what Christina was writing there too and couldn’t wait to read!!
Hahaha!! I honestly didn’t realize that my Instagram Story from that day had a sneak peak of this post until you guys commented about this! I’m sorry for keeping you on the edge of your seats for so long 😉
Great post girl! Im a newbie at this whole travel blogging thing and love seeing your journey in becoming full-time! I hope to become full time soon. Do you have any recommendations on making friends with other bloggers? I feel discouraged since other bloggers don’t really respond to me if they have a bigger following than I do. Loving the new updates you’ve added to your blog!
Totally understand that struggle! I recommend reaching out to girls that have approximately the same number of followers as you. That way, you guys can grow and learn together. That’s what I did and it’s been great! That being said, there are a lot of nice travel bloggers with larger followings that will respond to you, so don’t be afraid to try 🙂
Thank you so much for reading, Stephanie, and let me know if you have any questions regarding blogging or social media! xx
Christina, you are truly an inspiration!! I was so excited to read this post, and now that I have a glimpse into the life of a full time travel blogger, I want it even more!! Hehe. But yes, it is definitely hard work, however, when you love it and look forward to it, it doesn’t seem like “work” anymore right? Except the taxes part…
I’m so glad I signed up for your Bootcamp Course!! It’s been so helpful, and such a great learning experience! Also love the community you created through it 🙂
Exactly!! Like they say, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life! 😉 I’m also SO happy you signed up for my Instagram Boot Camp and are a part of the community. Can’t wait to see all of the progress you make with your blog and Instagram xx
I love this Christina so much! I love the transparency that bring a blogger and instagram influencer isn’t as simple as snapping a photo. It’s real work and much harder in a sense then a traditional 9-5! However it’s so inspiring that if your willing to put in the work and love what you do you can have an amazing fulfilled life that’s maybe not the norm but all the more exciting for it! I also have to say a personal thank you! Your instagram course has been life changing and so inspiring to me to make travel a priority and not something I have to beg my employer to do every two weeks! Keep up the Inspiration girl!
Thank you so much for reading, Melissa!! I’m happy you liked the post and am thrilled to have you in my course! Nothing but good things ahead for you girl xx
Like I said in my comment on your Sayulita/PV/Punta Mita post, I really appreciate the writing skills here. That being said, I’m commenting from my desk at my 9 to 5 job and am going to be taking your experience as my inspiration. It’s time for me to be bold!
Your words mean so much to me – thank you! Hehe yes it’s always time to be bold 😉 Thanks for reading!
Christina!!! Thank you so much for sharing this, this really shows just how much effort needs to be taken into every single photo and how it’s about so much more than that! You truly are very inspiring Christina, and I really admire your honesty and how you’ve been able to succeed so incredibly!
Aw thank you so much for reading this, Lola, and I’m really glad you enjoyed the post!
Great, informative post! Thank you so much for sharing about your blogging life. I especially enjoyed your behind the scenes look at all the effort that goes behind just one Instagram shot. I’ve always wondered about this!
As a new travel blogger myself this has been a very interesting read. ?
I’m so happy you loved the post!! And are still attracted to the travel blogger gig after reading all of the behind-the-scenes that goes into getting a good IG shot 😉 Thanks for reading, Louise xx
Christina.. this is AMAZING. Thank you so much for sharing and giving insight into what ACTUALLY goes down!!
It has been so insanely awesome watching your journey from My Bold Travel Movement to The Bold Brunette, and it truly has inspired me more and more each day to focus on what makes me happy.. to carve out more time and focus for myself… to be intentional with my life!
Also, side note: Instagram Boot Camp is FABULOUS. Have only been able to get through the first module so far (because #life) but I am super jazzed about all of the worksheets and brainstorming! Can’t wait to keep working on it.
Thank you so much for following along with me from the very beginning!! You have no idea how much that means to me and how happy it makes me 🙂 I’m also so happy to hear you’ve been loving the Instagram Boot Camp and am excited to see where it takes you. Appreciate your support endlessly xx