How I Quit My Job To Travel The World

How I Quit My Job To Travel The World

Let’s not lie. Anyone who knows me, or anyone who has been reading this blog for the past 5 years, will know that it has always been my lifelong dream to travel the world and get paid for it. In fact, over the past decade, I have done every job under the sun to make a life abroad a reality. From au-pairing in Australia, teaching English in South Korea, doing NGO work in India, interning in Canada, volunteering in east and southern Africa and studying abroad in Europe, I have spent years trying out new jobs in an effort to keep travelling and to hopefully find the perfect fit. The problem is was, no job that allocates a mere 20 vacation days a year was every going to suit me and my endless wanderlust.

Why I quit my job to travel the world?

Time to practice what I preach

This is where the ‘why’ part comes in. As a strong advocate (to anyone who will listen) of living your dreams and never settling, I decided in August of this year that it was time to practice what I preach. I handed in my one month’s notice for my PR manager job, (despite getting paid more than I had ever been paid in the past, loving my colleagues and having recently got a promotion!) and decided it was time to go solo. Sitting in an office for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week was never my idea of ‘living my dreams’ and 20 measly vacation days was never, and I mean NEVER, going to be enough.

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High cost of living in Ireland

The problem was (and is for many others I believe) that despite decent pay, I was really struggling to enjoy life back home in Ireland. I felt I was simply earning money each month so that I could afford to live in Dublin and pay for transport to get to work. Almost half my pay check each month was going towards rent and transport costs, and the remainder going on food, bills and the odd bit of budget travel. I was working so hard to make a living, that I was no longer actually living my life.

Inspired by other professional bloggers

When your lifelong dream is to travel the world and get paid, following in the footpaths of those that have taken that path before you is always a good place to start! Over the past 12 months, as my dream of becoming a full time travel blogger started to take shape and I slowly but surely started to build up the courage to quit by job, I started to follow all my favourite (and most successful) travel bloggers and online entrepreneurs a little more closely. Super successful Irish bloggers such as Carlo and Florence from Next Stop Who Knows were probably my biggest inspiration over the past few months and their encouragement and kind words did not go unnoticed. The fact that they hit their first 5 figure income (after 2 years of full time travel!) in August was a real turning point for me. If they can do it, I can do it! Most professional travel bloggers I know started making money by signing up to a Travel Blog Success course, so if you’re looking to follow in my footsteps, that might me a good start.

The time was just right

I decided that if I was ever going to become a full time travel blogger (my lifelong goal!!) and a budding entrepreneur, now was the time. Not next year, not in two years, but right now. I had some money saved to keep me going in case my plan totally failed. I knew I would not find it too difficult to find another job as the offers had actually being flowing in on LinkedIn, and I could always head abroad to find a teaching job if everything in Ireland didn’t work out. My travel blog was also really starting to take off. I was shortlisted (and later a finalist) for Best Travel Blog in Ireland and Cosmopolitan Travel Blogger of the Year. I had started working with very big travel brands and PR agencies, and offers of paid press trips were starting to trickle through my inbox. Just before I finished up, one of my articles got published on National Geographic while another was picked up by Matador Network and had gone somewhat viral with over 40,000 Facebook shares. The time was most definitely right.

How I quit my job to travel the world

Step 1: The Unemployment Plan

I actually sat down one evening, when I had less than 1 week of work left, and wrote something I like to call ‘The Unemployment Plan’. While it was mainly to satisfy my parents growing worries about how on earth I was going to finance myself without a full-time job, it was also to satisfy my own worries and to work out how hard I would need to work to make enough money to survive. I tried not to be over ambitious and told myself that if I could earn 1,000 euro from my travel blog and freelance writing assignments in my first month of unemployment that would be an excellent start. I then made a chart to plan how much I needed to increase this by each month in order to be 100% financially secure by January 1st 2016, four months into my unemployment plan. And by 100% financially secure, I mean have enough money to fly to new travel destinations such as Thailand or South America and enough guaranteed income coming in each month to sustain life as a digital nomad anywhere in the world. Well…anywhere that isn’t ridiculously overpriced like Ireland anyway!

