How to be a travel blogger when you haven’t traveled much

Laptop featuring Hannah on Horizon, a California-based travel blogger who has lupus. Hannah shares a post on how to be a travel blogger when you haven't traveled much

For some time, I felt the pull to switch over from beauty blogging to the travel niche. A little after Cecilio and I booked our trip to Europe a few years ago, I found myself on my Notes app writing out more travel post ideas. I even Googled “travel blog topics” or “how to be a travel blogger when you haven’t traveled a lot”. I didn’t find much luck for the latter. Sure, I’ve done some travel posts from 2018 and earlier, like Disneyland during the holiday season (pure magic) or my trip to San Diego with Cecilio for our 1-year anniversary. But they were more like diary entries, and certainly not SEO-optimized.

I slowly started writing more travel posts before the Europe trip and went all-in when we came back. That trip inspired me to write more of our travel journeys while still helping readers. Cecilio and I were starting to plan trips for 2020. Then the pandemic happened, leading me to post only a few times in 2020 and twice in 2021.

Disclaimer: This post uses affiliate links, which means I make a commission if you book through this post. If you do decide to book using my links, thank you so much for your support!

A travel blogger…who hasn’t traveled much?

One of the reasons I was so hesitant to make the switch was because I felt like I have barely scratched the surface of exploring the world. I have only been to 9 11 countries (that includes the U.S., and the Philippines where I was born) and 11 states. Who would want to listen to me when there are so many other established bloggers who got to visit 20+ countries, almost all the continents, and live abroad? I never backpacked or studied abroad at my university. Even my mom, who was a flight attendant, got to visit 15 countries and live in Saudi Arabia and Thailand. I got my wanderlust from her, and I am thankful that she took my sister and me on our first trip to Europe in 2013. Oh and for all the Hawaii trips!

And of course, I can’t buy plane tickets on a whim. I have a 9-5 job as a graphic designer with very limited time off and a hybrid schedule, I have to be strategic in figuring out where Cecilio and I can go in a way that’s best for our availability and budget.

Cecilio cannot take time off during the months of February, May, and November (due to the nature of his job in a news station). He is also very budget-conscious and has pretty specific places he wants to visit. Whereas I’m like, “let’s go here, here, there” as we’re looking at a map or watching someone’s travel vlog on Tiktok. Also, we have two dogs and we don’t like being away from them for too long.

I’m not the only one

I have met other bloggers who have been in the same situation. Those who have that thirst for exploring the world, but cannot because of money, bills, job, or family commitments. I want to experience and show others that it’s possible to travel and dream within your limitations and lifestyle. That’s actually on my homepage, too! And that is my mission.

Laptop featuring Hannah on Horizon, a California-based travel blogger who has lupus. Hannah shares a post on how to be a travel blogger when you haven't traveled much. There is also a vintage looking globe.

The not-so-well-traveled travel blogger: how you can pull it off

I tweeted about being hung up about not having been to a lot of countries and states despite being a travel blogger. Someone replied back to me and said, “If you write about travel, you’re a travel blogger”. I felt validated and seen despite my insecurities about it.

Here is how I rebranded myself as a travel blogger despite not having been able to travel as much as I would love to. I hope these tips help you too!

Change your perspective

Sure, you can’t boast about joining the 100 club or backpacking all over Southeast Asia. But you’ve probably done more than you think compared to people around you. Some people have never left the U.S. or rode on a plane! So don’t feel bad when you find yourself comparing yourself to those who are jet setting every month, or so it seems. Don’t let others make you feel like you’re not a “real” traveler. At the same time, don’t turn your nose on those who have traveled less than you.

Road trips are travel. So hit the road, Jack.

Who says you have to go thousands of miles, abroad or even across the country to experience adventure? You can explore on road a few hours away or even nearby! All the trips Cecilio and I take to San Francisco are travel, even if it’s only 90 minutes away. I can’t also disregard the trips to LA, San Diego, Monterey, and Santa Cruz. We’ve been to San Francisco a billion times and there are STILL activities we haven’t done. We barely scratched LA’s surface.

You may not be able to hop on a plane now, but you can always drive to some cool destinations nearby! In fact, I’ve been dying to revisit the places I’ve mentioned 😉

Collage of road trips all around California, such as San Diego, Santa Cruz, Disneyland, and Donner Pass. This is from Hannah on Horizon, a travel blogger who shares how to be a travel blogger for those who haven't traveled much. She shows that you can do road trips if you can't travel far by plane.

