No two days are the same for me as a travel blogger, and that’s exactly the way I like it. The hours will be spent somewhere between exploring, writing, travelling, social media, talking to friends old and new, and trip planning.
I’m currently travelling around Asia and this last week I’ve been in Taipei, Taiwan. I feel like I’m in a really good routine at the moment. I’m getting lots of work done, making friends, chatting to ones from home and sightseeing too. If one of those gets out of whack, then I start to feel a bit anxious.
Thursday was a chilled one with a good mix of sightseeing and work. Let me take you through it…
Thursday 19th February
I wake up early, not because I like it but because I’ve been staying in shared rooms and I hate the feeling of drifting in and out of sleep as people get up and prepare for the day with the sounds of lockers banging, zips and shushed voices. I’d rather just be up and out the room.
I’m quick to wake up in Asia because the time difference means my phone is full of alerts from me being asleep. I look through hazy eyes to see if there’s anything interesting before getting a free coffee from the machine in the lounge.
I’ve done two hours of uninterrupted work as I’m 8 hours ahead of the UK and all my clients and friends are asleep. I’m staying at a really cool hostel in Ximen, the hipster part of Taipei. They have really good Wi-Fi and as a blogger on the move you have to take advantage when you can.
I’m writing a series about Coachella Festival. I can’t believe it was almost a year ago now and I hadn’t written anything. It was when my boyfriend and I split up so when I came back I had to move out, find somewhere else, quit my job and decide what I was doing with my life. Writing about Coachella was pushed down the list. It’s feels good to finally get something written up though, such a cool festival.
I was also working through my emails. One of the most exciting was regarding my partnership with Tinggly. They’re basically like a cooler Red Letter Day experience and have incredible products around the world. They’re sponsoring me to go diving with Thresher Sharks in the Philippines next week so we’re just finalising the details. You’ll hear more about that one soon!
My hostel provides the breakfast and you cook it yourself – I made ham and eggs with some coriander and had another coffee. I’m trying to eat more healthily but in Taipei it’s very difficult so I bought a bag of fruit and veg to keep at the hostel. I take my breakfast up to the roof garden to watch over Taipei as I eat.
Everyone else has left the room for sightseeing so I can shower and dress in peace. One of the many things I like best about travel blogging is that you can travel slower. It’s not a race to fit as many sights into the day as possible as I spend longer in each place than the tourists.
I wear SPF moisturiser, some BB cream and just some mascara. I’ve never been big on make up but want to look good for any photos I might take today, obviously. It’s pretty hot today but I’ve learnt that that can change quickly here so it’s a day for flip flops, trousers, a vest top and my kimono too. I make sure my phone is charged, my zoom camera has some energy and I pack my GorillaPod too.
I’m out in Taipei ready for action. It feels like things take longer to get going here in the morning and 11 is like 9am in London. Chain shops are starting to open and the street sellers are setting up. It was Chinese New Year’s Day yesterday and I’ve never seen any street so busy as the pedestrianised area of Ximen. Had to retreat back to my hostel to breathe.
I’ve been walking since I last checked in. I’ve been to the Longshan Temple, the Red House, the Huaxi Street Night Market, which is also open in the day. The temple was packed, thanks to the New Year – it was fascinating to watch people pray. Also couldn’t believe the amount of ‘offerings’ they bought either. So. Much. Incense.
I had a Vietnamese Bahn Thai Roll for lunch – one of my favourite foods ever – from a street vendor. So many people have told me on social media how amazing the food is in Taiwan, but I’m definitely missing something. Everything either seems deep fried, made from an obscure part of the animal, or unidentifiable. Sometimes you just want something tried and tested.
As I was walking and eating I saw this restaurant with two huge snakes outside and loads of rats in cages. My stomach lurched. I’m not a queasy or fussy person when it comes to food but some things just aren’t right.
Walking a street market in Asia is definitely not like a walk down your average British High Street – both a positive and a negative for me. When you’re travelling you have to be ready for anything, but it put me right off my sarnie.
