Writing content for HireInfluence is one of the things I do for a living. Another key component? My travel blog: Blonde Atlas.
Travel has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. Before “influencers” were even really on my radar, I was making it my mission in life to see as many places as I could, simply because it’s what I love to do. I eventually got tired of typing out my recommendations for various places every time a friend was traveling, which prompted me to start writing travel guides. A few years later, that’s turned into having guides for over 60 destinations around the world and spend an average of 250 days per year living out of a suitcase as a “travel influencer.”
This kind of lifestyle naturally yields a lot of questions. While some are interested in how I’ve managed to travel full time, what most people want to know more about is the insider travel tips I’ve learned along the way. So if you share my love of exploration, here are 5 things I’ve learned as a travel influencer to help you do a better job of seeing more of the world.
1. Travel During Shoulder Season
Perfectly situated between the high prices of peak season and the dismal weather of the low season, shoulder season is that ideal little sweet spot that travelers should seek out. Depending on the destination you’re wanting to visit, schedule your holiday right before or immediately after the high season to avoid higher costs and larger crowds. I went to Rome in October, after the summer tourism rush, but before the cold and rainy winters, and it was hands down my favorite time of year I’ve ever been there (and this photo would never have been feasible in July!)
2. Rent Your House While You’re Away
This is how I first got my start in frequent travel. I was employed by a company in Colorado that flew me out there for a week every month. A friend suggested I rent my place out on Airbnb to make some money while I was gone since I wouldn’t be home anyway. I then realized I could also rent my place out to help pay for vacations I wanted to take as well (even if I didn’t make a profit once I booked flights, at least it would make trips I wanted to take more affordable). You can either rent out your entire house to guests while you’re gone, or you can even just rent out your guest room for people to stay while you’re still there (it’s a fun way to meet new people). Interested in becoming an Airbnb host? It’s easy! Sign up here.
3. Offer Your Services For Discounted Rates
I first had this lightbulb when a friend asked me what my blog (which I had just been doing for a fun creative outlet) monthly page views were and what I was doing to leverage them. As it turned out, some travel partners (hotels, restaurants, tours, etc.) saw my audience size as significant enough to give me a free stay/ meal/ tour in exchange for coverage of my experience. Keep in mind, I had already been blogging consistently (with no alternative agenda) for about a year to grow my audience. But regardless of your audience size, or if you even have a blog, you can likely find ways to at least negotiate a media rate. Are you a stellar photographer? Or maybe your graphic design skills are out of this world? Whatever your talents, find a way to pitch yourself clearly and concisely.
PRO TIP: Don’t be ambiguous. Get straight to the point when making this request and be clear + concise. “I’d like to offer my photography services in exchange for a media rate during my stay.” Clearly outline the deliverables you’re willing to provide and what you’re asking for in exchange. Put thoughtful consideration into your pitch and link to examples of your past work to show off your capabilities.
4. Strategize Your Route
I’m often asked how I can spend several months at a time in Europe. “Doesn’t that get expensive?” Clearly, it could. But I’m not charging a stay at Four Seasons to my credit card every night, people. Let’s rewind a bit, shall we? I’m renting my house out while I’m gone to cover my expenses back home. I’m leveraging my skills to negotiate media trades at hotels, restaurants and tours to cover the majority of those costs while I’m abroad. So what costs does that leave? Largely, transportation. Overseas flights (while you can find at very competitive rates) get really expensive really quickly. For me to go all the places I went in Europe this fall/winter, it would have taken several trips had I not stayed abroad for a while. This means I would have spent significantly more money than I had to since I only did one long flight. Flights once you’re already abroad are actually very cheap (I never paid more than €145 and paid as low as €35 for some). Plus, you can easily take trains for a fraction of what domestic flights in the US cost. Regardless of whether or not 5 months is realistic for you, I’d argue if you have a flexible schedule it’s more affordable to go and stay for a while (even a few weeks) rather than booking multiple international flights.
5. Find Travel Companions
By nature, travel is cheaper when you have someone to share costs with. Whether it’s splitting a cab to Charles De Gaulle or half-ing a pizza in Italy, there’s strength in numbers. This factor often is what causes me to build my itinerary a particular way. If I know one friend can come with me from Brussels to Stockholm, I’ll try to find someone else to meet me within a few days of that for a while (and the more you learn to negotiate media trades to get hotel deals, the easier it is to get people to say yes to come meet you!) But even if your friends aren’t willing to spend the money or make the trek, you can easily find ways to connect with other travelers while abroad (in fact, I’d highly recommend doing that regardless.) If you’re looking for ways to meet people abroad, I’ve honestly met so many people through Instagram or on Bumble (went on some fun dates this way too!) Some of my favorite travel buddies today are people I met while being abroad and connecting with unfamiliar faces. It’s no longer deemed weird or desperate to meet people in some sort of digital format these days, so put your pride aside and get past that ancient mindset.
The influencer industry has completely transformed my ability to see the world in a capacity I never imagined was possible. It’s my hope that more people will also develop a desire to travel and see all the wonder there is in this world. If you’d like to continue to learn more about my travel experiences, follow along at:
Website: Blonde Atlas