Take a staycation and travel your hometown

I have to admit, I have some hang-ups about living in Sacramento. Yes, it’s California’s capital, but it’s constantly overlooked by San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. It’s never on any traveler’s radar for their California itineraries. It doesn’t even have that coolness of other mid-sized cities like Nashville, Portland, or New Orleans. Hell, I even find Kansas City to actually be cooler in some ways too. There’s also an inside joke here where you know someone is from Sac when they talk shit about it constantly. That the only thing we’re known for is not who we are as a city but where we’re close to, such as Lake Tahoe, Napa, and San Francisco.

I have to admit there are things that make Sacramento unique. This includes the food, beer and coffee scenes, historical sites, museums, and access to outdoorsy activities.

I cover a lot of Sacramento content here because I don’t really have a choice, but this is the place I have lived in for 20+ years. This is where I spent middle and high school, met my husband and best friends, adopted our dogs, graduated college, etc.

And maybe one of my other missions is to show people how cool Sacramento can be too. I hope I can inspire you to look around you and find what makes YOUR hometown unique.

Interested in learning more about Sacramento? Check out these posts below!

The Best Restaurants in Midtown Sacramento
11 Fun Things to do in Old Sacramento
Your Guide to Apple Hill’s High Hill Ranch
Experiencing Christkindlmarkt at Sacramento Turn Verein
Dine Downtown Sacramento: The Porch Restaurant & Bar

Don’t be afraid to write about destinations you visited years ago

As long as the photos are decent and you make sure your content is up-to-date. My posts from visiting Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty in 2015 and Xcaret in 2017 were written in 2020, and I have gotten a lot engagement from both of them. I put together a week-long guide to Playa del Carmen, where Cecilio and I spent our honeymoon in 2017 (which includes Xcaret).

Another thing you can do (and I have been doing) is go back and update your old posts to make them more SEO-optimized, and add affiliate links if you’re interested in monetizing your blog.

Hannah, a 25-year-old woman, taking a photo of Ellis Island overlooking New York City.

Find your niche, and unique selling point (USP)

There are thousands of travel bloggers in the Googlesphere. But you need to figure out your niche, and what makes you unique. This not only will attract a targeted, more dedicated audience, but you might also be able to rank higher on Google for long-tail keywords based on your niche.

Let’s say you’re searching for Google travel tips. That’s too generic, you’re never going to be able to rank with that keyword. But if you added a long-tail keyword, adding something more specific, like travel tips with lupus, you have a much better chance of ranking on Google. That is how my post on traveling with lupus was able to rank.

How do you find your niche and unique selling point?

Think about your life story, your background, what people come to you for. Think about how you can share that with the world and help your audience. It doesn’t have to be ultra-specific, but you can’t be everything to everyone.

In my case, my niche is primarily California content (and beyond, as allows), sharing tips on how to travel with lupus, and my life as a graphic designer (designing my own theme, branding, and assets). I also share a lot of city breaks, and how to spend 3-5 days at a certain destination, especially if you have limited vacation time. If you are looking for backpacking or digital nomad content, I am not the blogger for you.

Examples of travel bloggers and their niches

  • SoloSophie: Solo female travel blogger Sophie, born in the UK but lives in Paris. She primarily covers France content along with other parts of Europe, and occasionally US.
  • She Saves She Travels: Nikki shares hiking itineraries, US (and sometimes international) guides, but her primary niche is helping you save money for travel, in your everyday life.
  • I am Aileen: Philippine-based Aileen shows how to travel the world as a solo female with an emphasis on those from third-world countries.
  • Paul Passing Through: Paul, like me, has a full-time job and uses and free time he has to go hiking and travel with his wife. He primarily shares city guides and hiking itineraries in North Carolina, along with travel guides to Europe.
  • Chubby Diairies: Jeff shares his story and guides about traveling the world as a plus size Black man.
  • That Texas Couple: Pretty self-explanatory. While Michelle and Marty cover content all over the world, their main niche is all things Texas.

Actually plan your next trip

Well, you want to be a travel blogger but you haven’t traveled much in your life, correct? Well, you’re going to need to plan your next trip! Don’t just dream it, do it. Plan the destination you want to go to, the activities, and your budget. What are some things you can cut down on in order to save for your dream vacation? Do you really need spend $100+ at Target? Tell your boss in advance and make sure all your projects are finished before you leave.

I know it’s easier said than done. It can feel discouraging after dealing with a pandemic. But I believe that if there’s something you really want in your life, and you work hard to make it happen, it will happen. I also believe that with God (or whoever/whatever you believe in) by your side, you’re pretty much unstoppable.

I hope this post encourages you!

When you feel like you’re too late in the travel blogging game, save this post and reread again (and share it to those who are interested in being a travel blogger but are afraid to take that next step!).

By the way, I have a list of 134+ travel content ideas you can use for your blog and/or socials if you sign up for my newsletter below! Never get stuck in a rut again with 5 pages worth of content ideas!

Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.

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