How I Quit My Job To Travel The World

The Unemployment Plan1. Quit Job2. 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.


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.


Google ads

I bought my own domain name (for the past 4 years this blog used to be called and it’s still my biggest regret that I did not buy my domain name earlier!), went from being hosted on to being self-hosted on 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


Why “Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel” Is Actually The Best Advice Of All Time


There are different types of travel, just as there are different types of people.

Just because we can’t all move to Europe to pursue a masters degree or spend a summer sailing around the Greek Islands on a yacht with a group of other twenty-somethings, does not mean we cannot travel. Or, at the very least, does not mean we should be dissuaded from doing so, as Chelsea Fagan does so articulately in her recent Medium article entitled, ‘Why “Don’t Worry About Money, Just Travel” Is The Worst Advice Of All Time’.

Fagan says that travel is ‘a way for the upper classes to pat themselves on the back for being able to do something that, quite literally, anyone with money can buy.’ I would argue that travel is not something that one can simply ‘buy’. People can buy flights, and buy bus tours and buy expensive meals in exotic locations, but money cannot buy genuine experiences. Money cannot buy new friendships, an appreciation of different cultures and an insight into how people live in other parts of the world. That is all up to the individual. That is all up to the traveler.

I believe that most people in this world could drop everything and move to another country, if that is their inner most desire. It’s not just about money, it’s about courage. The courage to let go of possessions, normality, relationships, friends. The courage to do something that might not work out for the best. The courage to do something that perhaps nobody you know has done before.

Fagan writes that ‘nothing about your ability or inability to travel means anything about you as a person.’ I would argue the exact opposite is true. How can such courageous and often life-changing decisions not say anything about you as a person? I believe it says everything about you as a person. It shows your desire to learn, your appetite to experience new cultures, to meet and interact with other nationalities through different languages. It shows your need to grow as a person and your willingness to understand more about this great world we live in, accepting there is more to this world than the small bubble of your home country.

Travel does not always mean dropping everything and following your dreams. It doesn’t mean you will, for one second, totally forget about money and bills and healthcare and every other type of worry we are burdened with on a daily basis. But that should not, for one second, stop anyone from at least dreaming of a life overseas. It should not stop us from writing down our goals, our dreams, our inner most desires, in the hope that we can one day achieve them.

Just because you don’t have a lot of money does not mean you cannot travel. Just as there are different types of people in this world, there are also different types of travel.

First of all there is the nomadic type of travel, reserved for people looking to get back to their roots and to live in nature. Reserved for people who might not have very much money, but who are also lucky enough not to have to provide for their elders or look after their younger brothers or sisters. They are free to wander the world at a slow pace, living off the land, walking or hitchhiking wherever they go, camping by lakes or on mountains and relishing their (temporary) distance from civilization.

Next you have the working abroad option, perfect for people who have always dreamed of living and travelling in another country but cannot escape financial responsibilities such as student loans, a mortgage or providing for family members. Take teaching in South Korea, for example, where your return flights are paid for, your accommodation is free for the year and you will probably be left with more disposable income that you had back at home.

You could choose to be a nanny in Russia or an Au-pair in Ireland, or you could get yourself to Australia and work very long hours on a rural farm or in a mine and earn more money than you could ever dream of.

Many people opt to volunteer abroad, a perfect option for those with basic savings but not enough to fund long-term travels. I’m not talking about the ridiculous variety of ‘volunteeting’ chosen by upper-middle class gap years, who pay 1,000’s of dollars to play with lions or spend 2 weeks in a children’s home in Cambodia.

I’m talking about programmes such as Wwoofing and HelpX, which give slow travelers a place to stay, food to eat and a small allowance in exchange for a few hours of work each day. Programmers like this allow for people ona very small budget to travel exotic locations such as South America or even Europe for up to six blissful months.

