Recently we contacted the founder and editor of We Are Travel Girls, Becky van Dijk, about doing an interview. To our great surprise and excitement she replied, We Are Travel Girls are an amazing inspiration to us and we always look to them for amazing articles and photographs. Below is our interview and a collection of photographs all courtesy of Becky herself.
For those who don’t know you quite that much, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am the founder and editor of popular female travel site We Are Travel Girls. We Are Travel Girls carefully curates and publishes only the best female travel articles from around the globe and is quickly becoming a go to destination for travel inspiration and a place where you can connect with female travellers around the world. I am from from London, England, born to English and Dutch parents and left a successful career in finance in 2016 to follow my dreams of building a travel company! I am currently in Bali and when I am not working can be found travelling through Indonesia and Asia!
You are one of the founders of We Are Travel Girls. What inspired you to start WATG?
I was actually inspired by all of the women I was seeing out in the world travelling and chasing their dreams and documenting them on social media. I started collecting images as screen grabs in my phone to remind me of places I wanted to visit and then thought I could use these to create a feature account so others would find all these great female travelers – so I started @WeAreTravelGirls Instagram on a spur of the moment morning waking up in a hotel in Glasgow, Scotland.
The page grew in popularity pretty quickly, so I started to think about how we could use this platform and the first thing I wanted to do was create a site where women could submit their travel posts to be published. At this point my good friend Vanessa Rivers, who was excited by what I had started with just the Instagram and its potential, joined me to build our site WeAreTravelGirls.com. We had a few hurdles, but our site launched in June 2016 and in the short time since then we have published over 185 articles from over 75 contributors and launched our Ladies We Love Interview Series.
Being bloggers ourselves we sometimes find it hard to get the motivation and inspiration to travel to new places. What inspires you to travel to new places, and how do you go about writing a new post/selecting the right photos? Any structure suggestions?
I have no problem finding inspiration to travel! I have a list of a hundred places I want to go to, the only problem is I keep wanting to go back to places I have been to before to see even more of them! But I do agree actually motivating myself to get away from the laptop screen to go out and see something new each day can be tough!
Regarding writing a blog post – as I have gained more writing experience through my own articles and by editing hundreds of posts submitted to WeAreTravelGirls.com I feel like I have found better ways to structure posts. First of all, it’s important to think about what a reader is interested in, or looking for on the web. They are more likely to be using a search term like “things to do in bangkok” than “is Bangkok nice to visit”. We do receive a lot of submissions that are well written and have great photos, but really don’t give any advice or tips to the reader, and are simply a journal of the authors days spent in a place. I am sure there are some readers interested in this type of post, but for the most part it likely that this type of article is really only read by your mum and friends!
Go back to fundamental writing techniques. At school you were taught to write a story with a beginning, middle and end, writing a good blog post should be no different so remember to do this in all your posts to help guide your reader through the article. You should also look to use connections between your paragraphs, another way to guide the reader and hold their attention. And always end with a conclusion and a call to action.
Great photography is also important – it will often be the image (or the title) of your post that draws in the reader. Many people work visually and images will be as important to them as the words. If you are creating a photo journal or diary, make the effort to write a short paragraph about each place and where to find it, there is nothing worse than being inspired by a bunch of photographs but to have no idea of the locations or how to find them! When you ask how I select the images, I choose a bunch of the best ones load them all in and move them around, constantly looking at the preview to check they flow well together.
If you want more tips I wrote a post 14 Tips On How To Put Together A Great Blog Post to help women to know what we are looking for in a submission.
Obviously you are giving it your all when it comes to WATG. How hard was the decision to quit your job? Was there moments you regretted it?
You are right – I am putting all my energy into WATG! I just realized I have been in Bali for 5 months and I have not been on one single day trip yet – so I need to find a bit more balance with that. But to answer your question if it was hard to resign from my job, then the answer is very much yes and no.
I first resigned from my firm in 2014 to travel in South America, at this point I had been with them for 8 years, had just been promoted, had worked extremely hard to build a book of high net worth clients and was overall in a great position in my career. But I had met someone who was from California and we wanted to pursue our relationship – so in some ways that made the decision easy for me – but believe me telling my bosses, was extremely hard and embarrassingly I cried a lot at this time in front of them!
I actually then went back to the same firm in a different role in 2015, so resigning for a second time was even worse! (yes, I cried AGAIN) But the decision was not necessarily about pursuing We Are Travel Girls, we had actually only launched the site a few weeks previous, but it was so that my boyfriend and I could be in the same country after a long distance LA / London relationship for 3 years. However I knew that I wanted to take WATG seriously, and I was already working 6+ hours per night after being up since 6am and getting home at 7pm from my day job, so leaving also meant I can focus all my efforts on growing the company.
What my experience did teach me, was that if you have worked hard and built a career where you have good relationships with your clients and colleagues, that you are respected and have shown loyalty and dedication you will come away with a good CV and good references. If you resign and decide actually you want to go back to a corporate career, you will be able to and like me you may even go back to a firm you already worked for. At every interview I went to after my South America trip, not one person questioned why I had resigned to travel and in fact congratulated me and wanted to chat about the places I had been to!
Excluding obvious things like your passport, what are some things you would never travel without? Are there any products/services you have tried and recommend?
I have a great Lo & Sons OG Bag, which I generally use as my carry on for any long haul flight. It’s been designed with travelers in mind, and has plenty of clever compartments as well as a padded laptop pouch making it my number 1 travel essential!
I always say this, but I never leave without Elizabeth Arden Factor 50 face sunscreen which I have been using since my early 20’s. Being tanned may look nice in your pictures, but you will regret it past the age of 30.
What do you see in the future for We Are Travel Girls?
This is a tough question as we have so many avenues we are looking to pursue right now! We see our site as an important place for us to showcase and promote female travelers and to introduce inspiration women through Ladies We Love; we have just launched our online Travel Shop; we will be hosting more more meet-ups and events around the world, with Bali, Paris, Chicago and London planned next; we will be launching the We Are Travel Girls Retreat in Bali which we are so excited for!; and we have lots of other projects planned including an amazing partnership and giveaway where will be taking some girls skiing with us in Japan!
Girls can hear about our upcoming events, retreats and giveaways by subscribing to our email list.
If you want to follow Becky and We Are Travel Girls below are all there social media links.