Milou van Roon | travel blogger from Den Bosch, NL

Star sign: Virgo
Currently reading: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
Hopes her last meal will be: pizza with smoked salmon, with a caramel sundae for dessert!

Milou van Roon is the owner and editor-in-chief of Explorista.nl. She also started a new female-only travel agency this spring: ExploristaTravel.nl. Just when she was going to launch her first group trip, she had to put on the brakes. Her plan is to start again as soon as the borders open.

When did you first know that this was your calling?

I don’t know if there is such a thing as ones calling. I know that I am getting closer to what I really get energy from. I try things over and over again and every time I learn from them. I learn exactly what I like and don’t like and take that into account when choosing my next project. I just try to do as many things as possible that energize me. In any case, traveling has always been a part of me. As a child I always asked my parents in September where we would go for the next summer vacation because I wanted to help figure everything out, haha.

 

How did you get your business off the ground?

In the beginning I sought as much publicity as possible for Explorista.nl. This worked well because I had a great focus on budget travel and launched my website during the recession. That was a good approach that many from the media picked up. The longer I ran the website, the better I started to understand what people wanted to read. I started to do more and more of the things that worked well, and focused less on the things that people showed no interest in. The first few years I did it along with my day job, but since 2018 I’ve work full-time for the website. The company has grown considerably since then.

I try to teach myself that “done is better than perfect” and that life (and entrepreneurship) is a marathon and not a sprint.

What makes your company unique?

I have thought about this for a long time, because there are – of course – more travel blogs in the Netherlands. I think it is my personal touch. As far as I know, there aren’t many travel websites that put personality in their travel guides. It is usually either very factual or very personal and therefore more of a diary. By combining this, the reader really gets to know my travel style. And if it matches their own travel style, they become engaged. In addition, I am very open on Instagram Stories, so I notice that people really build a bond with me. For my other company, Explorista Travel, I find that question easier to answer. Explorista Travel is the first travel organization in the Netherlands that only focuses on women, so that is unique in itself. We organize group trips for women to “difficult” countries.

 

What is the biggest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?

Patience. I am very impatient. If I get an idea, I prefer to do it yesterday. I am also a perfectionist so my work is never good enough. That is a dangerous combination. I try to teach myself that, “done is better than perfect,” and that life (and entrepreneurship) is a marathon and not a sprint. It doesn’t all have to be done in one week. That to-do list will fill up again, so that’s something I won’t continue to fall for, haha.

What inspires you to continue?

I can’t be anything other than an entrepreneur. It is in my DNA to constantly come up with plans and implement them. I get bored quickly and cannot sit still. I am naturally a person who takes the lead, so as you may understand – a boss and I are not a good combination. In the past I have regularly been told that I was bossing my bosses around, haha. I just always saw ways in which something could be done better or faster, and I couldn’t stand it if it didn’t happen that way. I care too much.

 

What is your life motto / what mantra do you live?

I stole it completely from Marie Forleo, but her motto, “Everything is figureoutable,” is exactly what I say to myself when I don’t dare to do something. I’m a big fan of trying new things (because that’s growth and growth is progress!) But you also have to dare to start! “Jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down,” is another one of my favorites. Or, “leap and the net will appear.” Anyway, you get the common thread in my life, haha. Move and try.

 

How do you ensure a good work-life balance?

I used to ALWAYS work. Not surprising, because back then my website was a creative project in addition to my normal work, so that was my time to relax. Now that my website has become my full-time job, I try to make sure that I keep evenings and weekends free. I have noticed that I really need that time to recharge my battery. If I continue to work throughout a weekend now, I know that I will pay the price with a lack of motivation and exhaustion the following Wednesday. So it’s not worth it to me. During this lockdown I use the time to try out new hobbies, because my biggest hobby (traveling!) is not possible at the moment.

How has the Corona virus affected your work?

It honestly wiped out everything I get energy from in my life. My company has come to a standstill in one swoop. My turnover has fallen by at least 90% and I no longer have pleasant trips to look forward to. In addition, I can’t just sit and work in a cafe or meet up with friends. That makes it difficult to find motivation to work. I know it will all work out again, but at the moment it is still unclear when. And I find that difficult. Right now I work a few hours a day and try to focus on self care. Some days I am more optimistic about this than others.

 

What can people do to support you and others in your field?

Let me first of all state that I do not feel sorry for myself. I myself chose a non-essential job in a luxury sector because that is where my heart is. So it is not surprising that it disappeared first. It is, however, annoying of course. People can best support me by booking their trips for next year (or later this year) through the affiliate links on my website. I earn a small commission for every booking, and every little bit helps. 🙂

 

What are your plans for the future?

I will keep on publishing articles about travel, because as soon as the borders open we will all start traveling again. In addition, I am still working on the behind the scenes stuff for my group trip. I still hope it will take place in October. If not, I will have to postpone it until 2021. It’s too bad, but at least I know it will happen eventually.

 

Do you have tips for people who want to start a business (in this field)?

If you want to start a travel blog now, I would choose a niche. It is difficult for a new general travel blog to compete with existing blogs that are several years old and have hundreds of articles. So choose one country or a city where you want to write about, or a travel style (for example traveling as vegan), then you will be known for something faster and you will achieve success more quickly.

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