Travel does not have to mean saving 1,000’s of dollars and leaving your job. It could be working from your computer as you go. If you are sufficiently skilled at copy-writing, blogging or have a specific skill set you can sell online, you could consider becoming a digital nomad. If you can make the same amount of money you were making in the US and in the UK, but were suddenly paying 90% less on rent, money (or lack there-of) would no longer be as big a burden.

Money is important and you should never brush it aside as something trivial, but it also should not be the sole thing stopping you from travelling if that is your dream.

Apply for travel bursaries or student scholarships in countries you have never heard of. Hitchhike, sleep in tents, couchsurf. Work for food and accommodation. You could sing on Grafton street in Dublin and make up to 200 bucks a day then continue your travels around the country.

There really are options for everyone, if you open your mind wide enough to see them.

This article is also live on Medium, you can read it here.


Ireland’s Top Travel Bloggers


Apart from actually travelling, and writing about my adventures. one of my favourite things to do is to follow the exploits of other travel bloggers around the world. I have seen endless lists of ‘Top Travel Bloggers’ over the last few years written by both Irish and international print publications, and am always baffled why us Irish bloggers are always left out.

I guess there aren’t really a lot of travel bloggers that actually live in Ireland. While I know we like to jet off at any chance we get, I still think there is a huge gap in the market for great Irish travel bloggers. While there is now an annual Irish Blogger Conference and an annual Irish Beauty Blogger Awards,  there are no real opportunities to promote and highlight some of Ireland’s best travel writers. Until now.

I present to you, my list of 14 of Ireland’s top travel bloggers. These are people that will fill you with wanderlust, have you searching for flights abroad (or searching for staycations in Ireland) and will give you that bit of travel inspiration you are looking for.

14. Niall Doherty 


Niall Doherty has every right to be top of this list of top travel bloggers. Doherty set off from Ireland on September 30, 2011 on a three and half-year trip around the world…without flying! He successfully completed this insane challenge  on May 16, 2015 having visited 37 countries along the way, crossing the Pacific Ocean on a cargo ship, and writing a book! He wrote and vlogged his way around the world so you can check out all his crazy adventure here.

Facebook: Disruping The Rabblement

YouTube: Disrupting The Rabblement

13. Fluent in 3 Months


Benny Lewis, the ‘Irish Polyglot’ is the man behind ‘Fluent in 3 Months’ While the purpose of his site is mainly language learning, it came about after he consistently moved countries and continents every 3 months to prove to other that it’s possible be become fairly proficient in a totally new language and new culture in just 3 months. Benny is a full-time globe trotter, best-selling author, conference speaker and travel blogger. Oh, and he is fluent in no fewer than SEVEN languages.

Twitter: IrishPolyglot

Facebook: Fluent in 3 Months

YouTube: Fluent in 3 Months

12. Squidgy Moments


Kathleen O Rourke is the lady behind Squidgy Moments, which is an award winning beauty and lifestyle blog. While she mainly writes about fashion, beauty and her adventures in weight loss, she is also an excellent travel writer. Her photographs from her travels would give anyone wanderlust and I love the way she helps you pack for your holiday listing beach essentials. The real bonus is her Travel Vlogs, which not only really capture the atmosphere of her vacation perfectly, but are also really well edited.

Twitter: SquidgeMundo

Facebook: Squidgy Moments 

11. Next Stop Who Knows 


6 continents, 38 countries and over 706 days on the road, blogging couple Carlo and Florence must be two of Ireland’s most well-traveled bloggers! The pair left Ireland in 2013 with a one way ticket to Thailand and a plan to build an online business while travelling the world…and haven’t looked back since! Their site is a mixture of brilliant hotel, tour and gadget reviews, interviews with other travel bloggers, tales from their worldly adventures and detailed reports on how to make an income from exotic locations!

