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.

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.

Unsettled, and the changing reasons I travel

When I was younger I picked travel destinations without too much thought. I went to Italy to ski because I heard the Alps were great for skiing, and besides Italy seemed cool for everything else. Venice was Venice – it seemed like a place people should go. I went to Cambridge because a friend lived there, and then to Amsterdam because, well… it’s medicinal. Then Paris, then Barcelona, then a more nakedly Spanish party town, Alicante, all because they seemed like cool places.

God knows how I arrived at these decisions. In College, the “Grand Tour” I took with my sister seemed to pluck big, well-known cities off the map of Western Europe because the aggregate of everything we’d absorbed in that time (before the Internet made minute research into every detail of a place the norm) it seemed like the right move. We were College kids, and we didn’t know any better. After College, my horizons expanded somewhat, but I still picked places in “bucket list” fashion: a place I should go because I just felt like I should go.