Are the real travel influencers traveling full time?

A surprising number of folks now list their profession as "travel blogger," and free spirits all over the world are setting off to see the world on often-unplanned Instagram tours with the hope that followers will somehow subsidize their lives abroad. It really is a "thing," and there really are major travel bloggers who earn a living traveling continuously.

The best of the best are known by suppliers to be travel influencers, and they receive stipends and comp travel as they move about the world accompanied by their followers. Becoming a follower is really quite difficult; you must have the mental acuity and dexterity to be able to click on an on-screen button.

Travel blogging is something I associate with the "Look at Me, Please Look at Me" generation. They don't do planned vacations, and they are eager to share everything they are doing as they travel.

A blog just seems to be this amorphous thing you write, share and debate with followers. But travel blogging seems a bit more specific, and it clearly appeals to several generations of traveler. You can find all sorts of examples of business executives who have quit the corporate world to become traveling, nomad bloggers.

As this is all somewhat vague, I tried to do some research to determine how many travel bloggers there really are. How big is this thing?

So I Googled the question, and it came back that "by some accounts, there are over a billion blogs out there in the world."

Really? So about one in seven people on the planet writes some version of a blog? You have to imagine, after filtering out the statistical nonsense, that there certainly are more than a million travel-related blogs. I started thinking about friends and clients. Could it be that one out of seven of them will maintain a blog describing their travels, propped up by photos that certify them as photographic artisans?

As I thought of specific people, it hit me that one out of seven might be a conservative number.

I started visiting as many of these travel blogs as I could. Travel bloggers enable us to travel with them vicariously. If they can make it financially (and the vast majority can't), they see their job as actually traveling. If you think anyone under 40 is at home reading Fodor's, think again.

Travel bloggers are almost always smugly defiant about asserting that their traveling life is much more fun than the lives of those of us tied down to a desk and an actual job or standing in a field of grass trying to club a small ball into a small cup. A surprising number of them are selling pamphlets and light books that promise to help the reader learn how to "travel and get paid for it."

These are traveling entrepreneurs, and we're their venture capitalists. And if you don't think they are changing the way entire generations will look at travel going forward, think again. As one travel blogger puts it:

"Anyone can quit their job and travel the world. Everyone should quit their job and travel the world."