Twitter: nxtstopwhoknows

Facebook: Next Stop Who Knows

Instagram: Nxtstopwhoknows



 Jess Glynn, ‘The Gap Year Guru’, is one of the youngest people on this list. She runs The Gap Year Guru site with her Brazilian boyfriend Arua, and they are doing an incredible job with their newly revamped site. Jess also does Vlogs on her YouTube channel here and runs a very popular Instagram account here. While there has been an evident lack of posts lately, I have high aspirations for this traveling couple and believe the site is only going to get better and better. Watch this space. 

Twitter: TheGapYearGuru

Facebook: The Gay Year Guru

Instagram: Gap Year Guru

9. The Daily Self


Nadia El Ferdaoussi is the writer behind ‘The Daily Self’, a mixture between food, beauty and travel. Nadia’s travel and beauty writing has been published in many Irish national newspapers and magazine and it’s not hard to see why. She takes photos that are sure to create wanderlust for any reader, with some particularly great shots taken with her GoPro Hero4 camera on a recent sailing trip to Turkey! She writes excellent packing lists for all her trips and I think her blog would be an excellent -go-to- site for your next beach vacay!

Twitter: nadia_dailyself

Instagram: nadia_dailyself

8. The Whole World Is A Playground


 David and Elaine McArdle are the travelling couple behind ‘The Whole World is A Playground’, who have penchant for nice hotels and exotic locations. While most bloggers concentrate on budget travel and backpacking, these guys write about the high end stuff; flights, airport lunges, posh hotels and where to find the world’s best cocktail bars. This blog is such a great resource for anyone planning a trip to the world’s biggest cities like Hong Kong, New York, Kuala Lumpar or Dubai.

Twitter: thewholeworldis

Facebook: The Whole World Is A Playground

Instagram: The Whole World is A Playground

7Steven Sheehy


Steven Sheehy is on this list for a number of reasons. First off, he is an incredible photographer and his aerial photography equipment (and photographs) are unreal. He is also, however, a fantastic travel blogger and has blogged about Ireland, New York, Dubai, Japan and many more exotic destinations. He also gives great tips for taking photos in Rio De Janeiro or snapping Christmas lights or beautiful winter scenes. One to watch!

Twitter: steveosheehy

Facebook: Steven Sheehy Photography

Instagram: Stevie_stagram

6. Vibrant Ireland 


 Susan Fitzgerald is the woman behind ‘Vibrant Ireland’, an excellent travel blog dedicated mainly to travel within Ireland but also with a section about overseas travel to some great destinations in Europe. Let’s get back to Ireland though, because that is where this blog is in a class of it’s own. This blog is probably one the best sites to find informaion about your holiday in this lovely green isle, with posts aboout food, events, things to do, where to go and even gardens and plants of Ireland. Susan really is a wealth of information and writes beautifully. Her Instagram is also full of beautiful images and would make anyone want to book a flight to Ireland in seconds.

Twitter: VibrantIreland

Facebook: Vibrant Ireland

Instagram: Susan_VibrantIreland

5. Eat Like a Girl 


Niamh Shields is probably one of the most well known bloggers on this list, although admiteddly for her writings about food rather than travel. Niamh’s blog, ‘Eat Like a Girl’ has made it on to every Top Blogger list in the UK over the last 5 years, and was even named as one of Britain’s 500 Most Influential People according to The Sunday Times. While I love her food blog, I think it’s the fact that she has essentially been eating her way around the world that I love so much more! With over 30 countries under her belt, including cruises in the Carribean, cooking with grandmothers in Italy, tasting coconut curry in Granada and experiencing shots of Sake in Japan, this girl sure knows how to give the rest if us a major case of itchy feet.

Twitter: eatlikeagirl

Facebook: Eat Like a Girl

4. Tuisligh


Tuisligh, (an Irish word meaning ‘to trip up’) is a site written by Claire Ni Chanainn, a Cork lady who has been travelling the world for many years as a teacher and a volunteer. She tells some truly wonderful tales of her adventures in India (she has been over 6 times!) and also writes about lesser known destinations such as Kosovo and Bosnia. She also has great tips for people wanting to volunteer overseas and, in my opinion, seems like an excellent example of an ethical traveller. While the posts do seem a bit…out of order, it’s a great site none-the-less.