The Unemployment Plan1. Quit Job2. Travel the world

Step 2: Monetize your travel blog

The second step in my long and winding path to becoming a full time travel blogger was to start monetizing my blog. By the beginning of September I was getting up to 50,000 hits a month on this blog which is pretty good for a travel blog. It’s nowhere near the big hitters like Nomadic Matt, Adventurous Kate or The Planet D, but it was growing steadily and was certainly enough to start attracting attention.

Travel-Blog-Success

Google ads

I bought my own domain name (for the past 4 years this blog used to be called janetnewenham.wordpress.com and it’s still my biggest regret that I did not buy my domain name earlier!), went from being hosted on WordPress.com to being self-hosted on WordPress.org then decided to set up Google adsense to see if I could cash in on those 50,000 monthly visitors. Guys, I’m going to be 100% honest here….I make peanuts from these adverts! Sometimes I wonder if they’re even worth it but if your site sees a big spike in traffic….so does your bank balance so I’m leaving them there for now.

Social Media posts

While bloggers can make money from social media, I find that having a big presence on social media with a large number of engaged followers will help you with all other elements of monetizing your blog. A large Facebook following will guarantee you steady traffic to your blog, and will also get you noticed by big travel companies and PR agencies. I have encountered many digital media agencies over the past few months who all seem to care more about how big my social media following is than how many hits my actual blog gets. Social is everything. Look at people like Scott Eddy (one of the world’s top travel tweeters) for inspiration. His Facebook posts are enough to make even the most well-traveled blogger green with envy, and he is a great example of how people can make a big income from social media. Gloria from The Blog Abroad is also kicking ass in the travel blogging world at the moment, especially on both Instagram and Snapchat.

Sponsored posts While my very high target with Google ads was a complete disaster, I feel my very low target for sponsored posts has been surpassed. Every now and then I get contacted by a company who would like to write a guest post for my site, or would like me to write about them. At the beginning, and with travel startups in particular, I did this for free and always got lots of good feedback. In the last two months however, I did up a rate card and now charge people for these posts. I only ever accept sponsored posts which I feel fit in with the overall theme and tone of my blog, and only work with companies that I would use myself. I now earn about 4-600 euro a month from these posts which is a nice start!

Step 3: Write for other travel sites

Guest Blogging This is one of my favourite ways to make money and was not originally in ‘The Unemployment Plan’! Many big travel companies hire bloggers to write guest posts on their site. They know the content will be good, that the blogger already has a big social media following that the blog post can be shared with and that the travel blogger brings with them their own brand or personality and with it credibility. I am currently the resident blogger with a few Irish travel companies as well as a few well known travel brands further a field. 

Freelance writing As most of my monthly income comes from freelance writing gigs this is considered the real money maker! If you plan on following in my footsteps and quitting your job, this will be key to your survival (unless of course you have other wicked skills like Michelle-Fleur from DashesnDutch). As Skyscanner has always been one of my favourite travel tools and I always liked to write about them, I contacted their UK Editor and was delighted to find out she was looking for Irish writers for the Skyscanner blog. I absolutely love writing for them as I get to think up new ideas each month and pitch them, which always keeps me on my toes! 

Today’s office…. A photo posted by Janet Newenham (@janetnewenham) on

 

  Step 4: Stop paying for travel

Press and fam trips  For most people starting out in the travel blogging world, press trips and fam trips are their ultimate goal. Nothing beats travelling the world for free . Press trips are invitations from PR agencies or Tourism organizations involve a group of travel journalists and bloggers going to a set destination. The schedule is usually pretty jam packed with activities and you will be absolutely shattered at the end of it. You will be expected to constantly update your social media with photos and posts and to be actively engaged with he people you meet everywhere you go. These trips can often be paid trips, but if they’re not you’ll still have all your travel expenses covered. I really enjoy going on press trips and love meeting other bloggers, but I have to be careful not to sign up for too many because each day spent on one of these is lost income for me. 

Paid trips

While I have only been on a few of these, they are definitely one of the best perks of being a travel blogger. These paid trips are usually organized by tourism boards or large travel companies and involve either a group of travel bloggers or you on your own going to a place with the sole purpose of promoting it on social media and writing up a detailed review of your stay. This review can either be on your own travel blog or on the companies blog. How much you get paid for these trips depends on how much you can bring to the table and how much of a good of a negotiator you are. In my case in might just be a few hundred euro to cover my time, while all expenses will also (obviously) be covered. I was recently offered $1,000 for a 2 week tour of Indonesia but sadly was unable to go.

