Interview with Mapping Megan
Meet Megan she has been travel blogging from her travel blog Mapping Megan since 2007. Over the ten years of traveling and blogging she has grown her blog into her own brand and business while traveling with her husband Mike. Essentially, these two are an amazing power couple traveling the world one adventure at a time. From wild helicopter rides to hiking big mountains to diving. These two have explored much of the world and fortunately for us Megan has shared with us some of her best travel and business advice for our readers. Without further adieu, let’s dive right into our funny and riveting interview with Megan from Mapping Megan.
Tell me about a day in your life currently.
The reason I love travel blogging so much is that every day is different! Though as a general rule, if I’m traveling, I’m not blogging, and if I’m blogging, I’m not traveling – it’s usually very difficult (and exhausting) to try and fit both aspects into the one day.
Re my blogging days, depending on how I’m feeling I may or may not be wearing pajamas for the majority of my work day! I usually start by clearing my social media notifications and responding to comments on the blog. One of the most important things is engaging with my audience, so I make sure I reply to comments, tweets, and messages at the very start of each day.
Then I jump over to attack my inbox, and my tasks for the day will be based around what’s there. That may mean composing a sponsored post for publication later that day, sending responses to queries for guest posts or advertising requests, liaising with clients about press trips, or if my inbox is empty, reaching out to advertisers to drum up new business for the month.
Tasks which filter in from day to day include things like researching for future articles, mapping out our editorial schedule for the month, scheduling social media posts, editing photos and video, and being active within Facebook forums where bloggers interact and help each other out with support, tips and advice.
You have many features to your blog like photography, a blog, media work, and an online store. Which facet do you enjoy the most? Were any especially hard to develop?
I enjoy the blog section of our website the most, as this is where our exciting stories go (and where we make the majority of our money through advertising). Our online store was one of the most difficult pages to develop, just because there was a lot of attention to detail required to organize grids, and nice looking layouts to fit products in. It was very fidgety and time consuming with a lot of moving parts!
What is one of your favourite travel stories to tell?
Kissing a Giraffe while in Africa … well, actually she kissed me! We visited the Giraffe Sanctuary while in Kenya, and part of the experience was being able to feed the Giraffes. Pellets were provided and the normal way to go about feeding them was to let them eat from your hand.
I, on the other hand, thought it would be fantastically funny to place a pellet in-between my teeth, not realizing that a Giraffes tongue is about as big as my face itself! (Slight exaggeration but that’s what it felt like!) I was wiping saliva off my face for what felt like a week!!
Where is a favourite place that you have visited? Why?
Iceland. Iceland by far is one of our favourite places in the world and I would love to live there if I could. It is one of the last untouched destinations left on earth. It’s exotic, so naturally beautiful and largely untouched by tourism which we absolutely love.
The scenery takes your breath away. Waterfalls, glaciers, dramatic fjords – there is inspiring scenery at every turn. Majestic glaciers grind their way through cracked lava fields, gushing geysers explode with a powerful force, glittering ice caps pierce the sky and vibrant green fjords rise from the mist of geothermal lagoons.
What was your big breakthrough moment or the moment that you realized you had a really successful blog?
My first paid travel gig – I was ecstatic! DoubleTree by Hilton ran a campaign in 2014 called DTourist, where they chose 6 influencers and sent each to a different continent to blog from their hotels and resorts for two weeks. Myself and my husband flew to Central and South America to create content from Costa Rica, Panama, and Peru, and it was the first time I had landed a contract where we were actually paid on top of our travel expenses.
I don’t know if I would say that I realized I had a really successful blog at that stage, but I did realize the type of opportunities which were out there if I continued to work ridiculously hard to continue building it. There’s always room for growth and improvement no matter how successful you become.
What is your biggest piece of advice for women who want to travel solo but are nervous to do it?
To ignore the myths and the negative input from those who haven’t traveled solo themselves. The usual “the rest of the world isn’t safe”, “You’re more vulnerable to attack when traveling alone”, “local men will be aggressive towards western women”, “don’t talk to strangers”, “eating alone is scary”, “you’ll be lonely”, or even “you’ll jeopardize your career” are all things you hear as a solo female traveler. But I’ve found that this advice always comes from people who don’t know what they’re talking about, and all you have to do is pull up a google search of “myths about female solo travel” to realize that NONE of them are true.
