Tuesday, May 2, 2017

She Has Been Traveling The World For The Past Year, And She Gets Paid To Do It

This is Brooke Saward, a 23-year-old girl from Launceston, Tasmania and she has been traveling the world on her own since January of 2014. Within the past year she has visited 6 continents and almost 50 countries which probably accounts for her social media following of 320 000 people. As well, her blog, World of Wanderlust garners 950 000 page views per month and speaks to people's curiosity for different cultures, countries, and experiences, even if they don't physically engage with them personally. 

The story goes: Brooke bought a one-way ticket to London on the day of her graduation from University and has now been travelling for over a year. What's even more, she has managed to make a lucrative career out of it! Living the dream, right? Many of us couldn't fully imagine travelling for so long alone but, as Brooke's photo documentation suggests, this isn't something that fazes her. 

The snaps she takes while travelling have attracted plenty of attention and people follow her almost religiously. In her blog, she recounts her travel tales, gives advice, and posts articles as well as compelling pictures that pretty much make you want to be her. Recently, Daily Mail Australia caught up with her in a Johannesburg hotel when the social media guru had a few spare days due to a cancelled trip to Zimbabwe. However, after planning her schedule rigidly for the past year, she now embraces the unpredictability of her schedule because it's particularly characteristic of the life she's now leading. 

She told Daily Mail "last year I planned 3 to 4 months in advance...I found that really constraining; I always knew what I was doing everyday for the next few months." She continued, "this year I decided that I didn't want to have any plans. It's really exciting to not know what you're doing next week. A few nights ago, I went to bed not knowing where I was going the next day. At the moment, I know I have to be in Pheonix next week, and I don't know what I'm doing until then." Not too bad, eh? She also divulged that she was "offered a job in Zimbabwe but that fell through because flights didn't work, so [she's] just staying in Johannesburg for a few days, paying for accommodation and catching up on work."
According to Brooke's estimation, she covers 50% of her travel costs while the other half is sponsored by tourist boards, hotels, and tour companies who welcome her to certain destinations in order to cover them on her blog and social media sites. Initially, Brooke saved up for her travels on her own but does admit that she had to find ways to ear a living rather quickly. She said "around May of last year I sat myself down and said, "Brooke you need to start making money fast or you won't be able to keep travelling." So she started studying other blogs to see how they were going about things. 

One aspect of her living is the money she makes from advertising and affiliate links. Brooke says "it has worked really well for me with hats, which are kind of my thing. Every time I link to hat I'm wearing and people click through and buy it I make quite a bit of money." 

In addition to this and sponsored trips, she also has a series of eBooks including The World of Wanderlust Story, How To Create A Successful Blog, and The Solo Travel Guidebook. As well, her recent road trip from San Francisco to LA was sponsored by the airline ticket comparison site, Skyscanner, who covered her expenses and gave her spending money along the way. Brooke said that when she makes money from her trips it goes directly back into funding her other travels because she said "I make enough to cover my trips, and I'd probably make a whole lot more if I didn't do so much." Brooke continued "if there's an amazing bungee jump or something, I'll spend money doing it--it's just like when you go on a holiday and you always spend much more than you planned because you want to do everything, then when you get home you think "wow, I can't go out for a month"...that's how i feel all the time." Although, it's the price you pay to see the whole world and, from this standpoint, it seems pretty worth it. 

Although she doesn't shy away from money well spent on experiences, she doesn't throw money around on flashy nights out. Often, her her lifestyle of solo travelling means that evening are spent alone in her hotel room. Brooke says "for a 23-year-old, I'm really tame. I don't go out or drink. When I'm back home in Tasmania with friends I'll have a night out, but when I'm by myself in a foreign country I want to keep my wits about me. I don't tend to go out after dark or drink. I'll have a glass of wine with dinner on occasion--but only if I'm eating in my hotel."

She added "a lot of people might say I'm missing out, but I also feel like I have a bit of responsibility-- there's a lot of young people who read my blog and follow what I do. I do make a conscious effort to be the best version of myself. And anyway, I have so much fun sober." 

This is a particularly great quality in someone who, not only travels by themselves, but also largely makes her own schedule, and definitely needs to keep an eye on her spending. Generally, after dark, Brooke spends time in her hotel room catching up on blog posts, editing photos and videos. 

"When you travel with friends, you sit down over dinner and talk about what happened that day and plan the next day," she stated. "It's the exact same with me, except that I'm alone,"

Brooke noted that she had to make adjustments for becoming accustomed to being on her own. In her opinion "the worst is when you see things happening back home on Facebook. People in Tasmania tend to get married quite young, and my best friend from high school has a two-year-old now--I've missed both of his birthdays. It's then that you miss home." 