Hotel and airline reviews

One way to save money is to start reviewing everywhere you stay. Hotels, airlines and tour companies love getting feedback on their services so if you can provide them with a detailed and honest review on your site, which they know will be read by your thousands of followers, they will be very open to offering you a free nights stay, an upgrade, a free day tour or whatever else you are looking for. I find that the work I put in when working with hotels and airlines far surpasses the value of what they are giving me, and I would not have it any other way. I will post funny selfies with pilots, take more pictures on board (or in the hotel) than I ever thought possible and be 100% sure that they are happy with the effort I am putting in and the coverage they are getting. Travel bloggers should never take these perks for granted!

Step 5: Be your own PR manager

If companies can pay big chunks of money to be their PR managers then it only makes sense that I should use my own skills to promote myself and my blog. Admittedly, this can be one of the toughest parts of being a professional travel blogger for most people. Have you ever tried to write a press release about yourself, writing all about how wonderful and talented you are in the third person?! It’s horrible and makes you feel such a big-headed ass. If you want to get places, and win awards, and get featured and be interviewed and make all those top travel blogger lists, then it needs to be done. I have worked so hard for over 5 years to grow my own personal brand. I have stayed up late night after night writing blog posts and doing research and I have spent days on social media trying to grow my brand and get my name out there. Thanks to a brilliant PR Manager and agent (ahem, that’s me!) I have been featured in both local and national newspapers and magazines, have had my work republished in The Huffington Post, have been interviewed by top Irish media sites. I also spoke at my first conference this year, the Digital Tourism conference in the Titanic Belfast. It was such an incredible experience and I hope to speak at many more next year. article-cork-evening-echo

Like I said at the start, I am very new to this and have only been doing it full time for just over four months! I am so excited to see what 2016 brings and have big plans on how to make this blog much bigger, better and more useful for all! I am hoping to try out some affiliate programmes, write an e-book about everything I have learned from 10 years of solo travel (and 5 years of travel blogging!) and maybe even secure some speaking engagements! If you have any tips I don’t know about, or any useful advice, I would love to hear about them! Janet x

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46 Comments

  1. December 24, 2015 / 5:27 pm

    Good on ya. Happy 2016.

    • January 5, 2016 / 12:42 pm

      Very interesting and inspiring post. I will follow your adventure and really looking forward to an update later.

      Planning my own adventure and hope I can reach an income of 1000 Euro per month before 2016 ends.
      I am aware that it requires effort and patience, and since I do not have journalism and freelance job, it will take longer to reach that goal. But many small streams can over time become a small river.

      Have a nice 2016.

      • Paul Bengtsson
        January 6, 2016 / 3:59 pm

        Sorry, wrong place.

  2. Ciara Gunn
    December 24, 2015 / 10:08 pm

    Love this post Janet… so honest… Good work

    • intrepidtraveller
      December 26, 2015 / 11:40 pm

      Thanks Ciara, glad you enjoyed it!

  3. December 25, 2015 / 1:48 am

    Great post – open and honest and told just how it is! Keep up the good work!

    • intrepidtraveller
      December 26, 2015 / 11:40 pm

      Thanks so much…here’s to an even better new year! :-)

  4. December 25, 2015 / 2:02 am

    Excellent and honest post! It sounds like a lot of hustling and hard work but so rewarding! Love that you are able to make a living do what you love!

  5. December 25, 2015 / 2:45 pm

    I’m drooling here! You are also a great inspiration Janet!

    I have a question, how do you do regarding the reviews? You tell them before hand you’ll be doing that, or you just write and hope for an offer for a next stay?

    Have a great holiday season, and an even better 2016 :)

    • intrepidtraveller
      December 26, 2015 / 11:42 pm

      Hey Gil! With regards the reviews, I mainly email them a few weeks before my trip and ask if they would be willing to give me a free nights stay (or flights etc) in return for both a review on my blog and a mention in articles I will be writing for other publications such as The Huffington Post. They normally get back to me fairly quickly with an answer.

