Confessions of a Travel Blogger

It was early evening, the weather was perfect, and I had just ordered a pre-dinner beer in Medellín, Colombia, at an open-air wine bar called El Botanico, the kind of fancy chic restaurant my travel blogger guest enjoyed. Her blog, The Boutique Adventurer, promises “Adventures with a high thread count.” Expensive wine and fine ambiance in a city known primarily for its history of drug trafficking was pretty much her specialty.

A few days ago, she’d promised our small group of Unsettled travelers to explain to each of us how she’d launched a travel blog and reached, in one year, 10,000 followers, and all for less than $1,000. I can throw together a pretty WordPress site inside a few days for less than $100, so it wasn’t the website itself that impressed me. It was the followers. I wanted to know if this former marketing-exec-turned-40-something travel blogger, who boasted of having visited more than 70 countries, knew something about social media engagement that I didn’t.

Ordinary Life #1: The First Day of School and Post-Summer Blues

Among the many things they don’t tell you about becoming a parent is that your life will once again revolve around the school year. Apparently our Summer vacations are the result, not some anachronistic agrarian calendar, but of an effort by late 19th century school reformers to standardize academic schedules between rural and urban areas. In the days before air conditioning, it simply made sense to take a break during the sweltering months of Summer. That same logic applies to life in Washington DC. No one moves here for the weather, and, as its denizens are fond of recounting, the city was built on a swamp. It is beautiful here for six weeks in the Spring and six weeks in the Fall, but at all other times DC weather is something to be avoided, and that goes double for the Summer months. Congress leaves on recess for much of the Summer, so it makes sense for much of the lobbyists, the nonprofit activists, the think tankers, the policy wonks, and the journalists to leave as well.

An Unsettled Experience: My Month in Medellin

View from my Unsettled apartment in the Poblado neighborhood of Medellin.

It all proceeded naturally: the initial meetings, a honeymoon stage with drunken bonding and a party bus, followed by a precipitous dose of reality, with drama and disappointment, followed by a reset and new status quo, and finally a departure. Much like any intense group experience, really.

Though I could sense a familiarity to the group dynamics, my month in Medellín was unlike any other travel experience I’ve ever pursued, in that it was an attempt to port over my regular life into some far off foreign city, everything including my work and regular daily routines. I traveled with Unsettled, which is on the vanguard of a burgeoning crop of startups all catering to remote workers, and with lofty ambitions of changing the nature of work and travel (and just maybe the world). In addition to a flat-rate apartment and co-work space, going with Unsettled held the hopeful promise of an intense period of self-discovery with like-minded people.