Hi! I’m Alyssa Ramos, a 30-year old self-made travel blogger and social media influencer who packed away all of my stuff a few years ago and has been traveling solo full-time ever since.
I’m an adventure junkie, and I tend to opt for challenges and pushing limits, especially if people don’t think I can do them! I suppose you could say my niche is “solo female adventure travel” but that sounds extremely tame considering the type of stunts I usually pull. So far, I have been to 85+ countries and 7 continents, and my top favorite places have been Antarctica, Iceland, Japan, Svalbard, India and the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil!
You may recognize me on Instagram (@mylifesatravelmovie) from my token “back-of-head” selfies — a staple I started from the beginning to prove that I could become successful without showing my face. That being said, in case anyone is wondering: no, I do not have rich parents or a boyfriend. In fact, I’m basically relationship-challenged (likely due to all of that solo traveling), and I grew up poor AF with a single mom and 4 siblings.
Now, I’m still flabbergasted to say that I actually do get paid to travel. I worked hard to reach my dream, I still work my ass off to continue to be great at what I do, and I’ve basically dedicated my life to the people like you who I want to inspire and motivate through travel and fearlessly going after your dreams!
I aim to inspire others to travel, whether it’s by providing information and travel tips, or showcasing a destination through my photography (a skill I learned through traveling!). If you like my blog and have found it useful, please consider signing up for my newsletter, spreading the word, and following along on my social media accounts. It’s because of you that I’m able to keep this thing going!
So now for the information you’re probably actually here to read about…
How I Got Started Travel Blogging
Travel blogging isn’t a job you can just apply for. And I’m not “lucky” that I have “the dream job”. I spent countless hours working low-paying freelance writing gigs just to support myself while building up my blog, and now I spend about 15 hours a day solely working on my blog and social media. I paid for all of my first initial trips after saving for over a year, then kept writing and reaching out to people for opportunities until finally I traveled and wrote enough to find a niche and grow an audience, and make a name for myself in the travel blogging world.
That moment really happened for me in August 2015, when I wrote a semi-sarcastic rant about the way I felt I was judged by people when I was traveling solo, and gave it a highly controversial (yet highly sarcastic) title called “Yes, I’m Pretty and I’m Traveling Alone” on the Huffington Post. I really put myself out there with the article, and endured tons and tons of negative/hateful comments (mostly from people who only read the title), but I also received an equal amount of positive messages, and a sudden catalyst in growth on all of my social media accounts.
The article went viral, and was translated and published on Huffington Post in over ten countries. Immediately following the article’s success, I was featured on major press outlets like The Daily Mail, The Mirror UK, and even a TV interview on Inside Edition. At the time, it was also bittersweet, because everything was happening at the same time that my grandfather (who I was very close to) was dying. His passing is what kept me level-headed, and even more determined to keep going.
The spotlight was great, and it’s definitely what I owe a huge increase in my audience to, but it still took a lot of work to get where I am today, which is solely profiting from my blog, as a full-time travel blogger.
In all honesty, I thought making money from blogging would come a lot quicker than it did following the Huff Post article, which is why I dropped every other freelance job I had to only work on my blog, and used the little money I had that my grandfather had left me to get a one bedroom apartment that I could rent out on AirBnB in order to make money while I was traveling.
That idea kind of worked, but since I was still at the stage of growing and becoming established as a travel blogger, I wasn’t getting paid yet from my blog (only exchange collaborations), so I was barely breaking even with AirBnB…AKA I was hitting rock bottom.
Hitting Rock Bottom and How I Overcame It
I was struggling so bad for money that I would take road trips and go camping, just so that I could make money renting my apartment out! I kept going though, and even ended up maxing out my first credit card so that I could continue to travel and have content to post.
In February of 2016, I had to give up my AirBnB apartment because it was costing me more than I was making. I was at a major low point and had no idea what to do next. I knew traveling would be cheaper than getting another apartment (because of the deposit mostly), so I took a 2-month sublet with plans to travel for the month of May, and worked non-stop every hour of every day for two months on my SEO, social media, and any contributing articles and websites I could get paid to write for.
My hard work paid off and during those two months I was contacted by GoPro for a sponsorship – a major milestone for me, and to my surprise, a couple of paid post offers. After doing my first couple of paid posts, I learned what works and what doesn’t, and worked my ass off to find a couple more for my trip to Asia.
How I Became a Full-Time Travel Blogger
In May of 2016, I was able to fully fund my travels through collaborations, and paid posts on my blog and social media. That being said, it took one year of part-time blogging, and ten months of full-time non-paid blogging, to finally become a full-time profiting travel blogger.