  6. December 26, 2015 / 9:32 am

    Love this article, it is all about being a good PR agent and how to increase brand growth. Thank you for highlighting all this important key points.

    Have a great Christmas Holiday and all the best for 2016!!

    • intrepidtraveller
      December 26, 2015 / 11:43 pm

      For sure, being your own PR agent is everything these days! :D Merry Christmas to you too Pauline and thanks for stopping by.

  7. December 26, 2015 / 10:46 am

    Thank you very much for this post and particularly for the fact you wrote it now, at the beginning of your path to success which will undoubtedly lead you to a very bright future.

    I hope we (my sister and I) will soon be able to share our own advice with followers!

    Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!

    • intrepidtraveller
      December 26, 2015 / 11:45 pm

      Yes, it will be very interesting to see where this journey takes me in 2016!

  8. December 26, 2015 / 7:11 pm

    Great article Janet, and I know now the difference you make between sponsored articles and freelance writing. So many people talk about sponsored articles without a clear understanding of what it is.
    About press / fam trips and paid trips, I still don’t understand why people make a difference. Both companies and writers have more interest in a paid one, as it requires an official contract engaging each part… It assures the company to have a good quality work and it avoids the writer to be only used for free.

    • intrepidtraveller
      December 26, 2015 / 11:48 pm

      It actually depends. On a paid trip, it will be set out exactly what is expected of you and you may even be expected to shed a very positive light on the destination (even if it’s not entirely true). You will also not be paid until the work is received and only as long as it is to their standard.

      Press trips are organized for journalists and bloggers. Journalists would NEVER be allowed to accept money from such a trip as it would then be assumed that their review would be biased, so in some ways people expect the same of bloggers. You will still get good quality work, but the reviews may be a little more honest and factual.

      • December 27, 2015 / 11:00 am

        Yes, but unfortunately there are also some bloggers who accept the invitations with no intention of writing or only a quick non researched article. That’s why I said it’s better when there’s an official contract ( my professional tic of law student :-D ). Step by step, press trips are also open to bloggers, but I’m not sure it would be if there was an official and legal statut for us…

  9. December 26, 2015 / 10:17 pm

    This must be one of the best articles I have ever read! Great tips, and I truly love the way you write. You are such an inspiring person :D

    • intrepidtraveller
      December 26, 2015 / 11:51 pm

      What a lovely comment!! So glad it was useful to you Renate! Happy New Year to you!

  10. December 26, 2015 / 11:26 pm

    Nicely written article, Janet. It explains the step-by-step approach travel bloggers need to use to support themselves while traveling. Well done!

    • intrepidtraveller
      December 26, 2015 / 11:52 pm

      Thanks Roy, I have received such positive feedback on this article. I can’t wait to write an update in a few months once I learn a whole deal more!!

  11. December 27, 2015 / 1:25 am

    Great post! Very informative and to the point! You’re an example to all of us starting and dreaming of that path!

  12. jensoto13
    December 27, 2015 / 7:00 am

    This is so helpful! We’re teeny tiny still and you offer so many great tidbits to growing and putting ourselves out there in this post – thank you! In regard to working with tourism boards or travel companies, have you found just simply reaching out to them gets you somewhere or do you already have a connection to them most of the time?

    • intrepidtraveller
      December 27, 2015 / 10:42 am

      Most of the time I reach out to them directly. You must remember every country in the would has there own Tourism Board so it is very unlikely that they will all have you on some PR / mailing list. Start with local tourist boards in your own city and country, then once you have worked with them you can show examples of your work to others which will help you secure more press trips.

  13. December 27, 2015 / 5:42 pm

    Best of luck in your adventures ahead of you Janet. It’s definitely going to be an exciting 2016 for you. We’ll be based in Europe all next year, so we’ll definitely have to arrange another catch up if the paths cross :)

    Happy new year.
    Carlo

  14. December 27, 2015 / 7:07 pm

    Good on you Janet! I can resonate with so many things that you’ve said in this post and I really do wish you all the best for 2016 – it’s going to be epic by the sounds of it!

    Thanks for your kind words and to know that we played a role in you taking that leap is just brilliant.

