Everyday Adventures

The Secrets of Travel Bloggers

I rushed into Paymon’s Mediterranean Cafe like a Tasmanian devil whirlwind of crazy. I’m not sure why tardiness was becoming a signature of mine, but I wasn’t happy about it.

Luckily, the couple looked friendly and I could see they already had ordered coffee. Chris stood up, his tall frame towering over mine. He embraced me in a giant bear hug like we’d known each other forever. Tawny stood up, pint-sized in comparison, but every bit as lovely as photos made her out to be.

“I hope you don’t mind, but we ordered some of the Athen’s Fries.” She smiled with her eyes, and I knew we were going to get along just fine.

Captain & Clark & Hilary

“Be careful,” I cautioned as we sat down. “They’re addicting. Locals call them crack fries. It’s the dipping sauce; it rewires something in your head and you crave them at the most inopportune of moments.”

“So noted,” Chris said.

I was trying to play it cool even though it was incredibly difficult. I was lunching with my favorite travel blogging couple: Captain and Clark.

Captain & Clark in Garb

We all work for USA Today, so our assigning editor recommended we meet up while they were in Vegas. I jumped on the train right away, as I had followed their blog for almost a year. I was obsessed with their love story.

They’d met climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, traveled together extensively, and got engaged at the Taj Mahal. Their Bavarian style wedding would make any hopeless romantic swoon with envy. Chris posts love notes and photos albums to Tawny on their Facebook page. I share them compulsively with friends.

It’s a sickness, I know.

Captain & Clark 1

Luckily, they were every bit as down to earth, personable, and positive as they appeared in videos. (It’s a fear, you know? Sometimes you don’t want to meet your heroes— er— fellow bloggers).

They debated over which of my USA Today videos was their favorite (Chris liked my Fantasy Girl Training. Tawny preferred when I went backstage at Thunder From Down Under). I learned about their history and they laughed at my wacky adventures. “You say things like ‘cuddling cubs’ like it’s a common occurrence,” Chris teased. “Not everyone gets to grow up around lions, Hilary.”

Working hard laptop

As our lunch went on, we discussed our paths to blogging, our blogging friends, and our future goals. I was shocked to realize that my identity crisis as a ‘travel blogger’ was actually rather common.

It shouldn’t have been so surprising; there are billions of people on the planet. Statistically SOMEONE is bound to feel like me. But I learned a lot about myself and the community of adventurers over our meal that I want to share. After all, what’s the point of a quarter-life crisis if you can’t use the panic, insecurities, and learning experiences to help others?

SECRETS OF TRAVEL BLOGGERS

Hilary in Maze

1. Sometimes we want to lay roots.

Salzburg houses

After two years of nomadic living, Chris and Tawny were ready to nest in their first apartment. They were picking out furniture and all. Tawny told me how weird she felt wanting to decorate and paint things. But I understood and I hadn’t been NEARLY as nomadic as they had over the past year. In a world of couch surfing, air mattresses, guest bedrooms, hotels, hostels, airplane armrest naps, and living with your parents, you start to appreciate the importance of personal space.

There are very few travel bloggers I know who don’t have a home base somewhere. And if they don’t, they stay at a relative’s place or do elongated stays in hostels or live with roommates.

Sometimes I feel a pressure to have to keep moving because that’s what I feel is expected from me. Sometimes it feels like pegging myself as The Nomad Grad or as a travel blogger may have been a mistake. My life is constantly changing and evolving into something different.

In all reality, I think I’d be happy splitting my time between my own space in the States and some exotic location (to be determined… preferably on the beach) with some travel in between. But having a space, even a small one, to come home to sounds appealing.

2. We crave financial stability.

Money

Adventurers have bills too. I just thought I was the only one who was prioritizing income over adventure. I could work less and travel more. And I know I could always find work if I really needed it. But I’m tired of working odd jobs and constantly searching for the next paycheck. I want to do things that excite me… use my skills and contribute in areas that I’m good at. And I want to get paid for them in regular or semi-regular increments. My work doesn’t have to be boring to be stable. But living on the hope that work will come is stressful over a long periods of time.

I always thought if I vocalized my desire for financial security, I would be tied to a stake and burned. But I’m learning most bloggers want consistent work too.

3. We like spontaneous adventures. But we also like plans.

Hilary at Bath

Living in the moment is an incredible rush. Being able to enjoy the day for what it is and cherishing the ‘now’ is a great skill to have. But we also need something to look forward to. We know things will come up and plans will change. But there’s a level of peace that comes from knowing which ballpark you’ll be playing in a few months from now. Constantly waiting for the unknown to show you what’s next creates unnecessary stress. And while we get really good at being able to change with the tide, we want intentional travel.

But even given these desires that we haven’t figured out how to fulfill yet, Chris said it best. “We have pretty awesome lives where we get to do amazing things and share our stories with others. We are very blessed.”

I left lunch feeling enlightened and if possible, even physically lighter. It was like the invisible burden of self-doubt I’d been carrying as a traveler was left with the remainder of the fries. My gratitude for their time, openness, and friendship filled its place.

A few days later, Chris and Tawny boarded a flight to South Korea. They tweeted me the following:

Chris & Tawny Tweet

I love them so.

19 Comments

  • Reply

    Lythya

    November 17, 2013

    Haha, great points. i remember when my friends and I left a little town in Hungary in a hurry. We’d planned to leave that day but hastily changed our plans to stay but then it was bad weather the next day and we hurried off anyway – with hangovers. But as we got on the train we realized we had no idea where we should go or what we should do there. We didn’t know what to be excited about. it was pretty scary. I was afraid it was going to ruin the trip.
    I didn’t know you worked as a journalist! :D

    • Reply

      Hilary

      November 22, 2013

      Haha! That sounds like an AMAZING story and adventure (well, in retrospect). I can see why in the moment that would be very scary. I’d be scared too! But it sounds like the trip ended up working out. Did it?

      And yes, it’s a recent thing. But it’s been a whirlwind of an adventure that I’m very glad to be a part of!!

  • Reply

    Gene

    November 17, 2013

    They sound like a great couple. Thanks for letting us know about them.

    I’m glad you pointed out how many nomads out there have a home base. It let’s other’s know it’s ok to want one.

    As for you being typecast as a travel blogger, I’m not so sure. Travel is in the eye of the beholder. Yes, your mileage might have shortened, but you’ve traveled far through your jobs, interviews, modeling, commercials, and everything else.

    It’s a great adventure.

    • Reply

      Hilary

      November 22, 2013

      You’re welcome. Clearly, I’m a fan of sharing what I love. I think you would enjoy following and connecting with them as well (but if you end up liking them more than me I will CRY).

      And that’s a good point, Gene. I suppose the want/desire to be what I feel is expected sometimes overshadows all the great things I’m doing. It’s a different kind of adventure. One that’s unusual and a culture shock in its own way. :)

      Thanks for sharing. Always grateful to hear your thoughts!

  • Reply

    Les Petits Pas de Juls

    November 17, 2013

    Great points, Hilary! all of them I can definitely relate although I don’t consider myself a travel blogger in spite of blogging about travels! ha! I don’t even have income right now, at all, only savings from another life… Like you, I want stability somewhere but the possibility to go anytime to, to nest somewhere but find the opportunity to fly away from time to time… I’m doing so right now, but have no idea what will be expected at the end of that flight… sometimes I love the idea of not knowing -no plans- and sometimes, I wish I’d know…

    Anyway, you made me curious about those 2 lovebirds and fellow travel bloggers, I’ll be reading them too and see how everything goes for everyone of us…

    Happy Trails to all!
    Cheers!
    Jul’

    • Reply

      Hilary

      November 22, 2013

      I’m happy to hear that it’s more common than I thought. For awhile I felt like fraud wanting such mundane things to balance the wacky and crazy (who would want NORMAL when I have all THIS?!) But sometimes you need that repose and want to tip the scales the other way. And you put it so beautifully into words!

      I hope you keep an eye out for those two. They are certainly special. Thank you so much for commenting. It’s so good to hear from you. :)

      Safe travels to wherever you are headed next! I can’t wait to hear about it!

  • Reply

    Kieu

    November 17, 2013

    A great read – also my favorite travel couple. :)

    • Reply

      Hilary

      November 22, 2013

      Thank you! And I’m happy to hear it. Something tells me we’d get along as well. :)

      Thanks so much for commenting!

  • Reply

    Kirsten

    November 18, 2013

    Chris, Tawny and I were just in Croatia together and we had these discussions often, just as you did with them in Vegas. It’s not uncommon. It’s quite common. And it’s so very wonderful when you can sit down with kindred spirits and help each other realize you are not alone, weird, or in need of being burned at some blogging stake.

    Blogging, travel blogging in particular, is not easy. But as you all point out, we’re blessed to do this and one day I think all of these things will be easier. We just still have some figuring out to do ;) With good people around us to help us along!

    • Reply

      Hilary

      November 22, 2013

      Sounds like you guys had a wonderful conversation together as well! Thank you so much for sharing your story. How did you enjoy Croatia?

      And yes! Go team travel bloggers! We can all conquer together. :)

      Thanks for commenting, Kirsten!

  • Reply

    Jeff

    November 18, 2013

    I think it always feels like other travel bloggers travel much faster, but plenty stay months or years in one place!

    • Reply

      Hilary

      November 22, 2013

      That’s a good point, Jeff! All we know is what we see from posts and sometimes it can feel like there’s a lot of bouncing around.

      Would you rather stay in one place longer or try to fit in as many locations as possible?

      Thanks for commenting!

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  • Reply

    Agness

    November 25, 2013

    I’m so glad you guys finally met. There is nothing better than meeting other travel bloggers on the road! We cherished every single moment with Audrey of That Backpacker and Sam of Nomadic Samuel last month in Hong Kong. I agree, we, travel bloggers, love adventures but it’s good to plan thins in advance as well and we really do need financial stability :) which is so hard!!

    • Reply

      Hilary

      November 29, 2013

      Thanks so much, Agness! I have to agree; it’s quite a fun experience!

      Wow, how fun to meet Sam and Audrey! Was it weird to meet them in person? What did you guys talk about? Wish I was a fly on that wall for sure!!

  • Reply

    Kelly Rogers

    April 14, 2014

    Ah. Insecurities, doubts, I have those even if I’m not a blogger. I think many people, at some point or another, have those. But I’m glad I have a group of friends who have helped me along the way. Take care.

    • Reply

      Hilary

      April 14, 2014

      Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for taking time to comment!

      Yes, insecurities are an ongoing part of life, I believe. It’s great to hear that friends are a constant support for you! Cheers!

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About Me

About Me

Hey fellow adventurers, my name is Hilary! After being rejected from grad school, I took off on a solo journey around the world. Now I constantly challenge myself to take on new experiences. This blog documents my journeys from Europe to Fiji, swimming with sharks and living with tribes, to becoming an accidental beauty queen and working for one of the top national media outlets. If you like what you're reading, please subscribe! Here's to the next great adventure!

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