I regularly receive questions on Instagram about my life as a travel blogger, and since I’m pretty awful at replying to DMs, I figured it was time to put them all together! (Sorry if I ever ignored one of your messages!) A short while ago I asked you all in my Instagram stories and posts to share any questions you may have for me about blogging, travelling, or anything about me. I’ve combined those questions to some of the most common ones I regularly receive via Instagram DM and have answered them all in this Q&A post! If you have any questions about my life as a travel blogger, this post should answer them!
Do you ever run out of places to travel to?
No! The world is a big place, there is so much I want to see I don’t think I could ever run out!
Where is your favourite place you’ve been to?
My answer to this question always makes me seem lame but my favourite place is Sardinia in Italy. Yes I travel all the time and yet my favourite place is back home. The beaches there are truly the most stunning I have ever seen (I can’t claim to have been everywhere, but I have seen my fair share of beaches in the Caribbean, Maldives, Thailand, Indonesia and Europe), the food is amazing and you can do lots of fun water sports. Part of the beauty of travelling is also appreciating where you come from.
Do you like London?
I love it. I moved here in 2012 for university and it has become a second home for me. After graduation I worked in London for two years, even after quitting my corporate job I’m still renting a place here since London is the home I like to come back to when I’m not travelling. Given how expensive London rents are (any Londoners here who know what I mean?) I might be have to change this soon.
You said you quit your office job to blog and travel, what was your job before?
I was a management consultant at Ernst & Young, a Big Four company. I basically spent my days making PowerPoints and telling people how to do their job better (massive oversimplification, get some input from other consultants if you’re considering getting in the field). While the job wasn’t for me the view from the office was pretty nice.
How long ago did you start travel blogging?
Greta’s Travels was officially born mid-November 2016. However I started off with just a YouTube channel and Instagram page, this blog came later on. I was also working on it only part time since I had a full time office job, so I didn’t get serious with this website till October 2017. I find it hard to believe that Greta’s Travels already celebrated its first blog anniversary!
Are you really Italian?
Unless I’ve got the wrong passport, yes I am. All my family as far back as we can trace is Italian. I just happen to be blonde and have a weird Irish / American / Posh British accent when I speak English.
How often do you switch cities?
I’m not a full time digital nomad, I don’t live on the road so I can’t really say that I “switch cities”. I go on trips (of any length, be it a weekend away in Rome or 10 days in Cuba) and then come back home, to either London or Italy. I don’t usually stay at home for longer than a couple weeks before setting off again.
Which app do you use to edit your photos?
I use Adobe Lightroom. I usually create a set of photo filters for every destination I go to and use them to edit similar photos. You can check out my Adobe Lightroom filters here.
Where is your favourite city you have travelled to?
That’s a tough question. Considering I was born and raised first in Milan and then London I’m not actually a big fan of cities, I much prefer beach or mountain destinations. If I had to pick my favourites though I’d either say Miami (I was there recently and really loved the vibe, warm weather and cuisine), Vancouver (I loved all the nature surrounding the city and opportunities for outdoors adventures) or Barcelona (nice weather, cheap food and fun vibes, can’t ask for much more)!
What is your favourite beach?
Cala Soraja in Sardinia, Italy, is my absolute favourite. It’s a small beach on a tiny island that you can only reach by boat. I do have other beaches I love though, you can check them out here.
How did you decide to become a travel blogger?
I saw other travel bloggers on social media living the dream life, making a living while traveling and decided I wanted to do that. Admittedly it was very superficial and I now know how much work really goes on behind the scenes of the pretty photos you see on Instagram, but I’m still glad I ventured down this path. I never expected it to be easy, I just saw other working a job I thought I would enjoy and I decided to work towards achieving the same lifestyle.
How do you make money as a blogger?
I don’t *insert laughing and crying emoticon*. Ok let me expand on that a little. I do make some money from this blog, but not a liveable income yet. The potential sources of income for a blogger include brand promotion on social media, side bar adverts on the blog, own product sales (like my Adobe Lightroom presets for Instagram!) and then freelance gigs, be it for writing, social media or consulting.
