Chapter 1. Your Travel Blog

Due to the length of ‘Secrets for Traveling for FREE and Building Your Travel Internet Business’, we’ve split it up into chapters. 

Through social media I have come to know many people who have travel blogs, some of which provide readers with insider tips on locations, pictures, video-blogs and blogs. A huge (if not the biggest) predictor of your success will be the quality of your content, how much you can create, and your community. Let me shed some light on this sometimes-overwhelming task with some of my personal insights and struggles.

Almost everyone asks me how I have the means to travel to so much. They ask, “Are you rich?” I just tell them that traveling is my passion and I decided many years ago that it would be something I would do as often as possible for the rest of my life. After investing all my savings to start my venture, I began to look for seed funding so that I could really get things moving. Everyone warned me it would be tough to find the funding I needed, but consistency always prevails. The more investors you contact, the more likely someone will believe in you. The odds are in your favor if you make them to be. For instance, if you call 100 potential investors, perhaps 10 will show interest in giving you money for your business. Out of these 10 there is bound to be a minimum of 1 investor who wants to supply your company with the financial means to survive in this competitive market.

See also
Chapter 5. Tips for a Successful Travel Blog

The first few months of were hard times during which I waited for someone, anyone to believe in my brand and in me. After 6 months of contacting investors (and sleepless nights) I finally caught the break I was praying for. The rest is history.

Building Blocks

You have no idea how many people turned me down when I was calling restaurants and hotels to tell them I was traveling to their city and wanted to feature them but needed everything for free. At the time I had no website, so I really could not blame them for refusing. I learned my lesson the hard way, but now I call to arrange my trips and I have about an 80% success rate with the restaurants and a 95% with the hotels. Since I structured the content on my site in a clear and simple way, I have had continued success with arranging my eating and sleeping arrangements for free.

See also
Chapter 4. Social Media

Once you have various arrangements with restaurants and hotels under your belt, you should start mentioning them to the ones you contact thereafter. The managers you contact will start to view your promotion in a positive light and will want to be part of your special “list.” Between 2007 and 2010 I visited over 400 restaurants and 100 hotels. That means more than 400 restaurant owners and approximately 100 marketing directors thought that letting me eat and sleep for free would be worth more to them than the price of the service.

During my trip through Ecuador in January 2009, my partner and I successfully ate and slept for free throughout the entire trip. We traveled to Quito, Tena, Cuenca, Azogues, Guayaquil, Santa Cruz Island Galapagos, Isabela Island Galapagos and Montanita. We only paid our transportation costs.

Ecuador expenses in US dollars (2009)

  • $1,400 (2 round-trip flights to Ecuador)
  • $200 (2 round-trip bus shuttle tickets to the Amazon)
  • $200 (2 one-way flights to Cuenca)
  • $100 (2 one-way bus shuttle tickets to Galapagos)
  • $1000 (2 round-trip flights to the Galapagos Islands)
  • $400 (Emergency cash that we thankfully never spent)

Total Cost: $2,900.00

If I had not arranged all the restaurants and the hotels that trip would have cost me triple what I spent. You can see by the expense sheet above (and probably by looking at your credit card statements) that transportation is not cheap. By relieving yourself of extra costs like restaurants and accommodations, you are already on your way to a cheaper business trip.

See also
Chapter 2. Accommodations

Your content must involve business promotion to some degree if you want to travel for free. Business promotion means you are recommending and endorsing a business to your audience. Here are some examples of titles that indicate niche promotions:

  • “Top Ten Restaurants in Miami”
  • “Romantic Spots in Venice”
  • “Best Wines for your Buck”
  • “Family-Friendly Attractions in Buenos Aires”
  • “Most Scenic Drives in Spain”
  • “Extreme Sports in Interlaken, Switzerland”
  • “The Best Craft Markets in Riviera Maya”

In deciding which businesses you would like to promote, consider the following:

  • Your company’s mission
  • Intended audience
  • Circulation of content
  • When and where are you going
  • The type of business you have (i.e. blog site, vlog site (video blog,) online magazine, special edition publication, or any other kind.)

Any responsible business owner will want to know the benefits of being featured, and will have questions about the details of your offer. If you are asking for something for free, you have got to get prepared to answer all the necessary questions. These may include:

  • “Who exactly will see this on your website?”
  • “Do I have to pay you?”
  • “How many people visit your site per month/week/day?”
  • “Can you give me a preview of what it will look like when it’s finished?”
  • “What other types of restaurants have you written about?”
  • “How and when will you get here to us?”
  • “Will you be interviewing staff, taking pictures, shooting video, writing down observations, or critiquing?”
  • “How is this different from our current advertisements?”
See also
Chapter 3. Restaurants

The important thing to keep in mind is that you are proposing something of value (exposure/ coverage/ publicity) in return for a cost-free experience. The businesses you contact need to know that by letting you use their services at no cost, this will yield something worth more. In other words, the businesses will want to know why exactly your offer is first-rate. Here are some possible ways to describe how you will showcase the businesses you contact:

  • Exclusive Paris Nightclubs
  • Top-Ten spa hotels in Phoenix
  • Recommended European honeymoon spots
  • Best Kept Secrets of wine making from industry professionals
  • Leading airlines in the Middle East
  • Finest food in the Southern United States
  • Worthwhile day trips in Costa Rica
  • Tips for camping in Florida

Continue to Chapter 2: Accommodations

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