Every travel blogger is nowadays on Instagram. Just like you I follow a few favorite accounts that are a great source of inspiration for me. One of them -and who doesn’t know it- is the account of We Are Travel Girls. It is a very large account with more than 130,000 followers. I especially like to follow it because of the beautiful pictures of fellow female travel bloggers in the most stunning places in the world.
Behind “We Are Travel Girls” is Becky van Dijk. Born in England with Dutch roots (hence its name) Becky had recently quite her job in London. Together with her partner Vanessa Rivers they have big plans for We Are Travel Girls. For Stylish Travel Tips I asked her eight questions and in this interview she already lifts a corner of the veil of all exciting things that are going to happen.
1. I know you from We Are Travel Girls from Instagram, but tell me who is Becky in a nutshell?
I was born and raised in Hertfordshire, England to Dutch and English parents. After studying Business and Economics I moved to London and embarked on a career in finance for 10 years which I recently left. My biggest passion is to travel (of course), but I also love to draw and paint watercolours, but haven’t had time to do this enough. Other fun facts are popcorn is my absolute favourite food and I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Labyrinth is my all time favourite movie and I am obsessed with sharks!
2. What did you launch first, your website or your IG account and what was your plan?
I actually launched the We Are Travel Girls Instagram account first. Initially I was planning to start my own travel blog and was searching for ways to get my personal Instagram page noticed. Whilst trying to build my followers I was finding so many great female travellers, bloggers and photographers and was saving screen grabs of all my favourites for future inspiration – it struck me why not create a feature account and bring attention to these amazing women instead of just focusing on myself!
There wasn’t too much of a plan at this point, except to evolve it into a community where I could meet other like minded women travellers and eventually share their writing as well as their images.
So the next step was to create a website. At this point my good friend Vanessa Rivers joined me to co-found the company and create the site. We wanted the site to feature some of the best travel bloggers and photographers from around the world, as well as everyday travellers who have great travel tips but don’t have their own blog. The site officially launched in June 2016 and we are pleased to have published stories from over 35 women already, with many girls contributing more than one story. This is a now a place where you can find great travel inspiration, as well as finding new travel women to follow.
3. What is the biggest challenge in your work? What are the ups and downs?
I have come up against two big challenges. The first was I had a full time demanding finance job, meaning I was up at 6am and got home between 7 and 8pm before I got to work on We Are Travel Girls for another 4 – 5 hours a night. This was frustrating due to being completely exhausted, but more the fact that all I wanted to be doing was working on WATG all day as well. (A good sign!)
The second is negativity. I am a big fan of constructive criticism, no one can get everything right all the time and I will happily accept and ask for advice. But I am not a confrontational person at all and by placing myself in a public forum with WATG I have to accept that is part of it. I have to be really careful what pictures we post, as people can really freak out unless it’s a girl in a hat staring at a pretty view! But that is part of the deal with social media and I am growing to accept it and ignore negative comments directed at me.
4. Do you have a favorite destination you want to share with us and why?
I absolutely loved the Perhentian Islands off the coast of Malaysia. I went there 10 years ago, so it may have changed a lot since then. The islands are reached by boat and have no roads so it’s just you, the beach and the jungle. There were only two places to stay on the side of the island I was at, which meant we were rewarded with an abundance of wildlife. Komodo dragons stalked the beach at dusk and dawn, blacktip reef sharks circled the corals literally 10 meters into the water, snakes sat on our balcony and fruit bats hung around at breakfast. Not to mention THE clearest waters you have ever seen!
5. You are now in Bali and your recently quit your job. Can you tell us more about it?
I took the decision to resign from my job to focus on the We Are Travel Girls full time. I see WATG as a business that will be successful if I devote 100% of my time to it. With London being one of the most expensive places to live in the world, I decided to live life on the road for a while. Starting by basing myself in Indonesia and Asia to travel through these regions again and who knows where next!
6. What are you goals for the next year, private and business wise?
For We Are Travel Girls, Vanessa and I want it to be established as the Number 1 destination for girls (and guys) to look for travel inspiration and to find a diverse group of travellers writing about their experiences and travel tips. We are also planning more meet-ups around the world bringing the community together away from the virtual world. Our main hubs will be London, LA and Bali, but we will be looking for WATG ambassadors to host these in the future.
And then we have some other exciting projects we are working on that are under wraps for the time being! So we encourage girls to sign up to the We Are Travel Girls site so they can find out how to get involved in these when we announce them!
7. What is your life quote or what triggers you in life?
I have two:
“You have to let people go. Everyone who’s in your life is meant to be there for the journey. But not all are meant to stay until the end”. I have found in my life I have had friends come and go, sometimes people are just meant to be part of your life for a small period. I think we learn something from everyone that we meet whether we are friends for a short or long period and these relationships develop you as a person. But I am also lucky enough to have a couple of childhood friends I have known literally since the day I was born so I know, no matter what, I will always have these girls to rely on!
“In the end it’s not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years” Abraham Lincoln. Everyone should live by this quote! Make the most of this time on earth, if that’s seeing every corner of the world then do it, if that’s spending time with your family or getting out and playing a sport. Whatever your passions are, step away from the tv or the computer and go out and do them! For me seeing the world is the most important thing and I don’t want to wait until I am retired, so I am working hard everyday to create a business that allows me to do that now.
8. What are your tips for other travel bloggers? Is there a secret to success?
The only secret is to work hard – this job is certainly no free lunch. You hear it all the time from bloggers, poor me working hard whilst lounging by an infinity pool in an exotic location, but it’s true! Since I began blogging I have stayed in some absolutely once in a lifetime resorts and can tell you I did not sit down once on a sun lounger, because you are busy getting the story of the resort from the owner or PR, creating and writing content and taking photos and video footage.
My advice would be if you want to get into blogging, pick a field you truly love and are passionate about and expect to work every waking moment on it if you want it to be successful. Whether that’s the time spent on social media, going to events, reading about blogging tips, writing content, arranging collaborations, it all takes a huge amount of time especially if you want to do it professionally and be taken seriously.
Finally, I would suggest you to connect with other bloggers. There are a huge number of travel bloggers, but once you start getting into it you find the community narrows with smaller groups of bloggers who are supporting one another and meeting up around the world. Everyone is open to be helpful and if you have questions just ask. I have found most people are receptive, not competitive, and want to share their advice!
Thank you Becky for your candid interview! If you have any questions to Becky or do you want to know more about her plans, leave then a comment below or maybe you have tips yourself to share with us. I will interview every two weeks an other influencer. Do you want to stay tuned? Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.