* 2019 update * I am now earning more by blogging and travelling the world than I used to when I was working in the office in London. I earn mostly from ads and affiliates, and occasionally sponsored Instagram or blog posts. I’ve started a second blog where I share blogging advice and help others go from part-time hobby blog to professional blog with a full-time income, you can check it out here if you’re interested. I’m also not planning on stopping anytime soon, more on that in this little 2019 life update if you’re interested.
How can you afford to travel so much?
So you might be wondering, if I don’t make that much money blogging, how can I actually afford to travel? At the moment I am living and travelling off my savings. As awful as it was working for two years in a corporate office allowed me to save up enough money to be able to pursue my passions and travel for the time being. If this blog doesn’t become profitable by the time I start running out of savings I will start thinking of a plan B. I used to travel a lot also when I was still working 9-5, you can check out here my tips on how to travel more with a full time job.
How do you find brands to work with?
Sometimes I reach out to them and sometimes they reach out to me. If I reach out to them I only reach out to brands I already use or genuinely think you guys would like to see. I also try to reach out to brands that I’ve seen work with influencers, because let’s be realistic, I may eat a lot of Nutella but if I were to reach out to them about working together I would probably just get ignored. If I see a smaller brand I love working with other bloggers I sometimes reach out to them as they’re more likely to work with influencers. Other times I get emails in my inbox from brands that want to work together, in that case I tend to only work with the ones that I approve of and would use even if we weren’t collaborating.
How much time do you spend working a day?
This varies massively from day to day. I’m not a full time digital nomad, I don’t work on the road, I actually find it very hard to. I still have the office mentality that when I travel somewhere I have to make the most of it, not spend my time indoors on my laptop. While I’m travelling I might go a week without doing any real “work” other than editing photos in the evening so that I can post them on social media (however do bear in mind that as a content creator, even being out and about all day taking photos and videos falls within the job description). Then when I get back home to London I might spend a whole week sat at home writing blog posts, editing videos, publishing articles and promoting them on social media with only 2-hour gym sessions to break up my work day. In London I live with two very hard working friends (a final year Medicine student and an investment banker, yes we’re a very diverse bunch) so I try to reflect their working hours to help myself decide how long a working day should be.
What do you use to edit your videos?
I use iMovie. It’s the free editing program that all MacBooks have. It’s not fancy and doesn’t have as many editing options as more advanced programs, but if you’re just starting out it does the job and it’s a good program to use to learn to edit. I’ve been meaning to upgrade for a while but then I shifted my focus away from YouTube and to this website so I decided iMovie works just fine for me for now.
Do you travel solo?
Very rarely. I’m a very sociable person and I don’t like being alone. Everybody says you make friends on the road but I prefer to plan trips with someone I already know. I’m also not a huge hostel fan so it’s considerably cheaper to travel with at least one other person to split hotel room or AirBnb costs.
Did you study to become an influencer?
Nope. I have a degree in Geography (yes I know that’s a bit of a random choice but it’s the subject I studied in school I enjoyed the most so it made sense at the time). Everything I have learnt about social media, blogging, Pinterest, SEO, video and photo editing is self-taught. There are a lot of useful resources out there and supportive blogging communities to help you get started.
How do you get photos with yourself in them if you’re the photographer?
I personally take all the landscape shots that I share on my Instagram or blog. When you see photos with me in them they’re usually taken by my mum, flatmate, friends or other bloggers I’m travelling with. If I’m travelling solo I usually ask strangers. It might be a bit awkward at first but if you’re in a tourist destination it’s not that uncommon a request, people are lovely and you can be sure to find someone willing to help!
How long does it take for a blog to become profitable?
Voice on the street says at least 12 months. Greta’s Travels makes a small income but nowhere near a liveable profit just yet. While I have been blogging for 15 months I have only been serious about it for the past 6 so I’m hoping to see a change in that soon.
Aren’t you afraid someone will steal your laptop and camera gear?
Yes I’m constantly terrified that it will happen. But you will never enjoy a trip if you’re always worried about your gear, so I try to always make sure I’m never in a position where my gear (or myself for that matter) is at risk. The common sense advice, especially for girls travelling solo, usually does it; don’t go around at night drunk waving your camera at everyone. Day by day while I’m out adventuring I usually leave my laptop and any gear I won’t be using in my hotel room and make sure to lock everything.
