3 Types of Travel Blogs (and Which Pays Best)

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You’ve only got three choices…

… and depending which you choose, your blog either blossoms into a wildly profitable, scalable business – equipped with an army of writers, recurring passive income and the possibility of a six-figure buyout…

… or it sputters along like a near-dead VW bus along the frigid Icefields Parkway.

You’ve only got three choices… those are two of them.

But the third option kills it.

It’s the method used by Lonely Planet, Frommers and Travelfish to rise above the noise and deliver world-class travel info/entertainment.

And once you understand this method, you’ll take a good, long look at your travel blog and suddenly see a world of opportunities.

Sure, the other two might work (at least in the short run) but the stone cold truth is…

Most travel blogs – financially speaking - are designed to fail.

The three types of travel blogs are as follows.

First, there’s…

The personality piece

Personality pieces are conversational. It’s a chance to speak directly with your readers and convey your own thoughts. I can think of no better example of conversational travel writing than Geraldine over at The Everywhereist… her writing positively reeks of personality.

In a good way.

Personality can be extremely important to your travel blog. Used improperly, it could be killing your blog.

Don’t get me wrong: personality is a good thing. In fact, in this overcrowded travel industry – surrounded by corporate giants like Lonely Planet and National Geographic – personality is the one advantage you do have.

After all, these publications have a steady rotation of writers and editors - many who come and go over the years – and they’re all ordered to do the same thing…

Maintain the voice.

If you’ve ever read a Lonely Planet region guide (e.g., Southeast Asia on A Shoestring) you know what I mean. It’s damn near impossible to tell the difference between writers. And there’s an obvious reason for that: while several writers contribute to your guidebook, one clear voice establishes the book’s tone.

But at what cost?

What if a writer got roaring, blackout drunk one night and woke up wearing nothing but socks and a mustache? Wouldn’t that be worth reading?

Of course it would!

But sadly, such a story would never, ever make it to print… not in a million goddamn years.

So as I mentioned earlier, personality is a good thing. Personality makes your writing shine, makes you real in the eyes of your readers and ultimately bonds you together in ways “professional” publications never could…

Don’t believe me? Ask any professional travel writer if they’ve ever had lunch/dinner/casual sex with their readers. Then ask a travel blogger the same question. Matt Kepnes has. Gary Arndt has. So have I (food and drinks, anyways).

There’s a deeper, more personal connection with travel blogging.

And like Samuel Jackson says in Pulp Fiction:

“Personality goes a long way.”

Indeed. But here’s the painful truth: personality doesn’t pay the bills on its own.

Advertisers are less likely to pay a premium if your content is quite literally all over the place.

Which is why you must focus.

This leads us to the second type…

The destination blog

You go to Google… type in “things to do in Austin, Texas” and - as if by magic – a website appears with articles on the best bars in the Warehouse District, top-notch BBQ for music lovers and why hundreds of people stand over the bridge on Congress Street each night…

… but it ain’t magic.

Destination-focused blogs target popular areas around the world and offer in-depth advice without going too wide.

Instead, they go deep.

Deep into a city/country/region.

So deep they’ll tell you what the best BBQ is… where to get it… what to order… the best day to go… who’s the best cook (and server)… and why asking for a fork is a death wish.

(Psssst: If you love BBQ… then you must visit either Kreutz Market or The Salt Lick just outside Austin. Actually, you should visit Austin regardless… it’s the best city in the U.S.)

Destination blogs have the right idea. Their focus on a specific area enjoys two HUGE advantages:

First, region-specific websites build authority. This point is extremely important, as it improves search engine rankings and traffic referrals.

Don’t believe me? Travelfish.org features content on Southeast Asia only… and receives over 15 million impressions per year for their troubles.

And because their content is laser targeted, advertisers pay a premium to reach their readers.

No joke.

Looking at their media kit, you can see they charge anywhere between $3 - $8 eCPM (per thousand pageviews), which is substantially higher than you’d expect with non-direct ads (e.g. Google Adsense).

Let’s “reverse-engineer” Travelfish’s approach. If they charge $22 per eCPM – based on four ad spots per page as outlined in their media kit – and they receive 1.25 million pageviews each month, then that means they make roughly…

Sorry buckaroo, I’m not going to tell you.

Instead, here’s the math you need to use:

Divide pageviews by 1,000, then multiply by eCPM.

So in this case:

1,250,000 / 1,000 X 22

Do the math yourself to see how much moo-lah Travelfish probably pulls in each month. As you’ll see, it’s enough to pay for plenty of pad thai.

Oh, and by the way? The owners of Travelfish could easily sell this site to an interested party. Since it’s not plastered with one particular personality – and thanks to its focused content – a new owner could step in without affecting the brand.

Try that with a personality blog. As soon as the lead blogger leaves, everyone notices… and the site’s perceived value plummets overnight.