Twitter: Claire Ni Chanainn

3. Eat Sleep Chic


Stephanie Buckley from Eat Sleep Chic, gives readers a great mix of fashion, beauty and travel posts. From family trips to Lanzarote and cruises in the Caribbean to tours around Ireland on board a tourist bus, Stephanie certainly offers a great variety of travel posts. She writes regular posts on ‘Things To Do in Ireland’ making her blog an excellent read for anyone planning a tri here but she also gives great trip reviews such as her guide to backpacking in Brazil, so the site is also great for us Irish in the planning stage of our next big backpacking trip. I especially loved her Game Of thrones post, be sure to check it out here.

Twitter: eatsleepchic

Facebook: eatsleepchic

2. The Travel Expert


Sarah Slattery, ‘The Travel Expert’, has worked as a travel agent for over 24 years, and has travelled all over the world both as a solo traveller and with her husband and children. Sarah writes about a range of topics from top child-family holiday destinations, tips on when is the best time to book package holidays, tips for booking online as well as excellent destination guides. She also keeps her readers up to date with exclusive travel deals that she has found on a regular basis. A great site if you are planning your next package holiday or or just feeling a little wanderlust and want to get some travel ideas.

Twitter: TravelExpert

Facebook: The Travel Expert

1. The Life Of Stuff


 Last, but certainly not least, is Edwina Elizabeth who writes a great series of travel posts on her site ‘The Life Of Stuff’. I especially love Edwina’s ‘Five Fabulous Reasons To Visit…’ series which details great reasons to visit various destinations from as close as Ireland and as far as India. Most of her posts are about various places in Ireland and this is by no means a bad thing. Her posts are so full of colour, and are accompanied by such great photographs, that reading them makes me want to explore my home country more and more. I mean, how could you NOT want to sail down the River Shannon after reading this post?!

Twitter: DLifeofStuff

Instagram: The Life of Stuff

Facebook: The Life of Stuff

Are you looking to become a top Irish travel blogger? If you are feeling a bit lost and don’t know where to start, I recommend signing up to a professional travel blogging course, such as Travel Blog Success.


How To Get Published on The Huffington Post


Ever wondered how to get published on The Huffington Post, and online news site that gets over one million hits every months? Here 7 accomplished writers, bloggers and photographers give some tips on how to get published on The Huffington Post.

how to get published on huffington post

Bloggers love to blog. We love it, of course we do. But, as much as we love blogging just ‘for the sake of it’, what we really love is getting more readers. We love getting more hits. We love getting more followers. It means so much to bloggers when our posts get read, commented on and even better…shared. As much as we love blogging on our own sites, the opportunity to blog on external sites is very appealing. So many bloggers are creating the most incredible content every day and sadly no one is seeing all these wonderful posts.

Enter The Huffington Post. If you haven’t heard of The Huffington Post, you must be living under a rock. With an Alexa ranking of 93 (meaning it is the 93rd most visited site in the world!), over 1 BILLION unique page views a month and tens of millions of visitors, it really is in a world of its own.If you are looking to share your writing with the world, and you really would be sharing it with the whole world, then The Huffington Post is a site you should be aiming to get published on. Aim hugh, as they say.

So the question is, how on earth does a blogger/writer/rambler like me get published on a site like that? Fear not, for I have done the hard work for you for! I have talked to some incredible bloggers from around the world and they have all kindly offered to share their Huffington Post experiences. Find out how to get published, and what incredible things it will do for you and your blog. 