What camera do you use?
All the photos you seen on my Instagram are taken with my Nikon D3300, GoPro Hero 5 Silver, DJI Spark drone or iPhone 7. Yes you’ve read that right, some of my photos are taken using a simple phone camera. If I’m going out in the evening I usually don’t take my camera, but then if there’s a stunning sunset I capture it with my phone. The photo below was actually shared by Beautiful Destinations (the 10M travel account) and it was taken with my phone. This is just to say that you don’t need lots of expensive and fancy gear to take good photos. If you want to find out more about my gear, check out this beginners gear guide.
How do I create my own travel blog?
I was surprised at how easy it is to create a blog. I am not a techie person. At all. And yet I managed to create this website. There are things like WordPress and plugins that help even people like me with very basic coding knowledge to put together good looking websites. If you want more details, check out my step-by-step guide on how to create a blog.
My Instagram account isn’t growing, how did you do it? How long does it take to grow to a few thousand followers?
It’s different for everyone. There is no magic formula to success on social media. I can’t say do this and you will become Instagram famous. There are however techniques you can implement to make sure you have an amazing Instagram profile set up for success. I’m going to be working on something special in 2019 sharing my blogging and Instagram knowledge so watch this space!
Where are you from?
I’m from Milan, Italy.
How old are you?
I turned 23 in June 2017.
How do you find cheap flights for your trips?
SkyScanner is usually my first go-to flight search engine that I visit when I start planning a trip. I love their “Anytime” and “Anywhere” options since you can make your own itinerary based on the cheapest destinations and days to fly. For more details you can check out my full guide on how to save money on flights.
Do you plan all your trips beforehand or do you just wing it? What is your preparation before you travel?
I usually make sure I have the overall itinerary and schedule for my trips planned beforehand and then wing daily activities and the such once I’m there. I usually book international flights first, then figure out how many days I want to spend in each location (eg. if I’m going for 10 days to Croatia I won’t spend the whole time in just one city, I would want to move around) and book any local flights or ferries to move internally in that country and book accommodation last. I do research on travel blogs (such as mine!) about the best things to do in each location so that I have a rough idea of what I want to do when I get there, and then usually plan day trips or activities once I’m there and get a feel for the vibe.
What is your main source of income?
At the moment I’m still living off my savings from my corporate job. I make a small income from this blog (which I guess you could say is my main source of income) but even in a cheap destination like Thailand it’s not really a liveable income. I have a job lined up for the summer where I’ll be working as a skipper in Italy, taking tourists on island hopping day trips. If that works out it might become my new lifestyle, working as a skipper in summer and travelling in winter, while blogging on the side.
Do you ever feel homesick?
Not really. I left home in Italy when I was 18 and moved abroad to study so I had time to learn how to cope with distance and being away. It helps that I’ve created a new home and have friends I consider like family in London. Even when I’m on the road I never really feel homesick, since I mostly travel with friends.
What are your tips for eating healthy and staying fit on the road?
I’ll admit I’m not the best person at staying healthy on the road. While I’m travelling I love to try all the local food so often end up eating too much, I usually make up for it by going on a healthy eating spree when I come home. If I’m staying in a nice hotel with a gym I might exercise there, but to be honest I usually keep in shape by doing active activities. I love hiking, surfing, swimming, cycling and all kinds of fun things you can do while travelling. It might not be a specific training like the LBT or Body Pump classes I would do at the gym but it does its job of keeping me in shape. Check out more tips to stay fit while travelling here.
How do you decide where to go next?
It might sound superficial but I get a lot of travel inspiration from Instagram and social media in general. I’ll see photos of my friends or other bloggers in a beautiful destination and it makes me want to go there. I’ll then google the destination, find out more about what there is to do there, when the best time to visit it, watch some vlogs and then start planning!
Where do you book your accommodation?
I hope that answers any questions you might have about blogging, travelling, my lifestyle or anything else that comes to mind! If it doesn’t, just pop your question in the comments below, I’ll be happy to answer it!