Recovered a few seconds later and still ate it, obviously.
[I Googled the spelling of the street market I was at – Huaxi – and learned it’s nickname is Snake Alley, so I guess it’s my own fault for wandering into Reptile Ville. According to Wikipedia ‘every part of the snake is used’. Eugh.]
Ooo I need a sit down. I find my way to the Chiang Kai‑shek Memorial Hall in the big park and just sit and admire the view and people watch. I take a few photos to record the moment but only one selfie as I’m actually sick of the sight of myself after almost two months of travelling and 100s of selfies to show for it! Debate for the millionth time getting a tripod for better photos, but again, reason that I wouldn’t want to carry it around.
There’s a cute little market but knowing that anything I buy I’ll have to carry around on my back for two more months is enough of a deterrent. I ‘window shop’.
Time to explore again. I heard the Da’an District is cool so head in that direction 20 minutes’ walk away. Don’t know what I’d do without Google Maps. I kind of knew before I came to Taiwan that I wouldn’t be live blogging or writing as much about it as I did for Japan. Or even doing as much in the day. It’s been a fairly chilled trip. I’d rather feel like I did a good job reporting from one trip than doing a half job at both. My two weeks in Taiwan has been a chance to catch up on work and chill out.
After looking at the shops, again being surprised at how expensive clothes are here and trying some of the mango ice that’s so popular in Taipei I go to Yaboo Café to work. I wouldn’t normally carry my laptop around all day but Taipei is one of the safest cities in the world and you never know when the inspiration may take you.
The UK is my biggest market and it’s now 9:30am so they’re awake and ready to work, or surf my blog. It’s great having the day to myself and then spending the night working. I’ve got a really exciting potential travel project that’s all been a bit last minute so I want to be online for the emails when they are.
[Might happen, might not. As a blogger you spend a lot of time pitching and working on campaigns, which could be pulled at the last minute.]
I find you drink a lot of coffee as a travel blogger as I don’t want to feel bad for sitting in someone’s café for a few hours. Opt for a banana tea to spice things up a bit and it’s ruddy delicious.
I decide to cook in the hostel so I can get some veggies. I fry up some salmon, mushrooms, peppers, spinach and coriander and scoff the lot with some soy sauce. It’s the quickest, healthiest and cheapest way to eat. I’ve already tried a lot of Taiwanese specialities at the Kenting Street Market so I don’t feel guilty about not trying the local fare, and the salmon’s Taiwan-caught anyway. Same same.
First I uploaded and backed up my photos from the day, then spent the evening writing, catching up with other blogs and chatting to people on social – other travel bloggers, my friends and the rents.
I do some work for one of my freelance clients so I can get the invoice in tomorrow, rather than leaving it for next week. You have to keep a permanent eye on your money when you’re a freelancer, particularly when travelling as you don’t know exactly how much all those foreign transactions cost. And, some clients can take a while to pay up too.
I got totally distracted by a Turkish girl and Slovenian guy chatting away in English next to me about how they’re learning Chinese. Again, I wished I knew another language and started researching language courses in France. My concentration totally waivered and before I knew it I wasted an hour. Oops.
The internet is both the saviour and the devil for a freelance worker.
Working as a travel blogger
People often ask me how many hours I spend working each week as a travel blogger. The answer is, it depends. When I was skiing in Japan I didn’t do any computer work for days, but obviously took and edited photos. When I was in Kenting, in south Taiwan, I met some cool people in the hostel and spent a lot of time hanging out with them. Then some days I’ll spend the whole day on the Wi-Fi in my accommodation or in cafes. I’m working quite a bit now as I’ve booked onto a sailing week in the Philippines where I won’t be anywhere near Wi-Fi for five days. Of course I’ll have lots to catch up on when I get back though, and may have a panic attack on day 3, but it will do me good.
If you need a definitive answer to my travel blogging working week: about four hours a day, every day (including weekends), on average. But really, it depends on how much you want to earn, how much you want to save, how much you want to spend and the biggest factor for me is usually what other distractions there are in the form of friends and activities in front of me.