Living a life of travel and hopping from country to country experiencing different cultures and adventures is a dream held by many around the world. For Isabel who has realised this dream as a full-time travel blogger and digital nomad, this is a life she has been living since 2015 as she documents her travel adventures on her popular blog Bel Around The World.
Find out more about how she started her journey in our interview:
How did you get started with being a digital nomad and a full-time travel blogger?
My blog started as an outlet to document my travels when I was on a university international exchange to France for a semester. I wanted to have a place to share my crafted itineraries, adventure on the road and my travel pictures.
It was also about the same time I read up on travel bloggers who were able to blog and travel full-time. Since then, I’d been silently paving the way for the blog to allow me to earn a full-time income from it, by learning content marketing, branding and SEO strategies along the way.
I’ve also always enjoyed the location independence from being able to work from anywhere! For someone who enjoys travelling, that’s hardly surprising.
With New Zealand offering Singaporeans a working holiday visa, I grabbed the chance to do it while I still could. I spent half a year working for an adventure glacier company, learning so much in the process of living independently, simply and staying close to nature. I also got to experience some epic adventures while in New Zealand, like camping on a glacier (COLD), gliding, skydiving, jet boating and more!
What was the turning point where a hobby blog became a full-fledged business for you?
Being able to hit my traffic goal, along with an opportunity to move to Japan came up after the New Zealand working holiday were the turning points that allowed me to throw myself into full-time blogging and hustle for myself.
Before that, the thought of working for myself was so terrifying. On hindsight, that was the best decision I ever made, to put myself out there.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced along the way?
The journey of being a travel blogger has been fun! Since being able to dedicate more time to it, I was able to really optimise my content, produce more stories, work with more brands and travel to places I never thought of, such as Bhutan, South Africa and Maldives.
There really hasn’t been big challenges, except for time management when I am on the road. Not having a routine means you have to be extra strict about when to set aside time to work/ blog.
You’ve also talked about the dangers of travelling solo as a female, could you share more about that?
I don’t intentionally go looking for trouble. It’s just that I couchsurf as a solo female, and that means sometimes being subject to sexual harassment. The only advice I’d like to give is that as women, we need to stand our grand, be alert and be firm about saying no when faced with such situations.
I still strongly advise women to travel solo, because you’re exposed to so many more opportunities that you would otherwise never get if you travelled with companions. You’ll realise there is true kindness in humanity, that we are more alike than you think, regardless of race, gender or nationality.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from your travels?
The most important lessons all came from learning more about myself. Travel, to me, is a process of self-discovery. It has made me more humble, patient, open-minded, resilient, confident and easygoing.
I’ve learned to seize the day - carpe diem - because so many opportunities only come once in your lifetime!
Being able to meet people from different walks of life - a skydiver, plastic surgeon, pilot, mountaineer, surfer - I’ve learned to see life through different sets of eyes, giving me a new perspective and inspiration every time.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you as a travel blogger and what are you looking to do when things get better?
Traffic has definitely plummeted, but that has motivated me more than ever. I’ve begun to take this downtime to audit my site once again for user-friendliness, update old posts and work on improving my site authority and promotion.
I’ve begun to delve into other areas such as making videos, and I’ve been so occupied creating a SEO course that I’ve recently launched to motivate and help other fellow content creators to drive traffic to their blogs!