Two whole years. I still can’t believe I started my WordPress blog two years ago on December 1. No, I haven’t sold all my possessions (which would really only be a phone and a laptop) or stormed out of my 9-5 office job to travel the world, but I have learned a thing or two in these several years. I didn’t know I’d go on to create an online travel budgeting course with more than 2,300 students enrolled and create a video series to help new bloggers set themselves up for success.
I didn’t know I would look at life differently.
My love of travel began when I went on a European tour in 2014. I kind of kept a travel journal, ate a lot of gelato and made a scrapbook (in that order). When I decided I wanted to start a blog and then that it would be all about travel, I realized I needed to look beyond the surface. And it was months after I returned from Europe that Round Trip was born. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit Europe, but I wish I would’ve taken better notes. I wish I would’ve gone deeper and really taken in the experience not just as an educational or vacation opportunity. I wish I would’ve taken better note of the things I ate, the emotions I felt, the laughs I shared.
But it gave me perspective for the trips I would take after Europe. Starting Round Trip has given me the opportunity to practice looking as life as a way to improve myself and continually learn. It’s helped me learn to absorb every drop of life—to not just travel flippantly, to not eat something without tasting it, to not leave without reflection.
I didn’t know I’d learn to live life to the fullest.
I began to look at life as an adventure. It’s not about waiting in line for rides at Disney World or moving to the next place. Starting this travel blog and looking at travel through a different lens have taught me to drink it all up and to not waste experiences. You’ve seen those cheesy movies and read those low-qual books where the main character raves about how they “just want to the travel the world.”
And you roll your eyes because hey, don’t we all, buddy? You probably think they’re crazy and going to end up homeless or kidnapped. But travel is so much more than just backpacking Europe or braving the jungles of Costa Rica. It’s living life in the moment and choosing to engage the unknown.
I didn’t know I’d eventually give myself some credit.
Why would anyone want to read my travel posts? When I first started blogging, I didn’t know how I would come up with content. I loved travel, but I hadn’t dropped everything to travel 24/7, 365. Stop right there if you’ve been thinking that way. First off, it’s not entirely realistic for most to quit their day job to adopt a nomadic life. Second, if you had a friend who recently visited Los Angeles and you’re headed there next month, it’s only natural that you’d ask for recommendations. Just by visiting the city with an attentive mind, your opinion matters, so share it.
I didn’t know how great of a conversation starter it would be.
Few people will hear you’re a travel blogger and look at you as if you want to be a middle school math teacher. (Except for my grandmother who would rather look at a picture than actually travel there.) But for the most part, they’re going to ooh and ahh. Yes, it’s nice to rake in the admiration, but even more, it’s a fantastic to relate to people. Where have you been? Did you go to Crab Island? Did you try escargots? You may have just met this person five minutes ago, but you instantly can bond, discuss the different neighborhoods of L.A., debate the best park at Disney World and weigh the pros and cons of paying to go up the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t know I’d look at travel as more than just a hobby or a fun thing to do; it unites people by showing them places and people beyond their own circle.
I didn’t know I could help people.
When I started Round Trip, I did it to develop my writing skills. But the longer I’ve done this and learned more about journalism, I’ve learned it’s not about bragging on your 5 star trip to Europe. It’s not just a silly travel blog. My mission is to encourage readers to step out there and try something new whether or not they can hop on a plane. My passion is for people to be authentic and to push themselves to be the best they can be. When I started my blog, this vision was not even on my radar. But as I’ve developed as a traveler and writer, I’ve experienced the beauty of travel and the major impact it can make on my life. Some posts may not receive as many views as others, but when a reader comments and tells me how it encouraged them, that’s when I’m reminded that yes, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
I didn’t know I’d learn how to better market and network.
My blog used to be “a thing I did.” Now it’s honestly a part of my daily routine whether I’m posting something on Insta or whipping out my phone really quick to write an idea floating around in my head. I believe each person has great ideas whether it’s related to travel or exercise, beauty or cooking, but if you don’t know how to market it, readers will have a hard time stumbling across it. Over the months and years, I’ve learned to be more direct and lay out information in a clear way so as to achieve #5.
And I’ve also learned to network. I casually met Cate in passing, but once I found out she blogged (and fan-girled hardcore), I gushed to her about how much I loved her blog. (Did I mention she collaborated with her local Anthropologie?!) Mind you, I think I’d known her for a week at this point. But a deep friendship followed via lunch dates, heart-to-hearts and, of course, A Cinderella Story. (Because Hillary Duff, duh.) The blogger community understands each other’s writer’s block, brainstorming and the not-so-occasional obnoxious photo-taking at restaurants. You learn to network, exchange tips and maybe even guest post.
When you hit publish for the first time on your new blog, you’ve signed up to join a community of hardworking creatives who are addicted to social media and photography. Your blog evolves from something you do to a big piece of your heart. Yes, you need passion for something to write about it on a fairly regular basis, but the passion only grows and takes on a life of its own. So, buckle up.
Happy 2nd birthday, Round Trip, and here’s to many more.