Amanda Walkins – Blogger at AWalk on the Run

amanda walkins

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?
I initially got published on The Huffington Post after reaching out to their new section “The Third Metric” via email. They had a post on their main page for that section seeking new contributors, so I emailed that address directly, rather than a general inbox. I linked to my blog and told them briefly about where I live and what I write about, and told them how my lifestyle was in line with that section’s main concepts. Within about an hour I had access to the backend of the blog to post whenever and whatever I wanted.

How has it helped your blog? 

While I’ve written a few articles for HuffPost, two have gone viral and drawn a ton of attention to my blog. My average article will bring in a handful of new Twitter followers, blog followers, and Facebook adds, but the two that went viral boosted my numbers in a huge way. After the most recent one, I gained more than 50 blog followers within 4 days – which is big for a newer niche blog like mine! I’ve also had a lot of HuffPost readers reach out to me directly with in-depth questions on moving abroad, so it’s prompted me to cover other topics on the blog that I hadn’t thought of before.
It’s been a great experience, and a great way to build my portfolio as a freelance writer as well. I can write about topics on HuffPost that are completely unrelated to my blog’s central theme, which opens up new doors to me. Basically, I love writing for HuffPost in case you couldn’t tell. Except for some of the comments…people can be harsh! Keep that in mind if you write anything that could be at all controversial (or just completely misunderstood in my case). 

Cliff Hsia Blogger/Owner of LiveFamilyTravel

ckiff hsia huff post

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?

I initially got published after I came back from my half-year cultural sabbatical of world travel. I pitched the editors of the Travel section with a simple message and a link to my blog post, titled “What I Learned From Five Months of Travel”. They liked it and it got published the next week. With a bit of beginner’s luck, the article was featured prominently on the Travel section for almost a whole week and has been one of my most well received articles on HuffPost to date.
I think the key to success is to pitch with one really good post that fits the content style of HuffPost. Good timing, persistence, and bit of luck helps too.

How has it helped your blog?

My blog has two distinct periods: before HuffPost and after HuffPost. With the large readership of HuffPost, my articles have been read by a lot of new readers, which results in a big increase in traffic to Live Family Travel. HuffPost has been the single biggest contributor to my early stage blog growth. Moreover, since most HuffPost articles are picked up by Flipboard, a considerable amount of new readers come from there as well. 

Lizzie Davey  Blogger at WanderfulWorld 

lizzie davey

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?

I’d just got back from Romania and was looking for places to pitch articles ideas from my trip, so I sent them a draft of a post I’d written highlighting my personal experiences in Bucharest and how I thought the city was changing rapidly. I initially reached out just to have that post published, but they gave me my own login details and the freedom to write posts and publish them whenever I wanted. 

How has it helped your blog? 

Whenever I publish a blog on the HuffPo I notice a surge in social media followers, subscribers, and views. My destination specific articles on there are the most popular, drawing in lots of visitors from those regions who have strong opinions. I’ve also had a number of brands approach me through my blogs on the HuffPo with press trip opportunities, and it always piques clients’ interest when I mention it in a pitch for new work. 

Aimee ChanEditor of Suitcases and Strollers

aimee chan

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?  

I received an email from Arianna Huffington inviting me to submit some posts and hooking me up with the editorial team. I think the key was to ensure that I pitched a story idea that was unique and had a clear point of view. I wrote it in a way so as to ensure that the editors would know exactly what kind of story they would be getting from me.

How has it helped your blog?

In the world of online I expected the response in traffic to be instantaneous and direction-changing and it wasn’t at all. At first I was disappointed. But after a couple of months and a lot of diligent plugging away, I have found that now there is definitely a correlation between my website’s traffic and what I publish on Huffington Post. The readers I get from Huffington Post are more interactive and loyal too — they email me personally and want to develop a relationship with me and my website. However, it is not always the stories that you think will be popular that are. The one that has been the most successful for me was the one that had nothing to do with my website at all, so you never can tell what is going to work. 

Ellen Frankel Author at AuthorEllenFrankel


How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post? 

