Coming to the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Porto was a tricky decision. I had to make the journey from Peru so it wasn’t a simple case of catching a budget flight from Europe. I agonised over it. Could I justify the cost? This was an obvious consideration – but more than that it was a question of confidence.
Six months ago I didn’t even know travel blogging conferences existed. I was struggling to know what I wanted to do with my life and started Bridges and Balloons as a hobby while I worked that out. Little did I know that it would turn out to be the answer.
Coming to this realisation was complicated. I come from a background in print journalism and copywriting – a world where blogging, unjustifiably so, is often looked down upon. My family and friends look at me confusedly when I say I want to be a blogger. To them it’s a hobby not a career – or the realm of a lucky few like Belle de Jour and Julie Powell. Success in blogging is seen as a distant dream, like a 5-year-old wanting to be an astronaut.
Follow your dreams
But astronauts fly to the moon because they had a dream. They are the few in the world who followed that childhood fantasy – and worked incredibly hard to get there. Travel bloggers – just like astronauts and anyone else doing something they love – got there because they believed; they had the confidence to follow their passion and triumph over naysayers.
This idea of passion and following your dream was the topic of TBU’s keynote speech –Follow your passion and the success will come – by Dave and Deb of the Planet D. This incredibly successful, bright and energetic couple are like a living inspirational quote. They are full of infectious positivity and a joie de vivre that many only dream of. But that’s the key thing – they did have that dream and they followed it. They allowed themselves to be happy and, crucially, worked amazingly hard to get there. Of course, perhaps the most difficult thing in this is identifying that passion.
As I listened to Dave and Deb and thought about my original struggle with coming to TBU, I realised what had held me back: I was afraid to follow my passion. This may seem crazy to some, but there can be something terrifying in coming close to the thing that lights your fire. Think about moments of love – the first days, weeks and months of a relationship. For me, that time with Steve was full of joy but fraught with fear. It’s the most beautiful feeling in the world to recognise what you love, but accepting it’s possible can be a wild hurdle. It’s scary to admit that you want something, because then people will know if you fail to get it.
By coming to TBU all the way from Peru, I’m making a clear statement: I want to take this seriously and be a professional travel blogger. This is frightening because it comes from the heart; it makes me vulnerable and open to heartbreak. But, like in a relationship, you have to take that leap of faith and believe in it. There will be ups and downs and challenges and tears, but it’s worth it when it’s what you love.
My new heroes
Dave and Deb are a shining example of the joy of living one’s passion. Their love for each other and what they do sings from their presence. They are open about both their professional and personal struggles – it’s not always been easy for them, but their current joy is clear. Listening to them, and talking to other kindred spirits at the conference, a recurring thought has sprung to my mind – that of living the life you want to, rather than the life you think you should.
The life I want is this – exploring the world with my love Steve and inspiring others who want to to do the same. My method is through writing and sharing through our blogs – both Bridges and Balloons and The Vegetarian Travel Guide. It’s hard graft but I love it. Being at TBU has only affirmed this passion – my heart soars at being among such kindred and inspirational spirits. Instead of feeling shy about my ambitions, I feel positive. Thank goodness I decided to come. Infeel I’ve found a place I belong.