"I have so many press trip offers that I have to turn most of them away."
"I don't have time to take a free trip."
"I turned down a trip because I've already been there once, so I don't want to go there again."
These are all quotes from popular travel bloggers. They publicly stated these things ON THEIR PLATFORMS! Come on people. Some of us are struggling just to get a sponsored night at a hostel. Plus, how do you think that makes your followers that have never had the opportunity to travel feel?
If you're unfamiliar with press trips (or familiarization "FAM" trips), they are sponsored trips that are usually paid for by a brand (hotels, cruises, group tours, etc.) or destination (tourism boards for places like Scotland, Michigan, Berlin, etc.). It usually includes lodging and/or activities for writers, bloggers, and photographers in exchange for exposure. This can be in the form of a magazine article, video, blog post, social media promotion, and more.
A press trip is typically go, go, go all day. Then most people are required to work and post their material that night. It is by no means a vacation or "free" trip. You gotta work your butt off while you're there.
What I do currently is free promotion. The trips that are seen on my blog have all been paid for by me. I have had no sponsorships or advertisements. All of the tips, experiences, products, and recommendations are my own. I know that the saying is, "You gotta spend money to make money," but I'm running out of the former of the two. That is why I'm working so hard to find like minded businesses to work with me.
Popular bloggers are quite frequently asked to go on press trips to promote a brand or destination, but for little shrimps like me, I have to approach businesses and pitch my ideas.
When I pitch ideas, I'm not just fishing for free trips. I am dedicated to helping local businesses gain exposure. In return, I am able to affordably build on my blog and help others.
The hardest part of my job so far hasn't been the 14 hour days or the 15 new job titles, it's been the rejection. This week alone I've sent out 60 media stay requests to hotels in London and I'll most likely get rejected by all of them. Businesses don't see me as a "good fit" because I don't have enough followers or subscribers. However, it's difficult to build a following without content from the help of a press trip.
It's a catch-22.
Here's something I so desperately want to say in my proposals:
Dear PR Reps -
I don't have 5K subscribers or 20K Instagram followers, but that doesn't mean I won't some day. And that doesn't mean that I am any less impactful. In fact, I would provide 10x more content than any high profile blogger if given the opportunity. You want one blog post? Well here's five. You want an Instagram mention? Here's 20. I'll even through in some Tweets! That's because I'm thanking you for giving me a chance when no one else would.
In order for new bloggers like me to grow, people like you need to believe in us. Just think, when a blogger finally gets to a "higher" status, they're going to look back and thank everyone that helped them get to where there are now. That means that they'll always recommend your brand or destination.
So take a gamble on me, and let's grow together.
There are definitely some people out there that are just looking for free handouts, but for a majority of us travel bloggers, press trips are how we make a living. We don't travel the world to take sexy selfies, we travel the world so we can show others - particularly inexperienced travelers - what's out there, and encourage them to do the same.
Without press trips and influential bloggers, people would think that traveling to a place like Bali - or even Europe! - is impossible for them. It breaks my heart when people tell me that they'll never be able to leave their hometown because they think they're not rich enough, or worse, they're afraid that the world won't welcome someone like them.
This world is filled with so much pointless hate, but I believe that travel can help mend it. Travel brings people together and shows us that we may be different, but that doesn't make us wrong. It opens our hearts and our minds. We may have different beliefs, but we can all laugh at the same things, cry at the same things, and appreciate the beauty all around us.
Travel for me isn't about checking off a destination and moving on to the the next one. It's about collecting experiences and returning from each journey feeling transformed as a person.
Even if I keep getting rejected by brands and destinations for the next decade, I'll never stop encouraging people to see the world. I will still spread love and laughter, and hopefully motivate others to make changes and challenge themselves.
If my blog inspires just one person to step out of their comfort zone and do something brave, then I've accomplished my goal.