The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News, 27 April

In this episode, Will Hatton, also known as the Broke Backpacker, shares his predictions on travel post pandemic and why those affected in the industry should be searching Google trends.


man in cambodia Photo © Will Hatton

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The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News

As governments around the globe impose lockdowns and people self-isolate, coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit the travel industry hard. The World Nomads Travel Podcast has suspended its regular destination episodes and, in their place, offering a round-up of the major coronavirus-related travel headlines, including the future of travel.

What’s in the episode

02:33 Finding new ideas

04:39 Working for yourself and how to do that post-pandemic

07:07 Can tour operators bounce back?

08:45 The future of sustainable travel

11:21 Wellness certificates

13:30 Bali during COVID-19

Quotes from the episode

"Content creators are not able to make any money. It's a very, very difficult position to be in right now. I think that recognizing that and recognizing that it isn't going to go away any time soon is important." - Will Hatton

"This is a time where you can take those skills that you've learned, maybe you're an incredible copywriter, maybe you're an incredible photographer, maybe you've got great web design skills, or great SEO skills or marketing skills or whatever, pivot. Do something different." - Will Hatton

Who is in the episode

Writer and hustler. Adventurer and vagabond. Master of the handstand push-up. Conqueror of mountains, a survivor of deserts, and crusader for cheap escapades. Will Hatton, also known as the Broke Backpacker has been on the road for nine years, traveling to far-flung lands on a budget. Today, he runs several online ventures. 

Will is passionate about teaching others how to ditch their desks, hit the road, and achieve real freedom by earning money online.

Resources & links

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and World Nomads Travel Insurance Coverage

Travel safety alerts.

In self-isolation? You can put your time to good use practicing your travel writing skills

You can get in touch with us by emailing [email protected].

We use the Rodecaster Pro to record our episodes and interviews when in the studio, made possible with the kind support of Rode.

Kim: In this episode, Will Hatton also know as the Broke Backpackers shares his predictions on how the travel industry will look post Coronavirus and has some great advice for people who were making money from the sector pre-pandemic

Speaker 2: Welcome to the World Nomads Podcast. We'll be keeping you up to date with travel alerts, information about coronavirus, and sharing some uplifting news and views to inspire you and keep you smiling.

Kim: Hi it’s Kim and Phil with you sharing Will’s thoughts and advice alongside headlines surrounding travel and the pandemic.

Phil: Several countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have put new measures in place for the month of Ramadan including relaxed curfews and new bans on public gatherings.

Meantime there are fears Africa could become the latest coronavirus epicenter with a 43 percent jump in cases at the time of recording &ndash, and their testing is very limited.

The US-Canada border will remain closed to travelers crossing for non-essential purposes, including tourism and recreation, for another 30 days but the movement of cross-border workers and commercial traffic will still be allowed.

Delta Air Lines says it will take 3 years to recover post-COVID-19 and their CEO says Safety will not be limited to just flight safety but will expand to personal safety.

Finally, the New York Times has temporarily dropped its travel section and in addition to the travel section, the sports section will be temporarily dropped.

Kim: The Broke Backpacker is one of the world's most successful travel blogs and it allows Will Hatton to live his dream life, earning money while he travels.But has his income suffered given the pandemic – basically is the Broke Backpacker broke?

Speaker 1: I am not broke at this point in time, because I have been practicing good financial discipline and diversifying into other spaces, which is what we're focusing on doing at the moment. I mean, I, obviously, I've got a lot of different travel companies, travel businesses and all of them are running at a loss at the moment, which we can do for a bit. So yeah, not broke, but keeping my eye on the horizon and trying to find new opportunities and trying not to despair for sure.

Speaker 2: Well, is having those extra travel businesses outside of where you started from, you were, and there's the new buzzword pivoting, long before travelers were in isolation thinking that they had to pivot. So I really think it would be valuable if you had some points or a lesson, some things to think about for those people that have been traveling unconsciously, blogging, writing, photographing, they're not getting any income a lot of them.

Speaker 1: Yeah. And I mean the travel niche has been hit the hardest out of any space from coronavirus. And there's lots of independent travel crisis out there at the moment. Content creators are not able to make any money. It's a very, very difficult position to be in right now. I think that recognizing that and recognizing that it isn't going to go away any time soon is important. This is a time where you can take those skills that you've learned, maybe you're an incredible copywriter, maybe you're an incredible photographer, maybe you've got great web design skills, or great SEO skills or marketing skills or whatever, pivot. Do something different. Go into Google Trends, find out what people are looking for at the moment, and build a second income stream on something that is corona proof, but also won't go away once corona is over.

