Learn how we got our start from a long-distance couple to the travel bloggers and photographers who built this website.
In 2016, Dan was traveling full-time and Becca was in New York City, where we both met.
During Dan’s journey of working remotely and traveling, we decided to date long-distance. See, we met not too long before this in December of 2015.
It was in February of 2016 that Dan decided to travel for a year with a remote work-travel program called Remote Year. We didn’t expect to stay together during this year, but at the last minute, we decided to give it a try. We’re so glad we did!
A few months into Dan’s trip, Becca had an idea to start an Instagram account together. In this account, we would share our photos from where we both were, and put them together to make one photo. It was a way for us to stay connected to each other, while we were very far apart.
This was our first photo in October, 2016. Becca made it from both our coffees, with hers in Manhattan and Dan’s in England. For this “half-half photo,” we planned the whole thing, down to the angle from which we’d take our photos, and everything. It was a big hit with our friends.
We knew we were onto something and really liked the idea of having this project that gave us a way to connect and stay creative while Dan was across the sea.
We posted nine photos strategically, and stuck to one rule: During Dan’s time away, we would always use one photo from Becca and one photo from Dan. Each side might not have had too much sentimental significance, but we wish that we picked a left side for one of us and a right side for one of us. In any case, our photos were unique (or at least we thought so), and soon, the people of the Internet thought so as well.
After these nine photos, Dan reached out to an editor from PetaPixel. Come January 2017, we had an article about us featured on their site. See the article on PetaPixel.
This new world of social media stardom was new to us. We both had had our personal Instagram accounts since about 2011, but almost exclusively shared personal photos. We didn’t expect to become public figures or ‘go viral’ with this type of creativity.
We received a lot of press that started to snowball from this one article. Some of our favorite press mentions were being in print, in Oprah magazine and being covered through the Business Insider network.
As we started to realize that @halfhalftravel could eventually turn into a business, we decided to quickly create a web domain to which we could point these news articles when they asked to link us. We didn’t want to only be available on Instagram, as sticking to one ‘platform’ is risky.
Our initial website wasn’t very good, in hindsight. It had a bit of text about us, with some Instagram photos. It made no sense, because people already knew about our Instagram photos. Here’s a preview of our first website.
In parallel, Becca had already put together a Google Drive full of travel guides from places that she visited in previous years. Whenever one of Becca’s friends was going anywhere, they would reach out, and Becca would have a guide ready to send. Among these places were China, Hong Kong, South Africa, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Japan, Panama, Costa Rica and more.
To top this off, Dan had a year’s worth of travel photos, and Becca was ready to write out her travel guides for the world. This meant one thing: we’d be the perfect team to start a travel website.
In October 2017, Dan started building our website. If you’re interested in how our website is built, check out this guide that Dan put together. It’ll explain why our website looks unique, how it has the images added and how Dan built it.
During this phase of our building out the website, we continued to grow on Instagram and work on growing our community. We were able to work with some amazing brands that you can see in our case studies, and share experiences with people all around the world.
Dan came back to New York City in June of 2017. We had discussed ending our Instagram project at this time because our long-distance phase was over, but Becca insisted that what we had grown was too good to ‘throw away.’ We decided to continue our journey!
We would continue to share photos from each of our perspectives, but we’d get a bit more liberal with how our photos were taken and put together.
While we were living in NYC full-time at this point, we were able to travel to Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Colombia and Mexico in 2017 alone. It was great that our travel didn’t have to stop, and even though we had office jobs in the city, travel was our main goal.
Through our trips, and through exploring NYC as usual, we were able to create new content for our Instagram and get our feet wet with content writing ideas for our website, as we’d finally get to this in March 2018.
We didn’t really have a good formula for content writing at the time, still in 2018. We were figuring it out as we went along and hadn’t read too many other travel blogs. We also didn’t know too many bloggers at all. It was a new space for us.
We converted some of Becca’s original guides into travel guides and added some of Dan’s travel photos as well! It was satisfying for both of us to see hard work pay off and provide value for our viewers.
Some of the first guides we wrote started to get popular, as we covered things that we searched for, like hidden photo spots in Hong Kong and How to get to Guatape from Medellin, a helpful guide for backpacking in Colombia. These were based on our travels from ‘way back’ in 2017 already.
New articles only came from our trips. We had to carefully balance enjoying our vacation, while taking notes and photos of things that we wanted to incorporate into our blog. We covered reviews of hostels, like Abraham Hostel, Tel Aviv and travel tips, like How to Beat the Crowds at Chichén Itzá.
Our main goal in the first half of 2018 was to teach people the things that we learned through our trips around the world.
We watched as our traffic slowly increased. The emphasis here is on ‘slowly,’ but we were patient and patted ourselves on the back for every milestone.
We would see exciting spikes of traffic when some of our press articles resurfaced. SEO was new to us. We learned how to interpret our analytics, leverage our press backlinks and continued to write travel articles.
We started to branch out from our travel guides and realized that we had learned a lot of different travel tips that have helped us travel seamlessly around the world. These would be evergreen articles that could help people plan trips and succeed in traveling, even if destinations went in and out of style.
