In a time when catching flights could mean catching coronavirus, travelling plans are truly up in the air. Nixing trips might be an inconvenience for many of us, for travel bloggers, it’s also a big loss of revenue.
"In 11 years, I haven't had something restrict my travel in such a way," says Cailin O'Neil, founder of TravelYourself.
O'Neil -- who has worked with numerous partners and brands like GoPro, Amex, Air Miles, as well as various international tourism boards -- says COVID-19-related travel bans have derailed her plans.
"I've been literally wanting to go to Japan since I was five-years-old," says O'Neil, of a journey scheduled for March. "We were working with different brands and partners along the way, and we had to unfortunately cancel everything."
With bloggers' incomes dependent on website visits and affiliate sales, some in the field are experiencing traffic decreases of 95 per cent.
"Everyone's traffic is really low," says O'Neil." Everyone has huge losses because of this—it's debilitating for some of them."
Time to come home
Fellow blogger and friend of O'Neil, Ayngelina Brogan, recently finished a bit of travel herself—a homebound voyage. A Nova Scotian based in Cuba for years, Brogan hit pause on her food-focused travel blog Bacon is Magic, to return home while she still could. She, too, has been hit hard.
"I have sponsored content that was supposed to go out that surrounds entertaining groups and family. Those things aren't appropriate to be sharing at the moment, so I have a number of projects on hold," says Brogan. "In terms of affiliates and people booking hotels and trips, they are not doing that right now, so that income is zero."
Brogan's advertising income is down 75 per cent since December.
"There's nothing you can't get through," says Brogan, who will likely also cancel a trip Nicaragua scheduled for April. "I've already started to build my business, so that, when people are ready to travel again, I can be there to try to reverse some of the economic effects and revenue that I lost during this time."
Brogan says she made the decision to return out of rationality versus fear, given Cuban media isn't focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic in the way North American media outlets are. Returning wasn’t an easy decision after years of building a life and a highly successful blog. Leaving friends behind was hard, but she knew she made the right decision.
“My only response to them is that I'll come back when it's safe to come back; I don’t want to be irresponsible and come back too early,” says Brogan.
While taking refuge from the state of the world by social distancing and self-quarantining, both bloggers say they'll be some of the first people to get back on the travel bandwagon.
"I feel the tourism boards will be looking to have us working with them even more than normal," says O'Neil, who notes she's working on a blog to showcase Nova Scotia's beauty and local treasures in the meantime.
Brogan says she knows better days are ahead.
"So many of us talk about the economic effects, and it's easy to feel sorry for yourself—I actually feel quite lucky," says Brogan. "It will be a tough time, but it's hard to complain when people are losing their lives over this. We have to put things into perspective—health over money."
Brandon Young is a Halifax-based freelance writer.