5 incredible ways to do Africa in 2018

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/04/17/5-incredible-ways-to-do-africa-in-2018/

When it comes to ‘life-changing’ travel experiences; Africa always delivers. But in 2018 there are even more ways to enjoy the wildlife and get lost in the culture of this ever-evolving continent. From pioneering eco-projects to paragliding safaris; you can still escape the crowds and find yourself stranded on sweeping beaches or wild open plains […]

The post 5 incredible ways to do Africa in 2018 appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/04/17/5-incredible-ways-to-do-africa-in-2018/

When it comes to ‘life-changing’ travel experiences; Africa always delivers. But in 2018 there are even more ways to enjoy the wildlife and get lost in the culture of this ever-evolving continent. From pioneering eco-projects to paragliding safaris; you can still escape the crowds and find yourself stranded on sweeping beaches or wild open plains […]

The post 5 incredible ways to do Africa in 2018 appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

How to Be More Interesting While Traveling

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-be-more-interesting-while-traveling/

travelers sitting together outside
One of the most common questions I get asked by new travelers is, “Will it be hard to meet people when I’m traveling?” Not everyone is outgoing, extroverted, or comfortable in social situations. When it comes to traveling, introverts will need to work a little harder to interact and connect with their fellow travelers. In this guest post, Vanessa Van Edwards from ScienceofPeople.com shares her expert behavioral tips and tricks on how to be meet people and be more interesting when you travel (or just in general).

They say travel is an itch. For me, it was more like a full-body rash.

Was that metaphor awkward? Yeah, I’m not surprised. That’s me. My name is Vanessa, and I am a recovering awkward person.

Growing up, I was terrified of recess. I couldn’t make a friend for the life of me, and my crushes gave me hives. Literally, full-body hives from social anxiety.

When I got bit by the travel bug, I hoped and prayed I would be able to do it solo and that travel would obliterate the anxiety I had. I wanted to travel to be an escape from my past and a way to be someone new.

These days I research what makes people tick, what drives our actions, and how to hack human behavior for good at my website, The Science of People. As a recovering awkward person, I’m fascinated by what makes people tick and how we can overcome our social anxiety.

For most of us, it’s not easy to make friends or know what to say to strangers — especially ones from a different culture or background. While we all have this image of making beautiful connections when we travel, experience and research have shown me that it’s not as easy as we imagine.

But, experience and research have also shown me that it doesn’t have to be hard either.

Here are my favorite tricks and tips for building friendships, starting conversations, and being more interesting while traveling.

Use Identifiers

Best-selling author Vanessa Va Edwards leading a discussion
I never realized how many hundreds of opportunities there are to meet people while traveling — whether fellow travelers on buses, trains, and planes or locals at supermarkets, museums, and malls. It’s best, though, if you can find a way to give people a reason to talk to you. This is where identifiers can come in handy.

Identifiers are objects, clothing, or props that identify commonalities between people. It’s something that someone can use as a reason to talk to you. You often want to wear, carry, or showcase in your everyday appearance, such as:

  • A T-shirt of your favorite band
  • A hat with a funny saying
  • A flag (or flags) on your backpack
  • A unique or heritage piece of jewelry
  • A sports jersey with a team’s logo on it
  • A classic book visible in your back pocket or backpack

These items make it easier for others to talk to you, whether it’s a stranger approaching you on the street or a seatmate on a bus. Why? Because they can start a conversation. They give you and your new friends something to break the ice and talk about. And once you start talking, it becomes easy to just keep talking.

One of my favorite identifiers are my cowboy boots. I wear them when I travel, and people who also love country music and rodeos bring them up and we get to talking.

Be Approachable

Best-selling author Vanessa Va Edwards posing with her audience
If you want to meet people, you have to be approachable. I used to sit with my arms crossed, backpack on lap, head down in a book. Then I met Sarah at a hostel in New Zealand. I had been in Christchurch for about three days already when this nice Australian came over to my table in the common room.

“Hey! I saw your Hello Kitty wallet. Love it.” (Yes, I use Hello Kitty sometimes as an identifier to attract nice people with soft hearts.)

We carried on a friendly conversation and she finally said something I’ll never forget:

“You know, I saw you the first day at breakfast and the second day at lunch and then this morning. But you always looked like you didn’t want anyone to talk to you, so I never said hi. If you want people to talk to you, then you have to look like you want to be talked to!”

Boom! Her statement hit me like a ton of bricks. She was right. I did look closed off…because I felt closed off.

Body language sends so many signals about your intentions to people that it is often more important than what you say. Research shows that a minimum of 60% of our communication is nonverbal. We send signals with our body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. So use approachable body language, whether that’s in the common room of your hostel, at a local pub, or waiting for your luggage at the airport. Make it easy for people to say hello. Here’s how:

  • Keep your hands visible. Our brains need to see people’s hands to fully trust them since back in caveman times, humans relied on seeing hands to know they weren’t going to be attacked and to check for weapons. To this day, our hands serve as our trust indicators, so keep them out of your pockets and out of your luggage.
  • Leave your limbs uncrossed. Standing or sitting with your legs straight and arms at your side makes you look relaxed and confident. Plus, research shows that people struggle to get along when one or both have crossed limbs. Think: closed body, closed mind.
  • Make eye contact with strangers. When two people make eye contact, it triggers the release of oxytocin, a bonding hormone. If the other person is open to connection, this will prime them to want to talk to you.

To determine who you should approach, look for the above signs in other people, as they typically signal trustworthiness, friendliness, and openness.

A fun example of this is the drone my husband uses. This is not only an identifier — fellow drone lovers like to talk to him — it also helps him be approachable and open.

Ask for Lots of Travel Advice

Travelers hanging out together outside
Traveling in new locations fills you with questions like: Where are the best places to eat? What do I need to do to experience the city like a local? Where can I find [insert activity or place]? So once someone talks to you, here are some other easy, travel-friendly conversation topics you can broach:

  • What’s the coolest thing you have seen so far?
  • Have you met any interesting people while traveling? (If you want to be funny add: “…other than me, of course!”)
  • Any tips for this city/location?
  • Found any secret spots to get a good ____? (Insert your favorite cuisine or drink)

I would also say DON’T USE GOOGLE. Sure, it’s easy. But rather than finding those answers on your own, seek the advice of the locals and travelers around you. This is the easiest way to get insider tips to improve your travels and meet other people.

Studies also show that people who ask for advice are seen as more competent and likeable. Here’s why:

  • It validates the other person’s intelligence by acknowledging that they have information that you want.
  • Most people feel pleasure from helping others.
  • People have an innate desire to feel appreciated, and when you thank them for their advice, it satisfies that need.

Once you’ve asked for advice, you’ve made a great impression and it is easy to build a conversation from the suggestions they give you.

Pro tip: Before you leave, ask everyone you know if they know anyone you can meet when you start traveling. By using your social network, you can have friends waiting for you before you even arrive.

Think Like a Travel Journalist

a laptop and camera on a table
When travel journalists visit new places, they make it their mission to learn as much as they can about the city and local people. They observe, and they focus their conversations on asking people questions. Not only does this give them the information they need, it also helps them establish connections.

Similar to the previous tip about asking for advice, this tactic works because it focuses your conversation on the other person rather than yourself. Research shows that the pleasure centers of people’s brains light up just as much if not more when they talk about themselves as they do when receiving food or money.

