In this interview, I ask my favorite travel writer about her lifestyle, travel inspiration, tips on how to work from anywhere, and overall travel experiences.
Michelle Della Giovanna is a travel writer and a Pinterest consultant. She has been blogging as fulltimeexplorer for five years now and has made a significant impact on the Pinterest and blogging community.
Michelle and I have been talking for the past few months after connecting on Pinterest and Facebook. I thought it would be a great feature to shed some light on the work she has been doing for the past 5 years. And also to find out more about how she built a blog and online presence.
Hey there Michelle, introduce yourself!
Michelle: I’m just your average New Yorker who quit her job to travel the world. Every day I wake up in a strange country where I don’t speak the language and have to Google how to flush the toilet. It’s all one big crazy adventure and a complete dream come true.
Would you like to share some of the interesting facts about yourself?
I’m originally from New York and I studied to be a fashion designer in New York City. And for a little while, I had my bridal line but, it didn’t work out. So, I just took off and started traveling which is how I got started. I take boxing classes and I also like to draw.
How did you get into travel writing?
When my bridal line closed, I also broke up with my boyfriend and moved out of my apartment. And it sort of felt like everything in my life just stopped. So, I and my friend who was also having a similar thing happening in her life were joking that we would go travel the world for a year and forget about everything.
She works in social media marketing and she thought if we started a blog we could just get paid to go wherever we wanted (which is not true). But we started out thinking oh yes, we can go anywhere for free! However, she ended up staying in New York and I continued with the blog and realized that I really love it and I love writing. So, I stuck with it even though I couldn’t travel everywhere for free.
What is your favorite destination and experience?
It has to be Nepal. I was trying to climb a small peak during my second time in Nepal and I had never done anything like that or ever been that high up in the altitude. The day that we were going to the high camp, there was this awful blizzard. I mean, it was so bad and I was so sick that I could not even take one more step. But I had to keep walking and we ended up on the side of a cliff. It was just snow and you could not see anything. You could not even see more than 10 feet in any direction.
However, in the morning when I woke up, it had cleared and I had no idea where we were. But, there was this insane view of the mountains that no one knew was there because the day before you couldn’t see that at all, and waking up to that was really cool. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere but it was really beautiful. Although I ended up getting altitude sickness and I had to return back and as a result, I could not get to the peak but the experience was amazing!
What is your best tip as a travel writer?
It is probably the opposite of what a blogger should be saying but the tip is to not plan too much. I went overboard on my first trip as I looked upon on detail of every single thing and had such a strict itinerary. But it turns out that you should really wing it a lot of times. Just know the basics but don’t lock yourself into one idea and basically go with the flow.
How much time are you plugged-in to your devices while traveling?
Oh gosh, that depends! If I am trekking in the mountains, I don’t even have them with me because I just take a notebook to take notes for my blog and I try to leave everything behind if I can. However, when I am actually blogging, some days I am working 8 hours a day and some days not at all. So, it varies a lot and when I come back from my trek, I am on my computer for 2 weeks straight.
Do you think Covid-19 will affect travel and travel writing?
Absolutely, I think it already has! I believe it also depends on where you are. I think that it will bring people closer to local travel. Even I am guilty of not traveling in my own country, I mean, the United States is beautiful but since I grew up there, I kind of got tired and felt like traveling to an exotic location. But I think right now, people are getting more in tune with the area around them and that is also interesting because it makes you see different areas and things.
But for international travelers, it is difficult and that will definitely affect travel writing depending upon where you are residing.
Where do you find inspirations for your blog?
When I first started traveling in Nepal, I had a hard time finding any information about it besides Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Chitwan. When I looked up for other places to go, I could not find anything about how to reach places or what to eat, what to do, or anything that really interested me so, now when I go to places I find all that fascinating. I mean, the culture here is so different to me than in the US so, all those little things inspire me.
Talking to local people and being to different places, I want to share all that with people because right now there is such a lack of information in Nepal. I mean, every village, every city is so gorgeous that I feel everywhere could be a tourist destination, it is just that nobody knows about them. So, just finding new places and interesting things and getting off the beaten path and the adventure of finding somewhere that people haven’t really been to or heard of is fun.
What is the key for a travel writer to stay in the game?
I think it is just a passion! I am a travel writer because I love doing it. You just need to have that love for it because making money by travel writing is difficult. It does not happen overnight and it does not happen easily so, if you can’t do it for 3 years and love it, it can be really difficult to monetize. So, having that love and passion for it is how you stay in the game. For me, it feels like going on little vacations and I write about them later and I don’t feel like I am working or I have to put in a lot of effort into it even though it is a lot of work.
What is the most difficult part of being a full time travel writer?
The fun part is traveling and seeing things but the difficult thing is getting people to actually see your blog. So, for people who are just starting and learning search engine optimization, it can be very daunting but, it is how Google searches discover you. So, finding something that you love writing about that people are also searching for and getting them to find it is the hardest part.
Also, people don’t really realize how much work it goes into that extra step of not just writing something but writing it for Google to find you. People these days put out a lot of great content but if no one reads it then there is no point.
What would your tip be for someone who wants to be a travel writer and is just entering this community?
The biggest mistake I made was not looking into search engine optimization so, later on, when I joined few Facebook travel blogging groups, I found really good information on travel blogging. So, joining such groups would be my first tip. They also offer courses that you can purchase and it helps you step by step on exactly how to work with SEO. So, I wish I had spent more time learning that at the beginning because later I had to go back and fix around 200 blog posts.
So, learn SEO early on to prevent a headache later and it is not that difficult. Therefore, my greatest tip would be to learn blogging from the beginning and take the time to do it right because that way, your blog will take off much faster than if you do it the wrong way and have to go back.
It’s a wrap!
So that is it! I hope you enjoyed this interview with my favorite travel writer. What do you think of the interview? Also, do let me know in the comments below if you think I should be doing more of these.