Vins & Yosh of award-winning travel blog The Poor Traveler share their learnings and response to the global pandemic.
What happens when two people who travel for a living suddenly find themselves locked up inside their home because of a global pandemic?
For Vins Carlos and Yosh Dimen, the two guys behind the award-winning budget travel blog The Poor Traveler, it involves embracing reality, taking stock of their resources, and finding novel ways to survive and become even better.
“I did not really worry when the government first announced that we will be placed under quarantine back in March,” said Yosh. Like most of us, they thought that the quarantine would last for only a couple of months. They decided to focus on passion projects and working on their backlog from their previous trips. It was around mid-April when Yosh started to worry.
“What if this lasts beyond May? Until when can we keep paying the salary of our teammates? Until when can we survive this quarantine?”
That’s when they sat down to take a look at their finances and their options. One thing was very clear to them from the start: “We didn’t want to let go of anyone,” Vins said. To this date, the The Poor Traveler team remains intact.
To help with the finances, Vins decided to take on another full-time job, but he still worked full-time for the blog after his office hours, taking care of operations and search engine optimization. “I still take care of operations, video editing, and, on weekends, we shoot for our YouTube channel and our podcast. We have to work doubly hard, we just want to make sure that, by the time this is over, we’ll still be okay,” Vins shared.
Meanwhile, Yosh thought of new content to add to the blog and ways to venture into other platforms such as YouTube and Tiktok.
“This period has been the busiest months of our lives. We did not publish any travel guide during the first few months of the quarantine since it was practically useless and we wanted to be sensitive to what was happening,” Yosh explained.
They stopped publishing but they never stopped writing because they still had a lot of backlog from their previous trips to Europe, Japan and Taiwan.
Exploring new channels
But more importantly, they decided to diversify their content and channels, having realized that they could not put all their eggs in one basket. First, they started coming up with articles that their millions of readers might find useful. They shifted their focus to food and entertainment. For example, they gave suggestions on what Netflix shows to watch to keep one’s travel spirit alive.
“The best way to experience travel is through food, so we came up with articles that provided tips on where they can order ramen if they’re missing Japan, for example,” Yosh explained. And then, when essential travel was finally allowed, they provided guides on health and safety protocols being imposed in different places.
“We stayed true to what we were known for – providing information,” Yosh said.
They beefed up their video content because they realized that, while traffic of travel blogs plummeted, there was a marked increase in video viewership. This quarantine, their blog has been getting 500,000 to 950,000 monthly views, which is less than half of their usual traffic of 2.1 million.
Fortunately, they had taken a lot of videos from their previous trips that they can now use. “Teammates who would normally be sent to places to get updated information were tasked instead to come up with ideas for video content, write video scripts and subtitles,” Yosh said.
Since August, they have been uploading two videos per week on their YouTube channel, under the following shows:
THAT ONE TIME
The show where they share some of their standout travel memories – sad or happy, inspiring or touching, frightening or downright shocking. But they all have one thing in common – they surely left a mark and made their journey more meaningful.
THE BETTER TRIP
If you have time and budget for JUST ONE destination, where should you go? In this series, Vins and Yosh compare and contrast the nitty gritty of places to find out which will give you the better trip.
The side of travel that they usually don’t want to share and you probably don’t need to know! Here, they catch up with their friend Ces to talk about the most embarrassing and most hilarious experiences that they don’t include in their travel guides!
So far, they have discussed how they ended up staying at a luxury honeymoon resort in Maldives even as budget travelers, as well as their most awkward moments backpacking across Southeast Asia and hiking in Taiwan.
“As travelers, we learned through this pandemic that travel is a privilege. That’s the biggest learning for me. Vins and I always talk about how lucky we are because our work allows us to travel. And it has allowed us to save enough to survive this pandemic,” Yosh said, realizing that not many are as lucky. He said while there are some who miss traveling and wish they’re in India or somewhere else right now, there are those who do not even know where their next meal will come from. It is a very sobering realization.
Secondly, they learned that everything can change in an instant and you can’t do anything about it. “What we have now can be gone just like that. You can be a world traveler one day and the next day it’s over,” he added.
And, lastly, as entrepreneurs in the travel industry, basically, it’s survival of the fittest – not of the strongest but those who are able to quickly adapt to challenges. You really have to be on your toes and you have to think on your feet.
Travel advice for the weary
Yosh living it up in Morocco and Lisbon
We asked them if it’s okay to start taking advantage of cheap fares and deals being offered by airlines and hotels once things get better. “Assuming COVID is no longer an issue, then I‘d say yes. The early bird gets the worm. If you’re a budget traveler, it’s something you need to take advantage of, but only if it’s already safe,” Yosh advised.
“We’ve had almost a year of healing time. Wouldn’t you want to see places before the hordes of tourists come flooding in again?” he adds, citing Boracay as an example since many are saying that it is now back to its pristine beauty.
For those who already want to travel now, he reminds them to strictly follow the health and safety protocols imposed by their destination.
Vins embracing adventures in Barcelona and Nice
He also advised people to start saving for trips even if there is still some uncertainty, but that is assuming that you already have your basic necessities covered.
“Travel is aspirational. Having a goal, especially now that everything is so bleak, can keep one going. Personally, I see this as a journey. Someday we’ll all reach our dream destinations. Should you set aside money for your future trips now? Yes, if you can. Why not? There’s no reason why not, if it will help you endure what you’re going through. Think of it as a big, big reward after going through this pandemic,” Yosh concludes.
Youtube: the Poor Traveler
About the Writer
Joy is a Senior Vice President for Media Relations of WSP, Incorporated. She is a well-rounded communications expert with more than two decades of experience in the areas of Journalism, Public Relations Consulting, and Corporate Communications. Her area of expertise spans strategic communications, media relations, reputation building, issues & crisis communications, and spokesperson coaching. As a writer, her work has appeared in nationally circulated publications such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, Entrepreneur Philippines Magazine, The Manila Times, among many others.
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