Destination pieces make more money than personality driven blogs… but…

Why stop there?

Let me explain:

  • With a personality driven blog, YOU are the asset.
  • With a destination based blog, the SITE is the asset.
  • With a hybrid of the two, BOTH become assets.

Now I’m not really a “numbers” guy… but wouldn’t you rather be building two assets instead of one?

Wouldn’t you rather create a travel blog which builds your authority and personal brand (which can lead to press trips, speaking engagements, book deals, etc.)…

…. AND delivers laser-targeted content which lets you charge a premium for advertising…

… AND lets you quickly sell it for a giant lump sum whenever you want to move onto something else?

Of course you would!

In my opinion, the hybrid model gives you the best of both worlds, without any of their weaknesses.

And the best part is, it’s really, really easy to do.

How to build a hybrid travel blog…

First, loosen your preconceptions on what a travel “blog” should be. In fact, lay your preconceptions outside and stab them with a rusty screwdriver (Wu-Tang, anyone?).

Next, create an outline of your site content based on regions. If you write about Vietnam, break it up into smaller regions. If you blog about Southeast Asia, break it up into countries (like Travelfish).

And if you’re like most travel bloggers, you write about everywhere… so break that up into continents and then into countries.

If you don’t have a travel blog yet, write out your categories on a piece of paper.

See your outline? This is where 90% of your content will go. It should provide advice/insights/practical info on specific destinations without too much personality.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. By maintaining an informative, editorial style of content you can hire other writers down the line. It’s much harder for someone to copy your personal style than it is to write editorially.
  2. An editorial travel site is much easier to sell (and for a higher profit, too) because the site’s brand is unaffected by transfer of owner.

So this is where 90% (or more) of your content will appear. It’s factual, relevant and interesting.

But what about the other 10%?

The other 10% should go towards your blog. Remember, when I say “blog” in this sense I mean a traditional blog… one which lists your newest post first.

The URL should be something like www.yourdomain.com/blog/

You can use your blog for many, many things… but it should really focus on three things:

  1. Gain links and social shares from other people.
  2. Build both your brand and your website’s brand.
  3. Hype up cool things your company is doing.

If you can do all three of things in one post, congratulations. Chances are, however, you won’t be able to hype your site in every post.

BUT – and listen closely, buckaroo - you should be gaining links and building your brand with every post.

Oh, and by the way… be sure to include links in your posts to travel articles you’ve written elsewhere.

For example, let’s say you wrote a destination piece on Paris. You then write a blog post called “7 Unknown (And Slightly Naughty) Things to Do in Paris” and link to it in your post. If you have other articles about Paris, link to them as well within the post itself.

I’ll bet you a beer your readers will click those links and read more of your content.

Which is the point 😉

What You Must Do Next…

… is quite simple, really.

Map your blog out by region. Offer in-depth advice on specific destinations. Move all “soft” content to the blog, and link to your destination articles.

Not only will your readers thank you… you’ll gain more traffic from the search engines, be perceived as an authority (instead of an amateur travel blogger) and advertisers will be willing to pay you more money for advertising.

Actually, before you do that…

… drop me a comment below about this strategy. Questions? Concerns? Leave ‘em in the comments and I’ll help you out.

About adamcosta

Adam Costa is co-founder and Editor in Chief of both Trekity.com and TravelBloggerAcademy. He currently lives... um... somewhere.


  1. Wow Adam… you have a ton of valuable content on this site for travel blogger - we’ve recently launched a travel blog so coming across this site is like striking gold. Keep the tips coming

  2. Marc,

    Great to hear you’re digging it so far - there is a lot more to come. What are you looking for specifically? (e.g. monetization, traffic, etc.)



  3. Interesting - the hybrid approach is exactly what I’m doing with my travel site - I’d just never seen it written down anywhere - I thought I’d invented it 🙂 Oh well , great minds at all that!

    • Great minds, indeed 😉

      The hybrid approach works best for most bloggers, in my opinion, because it gives them a chance to spoon feed the search engines valuable, destination related content (which people search for)…

      … and provides them a chance to brand the blog with their own personal flavor.

      Good to see you here Lissie - what specific types of content would you like to see more of here?

  4. I cannot thank you enough for the article.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

  5. Great tips Adam. Going to be an interesting course. We have seen a huge increase in traffic (doubled) over the least 3 months so keen to see where it ends up over the next 3 months as we move into taking the blog full-time.

  6. Good post. Kinda ties into what I’ve been trying to accomplish with my blogsite. On the hybrid approach, when creating content for the 90%, do you create static pages or just regular blog posts and place them in categories based on locations?

  7. I’d recommend regular blog posts and place them in categories based on locations. The trick is to separate the “blog” from the regular site. For example, your destination articles would go on http://www.mysite.com and blog posts would go on http://www.mysite.com/blog.

