When people heard that I made money from travel blogging, they’d throw all sorts of comments about how jealous they were of my dreamy and totally unreachable lifestyle. Sure, on the books, travel blogging seems like the idealistic career for the majority of itchy-feet millennials but like everything, it comes with its downfalls. It was those downfalls that skewered my favourite thing about life – travel, into the one thing that I just couldn’t wait to get out of. Crazy stuff.
This became very real when I was leaving Albania for Montenegro. I was dreading the fact that I had to jump on a bus and go to yet another country. I mean, there are so many other places most would rather be than in Montenegro *rolls eyes*. This wasn’t in the way that I wish I could have stayed in Albania because I loved it. There was so much more to it. It was from that moment which cemented the fact that travel was no longer something I loved and instead was something that felt much more like a chore.
There are plenty of factors that played a part in it all. After 6 months off, it’s time to share how travel blogging took away my love for travel.
Everything was about getting the best shot (and then drowning in my sorrows if I didn’t)
Oh, the energy that went into getting ‘picture-perfect’ shots of me twirling and swirling around town squares, sitting eloquently by a river or strolling down a cobbled stone street. Most of the time, I’d sacrifice sleep so I could get up before everyone else and take a million and one photos of myself doing the above. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this process, but a lot of the times I felt obliged to do so, even when I wasn’t particularly fond of a place or was ridiculously sleep deprived.
I was so absorbed in the travel blogging grind that I worked whenever and wherever I could
This usually wouldn’t be a problem, I mean, when you love something so much, you want to dedicate everything you can to making it extraordinary, right? But the so-called thing of work-life balance became a thing of the past. If I was to have a drink at a bar, I’d bring my camera to photograph my drink (because you know, gin and tonics are all so different to the last) and I’d prioritise spending 3 hours uploading an article than actually exploring where I was.
Letting my hair down and going for a night out was a thing of the past
This is in no way wishing I could have returned to the uni-days of wild, somewhat regretful nights. But a night or two of drinking, or even dancing would have done absolute wonders to my social life and mental health. Some of the best times and bonds are formed past midnight and there is no way I made that happen more than half a dozen times in the 6 months that I was away working as a full-time travel blogger. Even when I did, I couldn’t completely let loose as I’d always worry about how it would affect my work ethic for the next day.
I became self-absorbed
Ugh, even just saying that makes me shrivel up and sink down into my chair, but boy do I speak the truth. Whenever I had a sponsored stay, tour or even food at a cafe, I’d walk around as if I owned the place. Looking back on my attitude towards sponsorship, it absolutely sucked. This is not to say that I wasn’t grateful, because I really was, but because I was reviewing these places, I felt as though I was more righteous than others that were paying.
Meeting people became a distraction that I couldn’t afford
Looking back on my 6 months abroad, there is only one person that I felt like I truly connected with. When I went on my first solo backpacking trip to Thailand, this was one of my favourite things. I knew that if I was to socialise, that I wouldn’t want to work later on and that was something I couldn’t jeopardise. Not to mention, I had such strict travelling plans that if I did meet a bunch of cool people, there was no way that I’d be able to drop what I was doing to follow them to the next destination.
I forgot what I loved so much about photography
For those that don’t know, I studied Photography at University and graduated with a Bachelors degree some two years ago. What I loved so much about photography was my ability to tell thought-provoking stories through imagery. It dawned on me at the end of my travel blogging stint that I didn’t tell any stories that encouraged meaningful change for the greater good. I never dedicated the time for these type of stories because they wouldn’t generate the income that I needed to move on to the next destination. Photography was never about making money but unknowingly, that’s what it had become.
I would travel as quickly as I could to get as much content possible
Gone were the days of swinging life away on a hammock and spending more than 4 days in a destination. Sure, I could have done so, but the pressure I put on myself to get as much content in as little time was virtually impossible. I told myself that I needed to upload at least two articles a week in order to grow my blog. Somehow, I thought this meant that I needed to jump between destinations as efficiently as I created blogs. I never immersed myself in a destination because of this and believe that a lot of the content that I put up on my blog is evidence of my rushed travel pace.
I complained, a lot and nobody likes a negative Nancy
Taking it back to my Thailand trip once again, my number one rule was to never complain, no matter what the circumstances were. This didn’t last long when I started travel blogging and living on the road. I became a stress pot and everything that didn’t go in my favour, became another thing I’d complain about on my Instagram stories.
My Instagram became a false representation of my life
Now this is something that shouldn’t have affected me so much, but it would be unrealistic for me to not bring it up. Instagram was a highlights reel which a lot of people looked upon as inspirational and jealousy inducing. Behind all of the sunshine and saturated images, lied a very mentally ill Soph. My followers would talk about my travels in a whole lot of light, to the point where I’d receive message after message about how they wish they were in my shoes. I totally get it, my life looked like a dream, but it was far from it. I didn’t share the moments that made travelling so special because of the insignificant fear that it wouldn’t do well on the gram or fit the grid. So even when I was going through a lot of hard ship, my Instagram posts wouldn’t replicate it.