There are other factors that come along with living the solo life because, well it's just that, solo. Brooke revealed "I didn't go on a single date or kiss a guy for the whole year." But this quite rapidly changed when she returned home this past Christmas and fell for "the boy next door." The couple maintains a long distance relationship now and meet in certain cities/countries when they can. Recently, they met up in LA where Brooke "went off the radar" for a few days while spending time with him. 

Laughing Brooke said, "I traveled to 6 continents last year and didn't meet a single guy, and then I met one back home in Tasmania who lives 10 minutes down the road."

She doesn't have any specific plans to reveal his identity because she prefers to keep her work travel focused. This makes perfect sense considering the long list of amazing things she has done that would keep anyone occupied with sharing them. Within this last year, Brooke has completed the highest bungee jump in the world (Macau), canoed down the Zambezi River, road tripped around Ireland, walked the Overland Track in Tasmania, been to Easter Island, been on several South African Safaris, hiked a Chilean volcano, while seeing almost all of Europe. And, by the way, those are only some of the things she has done! 

As with any bouts of travelling, there's bound to be a little bit of bad that comes with all the good. Amongst her experiences she has also dealt with 2 attempted muggings, food poisoning in La Paz, a missed trip to Tanzania after forgetting her Yellow Fever documents, as well as being refused entry to Brazil and Argentina because she didn't have the correct visa. These unfortunate events are coupled with the inevitable social media trolls that come along with a large following. Brooke says that while 90% of her 153 000 Instagram followers are supportive, having the deal with the critics was "a monster" to deal with.  

Brooke said that "sometimes when you're having a bad day and someone will say something mean and pick you apart. People can attack you personally for a decision you make or photo you upload. Last year I posted a photo of New York and it had horses in Central park in it. People started claiming I was supporting animal cruelty. It can be overwhelming." 

Brooke came very close to calling it quits when a travel companion in Venice skipped town, still owing her hundreds of dollars. This individual, someone Brooke met at a 'meet-up' (get togethers held by popular bloggers and social media personalities) in London, volunteered to join on a planned trip to Romania but ended up extending her stay to 3 weeks. Much of the expenses were comped hotels because where this woman stayed with Brooke for free as her plus one. Needless to say, after a week and racking up a $400 debt, this woman left upon entering Venice and blocked Brooke on Facebook and Instagram. She couldn't contact her at all. Yikes. 

Brooke said of the experience "it was bizarre. For 3 weeks it was like living with a best friend that I'd known for years, and then she just disappeared. To that point I'd been a bit sheltered. It took a couple weeks for me to get over, and it ruined me trusting anyone." 

She didn't share this with her readers but did describe the experience in detail in her upcoming book, A Year To Myself, which she'll self-publish this year, the first time her work will be in hard copy. She said that she put it in the book because "it was a lesson I learned the hard way" which would undoubtedly be helpful for others looking to partake in similar things.    

Following this episode, Brooke didn't hold another meet-up for another 6 months but has since started scheduling them regularly all over the world. At these events several followers turn up to meet Brooke in person, speak with her, and bring her gifts.  

Some fans will tell her they've been following the blog since its outset in 2012 when Brooke admits that she took a "fake it until you make it" approach. What she means is "I was writing in a way that looked as if I had readers from the beginning,' she said. 'I was writing for an audience that wasn’t even there. Blogging falls somewhere between TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet," she added. 'Its more personal than Lonely Planet, but more reliable than TripAdvisor because you follow someone because of their personality and because they like the same things that you do."
As readership started to grow, things got moving for her and haven't really slowed down since, in fact, she estimated that her Instagram followers increase by 700-800 per day.  "Just a few days ago I was in Zambia and I got a thousand new followers in a day because the photos were really different to what anybody else was posting," she revealed. "A lot of bloggers are always going to New York or Paris, but I notice that the really off the beaten path destinations get a lot more likes and new followers."

Brooke ensures that her feed is kept current and original every single day which is really quite the undertaking. Around October 2014, Brooke decided she needed a break and had an insatiable craving for home. 

She said "I check into hotels every two or three nights, I never fully unpack or feel like I have a sanctuary. I got to the point when I just wanted some space of my own. I tried out having a base, and rented an apartment in Berlin for two months. It just didn’t excite me as much as I was expecting. I was only there for 10 nights in the whole two-month period. I do want to have a home, but I haven’t worked out how to do it yet. Maybe New York or Paris, or London might be enough to keep me interested for a bit longer next time." 
But as Brooke's escapades have shown us so far, we'll just see what happens. 


Author: verified_user