If you spoke to Alice Tate for the first time, she's got so much energy you'd assume she'd just woken up from a four week sleep. Actually, she's a full time PR, travel blogger and freelancer (who's also training for a marathon on the side). Impressive. Here's how she does it:
I studied fashion design at university and started out in fashion journalism on a start-up website supported by a big newspaper. I was an assistant editor and my work was initially geared towards fashion, but I started to do a lot more lifestyle stuff while I was there - restaurant reviews, travel round ups, fashion week city guides, that kind of thing.
The website later folded and I was made redundant when I was 22 - which obviously was super stressful and not my plan at the time! At this point I took a two week holiday to Croatia with my boyfriend, and it all rolled from there. I took loads of pictures and wrote up the trip when I got back.
I later made all the things I'd written during my first job at the website into a portfolio with pieces I'd written at the student paper when I was at university, so I could start pitching ideas to newspapers and magazines on a freelance basis.
When I was made redundant, I knew I didn't want to work in fashion, but I also knew I wasn't going to get a job as a travel editor. I didn't have enough experience - no one was going to employ me, plus I was only 22 and knew it was a long shot.
Instead, my housemate at the time managed to get me a temp job at a PR agency, which gave me a bit of money to be able to travel and pitch ideas to titles on the side, as well as do my own blog. From there, I moved onto another PR job working with travel clients and hotels, which meant it became easier to balance the two.
I then got my current job as an in-house PR at a hotel, which meant I could freelance more and more on the side, and the opportunities for my own blog just got better and better. Although I was definitely a freelance journalist before I started blogging.
"I just LOVE travelling. I think if you didn't love it, you couldn't be a travel writer."
But there have been times where I haven't got the balance between full-time job and freelancing quite right - which obviously I can't do, because PR is still my livelihood. I have to be on it!
I make money from travel writing on a freelance basis. In the last year, I've started to make income from my blog. Not enough that I could live off - it's a great bonus on top of travelling that I'd already be doing, but it's not liveable yet. I don't do it for the money, in fact, I end up doing a lot of stuff unpaid. You have to have the passion. I'm in a lucky position - I don't have to chase money all the time [from freelancing and blogging], because I do pin down a full time job as well.
I wake up at 5am, go to the gym or go for a run, get to the office quite early to check my freelance and personal emails. 9am-6pm is my full time PR job, then I'll cycle or run home and work until 10:30pm doing my blog or editing pictures or writing freelance projects. I'm usually behind on deadlines - so frantically writing! It's full on, but it's never been different. It feels normal to me. The only time it's stressful is when things don't go to plan - at the moment I'm training for the marathon and trying to fit that in is difficult, but it's all cool.
I just love travelling. I think if you didn't love it, you couldn't be a travel writer. Even if you do it full time, there's so little money in it. You're always spending your own money. Even if you get a hotel stay [for free], you still have to do flights, transfers, food... It gets expensive. I definitely spend all my money on travel. You have to love it. It's a passion thing. OK, you might have a discounted or free hotel, but you still have to be really invested. It's not a free holiday.
You have to be on it when you're away, too. You're always taking pictures. You can't switch off - I'm away a few times a month, but it's not switching off. You're on social media, photographing things, speaking to people, planning blogposts or freelance features. I've blogged every trip I've ever been on. I'd never go somewhere and be like 'Oh, I don't want to take a photo of that'.
I'm also super on it with my annual leave. I'm so careful about when I take days off work. I travel loads at the weekend. People underestimate their weekends. You can go to SO many places on a weekend. Me and my boyfriend flew to Budapest straight from work on Friday night, and got back on Sunday night.
You can do it, too. Flights are cheap, it's easy to get to the airport. Some Fridays I'm sitting in the office having drinks until 11pm, and you think, I could be in Amsterdam right now! It's so quick to get to places and you're never gonna forget that experience. You can max out your weekends if you wanted to.
I'm lucky because I get subsidised travel - if I'm being paid with a freelance piece or social media. My normal job is my livelihood, but the travel is what I enjoy.
People always ask me if I'd travel full time if my blog was big enough, and I don't think I would because I like the balance. It would be too hard to pin down a relationship - my boyfriend would hate me! It's not relatable posts if you travel all the time. I like having a full time job, and the diversity of travelling on the side. Sometimes I'm travelling, other times I'm sat at my desk. I think it grounds me. I don't think I could do it all the time. It makes me appreciate travelling more. I like my blog being relatable.
Having a full time job and freelancing and blogging is hard, and can be stressful. But I don't think I would ever give up either.
How to be a professional packer
I travel so light. I went to Amsterdam for two nights and packed everything in one Patagonia rucksack including two laptops, three chargers, my camera, my running kit and trainers.
Only ever pack a comfortable pair of shoes - don't pack a stylish pair of shoes itf you're gonna be walking around. I always take with me a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths or Superstars because they look cool and they're so comfortable. I only ever take one pair of jeans and two different tops. Don't take options. I always think when I'm packing, 'do I want this enough to carry it around all day long' if my flight's in the evening?
Not a suitcase where possible, I always take a backpack. A wheelie is so annoying if you're in a city, it's so much easier to have your bag on your back.
"You have to be in it for more than a freebie, that's for sure"
Advice for budding travel bloggers
I don't think you can just decide to be a blogger. You have to like travel, for starters. When you're away, obviously enjoy it, but also think about how you can document it in your own way. Taking pictures, remembering names of places, that kind of thing. Just noting down little details - I've been on trips and still regret forgetting the names of bars.
Invest in a good camera - it doesn't have to be super expensive. I use the Olympus Pen and it's a game changer in the sense you don't have to be a photographer, it just helps you take good pics. Change your mindset from holidaying to blogging - think about it in a different way. What would you want to read? What do you think other people want to know about this place? You don't want it to be a vanity project. I read other blogs and I'm like 'I wanna be more like that!'.
I want to give more advice on my blog, about places people actually want to go. To be a good travel blogger, I do think you have to pay for things yourself because otherwise it's not authentic - if people ask you for tips and advice about a place and you don't know the answers because you didn't pay, that's just awkward.
I want to be able to recommend stuff that people can actually afford and do themselves, you know? You have to be in it for more than a freebie, that's for sure.
Originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk