How I Made Traveling The World My Full-Time Job

Learn the story behind those wanderlust accounts.

Courtesy of Becky Van Dijk.

Have you ever scrolled through a travel Instagram and thought to yourself, "How can I have that life?!?!?" Constantly flying around the globe to explore new exciting places is more than just a dream, it's actually a real job. A number of talented photographers and writers have transformed their wanderlust into careers, creating the content that we love to escape away to when stuck at home.

Have you ever wondered the stories behind these incredible jobs? Us, too. So we asked a few full-time travelers to share how they created their businesses, increased their followings, and were able to turn their dreams into a profitable and fulfilling career.

How I Made Traveling The World My Full-Time Job
Courtesy of Becky Van Dijk.

Becky Van Dijk, blogger and founder of We Are Travel Girls

Lonny: What was your career before you started traveling full-time?

Becky Van Dijk: I used to be a private banker for a UBS Wealth Management in London, so I made a full career change to move into travel and become an entrepreneur building my own travel businesses! My role was to provide investment advice and portfolio management to high net worth individuals. I managed my own book of about 40 clients, so essentially I was running my own mini-business within the bank!

How did you first break into the travel scene?

BVD: I started We Are Travel Girls at the end of 2015 as a hobby and a fun way to save inspiration travel images from women around the world. The idea quickly developed into sharing travel stories on WeAreTravelGirls.com and I began building the site together with my business partner Vanessa Rivers

When did you realize that you could be able to do this as your primary career?

BVD: In truth, I didn't have a light bulb moment or point when we were earning enough income to make the switch from a well-paid banking role to working on my travel business full time. I actually decided to concentrate full time on it because I had to leave my banking career and London in 2016 to be able to live in the same place as my boyfriend who I had been dating long distance to Los Angeles for three years.

Since we wanted to be in the same place we both quit our jobs, this left me with the time to start concentrating on We Are Travel Girls and my personal blog to turn these into profitable businesses. The reality is that success (or making a living) in this industry does not come overnight and takes a few years of hard work day in day out potentially with little to no pay. We really have only began to see meaningful earnings for We Are Travel Girls and the viability of the business this year. I think that's quite a realistic time frame in this industry.

What is your favorite part of being a travel blogger?

BVD: Traveling the world and getting to have some once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I might never have had if I didn't have this job! I had travelled extensively and been on multiple long-term backpacking trips before I started working as a blogger. The exciting thing is now I have the option to shape my year and travel whenever I want to! I also love our travel community and how my travels inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and see the world. 

Are there any challenges to living a life on the road?

BVD: Absolutely. Even though we currently have a base in Bali, we will be leaving later this year and then will be between London and Europe with no real base. Whilst traveling is fun, I feel like working on the road or being a 'digital nomad' is not always realistic  — especially if you are running a serious business and have goals to work beyond blogging in the future.

How I Made Traveling The World My Full-Time Job
Courtesy of Becky Van Dijk.

Don't get me wrong there are lots of ways to earn an income whilst traveling and many people live the digital nomad life successfully by freelancing, working in the locations they visit or earning through affiliates and advertising, but I personally feel that you need to separate travel and work to be more productive. I try to maintain a base so that I can work every day and then when I travel I can keep up with my work but also find the time to enjoy the trip. 

Are there any misconceptions people have about travel writers and Instagrammers?

BVD: I think the biggest misconception is how much works goes into this job if you are taking your deliverables seriously. Often you will see a blogger at a beautiful resort and not realise the work that went into that stay. Typically there will be upfront work to identify destinations you want to work with and negotiate a collaboration, then when you are there you have to create content throughout the trip, you will likely have meetings with marketing managers and representatives of the resort and before you know it the stay is over and you return home to edit photos, videos and write blog posts. For most hotel stays it's unlikely the blogger has had any time to relax or actually enjoy the resort during the stay, so whilst it looks like a dream lifestyle it is most definitely work! 

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow a similar career path?

How I Made Traveling The World My Full-Time Job
Courtesy of Becky Van Dijk.

BVD: Join our Bali Blogging Retreat this October! We launched our retreats last year and they were an incredible success so we are running two more Bali retreats this year, along with group trips to other destinations. The Bali retreat is a luxury experience where you get to connect with 12 other like-minded travel-loving women who are looking to kick-start or get greater direction for their blog or business. The unique thing about our retreat is that not only do you get an in-depth learning experience, you get to fully explore Bali, go to the best cafes & restaurants, enjoy yoga sessions at our incredible villa, and create lasting friendships and business connections. 

But if this retreat is not for you right now, then my best advice would be to focus on your blog. Instagram is still hot, and everyone wants a big following, but the techniques that people are using to grow their audience are being revealed and there is increasing frustration within the Instagram community. Your blog traffic cannot be faked, you can't buy traffic like people buy followers, and you cannot run a looped giveaway and get 20,000 new followers overnight like people do on Instagram. In the end, I think brands will wise up to this. Being able to show you have blog that has good organic traffic to a brand and generate passive steady income from it will be more valuable than a big social media following with one off collaboration deals - at least that's my opinion! 

How I Made Traveling The World My Full-Time Job
Courtesy of Gigi Hopkins.

Gigi Hopkins, founder of it's beautiful here

Lonny: What was your career before you started traveling full-time? 

GH: Funnily enough, I was working in investment banking (a world away from what I do now!). I was living in Sydney working in a corporate marketing role — first at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and then over at Morgan Stanley. 

How did you first break into the travel scene? 

GH: It was by mistake really, or certainly with no intention. I had quit my banking job and moved to the U.S. without a plan. I ended up falling in love with California and was based between L.A. and Santa Barbara while doing lots of travel elsewhere — random solo adventures to Mexico (where I lived in San Miguel de Allende for 3 months), Tel Aviv (I went for 6 days, stayed for 3 months!), Costa Rica, Colombia etc. My friends and family started putting pressure on me to start an online travel journal as a way to record all of my adventures, share my photos and stories about the people I was meeting, and all my favourite local recs.

So I did, and it's beautiful here was born! I was then asked by a friend who works in the magazine world to write a Thailand travel feature on Krabi beach — a place I had travelled to a lot in my 20s — which prompted me to start reaching out to editors of my other most-loved travel and lifestyle magazines to explore any further freelance writing opportunities. It was a hard slog, and took a very, very long time, but I finally began to see some traction. I then started receiving inbound requests from readers and followers interested in me curating personalized travel itineraries for them, and from like-minded brands wanting to create content together on my travels.

How I Made Traveling The World My Full-Time Job
Courtesy of Gigi Hopkins.

When did you realize that you could be able to do this as your primary career? 

GH: I think it was when my audience began to grow — completely organically — and I could see that there was a genuine interest in the content I was producing. 

What is your favourite part of being a travel blogger? 

GH: Without a doubt, the freedom and spontaneity it brings. Life is a constant adventure. I love the random nature of it all. It is also all about the people for me. I feel extremely lucky to continue to meet so many wonderful people on the road. I am forever in a state of awe and inspiration over the amazing things so many people out there are doing.

Are there any challenges to living a life on the road? 

GH: Absolutely!! It is not always easy living out of a bag with no permanent address to call home — constant packing and moving, travel delays, visa issues, and passport dramas (I have lost three along the way!). I have even been deported once before! It is not always fun. Obviously being away from family and dear friends is never easy as well.

Are there any misconceptions people have about travel writers and Instagrammers? 

How I Made Traveling The World My Full-Time Job
Courtesy of Gigi Hopkins.

GH: Yes, I think so. I think it could be easy to look on from afar thinking this lifestyle is all fun and glamour, but that's probably just the nature of Instagram as well — we only see the beautiful side of people's lives; and that's the reason we love to follow along. We follow along to be inspired, discover new things, and to escape our day-to-day life. I think people sometimes forget that a life on the road, living out of a bag, and non-stop-traveling isn't always super glamorous and it's not necessarily an easy lifestyle.

I joke that I need to start a spin-off series (“it’s NOT so beautiful here”) to document all the crazy, challenging moments that have happened on this life on the road. Although there can be difficult times, the places I have been lucky enough to visit, the people I have met along the way, and the stories I feel so fortunate to share far outweigh those challenges though. I wouldn't have it any other way! I feel lucky to be living out my greatest passion.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow a similar career path?

GH: If you have the passion or curiosity to try something, just do it. Stay open. Stay positive. Don’t listen to naysayers. Tap into your networks, stay true to yourself, your vision, and your own personal style. Be honest, be curious, and be kind.

I am Lonny's Senior Associate Editor. You can find me writing about interior tips, scouting out the coolest new spots, and rallying behind amazing female entrepreneurs. You can reach me at shelby.wax@livingly.com or on Instagram @shelbywax.
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