In my series of interviews with travel blogger, I look for travel bloggers and influencers with interesting lives who can share some inspiring stories and useful advice from their experience. This week we have Tammy from Travelling Tam blog.
An Interview With Tammy from Travelling Tam
Tell us a bit about yourself
Hey – I’m Tammy and I’m a Brit who is currently living in Melbourne, Australia. After graduating from university at 22 years old, I decided I wanted to travel because – to be honest – I never really had before. I come from adventurous family who love the outdoors but holidaying was always just around the UK. I loved the long staycations but it was also all I knew.
Travelling abroad long-term was a sort of ‘get it out of my system’ plan to experience the world a bit before I settled into a corporate career I had been planning for years. So… in 2014, I travelled for a year using my life savings to 12 countries. That was the moment that changed it all.
I did do my corporate career when I got back, but I only lasted two years. In 2018 I decided to live abroad and so I moved to Melbourne, one of my favourite cities in the world.
Since I’ve been out here, I’ve really been focussing on my travel blog, Travelling Tam and my travel writing, as well as working short-term marketing contracts. I haven’t been travelling abroad as much but I have been exploring Australia (especially Victoria and Tasmania) whilst I plan (and save) for my next long-term trip.
Aside from travelling and blogging which are probably my two biggest hobbies, I love hiking and music, especially rock and indie. I love going to see bands and having a dance with a gin and tonic in hand but equally I love something more quiet like sitting at an open camp fire under the stars.
What’s your biggest achievement as a Travel Blogger?
I’d probably say getting press trips. I had dreamed about getting paid to travel for years and then when it happened for the first time, I couldn’t quite believe it. I used to admire other bloggers and wonder how the hell they did it!
Bigger bloggers probably take it for granted but I have to pinch myself every time I get an email. Every single second when I’m on a free flight or staying at a complimentary hotel, I can’t help but to beam from ear to ear. I’ve worked so hard with blogging and also travel writing for other sites so I’m truly grateful something has come from it.
The best thing is I still think that the biggest achievements are yet to come (and I can’t wait!)
You have an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours. Give me your itinerary.
Being in Australia I probably wouldn’t be able to get very far in such a short space of time! However I’d grab a carry on and jet off (in a private jet?) to one of the many tropical pacific islands such as Tonga, Fiji or Samoa which are usually quite pricey.
I’d probably splash out on something cool like a private luxury treehouse AirBnb and pack in all the outdoor and cultural activities I could. Hiking volcanoes and jungles, swimming in waterfalls, kite surfing, eating all the good food at the best restaurants would be absolute top priorities. By night I’d put on my favourite tunes, eat fresh seafood and get pampered.
If I had longer than 24 hours and an unlimited budget I would absolutely LOVE to go to Antarctica. It’s an absolute bucketlist destination but I’d want at least a few weeks!
How do you fund your travel?
I work! Since my first long trip which was paid for by my life savings, I now work (usually intense) short contracts and save as much money as I can. I admit I’m a bit of a tight ass (and I always have been) but I’d happily sacrifice a daily coffee and bought lunches for more money in the travel fund. I can easily be a recluse for months and use my upcoming travel plans as all the motivation I need to get me through frugal times.
I’m lucky that I don’t really have all that many ‘adult’ commitments too. It’s something I’ve actively avoided in order to travel. So because I don’t have an expensive car I’m paying off, or a mortgage, I am able to travel easily, at cheaper off-peak times and generally not be tied up to anything financially.
What is the single most effective strategy that a blogger can use to bring traffic to a blog?
I think one of the most useful things is to get to grips with is SEO (search engine optimisation) techniques. Unfortunately even if you have a really loyal small reader base, if you aren’t ranking highly on Google, you probably aren’t going to get the love you deserve. It’s kind of annoying as you’re having to play a game to essentially work the system, however as soon as I took it seriously, it’s something I instantly noticed made a difference to my blog traffic.
What tools do you use to monetize your blog? Which works best for you?
Affiliate links and Google Ads are probably the most effective way of monetising my blog currently. I have an affiliate account with Amazon which means whenever I link a product that someone ultimately clicks on and buys, I get a commission. I’m also signed up to booking.com for hotel recommendations and other programs that cover everything from travel insurance to online agencies. I think if you’re writing about products and hotels and giving legitimate recommendations, it’s silly not to monetize that opportunity.
Ads on my blog are an effortless passive income. Although I don’t earn loads from this, if you have enough traffic you really can. Just by embedding some HTML and forgetting about it, it’s not a bad reward!