On the airplane, or while hanging out in your hostel’s common areas or other public spaces, strike up conversations by asking people questions like:

  • What do you think of [something about your location]?
  • Where are you visiting from?
  • Why did you choose to come here?
  • What do you love about being here?
  • What’s been your favorite restaurant and why?

By starting conversations that invite people to talk about themselves, you start your interactions on a high, learn interesting information, and become someone people want to keep talking to.

Book Meals with Strangers

friends eating at a restaurant
If you want to meet people while traveling but the thought of approaching random strangers triggers your social anxiety, use travel apps to match with people in your area. Other travelers who use these apps also want to meet people, and so by using them and choosing to go to the same places and participate in the same activities, you automatically become someone they want to get to know.

Here are a couple of good ones to start with:

There are amazing events everywhere. Using these apps, we ended up at Le Diner en Blanc, which happens in dozens of countries around the world. You wear white, meet new people, and have a great time.

***

People can be the best part of traveling — and no one was more pleasantly surprised about this than me! My favorite travel memories involve meeting new friends, getting insider tips from locals, and the spontaneous relationships I have built around the world. So use these tips to be more interesting, have better conversations, and enjoy the benefits of sharing your travel experiences with others.

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best-selling author and lead investigator at her human behavior research lab, ScienceofPeople.com. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: Use Science to Succeed with People, was chosen by Apple as one of the most anticipated books of 2017. She writes a monthly “Science of Success” column for Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post.

The post How to Be More Interesting While Traveling appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-be-more-interesting-while-traveling/

travelers sitting together outside
One of the most common questions I get asked by new travelers is, “Will it be hard to meet people when I’m traveling?” Not everyone is outgoing, extroverted, or comfortable in social situations. When it comes to traveling, introverts will need to work a little harder to interact and connect with their fellow travelers. In this guest post, Vanessa Van Edwards from ScienceofPeople.com shares her expert behavioral tips and tricks on how to be meet people and be more interesting when you travel (or just in general).

They say travel is an itch. For me, it was more like a full-body rash.

Was that metaphor awkward? Yeah, I’m not surprised. That’s me. My name is Vanessa, and I am a recovering awkward person.

Growing up, I was terrified of recess. I couldn’t make a friend for the life of me, and my crushes gave me hives. Literally, full-body hives from social anxiety.

When I got bit by the travel bug, I hoped and prayed I would be able to do it solo and that travel would obliterate the anxiety I had. I wanted to travel to be an escape from my past and a way to be someone new.

These days I research what makes people tick, what drives our actions, and how to hack human behavior for good at my website, The Science of People. As a recovering awkward person, I’m fascinated by what makes people tick and how we can overcome our social anxiety.

For most of us, it’s not easy to make friends or know what to say to strangers — especially ones from a different culture or background. While we all have this image of making beautiful connections when we travel, experience and research have shown me that it’s not as easy as we imagine.

But, experience and research have also shown me that it doesn’t have to be hard either.

Here are my favorite tricks and tips for building friendships, starting conversations, and being more interesting while traveling.

Use Identifiers

Best-selling author Vanessa Va Edwards leading a discussion
I never realized how many hundreds of opportunities there are to meet people while traveling — whether fellow travelers on buses, trains, and planes or locals at supermarkets, museums, and malls. It’s best, though, if you can find a way to give people a reason to talk to you. This is where identifiers can come in handy.

Identifiers are objects, clothing, or props that identify commonalities between people. It’s something that someone can use as a reason to talk to you. You often want to wear, carry, or showcase in your everyday appearance, such as:

  • A T-shirt of your favorite band
  • A hat with a funny saying
  • A flag (or flags) on your backpack
  • A unique or heritage piece of jewelry
  • A sports jersey with a team’s logo on it
  • A classic book visible in your back pocket or backpack

These items make it easier for others to talk to you, whether it’s a stranger approaching you on the street or a seatmate on a bus. Why? Because they can start a conversation. They give you and your new friends something to break the ice and talk about. And once you start talking, it becomes easy to just keep talking.

One of my favorite identifiers are my cowboy boots. I wear them when I travel, and people who also love country music and rodeos bring them up and we get to talking.

Be Approachable

Best-selling author Vanessa Va Edwards posing with her audience
If you want to meet people, you have to be approachable. I used to sit with my arms crossed, backpack on lap, head down in a book. Then I met Sarah at a hostel in New Zealand. I had been in Christchurch for about three days already when this nice Australian came over to my table in the common room.

“Hey! I saw your Hello Kitty wallet. Love it.” (Yes, I use Hello Kitty sometimes as an identifier to attract nice people with soft hearts.)

We carried on a friendly conversation and she finally said something I’ll never forget:

“You know, I saw you the first day at breakfast and the second day at lunch and then this morning. But you always looked like you didn’t want anyone to talk to you, so I never said hi. If you want people to talk to you, then you have to look like you want to be talked to!”

Boom! Her statement hit me like a ton of bricks. She was right. I did look closed off…because I felt closed off.

Body language sends so many signals about your intentions to people that it is often more important than what you say. Research shows that a minimum of 60% of our communication is nonverbal. We send signals with our body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. So use approachable body language, whether that’s in the common room of your hostel, at a local pub, or waiting for your luggage at the airport. Make it easy for people to say hello. Here’s how:

  • Keep your hands visible. Our brains need to see people’s hands to fully trust them since back in caveman times, humans relied on seeing hands to know they weren’t going to be attacked and to check for weapons. To this day, our hands serve as our trust indicators, so keep them out of your pockets and out of your luggage.
  • Leave your limbs uncrossed. Standing or sitting with your legs straight and arms at your side makes you look relaxed and confident. Plus, research shows that people struggle to get along when one or both have crossed limbs. Think: closed body, closed mind.
  • Make eye contact with strangers. When two people make eye contact, it triggers the release of oxytocin, a bonding hormone. If the other person is open to connection, this will prime them to want to talk to you.

To determine who you should approach, look for the above signs in other people, as they typically signal trustworthiness, friendliness, and openness.

A fun example of this is the drone my husband uses. This is not only an identifier — fellow drone lovers like to talk to him — it also helps him be approachable and open.

Ask for Lots of Travel Advice

Travelers hanging out together outside
Traveling in new locations fills you with questions like: Where are the best places to eat? What do I need to do to experience the city like a local? Where can I find [insert activity or place]? So once someone talks to you, here are some other easy, travel-friendly conversation topics you can broach:

  • What’s the coolest thing you have seen so far?
  • Have you met any interesting people while traveling? (If you want to be funny add: “…other than me, of course!”)
  • Any tips for this city/location?
  • Found any secret spots to get a good ____? (Insert your favorite cuisine or drink)

I would also say DON’T USE GOOGLE. Sure, it’s easy. But rather than finding those answers on your own, seek the advice of the locals and travelers around you. This is the easiest way to get insider tips to improve your travels and meet other people.

Studies also show that people who ask for advice are seen as more competent and likeable. Here’s why:

  • It validates the other person’s intelligence by acknowledging that they have information that you want.
  • Most people feel pleasure from helping others.
  • People have an innate desire to feel appreciated, and when you thank them for their advice, it satisfies that need.

Once you’ve asked for advice, you’ve made a great impression and it is easy to build a conversation from the suggestions they give you.

Pro tip: Before you leave, ask everyone you know if they know anyone you can meet when you start traveling. By using your social network, you can have friends waiting for you before you even arrive.

