Travel bloggers come in all shapes and sizes. There are digital nomads and Instagram influencers, know-it-alls, adventure junkies, SEO wizards, and people who are just documenting a holiday.
To keep track of all of this, I’ve made a list. Here are the main travel blogger archetypes that I’ve come across blogging, listening to travel podcasts, and looking for travel advice online.
Here are the categories. Which one are you? Which do you like to read? Which type drives you crazy? Let’s take a closer look.
The Old Salts
The Old Salts have been living out of a suitcase for many years, if not decades. They’re humble, engaging, adventurous, and they’re always on the move.
A post by an Old Salt could be a comprehensive destination run-through that could put Lonely Planet to shame, or a charming piece pondering their place in society when they have no fixed society.
They got into the game early when many people thought that ‘blog’ was a funny-sounding word, and built up their credentials over a long time. Now the Old Salts are into selling eBooks, guiding tours, and doing public speaking at travel conventions.
They may have even moved back home by now. Whatever the case, there’s a reason they’re at the top of the pile, and it’s because they’re great to read.
You can spot them by: With difficulty. The Old Salts are not overly flashy and blend into crowds well, but some have pretty famous faces in the travel sphere.
The Epic Single-Serve Adventurer
Epic Single-Serve Adventurers are out there to document one insane journey. Maybe it’s cycling from England to Japan by bicycle; completing an epic glacier hike in Iceland; or maybe they’re driving around Africa with a dog and two cats in a van.
These single-serve adventures are captivating to read, but are usually all wrapped up in a few months. But there’s a silver lining for the Epic Single Serve Adventurers – such captivating subject matter might make for an great potential book.
You can spot them by: Following the smell of campfire beans to a tiny tent pitched on the side of a mountain.
Organised, authoritative, and super knowledgeable. This group have gathered unchallenged travel insight from extensive travel, lots of reading, keeping up with news and technology, and professional connections.
Being an Encyclopaedia also requires a fair bit of life experience, so these bloggers are also seasoned travellers. For that reason, they’re not only informative, but engaging too.
The Encyclopaedias are a wealth of information about destinations, but also the travel industry, trends, and blogging as a whole.
Ask them a question on neolithic tombs, national park designations, travel-friendly credit cards, airline scandals or shinkansen speeds – they’ll have the answers. (Beware the Encyclopaedias at pub trivia!)
You can spot them by: Their greying hair, and many heated podcast discussions
The I Have a Day Jobbers
A large group in the world of travel blogging, the I Have A Day Jobbers are travel bloggers with zero interest in being a digital nomad. These blog hobbyists work as a lawyer or a receptionist or a scientist by day, and type out blogs by night.
They may also have chosen to blog about how to maximise the ordinary person’s holiday leave and weekend time to get the best travel experience. Thus, many of the I Have A Day Jobbers aren’t looking to turn blogging into a career.
Others don’t care about being seen on search engines or promoting their blog. So it’s all about the passion for travel here, the joy of writing, and making the most out of spare time.
You can spot them by: With extreme urban camouflage, the Day Jobbers blend in seamlessly in society, and look just like you and me.
The Chiang Mai Fisherman Pantsers
Elephant-pattern pants, singlets, a laptop, and a favourite khao soi restaurant around the corner. The Fisherman Pantsers are chasing the dream of nomadicness with full fury, and they’re doing it on the cheap.
Their base of choice? The lovely Chiang Mai in Thailand’s north. Affordable apartment rentals in Nimmen, great food, fast internet and a pleasant locale make this a perfect base for travel bloggers who aren’t on the move.
Some are success stories who are making a living from their blogging income, and others are just running out their savings account trying to make it (but enjoying life along the way).
Whether they’re teaching English, writing code, or blogging about the ‘top 10 must see _ in _‘, the Fisherman Pantsers like to gravitate towards Chiang Mai’s combo of fast internet and cheap food.
Of course, there are other popular enclaves, too – Bali, Cape Town, and Medellin, to name a few.
You can spot them by: They’re young, carefree and cool, and love to post pictures of their ‘office’, sipping coffee with their feet up, by the pool (never mind the impracticality of sun glare on the laptop screen).
The Maverick Entrepreneurs
Many fingers in many pies, the Maverick Entrepreneurs branch out from blogging to all sorts of other travel related things. They could be podcasting, creating apps, hosting AirBnB properties, organising tours, or running photography courses online.
Maverick Entrepreneurs are usually bouncing with energy, and are perpetually busy. As the Lori Greiner quote goes: “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week“.