As glamorous and amazing as that may sound, I should also mention that I have not had a break or stopped working since starting this blog. I haven’t wanted one either, but I do feel guilty of glamorizing being a travel blogger as a “dream job” that involves traveling the world with minimal effort.
Yes, I am living my own dream, but it’s because I work extremely hard to make it happen. When I’m “home,” I’m working non-stop, and even when I travel, I work every day as well, and I have no intention to stop.
Before being a full time travel blogger, I went to college for pre-veterinary (I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Florida State University), I was a veterinary technician in Florida, quit and started planning charity events, then accidentally moved to LA where I discovered the amazing world of freelance writing and journalism. After realizing that writing and traveling were my two true passions, I figured out how to combine them and thus began my attempt to start a career in travel blogging.
Why I Travel Solo
Although now solo travel is insanely popular, when I first started doing it, it wasn’t. I took my first solo trip because I kept waiting around for other people to travel with, which made me miss a lot of opportunities. After my first solo trip though, I realized how much I loved not having to worry about someone else’s schedule or behavior.
I mostly prefer traveling solo because I’m an ambitious adventurer and I like to do a lot of aggressive traveling at random which makes it hard to coordinate with someone else. When I travel, I also work a lot which is difficult to do with someone else, and also as an “outgoing introvert,” I find it easier to meet people when I’m on my own.
But, these days, after having traveled to 85+ countries solo, and finding that I have tons of new friends in every corner of the planet, I’m starting to do more meet-ups when I travel, and even working on a big group trip!
Related Articles: “Yes, I’m Pretty and I’m Traveling Alone”
How I Can Afford to Travel
I started out making money as an online freelance writer/PR/Marketing/Social Media specialist. I used that money to live, and saved the rest to travel in order to gain content for my blog. I used to make some money from writing travel articles for various sites, including Matador Network, Geo Chic Magazine, and The Huffington Post (but I got paid in publicity…) but that was never really substantial. When I was still building my blog, I also had the genius idea to fix up an apartment and AirBnB it out, which worked for a while, and forced me to travel, but in the long run, I was only breaking even with rent, so I gave it all up, put my stuff in storage, and left to go travel full-time using free collaborations and staying in cheap countries.
I traveled full-time, posting non-stop for a few months before finally my audience numbers were good enough that product brands, companies, and tourism boards started noticing me. I had established myself as a trusted travel expert through my blog and social media posts, and proved to have an actively growing organic, dedicated following.
Now I am at the point where I am very grateful to be considered one of the top travel influencers and bloggers, which means I get paid for the publicity I can offer to brands. It may sound simple, but keep in mind it took me two years of working for free just to get to the level of being paid to do it. It also takes me a lot of time to create posts and negotiate deals! The offers are inconsistent, and it’s scary AF when I don’t have any deals coming in, but I save everything I make and use it to keep traveling when I don’t have a paid trip lined up.
In 2016, I’d say I made about $25,000 from just my travel blog and social media, and I didn’t work any other additional jobs.
I’m also an extreme minimalist now which helps to save most of my money for travel. I basically live out of a carry-on suitcase. I don’t buy myself new clothes or accessories unless I’m in another country and I MUST have it. I don’t buy coffees or eat out at nice places, and I only get my hair done when I start to look really atrocious.
Why I Do It
Obviously I love traveling, otherwise this job would SUCK! But what I also love is helping and inspiring other people as well, and proving that if you work hard enough at something, you can achieve it.
I literally chased a dream, and I caught it. It took a lot of work, but if I could figure out how to make it happen, I’m confident that anyone else can too.
When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing, and no one would help me. No one taught me how to travel, or told me it was possible to save and make money to do it, or that I wasn’t crazy for wanting to go travel solo just so I could see the world. That’s why now, I want to help people who feel what I initially felt, so I’ve started a program called The Wanderlust Workers, which is a travel savings and makings program for people who are willing to work hard to travel.
Nothing was ever handed to me, I owe everything I have to my own hard work, persistence, and self-discipline, which is what I teach in the course. In the four week program, select individuals from all over the world learn how to save money better, earn additional income through freelance work, plan budget travel, and earn additional income while traveling.
I also started a charitable foundation called HeartSleeves.org to help bring items of need to countries I’m traveling to. It still needs some work, but I’m hoping to improve and expand on it in 2017!
Happy and Safe Travels!
Email: email@example.com (*Please note that if I don’t respond, there’s a good chance I’m traveling with limited wifi!)