Sunset in Udaipur india at Taj Lake PalaceI can’t believe it’s already October! This year is flying by, and there are so many updates and new posts I’ve been wanting to share with you. As you might have heard, we recently announced that we’re hiring! This is a really exciting (and very busy) time for us, and I’m really looking forward to the next phase and getting more travel content out as the new year rolls around.

A few months back I shared our first Blogging Q&A based on questions received here and through Instagram. This series is a fun way for me to connect with you and answer more of the questions I get at length. I plan on keeping this Q&A going, so feel free to send me questions anytime you think of one so I can make note of them for next time!

Reader Questions

What were your first steps to monetizing your blog? What are the best ways to go about it? – Megan

When I first started this blog in Summer 2016, I had no idea how I was going to monetize it. I had done some basic research (mostly on Pinterest) about starting a blog. Most of the information centered around specifying a niche, trying to come up with the type of content I wanted to write up front, and ways to properly set yourself up for success and monetization. Honestly, it was intimidating and made me feel like I had to make a ton of decisions right away.

After sharing my first-ever blog post and some trial and error, I realized I needed to focus on what I enjoyed the most. For me, that’s the photo editing process, creating beautiful and useful content like travel guides, and sharing inspiring destinations and places to stay. From there, I introduced affiliate programs which generate a small commission when someone books or purchases something I recommend (which is how most bloggers earn their consistent income). Two programs I focused on were (for hotels / rental homes) and Skimlinks (for Airbnbs and Tripadvisor), which are websites I personally use when planning trips. I then worked on perfecting my editing process using Adobe Lightroom and set up an online shop for our photography presets. I introduced other affiliate programs, some that were successful and some that weren’t: ShopStyle (for clothing/product recommendations), GetYourGuide (for activity bookings), and Amazon (for everything under the sun), to name a few. I tried running ads using Mediavine and ended up getting rid of it, despite the income it generated. By the way — some of these are affiliate links!

I believe the best way to set yourself up for success is to focus on sharing the content you want to share first. That way, you leave room for that passion to start resonating with others before choosing a direction. Why set boundaries up front? You should be enjoying what you’re creating, whether you’re treating blogging as a hobby, a side income, or a potential full-time gig. Give yourself a few months to start growing an audience, figuring out what you like/don’t like, and learning about the different paths you can take to monetize. From there, the decision will be much easier.

How do you choose which locations to travel to? I.e. Trendy versus less traversed. – Aliya

At any given time, I’m usually planning a trip to somewhere I’ve been wanting to go, somewhere I’ve been hired to go, and somewhere my friends or family have invited me to go. The majority of trips I’m planning are ones I decide on myself, and I never commit to going anywhere I don’t want to. Lately I’ve been leaning towards lesser-known destinations like Svalbard, but I also enjoy more ‘trendy’ destinations like the lavender fields in Provence, France (a destination my best friend and her husband chose and invited us to). I often add an additional few days somewhere if I know I’m going far for a trip (for instance, Jacob and I added the French Riviera to the beginning half of that France trip).

It’s all about finding a balance, which I’m constantly working on! I made the mistake last year of taking on too many jobs and I found myself completely burnt out and missing some places I wanted to see. This year I incorporated more trips with friends, and destinations Jacob and I were eager to visit. My list is constantly growing, but a few destinations at the top of my list now are: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Scotland, Greenland, Egypt, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Philippines, and China. I also have a number of countries I’m hoping to return to in Europe, like the Czech Republic, Norway, Croatia, Hungary, England, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, and Belgium. To name a few!

What are your packing recommendations for a 3 week winter trip in Europe? – Katelyn

Winter in Europe is beautiful, and fun to dress for if you plan accordingly. Snow isn’t a guarantee (unless you’re headed to northern Scandinavia) but it’s always good to make sure you’re prepared in case the temperature dips lower than expected. The most important item to have with you is a winter coat, particularly one that goes past your waist. You’ll also want a few sweaters, pants, long-sleeved shirts, a scarf (I bought this budget-friendly cashmere scarf for our recent Norway trip, and I can’t get over how warm it is), gloves (here is my favorite affordable pair), and a hat (I love this beanie for cold weather trips). I don’t find myself needing long underwear in most places, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to have a couple pairs with you (fleece lined ones are the best!).

For a three-week trip, I would bring at least 1 coat, 3-5 sweaters, 6-8 long-sleeved shirts, 2-3 pairs of pants, 1-2 scarves, gloves, and a hat. For shoes, I always bring at least 1 pair of booties and 1 pair of comfortable sneakers. Dresses and skirts are great, but bring tights if you plan to wear them! Here are some essential items for a multi-week trip to Europe:

Cozy Sweaters

Long Pants

Warm Coats

Comfy Shoes

Photos are from India: Bandhavgarh National Park on our tiger safari and Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur. Shop our India presets here.