2015 was an eventful year – we visited loads of new places, learnt so much more about the world, fell in love with a dozen places, and packed our bags to travel full time. It’s also the year we completed 3 years of travel blogging!
Professional travel blogging is still in its nascent stages and there’s a lot of curiosity about it as a profession. So this one is for you curious souls, aspiring bloggers, and fellow travel addicts. Here are 5 things we’ve learnt by travelling full time, travel blogging, and chasing the life of our dreams:
1) The (not-so) comic side-effects of Long Term Travelling
Here’s 5 things we’ve learnt on travelling full time:
- Buffets, those glorious representatives of gluttony that herald the beginning of a true holiday, suddenly don’t seem that appealing anymore.I hate to break it to you but the lure of chocolate donuts and cake smothered in caramel dies down after a while. After a few months of travelling, you find yourself heading straight for toast and some fresh fruit at that lavish breakfast buffet.
- You have 10 currencies in your wallet all at once – true story! Right now I have some leftover soles from Peru, Australian dollars that I will need next month when we get back to Australia, a couple of English pounds, some Indian rupees, and a few dollar bills from Ecuador. That might be why I’m having trouble finding Fijian Dollars to pay for the coffee I just ordered.
- You can unpack and feel at home in a new place within seconds. We’ve been travelling so much that we’ve perfected a routine. Layout the toiletries; unpack only the clothes we’ll need at that particular destination; find a safe place for the bag full of chargers, hard-disks, cables, and laptops; plug in the nutri-bullet; and find a suitable side table to arrange a book and travel journal on it till it looks the way I like it. That’s it – new home ready within minutes 🙂
- You carry your whole house in the bag. Last I checked, I found duct tape, spoons, scissors, gift-wrapping paper, chocolate, salt, and mosquito repellent in my suitcase. I’m convinced if I travel long enough, a camping table and a couple of chairs will pop out of my bag 😉
- Staying fit on the go is hard. We try and enrol ourselves at the gym whenever we’re in a city for longer than 3 weeks, eat healthy on the go, carry our nutribullet with us wherever we go, and go on as many hikes and walks as we can (when the weather and schedule permit!). Yet the struggle is real! It’s not the lure of local decadent delicacies as much as the paucity of time to source healthy ingredients and lack of access to well-equipped kitchens. Oh well – we’ll definitely congratulate ourselves if we make it through this round-the-world trip without piling on the pounds 😉
- You can pick your check-in bag and decipher the weight, right up to the decimal point. For those of you who don’t know, we travel the world with one suitcase each. Now, packing your entire life in a suitcase that weighs 20-23 kg is no easy feat. Sometimes I honestly wonder how I manage to put together outfits for the road at all! We still haven’t quite mastered the art of packing for long-term travel, so Vid could frequently be found poring over the weighing machine hours before every flight. 50 odds flights and 6 months later, he can pick up a suitcase and tell you how much it weighs and it’s right every time – no kidding!
2) Financing our travels
We are frequently asked about the ways in which we finance our travels. As we’ve mentioned before both of us come from professional middle-class families. So we’ve worked very hard to earn and save the money we choose to spend on travel. For almost 8 years, we spent large portions of our earnings on travelling while holding full-time corporate jobs in London. Everything else went to our savings account i.e. our ‘travel fund’. This travel fund would finance our dream round-the-world trip 🙂
Insofar as the two of us are concerned we finance ourselves in 3 ways:
- We saved for this round-the-world trip for over 8 years. We kept aside a small sum for a rainy day and put all our other savings towards travel instead of buying a house, car, or precious jewellery like most of our other friends. We’re not saying you should do it too – it’s just what works for us!
- In addition to spending our savings, we also work on campaigns with travel brands and tourism boards that are relevant for Bruised Passports’ readers (see point 3 ‘The Importance Of Consistency’ for more), and have some affiliate links on our website.
- Finally as most of you know I am a travel writer and write for a number of newspapers and magazines. Vid is a professional travel photographer and his photos are bought and published by a number of in-flight magazines, national newspapers, and hospitality brands. The income from all these freelance jobs goes right back into our travel fund 🙂
As we mentioned in our article Our Lives Are Changing, we’d always dreamt of taking a couple of years off to see the world much before we even started Bruised Passports . So right now taking things slow and easy and exploring the world is our priority. Even so, maintaining the website, Bruised Passports’ social media channels, and meeting deadlines for all the freelance work we do takes over 6-8 hours of our day. We could increase the hours, and with it, our income, but right now our priority is to see new places and experience new cultures.
Having said that, it IS possible to make a living off a blog if you so wish – just don’t underestimate the amount of work it takes! In our experience, it is a lot more demanding and time-consuming than the average desk job. On the bright side, you get to work in exotic locations around the world and acquaint yourself with amazing cultures! A lot of our friends do exactly that. If you’re curious about making a living from travel blogging, you can check out Shivya’s and Nick and Dariece’s guide to earning from travel blogging. If you’re really serious about a location-independent job, do read our friend Jodi’s extensive guide for aspiring Digital Nomads.