Think Like a Travel Journalist

a laptop and camera on a table
When travel journalists visit new places, they make it their mission to learn as much as they can about the city and local people. They observe, and they focus their conversations on asking people questions. Not only does this give them the information they need, it also helps them establish connections.

Similar to the previous tip about asking for advice, this tactic works because it focuses your conversation on the other person rather than yourself. Research shows that the pleasure centers of people’s brains light up just as much if not more when they talk about themselves as they do when receiving food or money.

On the airplane, or while hanging out in your hostel’s common areas or other public spaces, strike up conversations by asking people questions like:

  • What do you think of [something about your location]?
  • Where are you visiting from?
  • Why did you choose to come here?
  • What do you love about being here?
  • What’s been your favorite restaurant and why?

By starting conversations that invite people to talk about themselves, you start your interactions on a high, learn interesting information, and become someone people want to keep talking to.

Book Meals with Strangers

friends eating at a restaurant
If you want to meet people while traveling but the thought of approaching random strangers triggers your social anxiety, use travel apps to match with people in your area. Other travelers who use these apps also want to meet people, and so by using them and choosing to go to the same places and participate in the same activities, you automatically become someone they want to get to know.

Here are a couple of good ones to start with:

There are amazing events everywhere. Using these apps, we ended up at Le Diner en Blanc, which happens in dozens of countries around the world. You wear white, meet new people, and have a great time.

***

People can be the best part of traveling — and no one was more pleasantly surprised about this than me! My favorite travel memories involve meeting new friends, getting insider tips from locals, and the spontaneous relationships I have built around the world. So use these tips to be more interesting, have better conversations, and enjoy the benefits of sharing your travel experiences with others.

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best-selling author and lead investigator at her human behavior research lab, ScienceofPeople.com. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: Use Science to Succeed with People, was chosen by Apple as one of the most anticipated books of 2017. She writes a monthly “Science of Success” column for Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post.

The post How to Be More Interesting While Traveling appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Flying High in New Zealand’s Fiordland

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/new-zealand-fiordland/

A view of the fjord from the seaplane

“How do you do on boats?”

“I love ’em,” I said gripping the seat of the plane tightly.

“Well, just picture turbulence as waves you can’t see,” the pilot said with a laugh.

“I know turbulence can’t take down a plane, but that doesn’t make this any more comfortable.”

The plane was jolted as we passed some high mountains. None of the other passengers seemed to notice, but I cringed with the look of someone who just got a thousand needles stuck in his arm.

“If something goes wrong here, we just fall and die! That’s just where my mind goes!”

The pilot looked at me, laughed again, and went back to talking to the other passengers.

I was in a tiny, six-seater seaplane three thousand feet above Doubtful Sound. Fiordland is located in the southwesternmost part of New Zealand and home to numerous Lord of the Rings film locations, the region is considered one of the country’s most scenic and remote areas. Filled with gigantic mountains, deep lakes, swelling rivers, untamed forests, and resplendent fjords, most of it has never been set upon by man. Save a few places where boats and planes can go, the government has made the land off-limits, ensuring that that will be the case for a long time to come.

A view of the fjord from the seaplane

The day before, I had had the bright idea of seeing Doubtful Sound on a quick one-hour flight instead of a full-day bus/boat ride. Despite my fear of heights and flying, I had thought it would be cool and save me lots of time.

Yet as the teeny plane bounced around, that no longer seemed so bright.

I had hitched a ride to the area with Karin, a Swedish girl I’d met in Wanaka. After a few days partying in Queenstown, we had driven down to the region’s launching pad, Te Anau, a small town of barely a few hundred people on a lake, with lots of campervan parks for tourists who came to camp, hike the Kepler Track and Milford Sound trail, and visit the area’s two biggest attractions: Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound.

Karin and I drove up to Milford Sound for the day. On the way, we passed giant granite mountains, crystal-clear blue rivers, and roaring waterfalls. Sheer cliffs rose above us as we followed the road to the sound. Tiny lakes dotted the way, and hiking trails — some of the country’s “Great Walks” — crisscrossed the area. This was wild New Zealand, where cellphone service didn’t exist, you had to camp, and, to quote Doc Brown, “you don’t need roads.” You came here for one reason: to escape city life.

On our two-hour cruise on Milford Sound to the edge of the Tasman Sea and back again, water from the recent rains rushed in a torrent off the sides of the fjord, ice covered the tops of the mountains, and seals frolicked nearby. It was a clear, bright, sunny day, the kind that makes you feel like you got the luckiest card in the traveler’s deck.

Matt on a cruise through Milford Sound

The next day, Karin left but I stayed on. I found an Airbnb run by an older couple, complete with a garden, sun deck, and hot tub. However, they had quirky nature, and it was clear that they weren’t that hospitable or used to young travelers booking via Airbnb. From the odd blackmail (“if you want to use our kitchen, maybe you can book your tours with me”) to the reversal of that offer (“I changed my mind”) to the immediate outpouring of personal information to the shock that someone would cook in their kitchen to the constant checking up, they left a bad vibe that made it seem like I never was wanted there.

So I got out of the Airbnb as often as possible. I headed to Wings and Water, a small seaplane company run by Jim, a hard-nosed pilot who had a lot to say about the state of modern pilot training and airplane safety. He spouted off about the nanny state and government regulation not letting pilots be pilots, companies outsourcing maintenance, the overreliance on computers and technology, and pilots not going with their guts enough.

A view of the fjord from the seaplane

“There’s not enough experience out there. A computer isn’t going to save you.”

He had strong opinions on every subject.

“Matt is afraid of flying, but we’ll make him a man,” he said to the two other couples waiting to board our flight, slapping my back as he went to do another safety check on the plane.

I already regretted having mentioned my fear of flying.

With a sputter of the engine, we coasted on the water and ascended smoothly into the air. Now, below us, the giant Lake Te Anau and mountains were splayed out over the landscape. There were lakes leaking down the sides of mountains, patches of ice dotting inaccessible mountaintops, and sheer, gray cliffs with trees seemingly hanging on by a root, ready to slide off at a moment’s notice. We weaved so closely around the mountains I felt I could touch them.

A view of the fjord from the seaplane

As the clouds rolled in, I became nervous. With clouds came wind and choppier air.

“How do you know when to turn back? Like is there a point when you go, ‘OK, time to go!’?”

“You just know from experience,” Jim replied.

“What happens if the weather worsens?”

Browne Falls, New Zealand“Well, you see those big bodies of water down there?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, we’re in a seaplane. I’d just land the plane on the water and wait it out,” he replied mater of factly, “But don’t worry. That’s never happened.”

“Planes,” he continued, “are stronger than people. You’ll break before this baby does.”

We cut through the clouds and did a loop around the Browne Falls, the world’s tallest waterslide (since the water technically was always touching the ground, it wasn’t a waterfall), through which the cascade poured incessantly from a large pool set in a depression of the mountain.

As we landed back in Te Anau and pulled up the to dock, Jim looked at me. “Not so bad, huh?”

“No, not so bad, but that didn’t change my view of flying.”

The next day I snuck out of my Airbnb to avoid seeing my hosts and caught the early-morning bus.

A sunset in New Zealand

As I watched the sky turn a pink as the sun rose, I was glad that, unlike my last visit, I didn’t skip this area. Here in this little town on the edge of New Zealand, where tourists outnumbered locals, there was little else to do but enjoy nature. The region stripped away the distractions so common in other parts of the country.

