At first thought, 2020 wouldn’t seem like the year to start a travel blog. With so many travel bans in place and a big shift in the industry, why jump into a profession that has been hit so hard?
From the outside it may look grim, but if you ask me, this is actually one of the best times to start a travel blog.
Why? When things get tough, those who can stay the course and work through it have a fantastic opportunity. For the first time in the short span of travel blogging as a career, this shake up will cause many to quit, lose dedication, and decide to pursue something else.
While unfortunate for them, this creates an opportunity for those who are willing to go all in, to fill those gaps left behind, and to innovate to rise to the current times.
Jennifer Bourbon is one of the newest bloggers on the scene, already growing and thriving despite the challenges at hand. Her blog, Glasses and Boarding Passes, is a queer travel blog helping readers discover how travel can be safe, empowering, and fulfilling – no matter how you identify.
“I’ve always loved travel, but as I grew up and came to terms with my sexuality, I quickly realized that travel can be a little more complicated for LGBTQ+ people. In over 70 countries, it’s still illegal to even be gay – and that’s before considering cultural stigmas outside the legal system.
While this can be disheartening (and often requires extra planning before a trip), I didn’t want this to stop me from exploring our beautiful planet. I also realized there might be other queer people out there feeling the same way – and I wanted to share what I’ve learned from my experiences. From there, the idea of the blog was born.”
That’s not to say that being a new blogger is without its challenges, and Jen is open about coming up against them almost every day.
“As a newer blogger, there is so much to learn about the industry. As a (recovering) perfectionist, I’m often hard on myself if my growth isn’t as fast as I hoped, or if a photo doesn’t get as much engagement as I expected. What keeps me going is the joy of creating and the pride of contributing to the pool of LGBTQ+ representation in travel. “
So what made her decide that 2020 was the year to launch?
“I had dreamed of starting a travel blog for years, but had been too scared of failure to take the plunge. When Kristin launched her Travel Blog Accelerator program in April, I was immediately intrigued. With all my travel plans and social activities cancelled due to the coronavirus, I thought, maybe now is the time to finally create my blog!
Despite all the challenges of this year, the silver lining for me was that this downtime created the perfect space for me to finally invest in my dream.
The Travel Blog Accelerator has been an important piece in my blog’s foundation. From learning insider tips to meeting other amazing bloggers, it’s kept me accountable and inspired to keep going despite the challenges in the travel industry right now.
I’ve also focused a lot on domestic travel this year. Initially, my blog launch plan included a very specific set of posts I wanted to write for each country I’ve visited so far, but with the current international travel restrictions, I quickly realized this didn’t make sense and had to pivot. After all, I wanted to create content that would be useful for travelers right now!
The bright side of this strategy is that I’ve (safely) seen so much more of my own country in just six months than I have in the last few years. I used to think I had to get on a plane to find an exotic new destination – now, all I have to do is get in my car.
Finally, I’ve also started connecting with other queer bloggers and influencers. While we LGBTQ+ folks only make up a small portion of the travel industry, that piece has been slowly growing. It’s been inspiring to see people like me out in the world, living, loving, and exploring authentically. I hope that I can be that inspiration to other queer travelers too!”
For the future, she plans to keep leaning into her passion, sharing her experiences from her trips and leaning into what’s popular as well as what’s going to be meaningful not only for queer travelers, but for the communities where she travels to.
“One of my main strategies has been to create travel guides for queer people about more than just queer topics. For example, earlier this year, I took a road trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Of course, whenever I travel I want to know things like the attitude of locals towards queer people, local queer businesses to support, etc. But I also want to be able to see the best of each location just like every other traveler – even if it isn’t a queer-centric activity! This was something I felt was missing in a lot of queer travel guides I tried to use when planning my trips.
Because of this, I’ve structured all of my travel guides to include information on the location applicable to all travelers at the top, with a section titled “LGBTQ+ Considerations” at the bottom. While my sexuality is a part of me, it doesn’t define me and my life – and I want my travel guides to reflect that too!
This strategy has helped to set me apart while also clearly establishing my unique brand. My goal is to keep connecting with queer people and providing them with valuable information on how to explore the world!
I’d also love to work with brands and destinations to continue to increase queer representation in the travel industry. Representation is important to not only make LGBTQ+ people feel welcome around the world, but to continue to open the hearts and minds of people who might never have met a queer person, and therefore might be less accepting.”
Is this the year for you to start a travel blog? Join my free 5-day Thrive into 2021 mini course to get closer to your launch: