Full disclosure: we’ve never really loved the term “vlog”. But for lack of a better description, we just kinda went with it. If you travel often, a travel vlog can be a fun way to document your adventures and inspire others. It also takes work and planning. This is our best advice on how to start a travel vlog. And some of the biggest mistakes to avoid when you’re justing getting started.
Travel vlog vs. vacation video
Before we get into all the juicy details, let’s talk travel vlog vs. vacation video.
Vacation videos = a collection of video and/or photos set to some cool copyrighted music. Likely intended for family and friends. A travel vlog on the other hand is more involved. It requires dialogue, planning, editing, and adding value for the people watching. Or more simply put, you’re creating for other people and not yourself (or your friends and family).
That may seem super basic and obvious, but I thought it worth mentioning while determining your goals with your travel videos. Travel vlogs are a huge time commitment. It’s not uncommon for us to spend 8 hours or more editing a video (and that doesn’t include film time). Totally worth it! But know what you’re signing yourself up for. It’s work. And we learned that lesson a little later on.
1. Know your story
First tip: nail down your story from the start. You’ll often hear this referred to as “picking a niche”. When we first picked up the camera, we knew we wanted to show our standby travel adventures. We never know how or if we’ll get to our destination and it’s a wild way to travel. We were always intrigued by life in the airline industry and figured maybe other people are, too.
If you know what story you want to tell or what makes your travel style different, it will make filming your videos immensely easier. There are lots of travel videos out there because travel is awesome! Find your unique twist and it will make your videos more authentic and inspiring.
2. Have a plan before you film your video
Helping pregnant women who are nervous about flying. Inspiring travel to a new destination. Showing a cringe worthy travel day. The cool thing about travel vlogging is that your options are limitless. You can solve problems. Inspire. Entertain. Educate. The world is your oyster. Which is both a blessing and curse.
Early on, we’d just wing it. We put zero thought into our videos before filming. And we basically had a bunch of highlight reels. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very much in favor of just getting started. You get more comfortable in front of the camera. You make mistakes. And it gets easier. But having a rough idea of what you want to accomplish with your video will save you time. And your videos will be much more engaging in the long run.
3. Don’t overthink it
Our first vlog was a train wreck. In the sense that we tried to conform to the typical vlog format and it came across awkward. Take a look, but don’t judge too harshly. One lesson learned – do your own thing and try not to fit the mold of Kara and Nate. Or the Bucket List Family. They have their thing and you have yours. You don’t need the best editing skills. You can feel weird talking to the camera. And people will still watch because you’ll be authentic.
4. Equipment isn’t everything
Another misconception many people have when starting a travel vlog (ourselves included). You don’t need the fanciest gear out there to start a Youtube channel. We started with what we had – which at the time was a Canon Rebel T3i. You can start with a phone. Or a gopro. Or whatever you have sitting at home. The story is 10x more important than the equipment.
That being said, after you decide you want to stick with vlogging, one of the first upgrades I recommend is an inexpensive microphone. Audio is the easiest way to take your videos to the next level.
One camera that we love for vlogging is the Canon M50. It’s SO lightweight and perfect for travel. The camera we use most often is the Canon 6D Mark ii. It’s heavier, but is great with both video and photography. We love it! Full disclosure, we use both pretty regularly, but the 6D is the one that’s most often out because it’s a photo beast.
5. Do you need to be a full-timer?
It seems like all the uber successful travel vloggers out there do it full time. It’s intimidating to think you have to quit your job, sell all your possessions, and commit to a year long (or longer) trek around the world. That works for some people. And they have great content to show for it! But you don’t have to be full time to run a travel vlog.
We normally film multiple videos on a single trip. And create local content or travel tips from home while we aren’t traveling. You can find what works for you without having to be at a new location every week. Film some local under-the-radar spots. Or go on a food tour in your hometown. The destination is never as important as the story.
6. Balance filming when traveling with kids or family
If an average trip involves leisurely taking in sights. Not photographing your meals. Preventing your kids from picking up the cheerios they dropped on the floor of the plane and eating them. Not so much when you start a travel vlog. You’ll be balancing experiences with filming. And it definitely becomes an art.
Many travel vloggers out there are solo or travel with one other person. Not an entire crew. Which means for those of us that travel with others (especially if those others happen to be toddlers), there’s an added challenge. But you absolutely can be in the moment and film for your travel vlog.
Start by aiming for shorter videos. That will ensure you don’t need to film every minute of every day. It’ll also get you more comfortable with filming while traveling. Without diving straight in to the deep end.
Speaking of filming every minute of your day. Planning your video concept in advance will save you so much time. Don’t feel like you need to film everything. It’s hard sometimes. You feel like you might miss something important. But if you do a little planning in advance, you’ll know which experiences are relevant to your video and which aren’t.
Your love for travel
Starting a travel Youtube channel means caring about things you never thought you would. Subscriber counts. Comparing yourself to other Youtubers. Titles. SEO. All the stuff. We don’t even have a massive Youtube channel and still got wrapped up in these things. And there’s a fair chance you will too. I’d actually be shocked if any Youtube creator out there didn’t care about these things. But it doesn’t have to completely consume you.
Your passion for travel is always #1. When you tweak your personality ever so slightly. Or create a video just because you know people will like it. You kinda sorta start to become frustrated while you’re traveling. Which isn’t the point of all this. You become less authentic. And you may (for a brief second) forget why you love traveling.
Start your travel vlog off by not compromising. Do your own thing. Don’t worry if you capture every detail. Put the camera down and deal with the temper tantrum. Take a break. You may still care about all the obsession that goes into creating a travel vlog. But at least it will be your #2 priority.
Have you started your travel vlog?
Let us know your story!
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