And I also hoped that when I come back, I’ll show Jim I’ve overcome my fear of heights.

P.S. NEW UPDATED GUIDES! As a reminder, we’ve updated 5 of our guides: Paris, Stockholm, Amsterdam, New York City, and Kristin’s solo female travel guide, Conquering Mountains: How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly. We added maps and language sections to our guides and tons of new tips to Kristin’s book. If you’re going to any of these cities, grab a guide so you can plan your trip, learn how to save money, get off the tourist travel, and find your way around easier!

The post Flying High in New Zealand’s Fiordland appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/new-zealand-fiordland/

A view of the fjord from the seaplane

“How do you do on boats?”

“I love ’em,” I said gripping the seat of the plane tightly.

“Well, just picture turbulence as waves you can’t see,” the pilot said with a laugh.

“I know turbulence can’t take down a plane, but that doesn’t make this any more comfortable.”

The plane was jolted as we passed some high mountains. None of the other passengers seemed to notice, but I cringed with the look of someone who just got a thousand needles stuck in his arm.

“If something goes wrong here, we just fall and die! That’s just where my mind goes!”

The pilot looked at me, laughed again, and went back to talking to the other passengers.

I was in a tiny, six-seater seaplane three thousand feet above Doubtful Sound. Fiordland is located in the southwesternmost part of New Zealand and home to numerous Lord of the Rings film locations, the region is considered one of the country’s most scenic and remote areas. Filled with gigantic mountains, deep lakes, swelling rivers, untamed forests, and resplendent fjords, most of it has never been set upon by man. Save a few places where boats and planes can go, the government has made the land off-limits, ensuring that that will be the case for a long time to come.

A view of the fjord from the seaplane

The day before, I had had the bright idea of seeing Doubtful Sound on a quick one-hour flight instead of a full-day bus/boat ride. Despite my fear of heights and flying, I had thought it would be cool and save me lots of time.

Yet as the teeny plane bounced around, that no longer seemed so bright.

I had hitched a ride to the area with Karin, a Swedish girl I’d met in Wanaka. After a few days partying in Queenstown, we had driven down to the region’s launching pad, Te Anau, a small town of barely a few hundred people on a lake, with lots of campervan parks for tourists who came to camp, hike the Kepler Track and Milford Sound trail, and visit the area’s two biggest attractions: Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound.

Karin and I drove up to Milford Sound for the day. On the way, we passed giant granite mountains, crystal-clear blue rivers, and roaring waterfalls. Sheer cliffs rose above us as we followed the road to the sound. Tiny lakes dotted the way, and hiking trails — some of the country’s “Great Walks” — crisscrossed the area. This was wild New Zealand, where cellphone service didn’t exist, you had to camp, and, to quote Doc Brown, “you don’t need roads.” You came here for one reason: to escape city life.

On our two-hour cruise on Milford Sound to the edge of the Tasman Sea and back again, water from the recent rains rushed in a torrent off the sides of the fjord, ice covered the tops of the mountains, and seals frolicked nearby. It was a clear, bright, sunny day, the kind that makes you feel like you got the luckiest card in the traveler’s deck.

Matt on a cruise through Milford Sound

The next day, Karin left but I stayed on. I found an Airbnb run by an older couple, complete with a garden, sun deck, and hot tub. However, they had quirky nature, and it was clear that they weren’t that hospitable or used to young travelers booking via Airbnb. From the odd blackmail (“if you want to use our kitchen, maybe you can book your tours with me”) to the reversal of that offer (“I changed my mind”) to the immediate outpouring of personal information to the shock that someone would cook in their kitchen to the constant checking up, they left a bad vibe that made it seem like I never was wanted there.

So I got out of the Airbnb as often as possible. I headed to Wings and Water, a small seaplane company run by Jim, a hard-nosed pilot who had a lot to say about the state of modern pilot training and airplane safety. He spouted off about the nanny state and government regulation not letting pilots be pilots, companies outsourcing maintenance, the overreliance on computers and technology, and pilots not going with their guts enough.

A view of the fjord from the seaplane

“There’s not enough experience out there. A computer isn’t going to save you.”

He had strong opinions on every subject.

“Matt is afraid of flying, but we’ll make him a man,” he said to the two other couples waiting to board our flight, slapping my back as he went to do another safety check on the plane.

I already regretted having mentioned my fear of flying.

With a sputter of the engine, we coasted on the water and ascended smoothly into the air. Now, below us, the giant Lake Te Anau and mountains were splayed out over the landscape. There were lakes leaking down the sides of mountains, patches of ice dotting inaccessible mountaintops, and sheer, gray cliffs with trees seemingly hanging on by a root, ready to slide off at a moment’s notice. We weaved so closely around the mountains I felt I could touch them.

A view of the fjord from the seaplane

As the clouds rolled in, I became nervous. With clouds came wind and choppier air.

“How do you know when to turn back? Like is there a point when you go, ‘OK, time to go!’?”

“You just know from experience,” Jim replied.

“What happens if the weather worsens?”

Browne Falls, New Zealand“Well, you see those big bodies of water down there?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, we’re in a seaplane. I’d just land the plane on the water and wait it out,” he replied mater of factly, “But don’t worry. That’s never happened.”

“Planes,” he continued, “are stronger than people. You’ll break before this baby does.”

We cut through the clouds and did a loop around the Browne Falls, the world’s tallest waterslide (since the water technically was always touching the ground, it wasn’t a waterfall), through which the cascade poured incessantly from a large pool set in a depression of the mountain.

As we landed back in Te Anau and pulled up the to dock, Jim looked at me. “Not so bad, huh?”

“No, not so bad, but that didn’t change my view of flying.”

The next day I snuck out of my Airbnb to avoid seeing my hosts and caught the early-morning bus.

A sunset in New Zealand

As I watched the sky turn a pink as the sun rose, I was glad that, unlike my last visit, I didn’t skip this area. Here in this little town on the edge of New Zealand, where tourists outnumbered locals, there was little else to do but enjoy nature. The region stripped away the distractions so common in other parts of the country.

And I also hoped that when I come back, I’ll show Jim I’ve overcome my fear of heights.

P.S. NEW UPDATED GUIDES! As a reminder, we’ve updated 5 of our guides: Paris, Stockholm, Amsterdam, New York City, and Kristin’s solo female travel guide, Conquering Mountains: How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly. We added maps and language sections to our guides and tons of new tips to Kristin’s book. If you’re going to any of these cities, grab a guide so you can plan your trip, learn how to save money, get off the tourist travel, and find your way around easier!

The post Flying High in New Zealand’s Fiordland appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

19 Things I Learned From 10 Years Blogging

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/10-years-blogging/

Matt speaking at a conference
Back in January 2008, I’d just returned from my trip around the world. I was broke and got a temp job at a hospital. My job was to sit there, answer phones, open the mail, and just generally not break anything while the full-time assistant was on maternity leave. Within a few days, I said to myself “This is not for me.” Being back in a cubicle felt like I was back to the same spot I left. Like the last 18 months on the road hadn’t happened. It was dispiriting. I wanted to be “out there” — that mythical place that was anywhere but home.

Sitting in that cubicle, I wondered, “What could I do to keep me traveling?”

“Travel writer” seemed like a good idea.

