I have a déjà vu feeling. Exactly 7 years ago I was sitting in the same room at my parents’ place and out of the blue, I had the idea to start a travel blog. I just returned from Armenia a few days before, memories of this trip were still very vivid in my mind and I thought I can as well write it all down.
It wasn’t my first attempt at blogging. Besides my personal blog that I’ve had for years and that was locked for friends only I tried to start a travel blog a few times but always I ditched it at some point, for no obvious reason. I don’t know why this blog was different, why I kept writing and working on it. But I’m so glad I did!
I never write about blogging as I don’t think it’s interesting for you, except those of you who are also bloggers but then you know all the ups and downs anyway. But I thought 7 years is a good moment to talk a bit about the backstage of blogging and my journey to where I am now. I asked you for some questions on Facebook and Instagram and I included answers below.
Before I started this very blog I don’t remember following any travel blogs (and back then there weren’t all that many of them anyway). I started it mostly from my friends from abroad who wanted to know more about my travels. That’s also why it’s in English, even if it’s not my native language and I’m definitely not perfect at it. But writing regularly for so many years have helped my language skills tremendously.
Another reason why I write in English is because I find it easier than Polish. In my native language, I would just overanalyze every sentence, thinking I could put it better. And in English sentences just keep flowing. It’s so refreshing to find the joy in the writing, as that’s definitely my favorite part of blogging (there is really so much to do behind the scenes that writing itself takes maybe 10-20% of the time). I wish my high school teacher could see me now – she gave me the lowest grades and kept telling me I can’t write, simply because she didn’t like me as I was too independent and always had my own opinion on everything (this didn’t change) and she killed my passion for writing. So good it came back!
Starting this blog was the best decision ever. It has changed my life on so many levels. I met so many people and many of them have become my great friends. The blog lets me travel more and I managed to see some places I’ve never even dreamed of visiting. It gave me some exciting opportunities, like speaking at the conference in the US, something I’ve never even dreamed of. I’ve created a great community of like-minded people that share my passion for certain regions, architecture, and culture. My English has been only improving and I became more confident in general. This list can go on and on, there are just so many good things that happened in these past 7 years as a result of starting the blog.
Over the years the blogging business has evolved too. I started the blog with no intention of earning from it. It was supposed to be an outlet for my travel memories and stories, the outlet that was made for my friends mostly. But very shortly people outside my circle started following me and that gave me even more motivation to write. But over the years the style of blogging has changed, shifting from a kind of a diary-style and narrative pieces to more practical articles.
To be honest I really like that. I recently realized that I enjoy the most writing practical pieces or inspiring ones so I can encourage you to explore the world and while you do it I can help you with my knowledge from my travels. Besides, I don’t really think reading only about my adventures and my impressions would be interesting for you. That’s why you mostly see here posts with things to do, travel tips, itineraries, reasons to visit and photos to inspire you, where I sneak in some of my thoughts about the place too. Because I just love sharing the world with you and I want to give you all the necessary information that will help you plan your own trip!
When I started blogging I liked traveling in general and even if I had some favorite places my interests weren’t that much shaped yet. But it has changed too. I realized that, even if there is so much world to see my heart beats faster in Central/Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the former Soviet Union. That’s where I feel the best, that’s where I like traveling to the most, that’s what I enjoy writing about. And I know that thanks to me you managed to discover those places too, which I’m more than happy about!
I’m glad I live in Warsaw, Poland as that’s the perfect base to discover these regions. They are so close and are so accessible that I can easily go for a weekend somewhere and I don’t need to spend too many of my days off for traveling yet I can keep discovering new places (or returning to those I’ve already been to and loved). These regions are changing fast, the tourism is at their doorsteps (and I’m probably a bit responsible for that too) and they are not so off the path anymore. And even if I know some of the fellow travelers complain about it I’m fine with that. After all, we are visiting those places only for a few days or weeks and then go back to our cozy homes. We can’t expect them to stay unknown forever, only to please us. If tourism can bring more money to the locals and help their everyday life – so be it.
