While travel is cautiously opening and uncertainties may remain, we’re looking to spend as much time as possible during these cold January days dreaming of far off places we will all get back to someday. That’s why I’m so happy to be joined on the blog today by Dave Thompson of Dave’s Travel Corner.
You started your website back in 1996 after a life-changing trip to Nepal. When and how did you realize you could make a living through your brand?
It took a long time actually – my first big advertisement contract was with Yahoo Travel around the year 2000. The initial excitement of realizing that the site could make some money was a great feeling. It started me thinking that perhaps others would be interested in advertising – so I wrote most of the advertisers that were advertising in the back of the National Geographic Traveler at the time. A couple replied and at least one took a chance on my still rudimentary looking site at the time – that was Bruce Poon Tip, founder at what was called Gap Adventures (now G Adventures). Along with Yahoo Travel, he was one of my earlier advertisers.
However, it wasn’t until about 10 years after starting the site around 2006 that revenue started slowly picking up – and around 2008 through 2010 when travel blogging really became a ‘thing’. More improvement in income came several years later after I converted over to WordPress and had a custom backend CMS system built, and completely updated the look, feel and ease of use of the site. I also joined a number of related travel writing organizations which helped increase exposure for the site (Travel Massive, North American Travel Journalists Association, International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association among others).
How have you seen the industry change during that time?
The most dramatic change since I began my site has been the transition online. The ease of what can be done now in regards to travel is absolutely incredible compared to just 20 or 30 years ago. The advent of social media has been good and bad. Good in that it opens up additional communication and sharing of information but bad in that it has overexposed a number of places on the planet. I don’t find many silver linings in this current travel reset, but for some who were dealing with the effects of mass tourism, it might be a good opportunity to reevaluate their tourism priorities including countries.
Do you have a favourite corner of the globe that you can share with our readers?
I have many! More locally to where I live: anything in eastern California from Mt. Shasta down to Lake Tahoe and then along arguably the greatest highway in the United States, the 395 from around Lee Vining down to around Olancha and then over to Death Valley National Park.
Internationally, Thailand always holds a special place in my heart – I love the vibe in Bangkok. Los Angeles for its great diversity of people, food and cultures. Island getaways include Palau, the remote Tuamotos in French Polynesia and St. Barths and Domenica in the Caribbean.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
Older! My other passion is wine – so I fully expect to be involved in some vineyard projects and related brand promotion (both of which I have just barely gotten involved in this year over the past few months). To continue to explore the planet and build my travel site and be open to travel-related projects which could be a good fit for my lifestyle and personality. And work with tourism boards on a larger scale for content creation and promotion – especially as travel eventually begins to recover.
What’s next on your bucket list?
I’ve been working on a huge and intense project over the past 15 years, The Napa Wine Project in which my mission is to visit, taste and write about every Napa Valley-based winery or producer (1,057 extensive reviews completed to date): http://www.napawineproject.com/reviews. To write a book about this odyssey is definitely on my bucket list.
And regarding travel – there are many places I want to return to – but several countries I haven’t yet visited that are on the top of my list are Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Rwanda, Uganda and Venezuela.