So I started a blog to showcase my work, get freelance writing gigs, maybe write some guidebooks, and hopefully make a living from this all. I imagined myself a cross between Bill Bryson and Indiana Jones.

I bugged my design friends for help, learned HTML, wrote blog post after blog post, connected with other bloggers, pitched stories to online publications, and figured out SEO and social media.

Today is the anniversary of my first post. I can’t believe I am still at it ten years later. What started as an online resume has morphed into a business that includes this website, a charity, hostel, conference, blogging course, community meet-ups, tours, ebooks, and a NYT best selling book.

So, on today’s ten-year anniversary, I want to share some of the business/blogging lessons I learned (often the hard way) in the past decade:

1. Being first helps, but it’s not a prerequisite for success.

When I started, travel blogging was in its infancy. Starting before it became mainstream certainly helped contribute to the success that I have today. It would be foolish to deny that.

But it’s not the most important thing. After all, Netscape was first — but how many of you still use that today?

And I can name dozens and dozens of blogs that went under despite having started early.

But more importantly, I can name dozens and dozens of blogs that have started in the last few years that have done extremely well.

What matters more than being first is being persistent and innovative, creating quality content, offering something that solves your readers’ problems, networking, and many other things. “Being first” would be low on my list of “things you need for success.”

2. You’re going to change — and so will your blog. That’s OK.

Your life is going to change — and so is your blog. At first, I wanted to travel a lot and just blog. Now, I want to stay in place more. Build a routine. Go to the gym. Write more books. Maybe start a podcast. Mentor more. Do more community events.

Basically, not be nomadic anymore.

For a long time, I resisted that change. I tried to still be the person I was when I started this whole thing. What would I be if not Nomadic Matt? How would this website continue?

Then I said, “Who cares? So long as this website is helping people travel, it’s not really important if I am always on the road. The content matters more than anything else.”

People will either love it…or they won’t, being on (or off) the road won’t change that.

Moreover, the lives of your readers will also change. They will get older too. They will have new desires. Maybe people stop reading your blog because they find it boring. Or they grow out of your advice, or they simply stop traveling. It doesn’t matter. That’s just how it is.

Life changes for you and your readers.

Don’t fear change.

3. Don’t do this for you. Do it for your readers.

Matt's readers
Do you know who the most successful people are? The ones who wake up and think about how they make someone’s life better. The people who do whatever it is they do for a reason beyond themselves. If your goal is to get free travel and how to do cool stuff for yourself, the Internet will quickly tire of you. No one wants to read the story of someone doing things they can never do. “Inspiration porn” only goes so far. We all want people – and businesses – that solve a problem we have in our life. That can be anything from the mundane “I need to know how to dress better” to the esoteric “what do I do with my life?”

No matter what you do, do it for your readers. Think about how to solve their problems.

Do something that makes your audience go, “Because I came here, my life is better.”

For me, that’s helping people travel cheaper. Figure out what it is for you. Your mission should never be “How can I make my life better?” People will see through that. Being a personality on the Internet only lasts so long as your schtick is in vogue.

If your mission is reader centric, you’ll stand the test of time.

4. Because your readers want you to succeed.

Your audience wants to support you. They read you for a reason. Give them a way to support you. Don’t think, “Oh, people just like free stuff. I’m gonna need to throw up ads and do brand deals or I’ll be broke.” People want to support artists and creative people they love. Don’t be afraid to sell them a product you created. Or start a Patreon page. Or do tours. Or create a subscription service for added content. Mark Manson does that for $5 a month. You know what? I bet a lot of people pay that.

Give people a way to support you and they will surprise you. Because when you create something that helps people and improves their lives, they want to support you. They will go out of their way to do so. Because everyone wants to help those that help them.

5. Ways to monetize will change greatly.

There have always been easy ways to make money online. First, it was Google’s ad network, AdSense. You’d slap up a few ads that looked like normal links and people would click away. Then it was banner ads. (Those both still exist, but how many of us click on banner ads?) Then it was selling text links to companies trying to game SEO. Then sponsored posts that did the same thing but were supposedly harder for Google to detect.

Each was a fad that people said would last forever. (Now, it’s “influencer” marketing, where everyone with a following gets free stuff, and people are still saying the same thing about that.)

But everything changes.

If you’re only doing the most popular thing to make money online, you are going to fail. When the tides shift, you’ll be left holding the bag and having to start over again.

Never rely on a fad for your income. EVER.

For example, you used to be able to sell e-books for like $50. Now, thanks to Amazon and people used to $1.99 Kindle books, that’s changed. No one buys expensive ebooks anymore. Ebooks are a cheap product. We sell a lot of ebooks and had to adapt our model…but it also forced us to figure out other ways to monetize. We used to rely on one page for a lot of our affiliate income but then it dropped in Google and we had to scramble to figure out what to do.

Always assume whatever it is you’re doing is not going to last. It will keep you innovating.

6. Create your own products.

Matt with his book
Continuing on that idea, own your income stream as much as possible: e-books, tours, T-shirts, whatever.

When I started out, I sold a lot of text links (see #6). Then one day it all went to zero after Google changed its algorithm. It didn’t bother me, though, because by then I had already moved on. I had e-books. Then tours. Then courses. A hostel. A conference. I had diversified my income and created my own products.

Having your own thing — no matter what it is — means you don’t rely on others for your income because you never know what could happen. Amazon could kick you out of its program or cut its payout in half (we got kicked out for a few months and lost thousands. Luckily, we’re back in but that money is gone), influencer marketing could change, brands might not want to work with you, or someone could cut their affiliate rate or stop offering their program altogether.

When 100% of your income is from other people, you are 100% at the mercy of other people. Creating your own products allows you to be independent.

Always own your income.

7. Your first stuff will suck.

Early homepage of Nomadic Matt's travel site
Years from now, you’ll look back at your first articles and go, “Who the hell wanted to read this? This is horrible!” Or you’ll look at the first version of your website (see above) and go “What the F was I thinking!!!” It’s only natural. It means you’ve grown as a writer (and a blogger). It’s about progress, not perfection. In the beginning, don’t obsess about your work (whether writing or design). Just put it out there and go back later and fix it.

Why? You only get better by doing. Never wait for perfection. And if you wait for perfection you’ll never start your blog. There’s no cost to putting up a website. Just get it up there and fix the problems later!

8. SEO is not a dirty word.

A lot of bloggers think SEO is this dirty thing, that optimizing for Google takes away from the “humanness” of their website. But every day, billions of people search for answers to their questions. Optimizing your website for search engines means that your website can be the one that answers their question. It’s a source of unlimited free traffic!

Over the last decade, focusing on SEO has given me a huge advantage and has helped me reach millions of people, earn a living, and get media mentions (I once got a big feature on CNN because the journalist found me on Google).

9. Write for humans.

But still, write for humans. Don’t put in overly optimized content, because, at the end of the day, you want people to connect with your website. No one is loyal to WikiHow or another generic information website. People read blogs because they connect with the voice behind it. Optimize for Google, but write for humans.

10. There will always be setbacks.

Six years after I started this blog, I lived on credit cards for three months. I had put all my money into a Kickstarter project, and until that ended, I was broke. I hit my fundraising goal, paid off my bills, and launched the app. But it turned out I didn’t know how much work apps were, and, by the time I stopped updating the app, I was down $10,000.