They rely on their drive, innovation and personality to succeed, rather than popular pictures of exotic places.
Behind the digital nomad facade, there’s a shark-like businessman selling methods to revolutionise your own life, get out of debt, and travel as an early retirement.
You can spot them by: Finding the person hunkered down in front of a laptop, without much time to travel.
The Perfect Photo Instagrammers
The Perfect Photo Instagrammers love to show you the perfect side of travel, such as riding in a kayak wearing a floppy hat, standing on top of a mountain with arms outstretched, or doing yoga in front of a sunset (because that’s why we travel, right?).
They must stay within five metres of an infinity pool at all times, and share breakfast with giraffes on safari, or risk losing the love of their followers. Included in this list because there is usually an accompanying blog; their social media presence is their most visible facade.
While we’re often envious of their dreamlike holiday snaps, and quick to hit that ‘Like‘ button, the perfection of the shot often doesn’t seem like reality. Taking a closer look at the photo makes one think how long it actually took to achieve the perfect snap.
It also begs the question whether the pursuit of dazzling photos and the time it takes to take and edit each photo leaves room to even enjoy the place they’re visiting. Sometimes we just want to know that something has gone wrong on their trip – cockroaches in their hotel, or luggage lost – just to feel as though we can relate.
You can spot them by: They’re the person staring off into the distance wearing a sun dress, whilst an assistant/boyfriend/girlfriend follows them around with a camera.
Examples: Gypsea Lust
The Tanned Retirees
They’ve got time and money, a sense of adventure, and are pretty good at seeking out sunny locations to recommend for fellow retirees.
A Tanned Retiree might plant themselves on a resort on a tropical island year after year, making friends with the locals and getting pretty good at snorkelling; or they’re experts in travelling around Australia by campervan and sniffing out well-provisioned campsites.
You can spot them by: Their adventure gear, 80’s sunglasses, beaming smiles and enthusiastic spirit.
The Location Gurus
The Location Gurus have chosen one place for in-depth analysis, and the result is a super-informative travel resource.
They might be locals or expats, but they know every pub, every UNESCO site, and the construction date of every church. The Location Guru can tell you the best season to visit, and what drinking games to try.
You can spot them by: The hybrid accents they’ve adopted from their new home.
The Newbie Bloggers
Sweet, honest and packed with photos, the Newbie Bloggers often just want their family to know what they’re up to. Many bloggers started out as Newbie Bloggers, getting used to the way the website works, and figuring out what people like.
With post titles like ‘Day 1 in Tokyo, eating awesome sushi‘; ‘Day 2 in Tokyo, meeting up with my parents in Shinjuku‘; or ‘Day 3 in Tokyo, adventure on the subway‘, their writing is often diary-like. They’re not caught up in the SEO and social media game. There are lessons to be learned about what attracts people to their blog, but there’s potential.
You can spot them by: Big galleries of images, showing every picture they took.
Examples: Many blogs out there on WordPress Reader.
They’ve got their heads screwed on, and know their niche. Their websites are slick and colourful, and a joy to browse.
Most importantly, the Nichemakers have identified something specific to make them stand out from the pack. Their site shows a laser-focus about travelling solo, women’s travels, posting in multiple languages, family travel, pet travel, travelling vegan, hacking airline miles, or travelling with a disability.
The Nichemakers are the new breed of travel bloggers, who need to stand out in an increasingly saturated market.
You can spot them by: Their armies of super-loyal followers.
The RV Diehards
Going all-in on the concept that life fits nicely in an RV, the RV Diehards come in both couple and family varieties.
You can find them roving around the USA in everything from ‘Meet The Fokkers‘-style megabuses, to cheap and cheerful mini RVs, chasing the summer weather and generally enjoying a carefree life. European variants are common, too, squishing into beachside parking lots.
You can spot them by: Their RVs, of course!
What have I forgotten?
There we have it, the different types of travel bloggers out there that I’ve encountered!
Of course, many bloggers fall under several categories. Some might be leaning away from travel and towards other things, such as travel and fashion, or travel and food.
So, what else could we add to the list?
Maybe the Happy Family Travellers, taking a family of four for a round-the-world trip? Or Insurance Company Bloggers, paid to promote their travel insurance with cool stories. Round-The-World Yacht Bloggers? And don’t forget Vloggers, and all the video content they create (that might have to be for a future post for another day).
Let me know in the comments what you’d like to add, and I might even be able to draw them up and include them!