Meet travel blogger Nina Clapperton of Nina Out and About. She’s also the hilarious host of Tripping Up, a comedy travel podcast that celebrates travel (including the less Insta-worthy sides). Welcome to “Life by design”. This Discovery Sessions interview series probes prominent voices for their life design, entrepreneurship and travel ideas to inspire readers just like you.
Rosie Bell: Where are you from or where do you feel local to?
Nina Clapperton: I’m from Toronto, Canada originally. But I haven’t actually lived there in a decade. I feel local to a lot of areas now: Auckland, Oxford, Glasgow, London, Atri, Ottawa, and Halifax.
RB: How did you start travel blogging?
NC: I started travel writing for a school project in my first year of university. The blog followed me on my travels when I couldn’t find a job after my undergraduate degree. It became a passion and profession in 2018 when I decided to abandon my acceptance to law school to foster a happier future.
RB: What advice would you give someone looking to start travel blogging?
NC: Travel writing is really challenging. There are so many niches and platforms to do it on. To start with travel blogging, I recommend taking courses. It sounds odd to tell someone to pay money upfront to learn, but it’s so true. I spent two years doing things the wrong way and had to go back and redo a lot of it. It’s better to learn immediately and do it right the first time.
Also, plan out your content. Know who you’re writing for. It’s not just for you, you have an audience to consider and help.
RB: What does a typical day in the life look like for you (if you have one)?
NC: No two days are the same for me, which is why I adore travel writing. A typical day for me starts around 5 am. I get up, have a leisurely breakfast, go for a run or work out, then go back home and get ready for the day. I usually begin work between 8 and 9 am depending on the length of my workout that day.
On any given day, I can be in meetings with my VA, recording podcast episodes, writing blog articles, doing SEO research, or working on collaborative projects with other bloggers. I always break for a 30-minute lunch. In the winter, I’ll take a longer break and go for a walk at mid-day. In the afternoon, it’s back to work.
At the moment, I have freelance clients that I work with around the world. I usually book them in for the afternoon to write content and do SEO research. Since I’m most creatively charged in the morning, I like to use as much of my juices for my own endeavours first.
I finish work around 4pm every day to make dinner, go for an evening walk, and spend time embroidering while I rewatch Ru Paul’s drag race! This is a day when I’m not on the road. On the road, everything is up in the air as I make time for excursions, getting the best light for shots, and living in the moment. Sometimes I won’t end up writing until the evenings, or I’ll be up at 3 am for a hike to see the sunrise.
RB: What’s the biggest challenge of life as a travel blogger?
NC: The biggest challenge of living as a blogger is shutting down at the end of the day. Being your own boss means you control your hours, the work you do, and what projects you’re working on. I’m a very all or nothing person, so I find it extremely difficult to stop working. Even when I go for walks, I’m content batching in my head or finding new cool places for photos.
I’ve had to work hard and input mindful practises to push those thoughts away and give myself the space to be just Nina for a while. It actually helps a lot with my productivity. When I take time off, I get way more done the next day.
RB: What’s the biggest reward of life as a travel blogger?
NC: The biggest reward of being a solo travel blogger is when someone messages me to tell me that I’ve helped them. My whole goal in life is to inspire young women to gain the confidence to travel solo. It’s something I’ve done since I was a bartender and convinced all of the waitresses and 16-year-old hostesses to take a gap year because it’s so enriching. I get this huge sense of joy when other people let go of their doubts and feel empowered to discover the world and themselves.
RB: How do you measure success?
NC: I mean, there’s always a monetary component to success, isn’t there? I think that’s my secondary measure though. To me, success is enjoying the job that I’m doing. Travel blogging is something that I absolutely love. It brings me endless joy and allows me to be creative in any way I choose. Success is definitely happiness.
RB: What habits, principles or ideas have served you the most in your life?
NC: There are a few. First of all, invest in education. Even if it’s blog courses or buying templates. Also, outsource what you don’t enjoy (within reason). Always be learning and ake time for you. Engaging with nature on walks and forcing work out of your head will actually make you more efficient. Block off time to do the things you love. To-do lists and organized Trello boards will make you way more productive.
RB: What do you wish you did differently (in work or life)?
NC: I wish I was more full-time with my blog. Blogging is about half of what I do at the moment. I’d love to grow the blog to the point where I can create private tours for solo women or develop a creative retreat in my (future) home in New Zealand. I’ve always loved teaching people and getting to do that in person while helping them discover a new area would be incredible.
RB: The stage is yours, tell our readers anything.
NC: Whenever you start a new career, remember that you’re not at the level of everyone else, so don’t compare yourself to them. Anything worth doing takes time. If you get bogged down with trying to compete with CEOs when you’re a teller, you’re going to fail. Instead, be the best at your level, then keep growing. Limit your focus to a few things and write down your long term goals.