Speaker 1: For example, I would suggest that it would not be a smart idea to start creating content about masks, because whilst you might be able to make a great bit of money now, it's still going to take time to rank that content, and once coronavirus has gone away, you won't be able to make anything in. Instead, a better niche to look into would be something in say the home and garden space, because that's a space which is really exploding in popularity at the moment because everyone's stuck at home, but once coronavirus goes away, people are still going to be spending money on home and garden. So, it might mean that you have to take your skills and it might mean that you have to work on something that you're not as passionate about as travel, but ultimately, this is, if you are working for yourself, if you are a location independent entrepreneur, the dream is working for yourself. It's not specifically working in the travel space.

Speaker 2: And with that idea of home and garden, you don't have to be Martha Stewart. You could take, for instance, if you're interested in herb's, you could try and grow yourself a Thai garden.

Speaker 1: Absolutely. I mean the thing is right, all of this information is already out there, so if you're good at creating content and if you're good at creating websites and marketing your content, you just have to do a bit basic reading to figure out what topics you want to cover, and what information you need to include, and then repackage it into your own info or a document your learning experience as you go into learning about a new space. So we're doing a few new spaces now, which we're learning about and our first bits of content will effectively be documenting our experience as we learn more about these spaces. We're doing a home and garden site, which is something I know very little about at the moment.

Speaker 2: Well, that is great advice. So looking at the industry longterm, what do you think the repercussions will be?

Speaker 1: I mean, I have had a look at some of the models. Obviously I'm not a doctor or a data analyst. I think that I don't know when this is going to go away, but I do think that we're going to get to a point, hopefully, relatively soon, wherein many nations' domestic travel becomes possible again. I think that that would actually be quite an exciting opportunity for people to see the beauty of their own backyard in a way that maybe they wouldn't have appreciated before. So hopefully people will be going on campervanning trips, hiking trips, camping trips, these kinds of awesome adventures that they can do in their own backyard relatively soon. And then I'm hoping that there will be some countries which will come out of this fairly quickly, and I'm anticipating that if that does happen, those countries will become pretty hot from the point of view of people wanting to visit. But you know, it's really, really, really hard to tell because of travel restrictions and quarantine rules. It's how long does a piece of string. I don't know at the moment, but I'm hoping that sooner rather than later we will see some kind of bounce back in the travel industry. But I think that if you are working in the travel industry, you've got to be conservative and assume it's going to be a while.

Speaker 2: We've seen airlines close and operators close, and airlines, that's a tough one because you're talking about a lot of money, but a lot of these tour operators that have had to close, do you think they can bounce back, and will they have to offer something different?

Speaker 1: I think that this is very much going to be a survival of the fittest type scenario. So companies which were already kind of ahead of the pack and we're able to offer something unique or we're able to foster a real sense of brand loyalty, I think we'll be okay. But if you've got just an average Joe kind of company and it's a very heavy company to run, it's bleeding money every month, I think we're going to see a lot of companies go out of business, to be honest. But whilst that's obviously a pretty dire thought, there is an opportunity in that for those who are able to survive and those who are able to stand out from amongst the crowds. If you are operating something special and offering something unique, I think that those companies will survive and end up actually taking a larger slice of the pie than they have beforehand.

Speaker 2: Now, I've had a lot of conversations as we reel out these COVID-19 podcasts, the people that have been affected by it within the industry, and what it will look like post coronavirus. A lot of the conversation has been around sustainable travel, which it was before this, but, and I mentioned to you before we started recording, I chatted to somebody recently who's decided not to travel again and at least for a few years, and not by plane because she's seen what has happened to the planet in such a short period of time since we've been forced to slow down. So what do you think will happen within that sector, the sustainable travel?

Speaker 1: I think there are quite a few things to talk about there. So firstly, obviously the silver lining of the situation at the moment is that air quality has drastically improved, but it would be really inaccurate to say that that is just down to the easing of flights because everything is shut down. A lot of heavy factories have shut down, power plants have shut down. There isn't the same need or demand for oil or any other kind of fossil fuel at the moment. So that's a really big part of why we're seeing these awesome increases in air quality. I don't think that's not, I mean people need to fly. I think that if you have the opportunity to travel without flying, then awesome. I hitchhiked to the UK. Sorry. To India from the UK. I also hitchhiked to Africa from the UK. Both awesome, awesome journeys. But if you only get two or three weeks off work a year, obviously that isn't an option, so people are going to still need to fly.

