Travel Blogger Problems: Why Don’t You Get A Job?

office job

Photo courtesy of cohdra

“Jessie, you’re 26. When are you going to get a real job?”

This is a common question I receive as a full time travel blogger. It doesn’t matter that I’m able to live a comfortable lifestyle in New York City, paying for an apartment and nights of $15 cocktails, many of my family and friends are still under the impression that that my profession is a game and I get payed in Monopoly money. Maybe it’s because it’s unconventional, maybe it’s because it wasn’t a job I had to interview for or maybe it’s because I actually love my job, but nobody seems to think it’s real life.

I love responding to people when they ask me this question, “What is your definition of a real job?”

Nobody is ever really quite sure how to answer. Apparently, a real job entails any or all of the following: Making real money (not the Monopoly money I was apparently making), sitting at an office desk from 9am to 5pm, having health insurance, having a boss and earning a set salary.

I especially enjoyed family gatherings where people would discuss my life as if I weren’t sitting right there…but I was. My mom would talk about how my lifestyle didn’t allow me to date properly or settle down and have a normal life — which I was never asked if I wanted — while others would console her by saying I was in my twenties and it was just a phase.

It always amazed me how, despite my successes in the travel industry and the fact I created my own small business that allowed me to travel the world and have truly bucket list experiences, my parents would push me to apply for jobs that I was way over qualified for, answering phones at television production companies and working the front desk at car rental agencies, just so I would have a real job and wouldn’t be “wasting my Masters Degree” on travel blogging.

I’ll admit the judgement has gotten better over the years — I guess people are starting to see it isn’t just a phase — although I have to be careful with what I say. For example, if I have a cough and my mom tells me to go to the doctor and I remind her that I don’t have health insurance, she tells me that if I had a “real job” I would be able to go to the doctor. Or if I talk about how I’m budgeting myself with groceries I’ll get a retort about how I need to pinch pennies because of my “job situation.”

The reality is I have many friends who have 9-to-5 office jobs who feel completely unfulfilled. They may make a steady paycheck and have health insurance, but by the end of the year I often come out ahead or equal in terms of overall earnings — and I get to travel. I don’t have to request permission if I want a day off because I’m my own boss, and I don’t have to coordinate my schedule around other peoples’ vacation time because seeing the world is my job. It’s a career that makes me feel fulfilled, pays my bills and allows me to have life-changing experiences. Like most jobs I deal with meetings, deadlines, project strategizing and the usual stressors that come with wanting to complete a task and impress clients and editors. And while there’s nothing wrong with choosing a career with set hours where you work from a desk, I get to change up my office scenery between beaches, jungles, cities and deserts while having a schedule that always keeps me guessing. It’s what suits my personality and what I want out of life. And while it may not be the job for everyone, it is a job. A real job.

What are your thoughts on travel blogging as a career?


  1. Hey Jessie, there have been a lot of “Travel blogging is SO HARD” posts in the blogosphere lately so it’s nice to read one with a positive spin! Not that I’m putting those posts down at all, but for aspiring travel-blogger-as-career types, it can be a little discouraging.

    I’m not even close to being there in terms of calling travel blogging a career, but I would definitely love to be. Even as I write more and inch forward on the recognition, people ask me what do you actually want to do? And it’s like…uhh, I’m doing it?

    I like that you frame what you do as a small business. I think what people in your life don’t see is: where will it lead in 20 years? I don’t know, do you think travel blogging will still be a career? That’s not to say that a “real job” has lifetime job security, but internet businesses are still relatively young.

    Didn’t mean for this to be so long – thanks for sharing!

  2. My only concern for anyone in a similar situation is when I see no insurance. As Chris Rock once said, insurance is called in case shit — in case shit happens. Even the healthiest people can have an accident or something bad happen. Without insurance that can bankrupt even a wealthy person. I’m very healthy, but had an emergency room visit that came from training for a half marathon. Without insurance filing for bankruptcy might have been forced on us. That’s my only concern for anyone without insurance. But thanks to Affordable Care Act and other things, a 9 to 5 job isn’t the only way to get insurance. Other than that, I applaud anyone who has the courage to step out and create something for themselves. My wife is self-employed. It’s a hard but rewarding job.

  3. Well said! Yes it’s a bit unconventional but it’s your PASSION and like you said… it’s paying the bills! You have one of the best jobs in the world in my opinion. Thanks for sharing.

    Happy travels 🙂

  4. Love this post! The way I see it, as long as you’re self-sufficient, you love what you do, and you’re pursuing your higher purpose, you are a success regardless of whether you have a typical 9-5 or not. I think that most people want your lifestyle but are too afraid to go after it. Keep following your bliss!

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