I’ve run sales that didn’t go anywhere. Launched books no one bought. Hosted webinars no one showed up to. Made shirts no one wanted. Redesigned parts of my website that caused conversions to crash. Hired consultants that didn’t do anything but sap my bank balance. Tried video that went nowhere.

I’ve failed constantly.

The trick is to remember that failure is a teacher. Sure, it sucked wasting time and money on all these projects that didn’t work out but we took the lessons from these projects and improved the site and reader experience other ways. If you believe in your mission, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn, and move forward. You’ll find another way to get your message across.

As Edison said, he didn’t fail, he just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.

11. People will be really mean. I mean REALLY mean.

The Internet brings out the best — and the worst — in people. They will get really mean. I mean so mean that you’ll want to curl up into a ball and cry. You might actually do so. I have a whole folder of all the mean emails I get.

You have to learn to develop a thick skin. Because it is only going to get worse the bigger you get.

It takes time to learn to do this, but don’t take it personally. It’s never about you. It’s about their problems and their lives. People like to troll to make themselves feel better. You’re just their current target.

Just ignore the haters and move on. It’s easier to say than do, but you must!

Because for every troll, there are a thousand people who value what you do.

And, when you get a troll, send this video:

12. Start an email list.

From the day you start your blog, start an email list. Tweets, Facebook, social media — people miss those updates all the time.

Social media changes all the time. Facebook says “pay me or never your readers will never see your content,” Vine goes out of business, and Instagram does some funky stuff — and suddenly you can’t reach people anymore.

But no one misses an email. Everyone checks their inbox all the time! Email is still king. My greatest mistake was not starting an email list right at the beginning. Forget about the likes. Get emails and you’ll always own control of your audience. No algorithm can take that away from you.

13. Never call yourself an influencer.

Stephen King has influenced a generation of writers, George Lucas a generation of sci-fi fans, Gloria Steinem a generation of women. Ditto to folks like Gene Roddenberry, Ernest Hemingway, Tim Ferriss, Carrie Fisher, Gal Gadot, Levar Burton, Mr. Rogers, Steve Jobs, and countless others.

They got people to do something. To better themselves, read more, follow their dreams, and strive to be better.

They influenced.

Do they go around calling themselves influencers?

No.

Why?

Because being an influencer is a fake profession created by millennials and social media “stars.”

You have influence when people listen to you. When I find myself thinking “What would Bryson do?” — that’s Bryson’s influence. My friends have influence over my life when I follow their recommendations. In some ways, I have influence when I suggest something travel related and someone does it.

You have influence when you provide value and make someone’s life better.

You do NOT have influence because 20,000 people “liked” a photo on their way home from work.

True influence comes not from calling yourself an influencer but from what you actually do and the example you set.

Don’t set out to be an influencer. Because that is YOU centric. Not READER centric. (See #3 again.)

14. Success takes time.

Success takes time
(Photo from Derek Halpern)

A lot of people try to become insta-famous these days. They want to be rich and successful NOW and don’t care how they get there. But where are those Vine stars now?

I can’t fault people who want quick cash, but remember, real success takes years to achieve. It’s work. Anthony Bourdain didn’t get famous overnight. Stephen King was rejected countless times. Morgan Freeman didn’t get famous until he was 40. It took me years to turn this into a living.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you don’t have the patience for the long haul, you should find something else to do.

15. There will always be someone better.

Matt at a conference
Be humble. Remember that as good as you think you are, there is someone better. I can name ten people who do what we do better. All that does it make me try harder. Don’t say, “that person is making it and I’m not.” Say, “What can I learn from them?”

Only fools think they are wise. People who don’t learn or find mentors are the ones that fade away. Most of the bloggers I know who stagnated or failed were also the ones that never read books, never found mentors, or never attended conferences. They never improved themselves. My success is in part because I always sought out new knowledge, books, and especially teachers. I wouldn’t be here without my mentors.

If you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing.

16. If you’re going to be a business, treat this like a business.

It’s easy to view everything as having a cost, but investing in your business is the surest way to grow it.

When I started, I didn’t have much money and I hated spending money on things. I found the cheapest designers, hosting, virtual assistants, and tech support. I went cheap — and I also did a lot by myself. I regret that. Now I wish I had paid a little more for quality.

I know what it is like to start your blog with not a lot of money, but the day you decide to make this a business, put more money into it. Buy a nicer theme, get a better hosting platform, get a better email service, hire someone to help. This will help you grow quicker. And the quicker you’ll grow, the sooner you’ll start making up the costs of your investments.

The scariest thing I did was hiring a full-time employee, but it allowed me to do so much more. It allowed me to make a much better website.

I once paid $5,000 to go to a high-level conference. Why? I knew the people there were going to help me go the next level. It was a lot of money and I couldn’t really afford it, but I knew if I was going to grow my business, I needed the people in that room to help me out. If the right people are in the room, no amount of money is too much.

17. Don’t be afraid to take a second job.

When I started, I was working as an English teacher. Daymon John from FUBU waited tables while he built his business. Don’t be afraid to get a second job while you develop this venture. It may take longer to get off the ground, but it’s a lot better than being a starving artist!

18. It’s OK to walk away.

via GIPHY
If you don’t want to do this, walk away. If you start a project and don’t love it, walk away. We get so invested in projects that our pride keeps us from giving up on them. But sometimes you just need to walk away. Successful entrepreneurs don’t double down. They know when to walk away and shift their energies to something else.

19. Remember timing is everything.

Timing and luck are everywhere. Being at the right place at the right time is a big percentage of success. I got lucky by starting when there wasn’t a lot of competition. I got lucky by having good teachers, seeing that Tweet that got me a New York Times interview, and that Facebook ad that got me an invite to a conference attended by the best businesses minds in the world. I got lucky when someone found my website and featured me on CNN, sending a ton of traffic and more interview requests. A lot of success is just being at the right place at the right time.

I never think, “I am a success because I am great at everything.” No, I am a success because I’m better than average at a lot of things (and outsource the things I suck at) but also because I’ve been in the right place at the right time.

Remember that. No one is a success because they are great at everything. People are a success because of a combination of skill and luck.

***As Mary Schmich said, “Advice is a form of nostalgia; dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

But I hope you found something of worth here as you start your own ten-year journey.

P.S.- If you’d like to learn how to start a blog the right way, avoid my early mistakes, and get a peek at all the processes and methods I use to continue to grow this website (without scammy ads), check out my blogging course. It gives you all my secrets as well as direct feedback on your website from me and tech support from my tech team.

P.P.S. – If you’re in NYC, we’re hosting a meet-up Wednesday night at 7pm at Solas. Come join us! You can find out more and RSVP on our event page!

(Photo credits: 5)

The post 19 Things I Learned From 10 Years Blogging appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/10-years-blogging/

Matt speaking at a conference
Back in January 2008, I’d just returned from my trip around the world. I was broke and got a temp job at a hospital. My job was to sit there, answer phones, open the mail, and just generally not break anything while the full-time assistant was on maternity leave. Within a few days, I said to myself “This is not for me.” Being back in a cubicle felt like I was back to the same spot I left. Like the last 18 months on the road hadn’t happened. It was dispiriting. I wanted to be “out there” — that mythical place that was anywhere but home.

Sitting in that cubicle, I wondered, “What could I do to keep me traveling?”

“Travel writer” seemed like a good idea.

So I started a blog to showcase my work, get freelance writing gigs, maybe write some guidebooks, and hopefully make a living from this all. I imagined myself a cross between Bill Bryson and Indiana Jones.