Every time someone gives you a piece of advice about travel which is discouraging or negative, ask if they have traveled solo themselves. Most of the time this terrible, terrible advice comes from those who have not traveled at all, let alone gone at it solo, so they genuinely have no idea what they’re talking about.
People let fear of the unknown dictate their opinions, so source your information from people who know what they’re talking about firsthand. You’ll find this will be the polar opposite of the myths I listed above.
As an adrenaline junkie, I’m sure there have been moments when you’ve been scared what are some coping mechanisms you use to overcome your fear?
Closing my eyes! Haha! Though that’s not advisable when you’re mountain biking down a cliff. I’m actually not super great with heights anymore, but I still love Skydiving, bungee jumping, abseiling, and the like. I usually do my best to switch my mind off and just not think about it.
Was it difficult for you to manage your time between traveling, blogging, and working? If so what are some techniques you developed to manage everything?
I’ve found that when your job and your passion are the same things, it’s very easy to get things done. That being said, when you’re traveling full time and constantly on the go, it definitely gets exhausting trying to run a profitable business at the same time.
We don’t have a set amount of time we spend in any one destination – it always varies, and can be anywhere from eight days to eight months. When we started traveling we were hitting a large number of destinations really quickly, in a very short period of time. Though that approach is very exhausting (especially when you’re trying to work at the same time), and you realize that it’s much more sustainable (and immersive) to engage in slow travel, and really get to know a destination.
If that means setting up a base and staying for a year, then stay for a year. There are no time constraints when you travel full time, so your itinerary can be whatever you want to make it. We recently bought a house in Australia and have set up a permanent base. We still travel, obviously, though it’s such a lovely change to have a permanent base, and a familiar pillow to return to after a lengthy trip.
What was your vision when you first started your blog and how does your current blog compare?
When I first started the blog I wanted to build something which might help finance our travels. But I never imagined I would be in a position two years later to quit my full-time job and make a household income from creating content. So in terms of comparing where I started and where I am now, now the blog has evolved into a business, which is very different from how it started out as a hobby blog.
What are three must-have items that you bring on all your trips apart from the necessity items like passport, visa etc?
Clean underwear (you never know when/if you’ll need it), noise canceling headphones, and a travel pillow.
Do you have any budgeting tips or financial hacks that you use when you are traveling?
Fly indirectly. Consider flights with stopovers, as these are generally always the cheaper option.
Travel hacking—managing and signing up for credit cards to maximise points which can be used for hotel stays and flights; and
Volunteering. A lot of the time you can turn a vacation into a volunteer trip. Volunteer placements exist all over the world and often will offer free room and board in exchange for your time.
If you could pick a movie that represents your life what would it be?
I don’t know if it’s been written yet! But I love the takeaways from Pocahontas – she jumps off waterfalls, climbs to the top of mountains, is incredibly open-minded, has a great respect for nature, and understands that you can’t predict life. And she has awesome hair!
What are some tips you’d tell your best friend (and our readers) about how to run a successful blog and company?
Understand that it’s one of those professions which first requires a large investment of time without return. You’re not going to instantly start making money from a travel blog, and nor are you going to find success overnight. It’s a slow and steady slog to grow your audience to a point where advertisers start wanting to invest, but once you do get there the benefits and rewards are well worth the hard work.
What are your go-to best kept secret resources for blogging and traveling?
For blogging, excel is hardly a secret, but I LOVE my spreadsheets. I’m a spreadsheet nerd! Excel is one of the best resources I have to keep myself organized, everything from ideas, to accounting, to a content calendar.
For travel, I’m a big fan of price comparison websites, and you’ve got these for just about everything. In terms of flights, websites like Skyscanner are fantastic for discovering cheap and suitable routes. It’s also, a good idea to use similar style websites when looking for travel Insurance. Booking.com is a great example of a price comparison website for accommodation.
These websites have one thing in common: they save you money by comparing the best prices in their field and saving you the trouble of doing the research yourself.
Thanks for the amazing interview and all the wonderful travel tips. My favorite part was your kiss with an African Giraffe! It’s so unexpected. For those of you looking to blog and travel remember it’s a big time investment but it pays off. Even if you don’t make money with it and blog just for kicks it’s a great way to document memories and possibly make money on the side. Thanks again Megan! If you have questions for either myself or Megan you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Megan via email@example.com. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!