Speaker 1: I think that traveling sustainably there's a lot more to that than just not flying. I mean, if you travel and you're buying a plastic water bottle two or three times a day and throwing it in the trash when there's no recycling in that country, that's far worse than flying. Obviously I live in Bali, and there's a huge plastic problem here. I travel around Pakistan a lot. There's a huge plastic problem there. So I think that traveling sustainably, there's more to it than just not flying it. It's really about your actions. It's when you are in a country making sure that you are doing what you can to ensure that the money you are spending is going into local pockets rather than big hotel chains that are often from the US or Europe.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I think really there's a lot in your overall actions to make sure you do travel responsibly, and a part of that is trying to interact with local people, spend money in local businesses, and reducing plastic pollution. That's like my pet hate because that's something I'm pretty passionate about is always making sure I never buy plastic bottles when I'm traveling. I've got like a filtration bottle so I can put like literally brown water in it and it comes out crystal clear, tastes fine. So yeah, I think it's a pretty big question. Hopefully, that answers some of it.

Speaker 2: Yeah, it does. And speaking of those bottles, we've spoken with GRAYL before who even supplied them.

Speaker 1: Yeah, it is GRAYL. It is a GRAYL bottle I'm using. They're so good.

Speaker 2: They are good, aren't they? They're even supplying them to our scholarship winners now as part of the kind of booty pack.

Speaker 1: Awesome.

Speaker 2: Yep. Now among the talking points that you sent were wellness certificates. That's been something else that's popped up very similar to what's required with yellow fever vaccinations that you have to show to get into some countries. So what do you think will happen there?

Speaker 1: Well, I'm not sure if you've seen that as of this morning, [Trilly] has just announced that they are going to have immunity certificates that will be handed out to people who have had COVID and have recovered. If this system takes off around the world, this will be a really fantastic way for economies and travel to bounce back faster, because it will mean you will have a set group of people who have had COVID, have recovered, have got their certificate, and that means that they can go back to mingling, they can go back to work, they can travel again, they can go through airports without risk. So I'm really, really excited about this idea, and if they combine it with rapid testing, like five-minute drive-thru testing, then they should pretty quickly be able to give out a lot of these certificates because of course, a huge number of people have had COVID have recovered and aren't even aware of the fact that they had COVID. So this I think will really allow us to separate people who are no longer a risk from everybody else, and then that group of people at least can go back to work.

Speaker 2: Also, among the talking points, you mentioned bizarre insurance claims from the road now for the light relief. What do you mean by that?

Speaker 1: Oh, well I could write a whole post in that, to be honest, and some of these stories would probably be better told as a post, so maybe I'll put that together for you. But there's been some pretty entertaining travel claims that I've made and that my team has had to make. One of my friends dropped his DSLR camera down a long drop toilet and spent about an hour trying to get it out with a walking pole before it sunk beneath the waves and was lost forevermore. That was a pretty good one. But that's what I was thinking of, anyway.

Speaker 2: We'll put that post together. I like reading about those sorts of things.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I will for sure. I will. No worries.

Speaker 2: Now Bali, it's been a hot spot too for coronavirus. How're you doing?

Speaker 1: I'm fine. I mean, things here for people who are actually living here versus people who are visiting here, haven't changed too much. Can't go down the beach, can't walk the dogs down the beach. There's occasionally like ad hoc roadblocks thrown up, but that's pretty much it, to be honest. All the tourist attractions are closed, but I live here so I don't go to tourist attractions anyway. Most restaurants and bars are closed, but you can still get food delivery. There are still a few decent places open.

Speaker 1: At the moment, Bali seems to be doing significantly better than a lot of other countries in Southeast Asia. While obviously Bali's part of Indonesia. Indonesia itself has been hit by like a significant amount of cases, but Bali seems to be doing okay. On the other hand, it's unclear if the reporting is being done accurately. So me and my group who are here, I've got several of my team live out in Bali with me. We're all just pretty much staying home. I go out maybe twice a week just to go down to the hostel site to make sure it's still moving, which it is, which is awesome. But up beside that, yeah, I mean it's kind of a stay-at-home scenario really.

Speaker 2: Well, thanks for the insight, particularly those tips on going into Google Trends and seeing what people want to hear about. I think I might do that myself over a vodka.

Speaker 1: Absolutely do. I'll tell you. I think during this time as well, there's a lot of opportunities, right? If you've been wanting to learn about something, or foster a skill, or develop a passion project, now is the time to do that. And that's kind of how we're trying to see it over here. We have several whiteboards all over the place with ideas that we're wanting to develop. So we're like, "Well, we can't go out. We can't travel. Our option is to just get really drunk every day or to work on these passion projects." So after about two weeks of getting really drunk every day, we've now decided to get to work.

Kim: Thanks so much Will, now let’s all head to google trends.

Phil: To get in touch with us email [email protected]


Speaker 2: The World Nomads Podcast explore your boundaries.

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