I bugged my design friends for help, learned HTML, wrote blog post after blog post, connected with other bloggers, pitched stories to online publications, and figured out SEO and social media.

Today is the anniversary of my first post. I can’t believe I am still at it ten years later. What started as an online resume has morphed into a business that includes this website, a charity, hostel, conference, blogging course, community meet-ups, tours, ebooks, and a NYT best selling book.

So, on today’s ten-year anniversary, I want to share some of the business/blogging lessons I learned (often the hard way) in the past decade:

1. Being first helps, but it’s not a prerequisite for success.

When I started, travel blogging was in its infancy. Starting before it became mainstream certainly helped contribute to the success that I have today. It would be foolish to deny that.

But it’s not the most important thing. After all, Netscape was first — but how many of you still use that today?

And I can name dozens and dozens of blogs that went under despite having started early.

But more importantly, I can name dozens and dozens of blogs that have started in the last few years that have done extremely well.

What matters more than being first is being persistent and innovative, creating quality content, offering something that solves your readers’ problems, networking, and many other things. “Being first” would be low on my list of “things you need for success.”

2. You’re going to change — and so will your blog. That’s OK.

Your life is going to change — and so is your blog. At first, I wanted to travel a lot and just blog. Now, I want to stay in place more. Build a routine. Go to the gym. Write more books. Maybe start a podcast. Mentor more. Do more community events.

Basically, not be nomadic anymore.

For a long time, I resisted that change. I tried to still be the person I was when I started this whole thing. What would I be if not Nomadic Matt? How would this website continue?

Then I said, “Who cares? So long as this website is helping people travel, it’s not really important if I am always on the road. The content matters more than anything else.”

People will either love it…or they won’t, being on (or off) the road won’t change that.

Moreover, the lives of your readers will also change. They will get older too. They will have new desires. Maybe people stop reading your blog because they find it boring. Or they grow out of your advice, or they simply stop traveling. It doesn’t matter. That’s just how it is.

Life changes for you and your readers.

Don’t fear change.

3. Don’t do this for you. Do it for your readers.

Matt's readers
Do you know who the most successful people are? The ones who wake up and think about how they make someone’s life better. The people who do whatever it is they do for a reason beyond themselves. If your goal is to get free travel and how to do cool stuff for yourself, the Internet will quickly tire of you. No one wants to read the story of someone doing things they can never do. “Inspiration porn” only goes so far. We all want people – and businesses – that solve a problem we have in our life. That can be anything from the mundane “I need to know how to dress better” to the esoteric “what do I do with my life?”

No matter what you do, do it for your readers. Think about how to solve their problems.

Do something that makes your audience go, “Because I came here, my life is better.”

For me, that’s helping people travel cheaper. Figure out what it is for you. Your mission should never be “How can I make my life better?” People will see through that. Being a personality on the Internet only lasts so long as your schtick is in vogue.

If your mission is reader centric, you’ll stand the test of time.

4. Because your readers want you to succeed.

Your audience wants to support you. They read you for a reason. Give them a way to support you. Don’t think, “Oh, people just like free stuff. I’m gonna need to throw up ads and do brand deals or I’ll be broke.” People want to support artists and creative people they love. Don’t be afraid to sell them a product you created. Or start a Patreon page. Or do tours. Or create a subscription service for added content. Mark Manson does that for $5 a month. You know what? I bet a lot of people pay that.

Give people a way to support you and they will surprise you. Because when you create something that helps people and improves their lives, they want to support you. They will go out of their way to do so. Because everyone wants to help those that help them.

5. Ways to monetize will change greatly.

There have always been easy ways to make money online. First, it was Google’s ad network, AdSense. You’d slap up a few ads that looked like normal links and people would click away. Then it was banner ads. (Those both still exist, but how many of us click on banner ads?) Then it was selling text links to companies trying to game SEO. Then sponsored posts that did the same thing but were supposedly harder for Google to detect.

Each was a fad that people said would last forever. (Now, it’s “influencer” marketing, where everyone with a following gets free stuff, and people are still saying the same thing about that.)

But everything changes.

If you’re only doing the most popular thing to make money online, you are going to fail. When the tides shift, you’ll be left holding the bag and having to start over again.

Never rely on a fad for your income. EVER.

For example, you used to be able to sell e-books for like $50. Now, thanks to Amazon and people used to $1.99 Kindle books, that’s changed. No one buys expensive ebooks anymore. Ebooks are a cheap product. We sell a lot of ebooks and had to adapt our model…but it also forced us to figure out other ways to monetize. We used to rely on one page for a lot of our affiliate income but then it dropped in Google and we had to scramble to figure out what to do.

Always assume whatever it is you’re doing is not going to last. It will keep you innovating.

6. Create your own products.

Matt with his book
Continuing on that idea, own your income stream as much as possible: e-books, tours, T-shirts, whatever.

When I started out, I sold a lot of text links (see #6). Then one day it all went to zero after Google changed its algorithm. It didn’t bother me, though, because by then I had already moved on. I had e-books. Then tours. Then courses. A hostel. A conference. I had diversified my income and created my own products.

Having your own thing — no matter what it is — means you don’t rely on others for your income because you never know what could happen. Amazon could kick you out of its program or cut its payout in half (we got kicked out for a few months and lost thousands. Luckily, we’re back in but that money is gone), influencer marketing could change, brands might not want to work with you, or someone could cut their affiliate rate or stop offering their program altogether.

When 100% of your income is from other people, you are 100% at the mercy of other people. Creating your own products allows you to be independent.

Always own your income.

7. Your first stuff will suck.

Early homepage of Nomadic Matt's travel site
Years from now, you’ll look back at your first articles and go, “Who the hell wanted to read this? This is horrible!” Or you’ll look at the first version of your website (see above) and go “What the F was I thinking!!!” It’s only natural. It means you’ve grown as a writer (and a blogger). It’s about progress, not perfection. In the beginning, don’t obsess about your work (whether writing or design). Just put it out there and go back later and fix it.

Why? You only get better by doing. Never wait for perfection. And if you wait for perfection you’ll never start your blog. There’s no cost to putting up a website. Just get it up there and fix the problems later!

8. SEO is not a dirty word.

A lot of bloggers think SEO is this dirty thing, that optimizing for Google takes away from the “humanness” of their website. But every day, billions of people search for answers to their questions. Optimizing your website for search engines means that your website can be the one that answers their question. It’s a source of unlimited free traffic!

Over the last decade, focusing on SEO has given me a huge advantage and has helped me reach millions of people, earn a living, and get media mentions (I once got a big feature on CNN because the journalist found me on Google).

9. Write for humans.

But still, write for humans. Don’t put in overly optimized content, because, at the end of the day, you want people to connect with your website. No one is loyal to WikiHow or another generic information website. People read blogs because they connect with the voice behind it. Optimize for Google, but write for humans.

10. There will always be setbacks.

Six years after I started this blog, I lived on credit cards for three months. I had put all my money into a Kickstarter project, and until that ended, I was broke. I hit my fundraising goal, paid off my bills, and launched the app. But it turned out I didn’t know how much work apps were, and, by the time I stopped updating the app, I was down $10,000.

I’ve run sales that didn’t go anywhere. Launched books no one bought. Hosted webinars no one showed up to. Made shirts no one wanted. Redesigned parts of my website that caused conversions to crash. Hired consultants that didn’t do anything but sap my bank balance. Tried video that went nowhere.