I was first published on The Huffington Post in December 2012. The blog was called: Five Lessons of Hanukkah to Unwrap. I had been working with a publicist for one of my books that was being released that spring (Revolution of Jewish Spirit) and had written this short piece, which she sent out to various outlets. I did not know that she was planning on sending it to The Huffington Post, but she did, and they published it and then invited me to become a blogger. Since then, I have enjoyed blogging for them and have published 10 posts.

How has it helped your blog?

I used to blog on my website but have done much less blogging since I went back to work (I am a bereavement counselor at a non-profit hospice in the Boston area). I do have 7 books published (actually, the 7th will be out this spring) and hopefully the blogs help book sales or at least get the word out about my books. I have had great feedback from many posts, especially my blog called: The Edge of Grief: A Summer Reflection, which seemed to resonate with a lot of people.

Tom Gill Photographer at TomGillPhotography



How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?

A few years back, some of my frozen lighthouse photos were featured in a regional US magazine including the cover.  Shortly after, my images were discovered on my photo sharing account by a news publisher in Australia.  The news syndicate ran a feature on the images and included a link to my personal blog.  A few days later, the Huffington Post contacted me and licensed the images for an article and feature on Huffington Post. Many other publishers and sites followed.  The Huffington Post followed up last December and ran a new set of frozen lighthouse images, and at that time, the photo editor asked me to become a photo blogger for Huffington Post.  I agreed to the terms, and they set up an account for me.  Now I can blog about what I wish, when I wish.  So while most of my posts so far have been in the Travel vertical, I’m really not a travel blogger, I’m a photo blogger, and will blog about my experiences where ever they take me.  But they do seem to fit well in travel.

How has it helped your blog?

The exposure from the initial features in Huffington Post (and other media outlets such as the Weather Channel) have increased traffic to my blog, and my photo sharing site.  In fact, after publication my page views on Flickr increased from an average of 3,000 a day, to over 80,000 a day.  Of course, this spikes, then falls a few days later, but it has not gone back as low as 3,000 in many months it averages around 10,000 a day.  My blog traffic also increased, but the numbers aren’t as dramatic, but percentage wise, it has increased 300%.

I don’t actively market my photography as many others do, I’m rather passive, so I rely on publications linking back to my work for additional work and photo sales. In addition to The Huffington Post, and the Weather Channel, my photos have been featured in books, magazines, calendars, news outlets, and countless web pages. I’m hoping to build a following on The Huffington Post.  My first entries received about 30 Facebook likes, but my post about shelf ice received over 10,000 Facebook likes, and hundreds of shares.  It could be the subject, or how it engaged the readers, I really can’t tell.

Carol E Wyer – Writer at Facing 50 With Humour

carol e wyer

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?

I was very lucky as The Huffington Post approached me to write for them. I had just finished How Not to Murder Your Grumpy and The Huffington Post requested a copy to read and review from my publishers. After reading it they invited me to write for their Huff50 section and wanted the initial couple of posts to be written in a similar vein to that book.

How has it helped with book sales or your blog?

I can’t really say if writing for The Huffington Post has lifted sales as I have also been involved in a lot of media work and appearances on television and radio also affect sales. However, one post I wrote had a link to my blog and a post I had written about If Men Were More Like Women. The day the Huffington Post article went live, my blog got 850 hits, substantially more than normal. I also saw an increase in number of followers on Twitter and Facebook and was invited by other websites to write for them on the back of posts written for The Huffington Post.

Writing for The Huffington Post has given me opportunities and assisted me hugely as a writer. It tests my writing skills and is very enjoyable.

So what are you waiting for?!  Get pitching those articles now! 


Myanmar Travel Guide: Everything You Read Is Wrong

yangon myanmar

This is my third guest blog post of 2015, written by the brilliant Brian M. Williams who runs the excellent website Brian introduces us to the land of ancient temples and has written his own mini Myanmar Travel Guide. Be sure to check it out to read the rest of his brilliant travel diaries. His photographs are also incredible – all photos in this post were taken by him.

