I talk a lot about travel hacking on this blog, but some of the best ways to travel cheap are to take a staycation or just start exploring your own backyard!
When I travel abroad, typically it gives me a wonder and appreciation for where I already live and incites a desire to learn more about my own landmarks and tourist attractions.
For example, millions of people travel the world to come see Niagara Falls and yet, I rarely ever go there. I only visit Niagara Falls when family or friends visit. The same goes for Lake Ontario! I’m always shocked when friends visit and the first thing they want to see is a Great Lake. You see, I forget that Lake Ontario is a Great Lake!
It is so easy to take it all for granted when it is right here in front of you.
Exploring my own backyard with Mini Golf:
This is why I looooooooove my friend Chris’ blog: ExploringUpstate.com. Chris is doing the opposite of most travel bloggers by highlighting a micro area, Upstate New York and doing it specifically with weird little off-the-beaten-path spots! Talk about niche blogging!
He started years ago with a blog called Exploring the Burned Over District, which explored the various sacred sites in NY. That niche blog led to him wondering “Hey, what was that over there?! What did we just drive by??”
This is where Exploring Upstate developed from… his wanderlust for discovering cool and offbeat things to see around Upstate New York.
One gorgeous summer day, he invited me along to this cute little mini-golf course near Lake Ontario called Parkside Whispering Pines miniature golf course. It turns out that it is the oldest mini-golf course in the entire United States! All just a few miles from my front door.
So, Chris and I went one Sunday to play a round of golf, using two GoPro cameras! It was TONS of fun and I was stoked to use my GoPro for something other than just snowboarding.
Since I have a GoPro pole, I ended up using mine as a putter. hahaha. We looked ridiculous, I’m sure. Well, just check out the video for yourself and be the judge. Then go read his write up about the course on his blog.
The oldest Miniature Golf Course in the USA!
Whispering Pines Mini-Golf Course is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest miniature golf course in the United States, having opened in 1930. The course was built from fossil stone purchased from out west during the Miniature Golf boom. The course has a very unique design, which has entertained generations for decades.
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How to start a niche travel blog:
What do you think about microblogging like Chris? Is there an area that is under served when people think about travel in your neck of the woods? There are a plethora of blogs out there talking about travel and wanderlust, however sometimes the best course of action is to explore your own backyard and start a new undiscovered niche. It’s a great way to get noticed!
Chris is killing it in this area. People recognize him on the street and he has a never ending stream of free coffee to try out because of his blog. Also, every weekend is now filled with local adventures with his fun friends, many of whom also have local blogs or podcasts.
What better way to build a blog as a side hustle while you have a day job?
Once you have found your niche blog topic, then you will want to set up a self-hosted website on wordpress.org or Squarespace in order to eventually gain an income from blogging.
If you think about it as a business from the very beginning, you have a much better chance of success down the road when you want it to at least pay for itself. If you play your cards right, you can even eventually turn your side hustle into a full time career.
That’s what I’m working on with this blog.
I highly recommend these blogging tools:
My own journey has been quite different from Chris. I’ve been a wedding photographer with an active blog for over a decade. My industry has changed A LOT over the last handful of years and now I’m wanting my own side hustle.
Most wedding photographers start as a side hustle and then hope to quit their day job and go full time with their photography business. I’m now going in the opposite direction.
My wedding photography blog has never been a place for ads or affiliate links, since that blog is more for my couples than for me. It just never felt right.
That being said, I always built that other blog up with SEO and other tools to drive traffic to my blog and it also never felt right that the hard work wasn’t making me money. Yes, I made money when people booked my photography services, however many daily hits were not photography clients.
Therefore, I finally had the time in my schedule to begin this blog. It is a blog for ME, for fun, for my travel adventures and business ideas.
If I’m lucky, a few of these affiliate links will help pay for hosting of the blog and other expenses that go into creating all of this free content for you fine folks. So, if you happen to click on one, I thank you.