We manage to allay some of our travel expenses by working on the go. However travel blogging is a lifestyle choice, one that doesn’t suit everyone! If you’re not inclined to spend more than half your day photographing, writing, responding to comments and queries, or working on a website (we adore the ritual of blogging but I know it can get tedious if you’re not passionate about it!) there’s some good news for you too – travelling extensively is actually a lot cheaper than you expect it to be! Check out our guide to Bali to see how you can live off £800 in South East Asia even when you choose mid-range accommodation, splurge a little every now and then, and spend a fair bit on meals. If you’re on a shoestring budget, then you can easily survive off £300-400/month in South-East Asia and a lot of countries in South America. In either case, it’s possible to travel full time for more than a year in the sum that you would need to purchase a car or a designer handbag – something to think about the next time you make a big purchase 😉
On that note, I’ll tell you a li’l story – I know diamond rings are all the craze these days but neither of us is fond of precious jewellery at all. Never ones to give in to convention or societal expectation, we bought engagement rings we loved for less than £10 (INR 1000) and put the rest of the money towards our travelling fund. There’s only one thing to take from this – don’t let societal stereotypes determine your life or persona; be unshakeable in your passions and unstoppable in your convictions. Listen to your gut and the magic will follow 🙂
If you want to know why we opted for a simple wedding, read more about it in You Asked, We Answered
3) The importance of consistency
Our only piece of advice for aspiring bloggers? Let me give you some food for thought. Here’s a list of our very first articles on Bruised Passports, based on our travels before we ever started blogging versus a list of our latest articles on Bruised Passports, published in the past month or two::
A list of our first few articles:
- A luxury hotel in Egypt
- A cruise holiday in Europe
- Why we love apartment rentals
- A road-trip in Croatia
- Packing for a holiday in Spain
A list of our most recent articles:
- A luxury hotel in Maldives
- A cruise holiday in Europe
- Renting an apartment in Bali
- A road-trip in England (and one on our road trip in Baltics is coming up soon, yay!)
- Packing for a holiday in Peru
Notice a pattern? We’re still talking about EXACTLY the same things as we were in 2013. We had travelled extensively before we started Bruised Passports, so both of us had a fair idea of the kind of travel we enjoyed. We enjoy independent travel and never opt for group tours. As most of you would probably know we LOVE road trips and cruises and we pay a fair bit of attention to travel fashion. We have a soft spot for luxurious and romantic experiences and almost always stay in luxury hotels on languorous holidays. However we veer towards mid-range hotels on active holidays where we intend to explore all day and need the room just for a good night’s sleep. We also love apartment rentals for active trips or those that stretch to more than 3 weeks.
Now this isn’t meant to be a lesson in our travel preferences. Instead it’s our only piece of advice for aspiring bloggers out there. It’s easy to get waylaid in the blogging world but make sure you’re consistent (and unshakeable) in your convictions. Focus on building a readership, engaging with your readers, and telling the stories you truly LOVE – everything else will follow.
Bruised Passports is read by almost 1.5 million travel enthusiasts every year. As a result we receive a number of requests for collaborations and campaigns every day but we turn down over 85% of the proposals we get just because they don’t fit the demographic of Bruised Passports. We would never put something on our website or social media that we wouldn’t recommend to our own friends or family. Staying true to the things you love is the only way to wade through the madness of the blogging jungle and enjoy it as you go along 🙂
4) Haters gonna hate
The world of the Internet is a strange one! If you put yourself out there and god forbid, actually become popular, chances are you’ll be trolled! From various conversations with my blogger friends, I’ve gleaned that most trolls will pick on travel bloggers for financing their extensive travels and fashion bloggers for their appearance. Blogging is a relatively new profession, so it’s easy to look at curated social media feeds and envy the ‘lucky’ bloggers in question.
Unfortunately there are no free lunches in the world. Bloggers work very hard to create and curate content on a daily basis. For eg: just putting together a lengthy blog post over 2000 words can take over 8 hours that involve writing the text, editing photos, resizing photos, uploading them, and proofreading. Putting together an exhaustive guide full of facts, which is akin to an e-book (eg. Ultimate Guide to Peru), can take days, even weeks. Don’t even get me started on responding to comments, emails, queries, and tweets. Bloggers are able to offer all this informative content to their readers for FREE because they’re occasionally compensated for their time.
Moreover for every ‘complimentary’ experience that one might get, there are a dozen for which one pays. So irrespective of what people who revel in the anonymity that the internet offers (aka trolls) might have you believe, I’ll let you know that miscellaneous expenses of travelling add up very quickly. Just to put things into perspective, we’ve taken over 50 flights in the past year and only 1 was given to us as part of a campaign with KLM/Air France. As for numbers, here are a few examples:
- An internal flight ticket within South America can cost upto £1200 (INR 1,20,000)
- A train ticket from Sydney airport to Sydney city centre costs £15 (INR 1,500)
- 1 mid-range meal in Switzerland will set you back by £40 (INR 4000).
