This year I’ve been on 18 trips, across 10 countries. A record year by all accounts.
Some of these have been self-funded (New York), some have been group press trips (Trek America), some individual trips with brands (Slovenia) and some with my full-time job (Ireland). But what they all have in common? I was working during all of them.
Sure there were varying levels of work in each of these trips. In Cologne, I was there as part of my actual 9-5, so it was “real” work, y’know?
But even on blog trips, the brand you’re working with expects you to blog, tweet, Instagram, film, photograph, pin and snap every inch of the trip. And yeah I know what you’re thinking, “Boohoo, bitch gets free holidays, suck it up cry baby”. And for the record, I’m 8643% grateful for these trips. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I actually get paid to travel the world. It’s insane.
But it is also WORK.
Even on the ones where I get to bring a plus one, and Josh and I can go to festivals in Jersey and explore Ljubljana and cruise around the Greek Islands. It sounds and looks dreamy, but I’m always “on”. I’m always looking for pretty walls to take outfit snaps against. I’m always getting up early to fit as much as possible into the day’s itinerary. I always do research a few weeks before I go to make sure I’m going to the best hostels and coolest restaurants.
And honestly, I love it. It’s why I write this blog, because I love to travel and explore and create.
But it means I never really have a REAL holiday. I never come back from a trip truly relaxed and ready to tackle life with fresh ideas, y’know?
And Josh hates it too. I’m always like “Dude, you’re here for free because of these annoying photos you’re having to take of my new Joanie dress.” But it’s more that he’s annoyed that I’m not relaxed. He wants us to have a romantic dinner in Santorini without me taking 7543 photos of the souvlaki.
It’s a fair comment. I get it.
And honestly, I’ve been meaning to do some kind of digital detox trip this year (it was one of my 30 Before I’m 30). But it’s hard to be a travel blogger and not get any content from a trip.
So I compromised.
In last week’s trip to Alicante with Jet2, I decided I would have a “normal person’s holiday”. There’s still social media and photos but without sacrificing the whole trip for content. Here’s how I did it.
How To Have An Actual Holiday When You’re A Travel Blogger
Have a lay-in
In Spain, we were staying in a gorgeous 5 star hotel (Hospes Amerigo) which was way fancier than anywhere we’d normally be able to afford. So we had a lie-in. Every. Single. Day. And we never rushed to get ready and go out, it was all very chilled. Would recommend for the ultimate holiday experience.
Don’t do any add-on brand collabs
On my travels, I tend to always be working with ANOTHER brand, on top of the one that sent me away. For example, in Slovenia I was there with Wizz Air but also working with Superdry on a fashion post. And in Rome, I was there with Anchored Cruise but also worked with Marco Polo reviewing their travel guide.
It’s too much work and too much pressure for a real holiday. So I didn’t do anything extra whatsoever.
Don’t film any footage for YouTube
I love to create little 3-4 minute videos of my travels for my YouTube channel but it means I’m always filming when I’m away. Trying to capture everything I’m experiencing.
I decided that photos were allowed because everyone takes snaps of their holz. But video was too much for a real holiday. Soz GoPro, you’re staying at home.
Don’t plan too much
I totally winged it in Alicante. I decided to plan one thing we would do at the beginning of the day and then just let the day play out from there. So one day we went to the Santa Barbara castle in the morning then just wandered the Old Town casually eating tapas in the afternoon.
It was perfection and meant I wasn’t always worrying about what we were doing next and whether I’d seen everything there was to see in order to write about the destination.
Forget about sunset
We all know sunsets sell right? They’re basically Instagram gold and I’ve been known to look up sunset times to make sure I’m in a picturesque location for photos come sun down. (Have I got a problem?)
Not this time though. You know where I was for sunset every single day? Asleep. Having a siesta. Like I should be on holiday.
Take a small bag to dinner
I’ve been known to take a backpack out to dinner. You know, to carry my DSLR, GoPro, Instax, etc. But this time I took my Skinnydip shell bag, just big enough for my phone, purse and lipstick.
Just tweet/gram the highlights
I was still active on social media during my Spanish escape. Firstly because I was working with Jet2CityBreaks promoting their holidays, but also because I think it’s pretty normal to tweet a photo of a massive pan of paella.
I didn’t have to go cold turkey or anything, but I made sure I wasn’t doing it all day erryday like I do on some trips. Like, I would just do a lil end of the day tweet saying what I got up to, know what I mean?
I think that’s a good compromise and it meant I got to switch off a bit. I wasn’t thinking in tweets. Yeah I do that.
Leave restaurant and bar selections to chance
Why research every little thing when you can wander the Old Town roads stopping at cute bars that look nice? That’s what we did and we found some gems.
But we also ate at places I would never blog about, just for convenience. It felt so good to just wing it without consulting TripAdvisor every meal.
Take a book with you
I know, how original of me. But honestly, I normally don’t have time for books. Even when we were on the cruise earlier this year, I was more often than not tweeting from my sun lounger rather than reading.
However in Alicante I managed to finish the fourth Game Of Thrones book. I read it in the bath, I read it on the plane, I relaxed and managed to read without stopping to think about what I was going to Instagram that day. Y’know, like a normal human being.
Ultimately, I learned to just switch off and enjoy myself. I know, it’s something that comes naturally to most people on holiday!
I’ve come home feeling a lot more relaxed than I usually do and still managed to see the destination and get content for the blog without overworking myself. Granted, it’s easier in a smaller location like Alicante than it would be somewhere like NYC or Rome!
But still, I’m happy I’ve managed to have a break.
Now, back to the salt mines, kiddo.
Total Blogger Transparency: I visited Alicante on a complimentary trip with Jet2. But all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own, I wouldn’t play you like that, shorty.