    See you somewhere on the road soon Janet and hope you’re enjoying the Christmas :)

  15. December 27, 2015 / 10:24 pm

    Great idea filled post. I have been using many of them and all is going well. Thanks for the new ones ;-)

  16. December 28, 2015 / 12:43 am

    This is a really helpful and inspiring post for me. We both starting blogging full time from August, however i only started my blog then with next to zero followers. I saved up money from my job as a fashion lecturer and set myself the target to write my blog, travel the world and earn a little as I go. I have a very modest and (realistic) target of earning $500 per month through freelance work my the end of month 6 (January) which I should reach as I start working with 2 new awesome clients next month. And and I have just started my first brand partnership :) I looking forward to following more of your advice, Thank you. http://hauteculturefashion.com/

  17. December 28, 2015 / 7:34 pm

    Congratulations, Janet! You should be so proud of yourself! You are truly an inspiration! I’m excited to follow along with you on your adventures! And hopefully I’ll see you on the road sometime. :)

  18. January 9, 2016 / 4:57 am

    Love this! I’ve been considering taking a gap year to travel internationally. Reading your experiences and tips encouraged me so much, I’m so glad to have found it!

  19. January 12, 2016 / 12:18 pm

    This is so helpful. Well written. Thanks for all the tips. :)

  20. January 14, 2016 / 7:42 pm

    Such an inspiration! I came across one of your articles whilst browsing a website I’m planning my first pitch to, which led me here.

    Gaining a twitter/instagram following is the toughest part – did you find just being super active and linking/retweeting plus following people so that they would follow you back worked?

    http://www.thewanderlist.net

  21. January 17, 2016 / 12:54 pm

    Fantastic post, way to go Janet! Hope 2016 is fab for you.

  22. Jane M
    February 13, 2016 / 5:30 pm

    Hi Janet,
    Interesting post, but I have one big question about this:

    “By the beginning of September I was getting up to 50,000 hits a month on this blog”.

    That’s after just one month of blogging? How is this possible and how did you make it happen?

    Thanks, J

    • February 15, 2016 / 3:09 pm

      Hi Jane!

      I have been blogging for almost 5 years (with a 2 year break in the middle). I just started taking my blogging more seriously this year which means I am getting A LOT more traffic. In previous years I would get between 1,000 – 6,000 a month (before social media promotion and all that) but these days I get more that 50,000 a month. :-) It takes time!

  23. February 19, 2016 / 11:55 pm

    Wow, what an inspiring read! You’ve done incredibly well!

  24. March 8, 2016 / 11:32 am

    Fair play to you . great achievements.

  25. March 28, 2016 / 7:04 pm

    Hi Janet, thank you for inspirational post and some insight of monetizing your blog! I was wondering how often do you post on your blog and how often do you post outside your blog (like Huffington Post ect.)? Take care and have fun in Thiland!

    • March 29, 2016 / 12:29 pm

      Hey lady! I try to post on my blog 2-3 times a week. If I am busy or travelling a lot, then maybe just once a week. I then write 10 posts a month for other websites that pay me, and few other articles where I don’t get paid (very much) but it is good for my brand (such as Huff Post and Matador). :-)

  26. May 2, 2016 / 10:27 pm

    I Still haven’t bought my Domain Name!
    I remember you telling me a year ago that I should, it’s my goal once I hit 200 followers than I will. (Which is nothing compared to your following! Haha)
    Great tips in here though!

    • May 3, 2016 / 2:47 am

      Girl….get on that!! The older your domain name, the more it is worth. Even with no hits and no followers…it values with age!!

  27. August 22, 2016 / 1:29 pm

    I just like to say I really enjoyed your post and I got a lot out of what you are saying. Now time to words into practice with my blog. Thanks again for information.

  28. September 8, 2016 / 4:17 pm

    Thanks Janet for your inspiring and educational post! Was curious if you are hitting your $1K a month or do you have an update? I am a novice blogger and also have been considering the TBS program as you mentioned…its just the price point is a bit off putting plus my blog is a Bucket List Blog so though it does cover tons of travel and adventures its niche is overall bucket list items so I was curious if you thin TBS is still a good starting point.

  29. September 15, 2016 / 8:41 am

    I quit my job, traveled for a while, but I am back at working. The reason? I did not monetize, but took a loan which is a bad way to travel. Write, use monetization techniques to earn your money. Great post.