- Miscellaneous expenses include the expenses of maintaining a blog (website hosting), photography gear (over £3000/INR 3,00,000), and visas (we’ve spent over £6000/INR 6,00,000 in visas over the past 2 years alone)
I could go on because there are endless expenses associated with running a professional travel blog or travelling extensively. So make sure you look past the trolls, plan ahead and research well if you plan to travel full-time or blog full-time.
We put a lot of work into maintaining Bruised Passports – it is our pride and joy. So I must admit I feel bad when we get the occasional comment undermining that work or maligning the passion that drives an enterprise like Bruised Passports. I’m quite the dreamer and in my ideal world everyone treats fellow human beings with love and most importantly, respect. Since we’re at it, fairy dust is the currency they use 😉 So it’s safe to say it’s taken Vid, ever the realist, a long time to convince me haters gonna hate. Of course, he used Tay Tay to his advantage 😉
If you’re a blogger or an aspiring blogger, make sure you develop a thick skin. Believe in your brand and revel in the fact that you’re popular enough to attract such passionate comments. Besides all publicity is actually good publicity for your blog and brand. Score! 🙂
5) Nothing feels as good as a virtual family
This is Bruised Passports and we don’t do morose. Of course this article will end on a bright note! 🙂
While there is the occasional troll, there are also thousands of readers who shower such love and affection on us that it leaves us overwhelmed every single day. Hearing from you, reading your comments and messages, helping you guys plan your trips, and meeting you is definitely the highlight of our job as travel bloggers. You guys put the biggest smiles on our faces EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. without exception.
So many of you sent us photos from the trips you took inspired by Bruised Passports. Besides, we met so many of you in 2015 at airports, shopping malls, hotels. and everywhere in between. Thank you for coming and saying hello – it truly means the world! 2015 was also extremely special because we had our first ever meet up in New Delhi and what an evening it was. We got completely overwhelmed because so many of you came to see us. We loved putting names to faces – I remember the conversations, gifts, cards, and letters like it was just yesterday!
Arranging meetups in London, Mumbai, and New York is definitely on our wish-list for 2016 :-). As for now, here’s to 2015:
Our highlights of 2015 in photos
We kicked off the year by sitting in an actual reindeer sleigh and seeing the Northern Lights while sitting in a glass igloo : one of the most memorable experiences ever!
We went on a road trip in the English countryside and feasted on cream tea in Devon. Just thinking about it makes me nostalgic about living in London.
We sailed through the iconic Norwegian Fjords
We met so many of you throughtout in year. The one time I can’t forget is when we met a reader in our hotel in a decrepit city in South America of all places! We love knowing there are so many like-minded crazies across the globe and meeting you guys makes us feel all warm and fuzzy.
The most incredible thing happened today. We spent the entire day sleeping off the exhaustion from the past few days. In the evening, we stumbled out of bed for a drink. As both of us got our groggy-eyed selves into the hotel elevator, we met one of our readers. In a small, decrepit town in SOUTH AMERICA!! We still can’t believe it ?? Thanks for coming up to us @rrhegde – you made an otherwise drab day really special. Meeting you guys always makes us feel like we have a big family of wanderlusters all around the globe – we love it so! ?? PS I know a lot of you’ve been requesting a meet up. We’re working on something and should have details of meet-ups in London and Delhi/Mumbai soon. Yay ?? A photo posted by Savi and Vid (@bruisedpassports) on
We took a giant leap of faith and quit our jobs to travel full time. Yay!!
We left a piece of our hearts in London – there were tears and extended hugs with friends.
On the bright side, we visited the continent of South America for the first time. Vid and I spent a dreamy month in Peru and fell in love with Peruvian food and culture. Both of us stared at Machu Picchu for hours and went back a second time just to take it all in.
We took an ultra-languorous road trip through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to take a step back and enjoy the little things in life: bright flowers, enchanted woodlands, and flitting butterflies
We celebrated our anniversary amidst glistening waters in Maldives.
We lived in Bali and had an amazing time learning about local cultures, traditions, and food (also fell in love with Balinese flower baths, but then again most of you know that already! 😉 )
We met friends from Germany halfway across the world in Bali 🙂
We made new friends all over the world and spent quality time with old ones:
I’m missing Europe a lot today ? This photo is from a time we were sitting with Polish friends, exchanging notes about South America, and planning a meetup in Asia – borders what borders?! ??#bruisedpassports #oneworld #globalcitizens #roundtheworldtrip A photo posted by Savi and Vid (@bruisedpassports) on
We find fellow crazies wherever we go ?? #bolivia #salar #uyuni #saltflats A photo posted by Savi and Vid (@bruisedpassports) on
We flew to Australia and spent our first warm Christmas in decades! Huzzah! We ended the year by celebrating it with thousands of other people watching the fireworks at the Sydney Harbour
That was us in 2015. What is the 1 thing you learnt in 2015? We’d love to know 🙂
Want to know why we decided to take this sabbatical? Read Our Lives Are Changing 🙂
Need some travel inspiration? Read more about our Top 10 Travel Experiences
Join us on social media if good vibes are your thing too