Aspiring Travel Writer of the Week: Maggie McKneely
Maggie’s website is Pink Caddy Travelogue, and she launched it in February 2018
Bio: Maggie is a 20-something part-time travel blogger and politico from Virginia. She works full-time in Washington DC as a Federal Relations Liaison for a non-profit organization, but uses travel as a way to stay sane! She loves to write and meet new people, both of which are critical in her day job as a lobbyist and for her travel blog.
Here is Maggie’s Q&A About Her Life as a Travel Blogger
How long have you been a Travel blogger? 2 years
Where do you call home? Virginia/ Washington DC area
How many countries have you been to? 6
How many continents have you been to? 2
Top 5 destinations on your travel to-do list: Switzerland, Nepal, New Zealand, Alaska, Patagonia
Earliest travel memory: The very first time I ever flew was going to Disney World. Toy Story had just come out, and I was definitely in a cowgirl phase. When the plane was racing down the runway, preparing for take-off, I yelled “Yeehaw!!” The rest of the plane all laughed at Maggie the little cowgirl. I still like flying, but I don’t say yeehaw anymore haha.
Favorite Travel Writer: You know, I actually don’t read a lot of travel writers. I love to read, but before becoming a travel blogger, A Walk in the Woods may have been the only travel literature I’d read, aside from guide books. And that hasn’t really changed. That being said, there is one writer I recently came across that I think is a breath of fresh air: Molly McCardle. She’s been a contributor for a number of publications, including one of the local DC papers. I don’t always agree with her conclusions, but her thorough investigative reporter and wizardry with the English language is inspiring. I wish there was more of it!
Favorite Travel Blogger: There is so much variety in the travel blog world!! Which I think is very encouraging for anyone looking to start a blog but may think “but there’s already so many out there!” So not to give a cop-out answer, but I don’t know if I have a favorite.
Favorite Travel Photographer: The team behind Follow Me Away do STUNNING work. I also love following Nat Geo, Travel and Leisure, and IG accounts like that as ways to discover new photographers
Favorite Travel Blog/s or Website/s: I won’t cop out this time – here’s a shortlist of a few of my faves (though it’s definitely not a comprehensive list!): Conquest Maps, Anywhere We Roam, Dirt in My Shoes
The trip that turned you from a vacationer to a traveler: I don’t know if I would ever have called myself a vacationer. I’m not really good at that “take time off and rest thing.” I’ve always loved getting out and exploring new places, whether that’s the forest behind my house or a nearby town I’ve just never visited. Even when my family goes to the beach, we don’t spend much time sitting on the beach. We’re always looking for ways to explore and get to know the area beyond what the other vacationers are doing.
The trip that turned you into a travel blogger: My first trip overseas was to Rome in 2015, when I was in college. I didn’t start my blog until a few years later, but that trip was when the gears started turning. There were so many new experiences for me on that trip (first time out of the country, a full 10 days in ROME), and I realized that sharing my pictures on Facebook would preserve those experiences in a very limited way. How could a picture of a farmer’s market portray how we accidentally bought $40 worth of meat and cheese because we didn’t speak Italian? And as I started traveling overseas more and more after that and started gathering up all these stories and lessons I didn’t want to forget, I was eventually pushed into the travel writer/blogging world.
Your first steps to becoming a travel blogger: I first started out wanting to be a “travel writer” because I thought that sounded more prestigious than being a blogger. And because I had this misconception that travel bloggers were all people who just didn’t want to work real jobs and just traveled all the time instead. Like I said – a misconception. I’ve since learned better, and I’ve also learned that travel blogging is a heck ton of work! I ended up going in the travel blogging direction because I wanted to write what I wanted to write, right now, without going through the process of finding publications to print my work.
I am an independent traveler: I am focused on organized media trips. (do you plan your own travel or look for media trips?) I’ve always planned my own trips, but as my blog grows I’ve started looking more into doing media trips. I’ve had a few sponsored tours and hotel stays now, so a media trip may be on the horizon.
The social media platform driving the most traffic to my site is: Pinterest, hands down.
My top tip to use Pinterest for traffic: What every single travel blogger says: learn SEO from the get-go! I wrote a lot of useless articles at the beginning because I didn’t know what SEO was, and had to go back and redo them. Don’t be me!
My favorite tool/app for social media: I really like using Tailwind for scheduling pins. You can go in once or twice a week, load up a bunch of pins to be pinned later that week, and you’re done! It’s great.
My favorite WordPress plugin: Yoast is great, especially if you’re an SEO newbie. It’s great for giving a baseline for if an article is on the right track, SEO-wise.
Favorite Travel Blogger Facebook Group: For threads, the Travel Bloggers Community is my favorite because it’s a small, reliable core group of people who always participate. For travel help in general, both the Female Travel Bloggers group and the Wandering Women Travel Bloggers (sorry guys) are wonderful communities.
If only I had the time, I’d…. Take some SEO courses and write more content. I have a bunch of drafts started, and several SEO articles saved on my browser, but I never seem to have time to get around to either one.
My top tip for aspiring travel writers and bloggers!
Know who you are. You can’t be all things for all people, because if you try that, your blog probably won’t work out. And you’ll stretch yourself too thin. Find your voice and stick with it!
Best travel tip for travelers: Plan before you go, but stay flexible! I always like having a base itinerary, but things happen that you can’t control and you need to be able to roll with the punches, so to speak. Being flexible lets you enjoy your trip, no matter what happens!
Connect with Maggie!
Website is Pink Caddy Travelogue
Nominate a friend (or yourself!) as our next Aspiring Travel Writer of the Week!
If you have been blogging, writing or taking photos for less than 2 years or have less than 10,000 unique views per month to your website, I invite you to be a featured ATW (Aspiring Travel Writer) of the week. As ATW of the week, you will be featured on my travel website, 52Perfectdays.com and the BreakintoTravelWriting.com website! Here are all the details! breakintotravelwriting.com/aspiring-travel-writer-of-the-week-guidelines/