Over 3 years ago I’ve created a Facebook group about traveling in these regions, and this was my best blogging decision ever! The group grew to some 11 thousands members now and it’s an amazing community of like-minded travelers interested in the same places I adore. Even if it takes a lot of work to manage the group (that’s why Zofia, Megan and Kirsty and Mark help me do it) I still enjoy it a lot and I know it has helped my blog a lot! If you are not a member yet – you can join here. If you are already a member – thank you so much for being there!
But even if I have my favorite regions that doesn’t mean I don’t want to travel anywhere else. That would be stupid really. I don’t have a bucket list as such but the world is huge and there are so many places I would like to see. By now I’ve been to 72 countries on 6 continents and I still can’t believe that I was lucky to see all these spectacular places like New Zealand (which was the most beautiful place I’ve been to!), South Africa, Chile or Iguazu Falls at the border of Brazil and Argentina. Just recently I also visited my last country in Europe – Andorra. It was then that I realized that I really achieved a lot, I’m just too modest to admit that.
I often hear how lucky I am to travel the world. In a way, I am lucky, yes. But also I come from the developing country, from not so wealthy family and I achieved all I have now thanks to my hard work and hard work only. I don’t have rich parents who pay for my trips, I don’t have a sponsor, I work two jobs to be able to do what I want to do. I’m just lucky that both of my jobs are my passion, even if they are completely different. That’s also the reason why I continue working full time, I just like railways too much. It’s not easy to juggle between full-time job, blogging (which I now consider my second job as it takes a lot of time but also brings some income), traveling and regular life. I often get asked how I do it but honestly, I don’t know. There is always something to do, I’m always behind with work yet I also always find the time to meet my friends, read a book or watch Netflix.
I admit that the steady income from this blog motivates me to work even harder and provide you with even more useful information. And I can’t thank you enough for that as it’s all because of you and your visits to this website. You won’t find here or on my social media any pushy ads of irrelevant products, I get a lot of such offers but decline them all as that’s now what this blog is about.
You see however general ads on the blog, provided by the company I work with. You might not like them, I don’t really like them but they are the best way to pay off for the time and work I spend here so I can give you some really good content for free. I also use affiliate links, mostly with Booking.com (accommodation) and GetYourGuide (tours) – if you book something through my links I will get a small commission at absolutely no extra costs for you. I always recommend something that I used or would use myself and I would really appreciate if you use these links when booking accommodation and tours. I could monetize the blog in so many other ways, I just choose not to for now as I don’t want it to become a place full of useless articles and reviews I would have to write. It needs to be of the best value for you, and me.
The hardest thing about blogging is time really. I have so many ideas of posts to write or projects to take that would all be beneficial to you. I just simply have no time for that so they all have to remain written in my notebook, waiting for more favorable times. After all the day is still only 24 hours. But still, I don’t really think of leaving my full-time job to focus on blogging only, at least not now. Because trains are as important part of my life as traveling. Besides, I would go crazy if most of my days are spent behind the computer screen.
What fascinates me the most are haters that I also got along the way (some of them are pretty hardcore). Fortunately, I have a thick skin and I don’t care about it all that much but believe me, some of the comments I read about myself can hurt. I’m just impressed that someone, usually a complete stranger, spends some of his/her precious time to write to me and to diss me, just to feel better. When I receive a comment when someone doesn’t agree with me or points my mistake I don’t mind discussing with that but when there is pure hate I simply remove those. And you would be surprised how many of these I get…
While bloggers who started writing years ago, as I did, came into this for the passion of traveling and writing and eventually found a way to monetize it, there is a big group of bloggers (that is literally growing every day) that started blogs only to earn from them. It’s a business like any other. And I know that I won’t be able to compete with them. Even if I also write about things to do etc I will never write catchy titles as I don’t like to sugarcoat things and prefer to call things as they are. I will never beat them as often there is more than one person behind the blog and that’s their only job while I do things myself and have to juggle with a full-time job. But I’m learning to accept that and I just have to believe that good, quality content and my knowledge will pay off.
Enough of this rambling. I would just like to thank you all who have been here with me, no matter how long you’ve been following this blog and my trips. I would like to thank you for your support and encouragement, for all your comments and questions. Without those, I would never come that far. I can only promise you that I will try to produce even more of the quality and useful content that will help and encourage you to discover the world!
All the best and happy travels!
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