Our travel advice articles started by covering things like how to get a visa. Now, we don’t post to this section as frequently, but we’re always brainstorming new and exciting topics to cover. Some of these have been repeatedly very helpful for viewers, having stemmed from questions that friends asked us. An example of this is, “Foreign Currency Tips and Tricks Before Traveling Abroad”.
In June in 2018, we decided to travel full-time long-term again. But instead of being apart, we did this together! We went through places in Europe, like Prague, Lisbon and Amsterdam. We spent a bit of time up in Estonia and then to Latvia. We went to Ireland and Tenerife in the Canary Islands, with a quick stop in Madrid.
In the Canary Islands, we got an opportunity to contract for Remote Year.
Becca would work on content writing and promote Remote Year through social media. Dan would help produce photo and video content. It was a role perfect for the both of us.
Our contract would last four months and would take us to familiar places, like Colombia, Mexico and Peru. It was nice to meet up with old connections and experience the cities together. Dan had been to all of these destinations before on his first year of travel. We both had been to Medellin and were really excited to be there for a month, together.
During these four months, we went to a lot of cafes. We started interviewing cafe owners and creating reviews on our site. One of our favorite guides that we put together was the best cafes in Mexico City. We learned so much about taking photos in cafes that we put together an article to help you do this like a pro.
We learned a lot about the business of social media. It was a perfect opportunity for us, as we also spent some time growing our blog, making SEO improvements and trying new things. Because of our roles in the Remote Year content creation team, we were also able to hang out with social media managers and other bloggers, thereby trading tips and seeing how one another worked.
After the four Remote Year months were over, 2018 had ended and we were still traveling full-time. For our next destinations, we wanted to focus on exploring Asia, where Becca had spent two and a half years living abroad in her early 20s. It was Dan’s first real time experiencing Asia and Becca was really familiar with the culture and landscape about what to expect.
This was a good ‘flip’ for us, as Dan had spent his former Remote Year program living for one month each in Medellin, Bogota, Mexico City and Lima, and now, he had lived in each city twice!
We went to Vietnam and Taiwan. Becca had been to Vietnam previously in 2011 for 12 days, and she had been to Taiwan for 5 days in 2012. Both trips did not do these places justice, so she was stoked to go back!
In March of 2019, we decided to come home for the wedding of two friends who ironically had also traveled long-term during the prior year, and to spend some time with family. Dan got an opportunity to contract for an agency in New York City. Without any types of alternate plans, we decided to stay home long-term and move back to New York City.
We started a new section in our blog in which we interviewed some of our friends who we’ve met through the years. We got this idea after we were on our first podcast with Cyd and Marc.
When we came home in March, we were able to meet them in person! The story goes that Cyd found us online and had interviewed us on her podcast about long-term travel and the remote work and travel lifestyle as a couple. We talked about our trip to Vietnam, only to learn that they were planning to move there as expats, for Marc’s new job! You can learn more about their journey there with Cyd.
In October 2019, we traveled to Myanmar and had a great time visiting a new country that we both had never been to before. Myanmar is absolutely enchanting and we were engrossed with learning about the lesser-known culture.
We also spent a good number of nights sleeping on buses, as part of our signature way of saving money when we travel so that the trip lasts longer on the same budget. Travel should be about exploring ALL the available methods of transportation, right? We believe that what’s important is both the destination, and the journey involved in getting there.
2020 was off to a good start. We went to the Dominican Republic for both our first times in late January through early February. It was great! We had lots of experiences with sizable insects and wildlife, and planned out our destination content for the DR.
In the beginning of 2020, we had planned to go to Italy and Israel for two weddings in the summer. We were planning on traveling in Eastern Europe, maybe Ukraine, or the Caucasus region (Georgia? Azerbaijan?), for a month in between both of these weddings.
Starting in about March 2020, our travel plans were canceled and travel never looked so different. Because of the pandemic, we chose to stay in New York City and limit our exposure to people. We know that the travel industry is changing and we’re taking time to adjust to what the new normal is (we’re writing this at the end of September, 2020).
During this time spent indoors and somewhat quarantined, we started building out our Remote Work section. Because we were mostly working from home, we had learned a lot of new tips and tricks to become more productive and efficient.
Articles we wrote about topics like how to stay connected when you work from home took off effortlessly, as did how to Set Up A Home Office in a Small Apartment. We started building authority for remote work content, and our site grew in this capacity, rather than with travel content. It was pretty fitting for the current state the world was in.
What the future holds for us
We don’t know! Travel is a part of our identity, and we know that we will have the opportunity to take an international trip eventually. We’re not sure when this day will come, though.
For now, we’re excited about taking smaller local trips and getting to know our area of New York City a little better. We’re also taking this opportunity to grow our website in new avenues.
We hope that we’ve inspired you to be creative, get out of your comfort zone and try something new! If you’d like to get in touch with us, feel free to contact us.
❤️, Becca & Dan
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Last updated on October 24th, 2022