Charles McCool isn’t a typical travel writer or blogger. He’s prefers to label himself a Travel Happiness Advocate! For over twenty years, he has analyzed trip planning methods and strategies, and, in turn, helped create happy travelers through his articles, book, classes, and talks. He shows travelers how to increase travel happiness and reduce stress on every trip.
Charles’ travels have taken him to all 50 states in the USA, to several dozen countries, and to five continents. He once traveled to four continents without paying a dime. Perhaps that helped him appear in the World’s Smartest Traveler series. Charles is ranked #2 by Klout in the Travel Expert/Influencer category and #3 by Rise.Global for his travel blog, McCool Travel. He joins us this week to talk about his unique career in the world of travel.
You’ve been giving travel advice for the last 20+ years through your book, classes and workshops. Share with us how it all started and what the journey’s been like for you?
My travel interest started just before the modern internet (world wide web) was released. At that time, travel had to be booked only through travel agents and direct suppliers (airlines, hotels, etc.). I quickly explored the boundaries of various rules and programs, in order to maximize my travel opportunities.
Someone recently called me the original travel hacker. Yes, something like that. Since then, I have had a strong interest in finding travel deals and showing others how to travel better, longer, and cheaper. There have been several evolutions (articles, a book, classes, blogs) but my focus now is creating a world of happy travelers—empowering people to take better vacations and have better lives.
The most recent addition to your travel tools is your blog, McCool Travel. What inspired you to add travel blogging to your endeavors?
I do not consider myself a travel blogger (unless it pays well). Indeed, though, I do write online travel articles, as I feel that is a great way to reach more people. I should be doing webinars, podcasts, videos, and much more.
You have some seriously impressive stats in rankings among travel bloggers and influencers. What advice would you give to someone just starting out with a travel blog to increase traffic and online presence?
Thank you. Increasing traffic is NOT one of my aspirations. It really is not. There are plenty of strategies to increase those counts. My advice is to really think about what you want. Do you want more money? More trips? Fame? To quit your full time job? So, will more followers lead to that goal? Once someone has a clear understanding of what they want to communicate (pick a niche, but be true to yourself/authentic), I believe the path presents itself.
When it comes to making an income from the world of travel blogging, etc. what do you consider the best practices for keeping an income stream alive and well?
Oh, income, that is a tough one. My focus is traveling to places I want to go and the income is secondary. Other people’s goals may be different. Most of my travel income is from hosting Twitter chats but my strategy would be different if I had to hustle for money.
You’ve visited all 50 states, numerous countries and 5 continents to date. How much time do you typically spend on the road each year and what are your top tips for managing a busy travel schedule?
I wrote an article about 3 Habits of Happy Travelers. Habit number 1 is to Pack Light. I have since learned that packing light, for me, applies to physical AND invisible baggage. In other words, travel life has to integrate with everything else. I do not work well (produce articles) when I travel, so I allow time between trips for that. On the other hand, I really, really enjoy social media during trips and am trying to create a life where I can do only social media and not write articles. Right now I travel a little more than half the time. I try to build some “me” time into busy itineraries, taking time to bike or hike or soak in the hot tub.
If someone gave you $10,000 and a month to travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?
Love hypothetical scenarios. I will take that $10,000 and visit Cape Town, Maldives, Perth, Tasmania, and New Zealand. In fact, I will probably do it in the reverse order because I am confident I will spend less at the beginning and be able to splurge in South Africa. If I have leftover money and time, I will head to Patagonia.
At McCool Travel, Charles McCool shares insider tips and hidden destination information in the 8 Great article series. He has profiled interviewed over 140 travel experts in his 5 Minutes interview series—from author Paul Theroux to Travel Channel host Samantha Brown—and enjoys sharing their travel tips for saving money and having fun. Connect with Charles on his social media sites Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest.