Updated: Jul 10, 2020
I recently read an article written by a very popular online travel magazine that was titled something like The Destinations These TOP Travel Influencers Will Head To After the Pandemic. And while their picks weren't my picks, I was intrigued. Intrigued not by their selections, but I wondered: What makes them a Top #TravelInfluencer? Is it the number of countries they have traveled? Is it their high Instagram follower count? Do they write brilliant travel guides for their favorite destinations? Is it a combination of two or three of these things? WHAT?
I was frustrated, and I didn't know why. I took a look at my Instagram page....482 followers....SIGH. I got more frustrated, and I still didn't know why. So I called one of my accountability partners to air my frustrations. She listened to me patiently while I went on and on about 2 Girls & a Bikini. She didn't interrupt while I complained about working (but not really) to build my brand. She didn't say a word when I asked the question "what makes an individual a Travel Influencer"?!
She let me finish. And when I stopped talking long enough to signal the end of my rant, she said "But Angie, you ARE a travel influencer to the people that YOU set out to be an influencer for".
I sat back. Took a deep breath. Tilted my head and said "HuH. She might be right".
Let me explain.
When I created 2 Girls & a Bikini, the goal was to reach my friends/family who wanted to travel, but didn't know how or where to start. I wanted to reach EVERYDAY people who think that they can not afford to travel. People who aren't interested in "quitting their jobs" and traveling the world; but maybe taking their kids to the Caribbean, or heading to Bangkok with a significant other, or even hoping on a quick flight for a long weekend escape to Miami with some friends. People who get excited about just going, no matter the destination.
And that's exactly what I have attracted. My Travel Group/Facebook Page/Instagram followers is small, but I still get messages from individuals about all kinds of travel. Domestic travel. International travel. Should I go here? Is this destination good for kids. What do you do on a 14-hour flight? How's the food in...? What do you recommend for...? Can you share your itinerary to...? And it makes me smile.
I realized that I am doing exactly what I set out to do. Helping people travel, to whatever destination captures THEIR interest. Not influencing them to travel to the places that are on the #HotList, but to the places that they will be able to find their spot in the sun......or even the shade.
No, I haven't been sought out by online magazines for my "top destinations" list.
But I've helped people realize the value of actually having a passport. And I've taken trips with individuals who were getting their first stamp in that passport.
I've introduced people to destinations they've never never heard of. And shown them how even they can make travel a priority and fly away to places they only imagined.
I've shared moments of laughter and disappointment. I've let them know when I was scared yet went anyway; and how it all worked out (the good and the bad).
I've expressed moments of travel happiness, travel frustration and travel exhaustion.
I've met people who have become friends who have become family. And that. That is travel influence.
2 Girls & a Bikini