Some of you have noticed that our site’s lemming mascot is now wearing a mask. That’s just one of the many changes going on here at Travel Lemming as we adjust to the new reality of travel blogging in a pandemic.
So I wanted to write this short open letter to address a litany of issues around my plan for operating Travel Lemming in the coming months and years.
Here are the key points I will cover in this letter:
- I will continue to advocate forcefully against non-essential international travel where I believe it is unsafe for readers or the communities we visit.
- Travel Lemming will continue improving our guides and publishing new ones to prepare for the post-pandemic world, but posts will start carrying a prominent disclaimer warning against travel in the near term.
- Readers are invited to support the site through the Travel Lemming Patreon membership program, which gives you access to special rewards like exclusive content, courses, 1-on-1 video coaching, turnkey blog setup assistance, and more. Click here to learn more and become a Patreon today for as little as $3/month.
- The 2021 Emerging Destination Awards have been put on hold indefinitely while I assess and evaluate options.
- Pricing for The Travel Lifestyle Course has been adjusted to make it more accessible to those who need it, and access is also available as a reward on Patreon.
Ok, that’s a lot to cover so let’s dive in with a little more explanation for each of these points:
Now is Still Not the Time for Travel
It’s hard to remember what things were like at the time, but believe it or not I received a TON of resistance from readers, fellow bloggers, and those in the industry who said I was killing jobs, scaring people, and being alarmist.
Which is why it is profoundly frustrating to watch as those same people now are starting to go about the travel industry urging people to quickly return to the business of planning their summer vacations.
Here’s what I think about that:
Just because travel might become legally permissible, doesn’t mean deciding to travel is a responsible choice.
And if a blogger or brand or influencer was telling you “it’s still ok to travel” in early and mid-March, you shouldn’t listen to them if they now tell you “it’s all over and it’s time to travel again!”
Instead, travelers need to listen to public health officials – both in their home country and in the country they are considering traveling to.
And, at least for now, public health officials all around the world are still clearly warning against travel.
I don’t know how long all this will last.
One very real possibility is that international tourism may need to wait for a vaccine until it can really return in a meaningful way.
But it’s also possible that some countries will be able to control their epidemic (New Zealand already has) and then decide whether to responsibly open to tourism (there’s already talk of letting Australians visit New Zealand).
Here’s my take: responsibly opening to tourism is probably going to require either quarantines or mass testing for arrivals in most places.
Since quarantines won’t be a viable option for most tourists, that means travel is going to have to wait for testing.
And we are still a long, long way from having enough tests for that.
So the bottom line is that, at least from my viewpoint, the world still has a long way to go before tourism will become a good idea again.
Travel Lemming Will Resume Publishing, But With Disclaimers
So what does all this mean for Travel Lemming?
Well, my initial response was to simply pause publishing travel guides altogether, which resulted in me freezing the publication of about a dozen articles we had in the publishing queue.
I am now lifting that publication freeze.
First, it’s hard to be a successful publisher if you’re not publishing.
Most of Travel Lemming’s guides get the majority of their traffic through people searching on Google. Right now, no one is searching and so no one is reading.
But in order to be able to be in front of readers in the future, we need to continue publishing now, lest Travel Lemming atrophy during the pandemic.
Second, many people plan their vacations far – sometimes, ridiculously far – in advance.
I know from past reader surveys that readers start researching long before they intend to travel, often as much as a year in advance of departure.
So even though travel is not a good idea right now, I don’t see anything wrong with helping people responsibly plan for a future where travel is safe.
Third, many of our guides are used by local readers who are not actually traveling (in many places, restaurants we recommend are still delivering, parks are open, etc).
In light of these factors, I have decided to resume publication, starting with those guides still in draft.
However, publication does not mean that I will be promoting travel in the near-term in any way.
To make this important distinction clear, our guides will now include prominent disclaimers urging readers to delay travel until it is deemed safe by local public health authorities.
It’s a tricky situation, but after much thought I really feel this is a reasonable and responsible approach that strikes the right balance.
Join the Travel Lemming Patreon Program
Every travel blogger is having to pivot right now, and Travel Lemming is no exception. The site’s traditional income streams from advertising and affiliates having ground to a near halt as people stop searching and as advertisers and affiliates slash payouts.
Realistically, I will likely have to go back to working on the site part-time for a bit and search for other work, as it will be awhile until the site’s revenue can realistically support me again.
But times like this offer a good opportunity to pivot and to explore new models for content creation.
One model that works really well for a lot of creators and their readers is Patreon, a program where people can enroll in recurring memberships to support a creator in exchange for exclusive content and perks.
I think this membership model is a good way of putting up a paywall in a way that truly provides extra value to loyal readers.
So I’ve set up the Travel Lemming Patreon page.
I’m still working to improve it, but I think it’s a pretty awesome program already!
The program comes with various membership levels filled with awesome perks like:
- Exclusive content like this step-by-step guide saving $ on Airbnb
- 1-on-1 video coaching calls with me
- Access to the Travel Lifestyle Course
- My new “unfiltered” Instagram stories
- Our turnkey blog service – where we build a travel blog for you from scratch!
This is just the start – I’ll be taking ideas from members for more exclusive content and rewards to make sure the program is loaded with value.
If you’ve been a loyal reader of this site or find my content useful, I hope you’ll consider joining us.
Click here to learn more and become a Patreon today.
Thank you for your support!
The 2021 Emerging Destination Awards are On Hold
Travel Lemming made its name in the travel space through our annual Emerging Destination Awards, which spotlight underrated but deserving destinations around the world.
Many people don’t realize that the awards take months and months of work behind the scenes.
Normally my timeline would be to start the nomination process in May.
For obvious reasons, I don’t think now is the right time to be picking places to travel in 2021.
While I would still like to have the awards in some fashion, a lot depends on how the next few months go. Perhaps I will pare the project down and just do a truncated version quickly. Or perhaps I will change the format to some sort of special edition that reflects the world we live in tastefully (I’m open to creative ideas if you have them!).
Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what to do except wait and see at this point.
But I am definitely sure that opening nominations next month just isn’t a good idea right now.
Changes to The Travel Lifestyle Course
I’ve also recently made some major changes to the structure of my flagship digital nomad course, The Travel Lifestyle Course.
The course normally costs $297, and used to come with a lot of personalized features like 1-on-1 coaching, live office hours, etc.
I’ve stripped all that out so that the course is just now the lessons themselves.
I have lowered the price of the course as a standalone purchase to just $49, and also offer it as an included benefit for Patreons on our Nomad ($9/month) and above tiers.
I’ll still offer coaching services for those who want them, but instead will do so through Patreon for our Trailblazer and above tiers.
I hope with these changes I can make the course a bit more affordable and accessible, and that it can continue to help people looking for digital nomad jobs or ways to find a location-independent income.
I’ve been truly awed by the outpouring of support and concern from the community.
If you want an update on my personal situation, this post from last month still more or less covers my current situation (I’m still in Argentina, still in quarantine, and still trying sort out what heck comes next in life).
Thank you for following along and for your continued readership through this time of crisis.