  8. You’re giving away all of my secrets… damn you! Ha ha & just teasing but I fit into the third ‘most profitable’ category you describe above though got there on my own rather than reading a post like this and mapping it out… I honeslty don’t see many others formatted like mine (with the blog section separate focus but a part of the website and included under a category ‘blog’) though many do the same thing, like Nomadic Matt who went in reverse, first his personality blog, then creating great destination content/guides.

    So, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, pipe down will ya Adam. I would rather folks have to do it the hard way like I did and figure it out for themselves… 🙂 Great post, wish I had had access to this information a year plus ago! Cheers, Molly

    • Sorry Molly, I had to spill the beans sometimes. I’m glad you’ve embraced the third model - it’s really the best way for travel blogs to leverage objective info while creating linkbait. I’m using this strategy on Trekity and - once we get all the development issues worked out (sigh) - I’ve gonna build that blog out something fierce 😉

  9. Hi Adam,

    I’ve been wrestling with an idea for a bit and would love to run it by you and this theory of yours. My blog is an everywhere blog but I have been thinking of focusing a large portion of it to my home. Which is a major world wide tourist destination. Do you think it would be better to a site from the ground up focusing on that one destination or can it somehow be incorporated in to my everything blog?


    • Hi Alexandra,

      Tough call - if you incorporate to your existing blog you’re leveraging your existing audience/links/karma, etc. Which is great.

      You can leverage some of that goodwill to a new domain, but there’s dropoff. However, a new domain is easier to brand.

      After looking at your site, I’d suggest using your existing blog.

  10. Amanda Renner says:

    I’ve always been a big fan of “hybrid” travel blogs. There’s more on there than just a personality or guides.

    My favorite of all time is www. thelongestwayhome.com he’s been doing it for years and helped me out so much!

    I’m also a big fan of http://andeandrift.com it’s not hybrid but it’s got more personality with tom and his wife than many others do. Almost like a weekly tv show.

    My question is how do these travel blogs go on for so many years? Are they earning through ads and content or other work? Would be great if you could do another feature and actually ask travel bloggers who have been traveling a long time how they are earning?

  11. Hey Adam great post! I am going to be taking my first big travel adventure soon. I will be teaching in English in Georgia (The Country) :). I have been playing with the idea of starting a travel blog, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I figured why not put my love for culture, writing, photography, and music on one site for the rest of the world to see. I do have a question though, I will be spending the next year in Georgia teaching English, I will be doing some traveling in Turkey and Armenia on my days off, but I wasn’t sure how to structure this blog. After my year is up I plan on going to Prague next to get a teaching job and then writing on the side. I just wasn’t sure if I should just dedicate this site to me being in Georgia or leave it open to my future travels as well.


    • Hola Brittanie,

      That’s a tough one. If you’re looking to turn your blog into a business, then choose whichever you can work on for several years. If you’re doing it as a hobby, then feel free to lump them all together - it’s your blog, after all!

      Thanks for your comment!

  12. Hi Adam, love this article, just starting my blog, http://www.the traintraveler.net. In 2000 I started a website called The Train Traveler, and did it for three years. Didn’t even know the word “blog”! Now I’m up and running again, have high hopes and great expectations. Your advice from the course and this site will be invaluable. Regards, Lynne

  13. Good job! We are trying to build a hybrid type kind of blog too. Keep up the good advice and thanks for this website!

  14. I have just realized this is what I want to do. I didn’t know where or how to start. But I am glad I came across your site so many tips. I want to thank you Adam. It’s good to know if I have any questions you will be there

  15. Christy says:

    Thank you! I’m moving abroad in August and want to blog about it but didn’t want to have just another “20’something western lady goes on an adventure” blog (which, despite my best efforts, is exactly what I’ll probably end up with). This article really highlights some of the quintessential aspects of creating a more-than-just-a-blog-blog and has helped me organize my thoughts. AND you made me laugh. harharhar.

  16. It’s more than a year, and I’m reading it for the first time. 🙁
    Now I have to work on my destination blog and arrange the categories once again. Anyway, thanks for the thought you shared.

  17. Thanks Adam for ur article.However, can u explain more the concept of editorial travel site?in comparison to normal travel writing, as u mentioned

    or” personality writing”.

  18. This northern summer, we (my wife and I) will be driving a leased Renault from Paris to Istanbul and back, via Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany. This is our first experience of Europe.

    We’ll be doing this on a budget, staying in budget hotels and apartments, eating in budget cafes and restaurants, etc., but we’ll also be ballooning over the Loire Valley, staying in a cave hotel, exploring the lakes district of the Swiss Alps, exploring the canals in Venice, staying with a family we don’t know in Serbia, paying our respects at Gallipoli and much more. We’ll also be seeking out the best music bars everywhere we go.

