You would think that since my blog’s anniversary falls on Singapore’s National Day that I would remember it better, but no, I’m always so distracted by festivities and other happenings during this period that it always goes by without much fanfare. This year I’ve had a little more time to pay attention and guess what, somehow I’ve been travel blogging for 7 entire years, it’s a little bit crazy.
7 years – my blog would be in Primary school right now if it were a person, imagine that.
My very first post for The Occasional Traveller went up on waaaaayyyyy back in 2010 – I was working in advertising back then and in my mid 20s – you can read my ‘origin story‘ for more about how this blog began. I remember deciding that I wanted to get this travel blog going, and when I had some time on a public holiday, the first trip I chose to feature was one I had taken 2 years before where I went scuba diving in Cebu. I’ve since updated the post a little with subheadings and I’ve had to replace the photos (no thanks to my previous photo host), but I’ve left it mostly intact because it’s just funny for me to see how raw I was back then, 7 years ago.
Both the way I travelled and blogged has definitely evolved a lot since the beginning. Back then I’d always enjoyed travel but I don’t think I ever knew why exactly I did – my family travelled a lot so it always seemed like a natural thing to do. Blogging back then was also just an evolved sort of journalling process for me – I’ve kept journals since I was 12 and had a personal blog when I first started university, but the travel blog came about as a way for me to incorporate my digital photos into my story telling, and well… you’ve seen how it’s grown!
This 7 years of travelling and blogging has been instrumental in figuring myself out – travel blogging pushed me to travel solo for the first time, which planted some very early seeds for the epic career break which I took recently. It’s made me so much more conscious of my own travels, why I travel and what I really want to experience and I think that’s made me a better person as a whole – more open, more willing to try, more conscious of my own impact on things around me. Travel blogging has definitely transformed the way I write and document a place – I’ve always enjoyed writing but being able to take up freelance writing work today would probably never have happened without my blog as a practice ground and a portfolio.
Lots of people these days go into blogging as a career or with the sole intention of making money or becoming famous, and it sounds like the biggest Taylor-Swift-fake-surprise cliche to say this, but I honestly never thought that my blog would amount to anything more than my own personal archive. I don’t think 2010-me would have imagined that this blog would take me to places as far as San Francisco (and get paid for it even), that it would bring me to Bucharest to attend travel blogging conferences with bloggers from around the world, or I even make it to the papers.
I don’t think 2010-me would have known how much of my life and work would revolve around The Occasional Traveller – it’s actually quite a large part of my identity these days – I wonder sometimes what I would be like today without this part of me? I’d still love travel that’s for sure, but maybe in a different way… Maybe I’d have some different hobbies instead? I used to try and keep my personal and blogging life quite separate but it got harder to do so as my own profile grew. The Occasional Traveller also takes up most of my non-full-time-job life – blogging is much more than what people think of as ‘write a few words, post a few pix’ – I’ve learned and tried and failed and slogged to get my blog to where it is today, however successful or small it may be perceived, but it’s mostly me and my efforts and I’m still proud of my own work.
It’s been a really awesome ride y’all, and whether you are a new reader or a long-time one I’m still so stoked when people leave feedback or share my stuff – I say that I’ve done most of the work in getting the blog where it is today, but really none of it would be possible without the support of you my dear readers, and of course my friends and family.
So 7 years on, what does it look like moving ahead?
Part of my Career Break travels was meant to sort out my work-life balance and direction, and deciding whether The Occasional Traveller stood in the grand scheme of things that is my life. I’m quite sure right now that the blog is going to remain mostly as it is – a way to open myself to more travel opportunities, but not a way for me to make my sole living, hence the job hunt right now.
I’m not a proponent of ‘do what you love and it will never seem like work’, I’m a lot more ‘when it becomes work, it stops being fun’ and I never want travel or blogging to feel that way. I will still do sponsored stuff and freelance work which helps pay for the blog and fund my own travels, but I’ve always felt that the moment you turn a blog into a business, it means the decisions you make are quite different as well, and I’m not willing to do that with The Occasional Traveller. The blog is my relief from daily life and work, and I want it to stay that way.
Anyway I have a ton of stories from the Career Break that would probably take me years to exhaust, and I’m definitely not going to stop travelling even when I go back to work so there’s lots more coming your way if you stick around. I’d love to be writing another piece, maybe another 7 years later and looking back fondly at my old stuff and shaking my head at my naivete and hopefully my blogging standards. There’s still a ton of Singapore and the world to explore, so expect me to keep travelling! I doubt I’ll stop travelling or loving travel – but it may evolve some more, who knows?
And thanks again everyone who’s stuck around!