I’ve failed constantly.

The trick is to remember that failure is a teacher. Sure, it sucked wasting time and money on all these projects that didn’t work out but we took the lessons from these projects and improved the site and reader experience other ways. If you believe in your mission, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn, and move forward. You’ll find another way to get your message across.

As Edison said, he didn’t fail, he just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.

11. People will be really mean. I mean REALLY mean.

The Internet brings out the best — and the worst — in people. They will get really mean. I mean so mean that you’ll want to curl up into a ball and cry. You might actually do so. I have a whole folder of all the mean emails I get.

You have to learn to develop a thick skin. Because it is only going to get worse the bigger you get.

It takes time to learn to do this, but don’t take it personally. It’s never about you. It’s about their problems and their lives. People like to troll to make themselves feel better. You’re just their current target.

Just ignore the haters and move on. It’s easier to say than do, but you must!

Because for every troll, there are a thousand people who value what you do.

And, when you get a troll, send this video:

12. Start an email list.

From the day you start your blog, start an email list. Tweets, Facebook, social media — people miss those updates all the time.

Social media changes all the time. Facebook says “pay me or never your readers will never see your content,” Vine goes out of business, and Instagram does some funky stuff — and suddenly you can’t reach people anymore.

But no one misses an email. Everyone checks their inbox all the time! Email is still king. My greatest mistake was not starting an email list right at the beginning. Forget about the likes. Get emails and you’ll always own control of your audience. No algorithm can take that away from you.

13. Never call yourself an influencer.

Stephen King has influenced a generation of writers, George Lucas a generation of sci-fi fans, Gloria Steinem a generation of women. Ditto to folks like Gene Roddenberry, Ernest Hemingway, Tim Ferriss, Carrie Fisher, Gal Gadot, Levar Burton, Mr. Rogers, Steve Jobs, and countless others.

They got people to do something. To better themselves, read more, follow their dreams, and strive to be better.

They influenced.

Do they go around calling themselves influencers?

No.

Why?

Because being an influencer is a fake profession created by millennials and social media “stars.”

You have influence when people listen to you. When I find myself thinking “What would Bryson do?” — that’s Bryson’s influence. My friends have influence over my life when I follow their recommendations. In some ways, I have influence when I suggest something travel related and someone does it.

You have influence when you provide value and make someone’s life better.

You do NOT have influence because 20,000 people “liked” a photo on their way home from work.

True influence comes not from calling yourself an influencer but from what you actually do and the example you set.

Don’t set out to be an influencer. Because that is YOU centric. Not READER centric. (See #3 again.)

14. Success takes time.

Success takes time
(Photo from Derek Halpern)

A lot of people try to become insta-famous these days. They want to be rich and successful NOW and don’t care how they get there. But where are those Vine stars now?

I can’t fault people who want quick cash, but remember, real success takes years to achieve. It’s work. Anthony Bourdain didn’t get famous overnight. Stephen King was rejected countless times. Morgan Freeman didn’t get famous until he was 40. It took me years to turn this into a living.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you don’t have the patience for the long haul, you should find something else to do.

15. There will always be someone better.

Matt at a conference
Be humble. Remember that as good as you think you are, there is someone better. I can name ten people who do what we do better. All that does it make me try harder. Don’t say, “that person is making it and I’m not.” Say, “What can I learn from them?”

Only fools think they are wise. People who don’t learn or find mentors are the ones that fade away. Most of the bloggers I know who stagnated or failed were also the ones that never read books, never found mentors, or never attended conferences. They never improved themselves. My success is in part because I always sought out new knowledge, books, and especially teachers. I wouldn’t be here without my mentors.

If you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing.

16. If you’re going to be a business, treat this like a business.

It’s easy to view everything as having a cost, but investing in your business is the surest way to grow it.

When I started, I didn’t have much money and I hated spending money on things. I found the cheapest designers, hosting, virtual assistants, and tech support. I went cheap — and I also did a lot by myself. I regret that. Now I wish I had paid a little more for quality.

I know what it is like to start your blog with not a lot of money, but the day you decide to make this a business, put more money into it. Buy a nicer theme, get a better hosting platform, get a better email service, hire someone to help. This will help you grow quicker. And the quicker you’ll grow, the sooner you’ll start making up the costs of your investments.

The scariest thing I did was hiring a full-time employee, but it allowed me to do so much more. It allowed me to make a much better website.

I once paid $5,000 to go to a high-level conference. Why? I knew the people there were going to help me go the next level. It was a lot of money and I couldn’t really afford it, but I knew if I was going to grow my business, I needed the people in that room to help me out. If the right people are in the room, no amount of money is too much.

17. Don’t be afraid to take a second job.

When I started, I was working as an English teacher. Daymon John from FUBU waited tables while he built his business. Don’t be afraid to get a second job while you develop this venture. It may take longer to get off the ground, but it’s a lot better than being a starving artist!

18. It’s OK to walk away.

via GIPHY
If you don’t want to do this, walk away. If you start a project and don’t love it, walk away. We get so invested in projects that our pride keeps us from giving up on them. But sometimes you just need to walk away. Successful entrepreneurs don’t double down. They know when to walk away and shift their energies to something else.

19. Remember timing is everything.

Timing and luck are everywhere. Being at the right place at the right time is a big percentage of success. I got lucky by starting when there wasn’t a lot of competition. I got lucky by having good teachers, seeing that Tweet that got me a New York Times interview, and that Facebook ad that got me an invite to a conference attended by the best businesses minds in the world. I got lucky when someone found my website and featured me on CNN, sending a ton of traffic and more interview requests. A lot of success is just being at the right place at the right time.

I never think, “I am a success because I am great at everything.” No, I am a success because I’m better than average at a lot of things (and outsource the things I suck at) but also because I’ve been in the right place at the right time.

Remember that. No one is a success because they are great at everything. People are a success because of a combination of skill and luck.

***As Mary Schmich said, “Advice is a form of nostalgia; dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

But I hope you found something of worth here as you start your own ten-year journey.

P.S.- If you’d like to learn how to start a blog the right way, avoid my early mistakes, and get a peek at all the processes and methods I use to continue to grow this website (without scammy ads), check out my blogging course. It gives you all my secrets as well as direct feedback on your website from me and tech support from my tech team.

P.P.S. – If you’re in NYC, we’re hosting a meet-up Wednesday night at 7pm at Solas. Come join us! You can find out more and RSVP on our event page!

(Photo credits: 5)

The post 19 Things I Learned From 10 Years Blogging appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

5 of the best places to see the Great Migration

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/04/01/5-of-the-best-places-to-see-the-great-migration/

When we ask our younger clients what first inspired them to take an African safari, often they tell us that it was watching Disney’s The Lion King. Some of the film’s most memorable scenes include the parading and stampeding of hundreds of animals, so it’s no surprise it makes quite an impression. But watching the Great […]

The post 5 of the best places to see the Great Migration appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/04/01/5-of-the-best-places-to-see-the-great-migration/

When we ask our younger clients what first inspired them to take an African safari, often they tell us that it was watching Disney’s The Lion King. Some of the film’s most memorable scenes include the parading and stampeding of hundreds of animals, so it’s no surprise it makes quite an impression. But watching the Great […]

The post 5 of the best places to see the Great Migration appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.