    I am looking for publications or blogs that might be interested in paid daily blog posts or descriptive articles of this journey over about six weeks, which can include photos and video. I’m an experienced journalist and travel writer and an experienced budget traveller (flashpacker). I mostly blog on my own travel website (www.travelnasia.com) but I have been published by The Australian newspaper, The Age newspaper and many magazines including Australian Boating, Motor Manual and more. I don’t currently write for a living.

    I’m also willing to blog occasionally in the lead-up about how we’re organising this trip. I am a bit of a planning nazi before we travel and I’ve already written a 30 page travel itinerary for my other half who struggles to get her head around what we’re going to be doing on this trip. I’ve also thoroughly researched how to stay connected throughout this trip without breaking the bank, and how to back up our photos, videos and dashcam footage without a PC (we’ll be taking an iPhone and an Android tablet). Will it all go to plan? Hell no, but that’s half the fun of it! I half expect we’ll get to Veliko Tarnovo in northern Romania and find ourselves in the middle of WW3!

    What do you think is the best way to get published and paid for blogging this trip? Or do I just create yet another personal travel blog?

    • Hey, sounds like a great trip. Because your trip is based on a specific geographic area, you’re going to have to research and contact larger sites that focus on that same areas and pay for guest writing. A car rental company based in Europe might be a good place to start. The good news… you have a solid itinerary and can research these websites pretty easily. Personally, I wouldn’t advise starting a new travel site just for this trip as most of your writings will be published elsewhere. Wishing you all the best and safe travels! - Darcie

  19. Hi Adam and Darcie

    Firstly thank you so much for writing this post, the information in it is timeless although it’s a pity it took me so long to find it!

    I’m in the embryo stages of putting my travel blog together, it’s already been through numerous redesigns because I couldn’t decide which voice to write in 1st/2nd person etc…

    I started the blog by accident which resulted in me embarking on a 7000 mile walk (don’t ask) but it soon became apparent more than I was interested in it so the blog itself became a laser focused niche it just needed a direction and here we are.

    This post is sort of where I decided to to take it, shame it took me months to come to this conclusion when it’s all here for me.

    Appreciate all your efforts, wish you much success and look forward to reading much more.


    • That’s awesome Rob! We’re glad you’ve found your way and hope the rest of the site helps you along your journey. Thanks for sharing.

  20. hey all,
    I am new to the blogging world so disclaimer if my questions seem unprofessional.
    Adam and Darcy,thank you for this.Trying to absorb the information like a sponge dropped in the sea.
    My question-you talk about moving all soft content to the blog and then link to your destination articles.
    I have a travel blog http://wangechigitahi.wordpress.com that has my work classified in continents and then countries.in reference to your above statement,should I have a website and a blog to have posts and articles or what did you mean? Heeeeelllppp

  21. Hey Adam,
    Thank you for this detailed post. When I decided to start a travel blog focused on traveling in my home country, the first thing I outlined was what all content I want to feature on the website. Structuring the blog was the toughest task because I wanted to strike a balance between travel stories and travel advice on destinations as the blog would be primarily focused on food and culture. My blog is still in the making and I absolutely love the concept of a hybrid blog. Surprisingly, this is the only post where the hybrid approach has been discussed clearly and I found it to be highly useful. It sounds like the perfect balance between providing off beat destination advice and sharing travel stories that will inspire people to set off to explore.
    The advice you provide on this website is paramount. I keep digging through the website and have found some gem like articles which will prove to be highly valuable to build my blog.
    I would be happy to read more about writing blog posts that will drive traffic, how to structure articles, should top-to-do lists be incorporated, etc.

    Thanks again.

  22. Wow yor site and posts really inspire me

  23. Reading your piece today was a confirmation that I am on the right track. I am doing exactly that a hybrid. Thank you for making feel proud of my work.

  24. Great article. I think you’ve got it in a nutshell here. Without consciously having throught about it, I am doing the hybrid version, with an emphasis I’d say on option 2. It has served me well to date (just coming up for 10 years with my blog) and I am a full time travel blogger, doing quite well from it.

    I do worry sometimes that the blog should be more about me, but my concern is more because that’s what all the other travel bloggers seem to do. I’m not really one for including myself in all the pictures, etc. It just seems rather narcissistic to me (not that I’m judging others who prefer to work that way) and I prefer to focus on the destinations than myself and my family who travel with me.

    At the end of the day, each travel blogger should do what works for them, and what makes them happy, I guess…

  25. Thanks for this really informative article, it’s definitely inspired me to go back to the drawing board.

    I was thinking of starting a new blog for this, and keeping my current one (called ‘Wander Studies’) for longer, personal pieces, because I’m not sure the name quite fits a more general blog. Would be great to get some opinions on this!



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