Where to begin when talking about how different Myanmar is from other countries in Southeast Asia, and, indeed, the world? I guess you can start with the fact that it has a half-hour timezone difference: when it’s 8 in Bangkok, it’s 8:30 in Myanmar. However, this is just the inconsequential-tip of the iceberg when it comes to how different Myanmar is.

To begin to understand what makes Myanmar different you have to know a little about its recent history. Burma, Myanmar’s name during colonial times, was controlled by the British starting in 1886. They would continue to rule the country up until World War II when much of the country was taken over by Japanese forces. After the war, in 1948, Burma became an independent country with an elected government. However, in 1962, the military took over the country, restricted rights, arrested opposition leaders, strictly controlled and centrally planned the country’s economy and simultaneously isolated it from the rest of the world. The end result of all of this was that Burma became one of the poorest countries on Earth. During the the military’s long rule, there were many civilian-led protests that were almost always put down with violent force by the military government.

However, starting in 2008, democratic reforms, which included having open elections and releasing political prisoners, have resulted in Myanmar being allowed to rejoin the world community. The country even hosted President Obama, the first American president to visit the country, in 2012 and again in 2014. Still, there are some who argue that the reforms have not gone far enough and that the government is continuing to persecute certain religious and ethnic minorities in the country. Therefore, they say that foreigners should not support such a government with their tourist dollars.

While I can appreciate this point of view and can testify that there is still fighting going on in the country that can sometimes shut down tourist routes (more on that later), I do not support sanctioning and isolating the people of a country because of the actions of their government. If the idea is that punishing ordinary citizens will cause them to revolt against their government, there has been zero evidence in history to show it works (see Iraq, Iran, Cuba and North Korea, just to name a few). What does work is people from around the world interacting, learning and sharing ideas and views about things like freedom and human rights. So, yeah, I had no moral reservations about going to Myanmar.


First Impression

Regardless of this debate, the result of Myanmar’s long isolation is that tourism has been slow to develop in the country. The country is full of old cars and old buildings and there are very few things that appear modern or 21st century at all.  There is also a lack of advertising and big name brand Western goods that makes it clear it has not been fully overrun by Western capitalism which is something very difficult to find these days. For these and other similar reasons, travelers, such as myself, have been drawn to this country despite it being more difficult to travel in than many other places.

In many parts of SE Asia, tourists are catered to to such a degree that all anyone has to do is just arrive at the airport and from there they can go anywhere on a VIP bus to any number of high-end resorts (or, more likely, party scenes) and spend weeks in the region without really seeing any of its culture or having to do any thinking or planning for themselves. The original or traditional culture in such places has bent so much to accommodate the wants and desires of tourists that much of it seems lost or at least hidden away very well. In its place has developed a feeding frenzy to get the most tourist dollars a person can which sometimes includes an endless deluge of people asking you to buy the same crappy items every three minutes, constantly being approached by beggars, and ripping people off and scamming tourists. Foreigners are seen as moneybags who are meant to be hit up like a pinata every chance a person has to see if some money will fall out.

My hope in going to Myanmar was that this aspect of “development” wouldn’t have reached the country, and I’m very glad to say it hadn’t. The people in Myanmar still have a friendliness, purity and sincerity that is hard to find in modern and big city cultures. Unlike many other parts of SE Asia, when people in Myanmar talk to you, the vast majority of the time it is without an agenda and someone saying “Hi,” and asking “Where are you from?” is not the opening of a sales pitch but just a reflection of their curiosity about who is coming to visit their country. Every where I went – big city or small town – children would regularly run up to me just to say, “Hi.” They would then, just as quickly, say, “Bye,” all while waving their hands furiously and smiling. While this can happen in other places in SE Asia, it is almost always in remote, small villages that don’t get a lot of tourists.



