Talking with bloggers about their blogging histories (and what inspired them to start blogging!) is one of our most favorite things about NEPA BlogCon.
Recently, we got the chance to ask Yvonne of Yvonne’s Travel Blog about her history in blogging, what she enjoys most about the blogging journey, and how her travel blog has become one of her latest passions. Yvonne has a pretty amazing story and she’s found away to enjoy travel affordably, which you can read about here.
If you haven’t seen Yvonne’s blog yet, you can read all about her adventures on Yvonne’s Travel Blog.
Let’s dive into the interview.
So, tell us about yourself!
I am a Polish immigrant living in the USA since 1987. My husband, Jakub, and I left Poland because at that time it was controlled by a communist regime and we lost hope that changes would ever come. When Jakub spent three months in prison for his antigovernment activity, and upon his return home was denied his exit visa for research work in the USA, we had enough! Jakub with his Ph.D. in mathematics and I with a master’s degree in economics felt that there was no future for us in Poland.
In September of 1986, we left our country for good. We spent nine months in Italy as political refugees, and eventually we received a political asylum to the USA. We were sponsored by good friends of Jakub’s parents. They welcomed us in their home and gave us all the help we needed. Just in few weeks after our arrival, Jakub was hired by the University of Scranton. Here in Scranton, we started to build our life from scratch. It was an easy transition on many levels. As soon as my English skills improved, I also found a job.
In August 2015, it will be 25th anniversary of my employment with Friendship House, where I work as a billing manager. We quickly found a great circle of friends and when our son, Daniel, was born, our connection with the American community grew even stronger. During all these years we traveled extensively. We covered hundreds of amazing destinations. Poland is a free country now, but I have no desire to move back.
America was nothing but good to me. This is my home and want to see more of it. I still have a few more national parks to visit!
What got you started in blogging?
Not so long ago, the idea of blogging would pop into my head only when I was thinking about retirement. I thought it would be a pleasant way to keep myself busy in my golden years. The actual blogging started accidentally.
In summer of 2014, while on vacation in Colorado and Utah, I spent around $250 over of what I had covered with cash back, points, miles etc. I was not happy with myself, because I am committed to traveling for free. Soon after I came back home, I received an email from my main credit card, Barclay Arrival, inviting me to joins Barclay Travel Community.
This offer promised to pay $1.50 in points for every travel story posted there, and 10 cents for additional travel detail with link to it. I thought it was my chance to get back my $250 so I started blogging. It was not difficult, because the story is defined as a minimum of 50 words and at least one picture.
I posted around hundred stories, each worth on average $2.50. This way, I made $250.00 in points and was able to erase my travel expenses previously paid with the card. While working on this massive production, I realized that enjoyed it a lot so I took to another level. Now I put my stories on my own site, but I still post them on Barclay Travel Community for my 1.5 per story. It is nice to get something!
What’s your favorite thing to write about?
Definitely nature. I love American national parks. I would like to visit them all. I am around 70 % done in the continental U.S. I am often looking for spectacular sites and I visited many of them, but I see beauty just around the corner as well.
Tell us about the most interesting thing that’s happened to you because of your blog.
Since I started blogging, I am revisiting nearby parks to write about them. A few weeks ago on a cold but sunny day, I went to Merli-Sarnoski Park (this adventure is better described in my blog).
The park welcomed me with one of a kind breathtaking scenery. All trees and bushes by the lake were covered with a delicate coat of ice and were brightly shining under the blue sky. I have never seen anything like this in my life! I did not even know that such a phenomenon was possible. I felt like this heavenly scene was created just for me – I was the only one in the park!
Unfortunately, my pictures are not showing even a fraction of this spectacular, but I am happy I was lucky enough to witness it.
We love the post you did about traveling on the cheap. Have you thought about sharing these tips in other places, like on other travel blogs?
I would love to, but so far there is no interest from any other travel blogs. It is my most popular post. It generated 150 views in one day, which is huge for my two months old blog. I am sharing my “wisdom” with everyone who is willing to listen because I think majority of us are on the same boat, we do not have enough money for travel. I am trying to show people that there are ways to go around it.
Have you picked up any new travel tips along the way?
As a person who grew up without cellular phone, I tend to forget what a wonderful travel tool it is. This is why I keep my eyes open and try to learn from the young generation about the new apps that are useful on the road. I just put in my favorites a wonderful post about everything that is currently available. I plan to analyze this article in detail and upload everything that would be useful in my travels.
Where are you headed next?
Next is a Finger Lakes wine trip. It is a group escape with seven other ladies. We rented a house on the lake. It will be a fun weekend! But my real adventure starts June 15th.
I am flying from Philadelphia to Barcelona. I have a 12 hour stopover there; I am so thrilled about that!
My final destination is an island of Zakhyntos, Greece. I will spend 10 days there with a break for an overnight trip to Athens. I will meet my sister in Zakhyntos. She will fly from Poland.
On my way back from Zakhyntos, I have a stopover in Vienna and I am planning to meet my friends who live there. (All these flights are covered with American Airline points and are considered one round trip ticket!)
Do you have any tips for new bloggers you want to share?
My blogging career is very short so I cannot contribute a lot but I can break one myth about Google’s Adsense.
I was reading that to get approved by Google, you need at least 50 posts and around 1000 views per day. I have 24 posts and my record was 150 views per day.
My total number of views since I started two months ago is 2868. I applied for Adsense and was approved. It does not mean that I expect to make money any time soon but I am happy that I am done with part.
What blogs are your favorite to read?
I am mostly reading about new credit cards offers, because without opening bonuses and my son in college, I would be sitting on the porch for my next vacation. There are a lot of bloggers that specialize in this field. They watch the market and update their sites with new credit card and travel deals. I like The Points Guy and NerdWallet.
As far as the actual travel, I am giving a lot of traffic to bloggers who are writing about destinations I am planning to visit. Recently, I read a lot about Barcelona and Zakhyntos.
What’s your favorite way to find inspiration for writing a new post?
My blog is about beauty of places I visited, therefore pictures are very important. When I come back from a trip and have good pictures, immediately I want to write about my experience. If photos are disappointing, sometimes I do not write about the visit at all, even if I had good time and the trip was otherwise rewarding. ( I know that majority of visitors to travel blogs, only scan the text part and focus on pictures. )
Another inspiring factor, is my personal story associated with a place. Even if have good pictures, but nothing interesting happened while I was there, I would not be inspired to write about it. With so many travel bloggers around, I am sure there are posts about every little corner of the globe. I prefer not to rewrite what was already said before me. I try focus on my personal experience, and put links to other mainly informative websites.