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I have not been shy about my skepticism of travel blogging for millions. For some it is considered the Holy Grail. A Dream Travel Job. To get paid to travel the world. And while the phenomena of travel blogging continues to evolve from a platoon of dirty backpackers in Birkenstocks to every shade of traveler aficionado you can think of (traveling with dogs, flash packing jet setters, travel sexcapades, traveling with a litter of six, sexing local women in foreign lands) there seems to be only a lucky few who are actually get paid to travel the world, and by that I mean they can afford to live outside of their parent’s basement. However, after going to TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange – a travel blogger convention) in Spain last week, I must admit, that I was taken aback by other developments in this industry – namely, that of getting sponsored.
“Next week I am getting sent to Indonesia for 3 weeks and competing for $10,000”
“Oh yeah, I am going on a trip through the wine country then off to a Tuscan villa for a 5 star Michelin tasting”
“Unfortunately I won’t be able to go to South Africa this time around, so I had to give my trip to a friend”
Cruises on the Mediterranean, roundtrip planes tickets with all inclusive activities and entertainment, and all sorts of other travel accoutrement are just some of ways travel bloggers get paid to travel the world. Sponsors – which are composed of different countries tourism boards, travel companies, apartment services – all vie for travel bloggers’ audiences. The bigger your audience, the more cool shit you can parlay into your next va-cay. Even the TBEX conference itself, which was hosted by the Costa Brava tourism board, pulled out all the stops for these new media darlings. A dinner at 11th(?) century castle catered by the 2nd best restaurant in the world, side trips promoting the flavor of region (wine tastings, kayaking, biking in the mountains) and nightly entertainment with acrobats, Spanish civil war reenactments – topped off with drunken bloggers sloshing through the streets ranting about tweeting or pintering or the homoerotic behavior of Will Peach. A dream travel job no doubt.
Needless to say, I was inspired. So inspired, that this week I decided to take my first step toward becoming one of elite sponsored illuminati in the travel blogging world, to finally get paid to travel, by reaching out to potential sponsors. Luxury African safari? Costa Rican 5 star jungle escape? Two weeks of yachting in the Caribbean?
“We can offer you 15% off if you do a review of our hostel”