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
One of my earliest memories is holidaying in the US. My uncle lives out there and when I was only a few years old, I remember my family and I all went over to see him.
From memory we hired a campervan and travelled around as well as staying at his house on the beach in North Carolina. He has since moved to Florida but they were such warm sunny memories of playing on the beach, having BBQ’s and sailing on my uncle’s boat. I also remember being heartbroken at sleeping through breakfast on the flight back. Something I’d probably still be upset about if it happened now!
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
I found Java in Indonesia to be a lot different from how I imagined it. I travelled from Jakarta over to Surabaya in the east completely solo back in 2014. You see pictures of the islands like Bali and it looks like a lush, green paradise. Java however is a lot drier, more arid and volcanic.
I also found the cities to be stupidly over populated, the rivers overflowing with litter and the pollution awful. I was also harassed here more than I ever had been before. It was just a shock to have an image of somewhere in your head and then realise it’s nothing like it. I’d maybe give it another chance in the future, but there are a lot more countries a lot higher on my priorities.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
To be honest yes – plenty. However I do think I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.
The first thing that ever happened to me on my own was getting stranded on an island in Cambodia with nothing but a bit of money and my phone. I had gone over for a day trip but there was such an awful storm happening whilst going over, the boat broke and I couldn’t return. I was seasick, wet, cold and only just had enough money for a very cheap and bed bug ridden bed in a shack by the beach. I was meant to be getting a bus to Vietnam the next day so I felt so anxious that I would miss it and all my stuff just left out on the floor in the hostel would get stolen. I definitely couldn’t sleep! Luckily in the afternoon the next day there was a boat available to take us over. It was a crash introduction into life as backpacker and the rather spontaneous adventures you may encounter!
I’ve also been threatened physically by a man at night when I was alone on an island in Thailand but I managed to kick him hard where it hurts and escape unscathed. I have my wits about me even more these days, but I would never let something like that stop me from travelling. It’s just a reminder that as a woman, you need to be as safe as possible unfortunately.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Choosing one place is absolutely impossible to be honest (and who knows if I’ve not yet found my favourite?!). I have a top five which does change regularly but it includes Bolivia, Tasmania, Vietnam, South Korea and Switzerland.
Saying that, every single time I go home to the UK, I remember just how much I love it. The countryside is so green and pretty, the stone houses and thatched roofs so quaint, the lifestyle in the villages so sleepy. It probably is one of my favourite places in the world, partly because it’s home but partly because I think it’s just so pretty and full of so much history.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Of course! The list is endless and ever changing but there are a few countries that have been high for a while now. Japan, Antarctica, Kyrgyzstan, Namibia and Norway are probably the most high. I love the outdoors so anything that has amazing nature or scenery to explore is always a priority.
I also love going to places that have a totally different culture to what I’m used to. Travelling is an amazing tool for learning and nothing teaches you better about a culture than being submerged right into it!
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I actually find it quite hard to imagine a life without travel but I guess I’d just be exploring the UK, living in a little cottage in a small village near a city, spending time gardening and chilling with my cats! I’d probably work a 9-5 job in marketing to pay the mortgage. It’s probably something I’d do eventually but it’s not that appealing right now!
What has travel taught you?
The list of things I’ve learnt from travel is endless and I think that is what started my addiction to it. I’m nothing like the person I was before I started travelling and I guess that’s a good thing!
I’ve become more open and empathetic to people, having seen poverty, struggles, different politics and societies. I’ve learnt to become more open, relaxed and spontaneous about things I have no control over. I’ve learnt that I am so privileged with my nationality, good health and life opportunities whereas many others aren’t, and I try and live my life as best I can with this gratitude in mind.
There are so many more I could write a whole book! Travelling totally changes your outlook on life and it’s why I think travelling is something that everyone should do if they are able to.
Who, in your opinion, is the most successful travel blogger? Why do you think that is?
I’ve followed many travel bloggers for years and it would be hard to say who I think is the ultimate no.1 travel blogger.
I do admire so many of the earliest bloggers who may have started as purely a diary log, then over time, grew it into a business. People like Nomadic Matt and Kristen from Be My Travel Muse spring to mind. Nomadic Matt has especially pioneered the market as he has written guide books, run courses and even has his own hostel and travel conference.
The market for bloggers is a lot more saturated now and it’s hard to determine who is ‘successful’ or not but I think people who have stood the test of time, when there are so many other blogs out there, is the true proof of success.