Travel Tips: Everything You’ve Read Is Wrong

Traveling in Myanmar is more difficult than many other countries in the region. While the trains run on time, they bounce, sway and rock violently and often times give you the feeling they’re about to go off the tracks. I literally had to tie my bags down to keep them from falling off the overhead luggage-rack. At another time, a train I was on crossed over a large bridge so slowly I could have literally walked it faster. Still, it’s a great way to see the vast countryside and some very small villages and towns.

Buses there have very odd schedules. Most long distance buses are overnight, which wouldn’t be such a problem except they will do bizarre things like leave a place at 7 pm only to arrive at your destination around 3 or 4 in the morning. The roads can also be bumpy and very swervey. I personally suggest paying a bit more to get a VIP bus when you can just to get a better ride and better sleep on an overnight trip.

There are also many slow boat options in the country. It can be expensive, but slow boats are a very relaxing and pleasant way to travel. However, the five day slow boat I was planning on taking had been closed to foreigners apparently due to fighting along the river banks. (I was lucky enough to find this out the day before I was going to head out to start that part of my trip.) Similar reports of random places, even by land, closing or reopening were frequent among travelers. Talk to your fellow travelers and always try to find people who have been to a place you want to go to make sure your travel plans are actionable.

Accommodations are not the cheapest in Myanmar. Hotels in Yangon start at 25$ which is a big jump up from the $10 a night you can easily find in the rest of SE Asia. While there are certainly places cheaper than 25$ in other parts of the country, they can be hard to find and are no where near as plentiful as Lonely Planet makes them out to be. I would suggest budgeting 15-20 dollars a night while there for rooms. Some days you’ll be under for sure, but some days you’ll be over. Hotel prices have gone up a lot in just the past two years and will likely continue to move that way. The best way to cut these costs is to find someone to share a room with. Also, with buses arriving at such odd times at night, this can create an extra problem: Some hotels will check you in right away if they have an open room and treat it all as one day. Others will, however, charge you for an extra half day. On the bright side though, every hotel, guest house and hostel offers breakfast but some places’ breakfasts are much better than others.

Another very important area where Lonely Planet is horribly outdated is that it is much easier to get money in Myanmar than it was just a few years ago. ATMs are everywhere and work just fine. You no longer need to bring in mint condition US 100 dollar bills which I broke my back trying to get in Bangkok just before my flight. However, if you do bring US cash, the banks and government exchanges offices give very fair rates and there is no need to go to the black-market anymore like LP suggests.

There also seems to be visas on arrival (VOA). I don’t know any details about this, but I did see a counter for it at the airport and several Westerners standing in line for it. Just Google it. If this is an option, it might be much easier than running back and forth to their embassy and might be cheaper than paying a travel agent to do it.


Final Thoughts:

While I have no way to prove it, I personally believe that Myanmar is attempting to smartly develop their tourist industry and is trying to avoid becoming like certain other countries in SE Asia. To that end, the high cost of hotels, the complete lack of a party scene ( I averaged going to bed around 10-11 while there) and just the overall level of difficulty in traveling is all aimed at keeping out large numbers of tourists. There were plenty of wealthy tourists traveling or flying around the country to visit the ever-growing number of expensive resorts just like much of SE Asia. But gone were the budget accommodations, booze cruises and pub crawls that are common throughout the region.

Myanmar isn’t for flash packers, gap-year party kids or idiot travelers who can’t bother making any plans for themselves (save the very rich ones). The lack of these things showed in the quality of the travelers I met there. No one was there by accident or by way of lazy curiosity. No one was there because they had heard it was a “good party.” No one was there because it was effortless to get there. People where there with a real interest in seeing the country and the culture. They had detailed plans about where they wanted to go and what they wanted to see. And everyone really seemed grateful to being seeing this country before it gets further along on the path to integrating with the rest of the world.