Maybe you’re already a successful video creator who’s searching for a way to expand your niche into the Travel vertical… but in order to do that, you first need to master the art of crafting exquisite video shots. Or maybe you’re just someone who simply wants to understand the 101 basics of creating quality videos, so you can share your vacation experiences with your friends on social media.
Either way, welcome to the fast-growing industry of travel vlogging, where content creators, brand partners, influencers, and everyday vacationers travel in search of unique destinations, visuals, and stories to showcase on YouTube, Instagram TV, Facebook Watch, and other video-driven platforms. The most successful travel vloggers have millions of followers and subscribers, are able to attract major brand partnerships and sponsorships, and can monetize their social media channels to the tune of many thousands of dollars per month – all the better to fuel their globetrotting adventures.
Bottom line: If you want to earn money traveling to exquisite destinations ranging from Bali to Bangkok to the Alps to the Amazon Rainforest, then being a travel vlogger might just be the thing for you. Which is all the more reason for you to become proficient at making high-quality videos that make your audience experience powerful emotions and have personal stake in your stories. Like any great filmmaker, it’s all about understanding technique.
Without further ado, here are some pro-tips for those of you who want to level-up your travel vlogging skills. If you put these tips and techniques into regular practice, you’re not only likely to become a better vlogger and video creator – you’re also bound to increase your ability to monetize your vacations and getaways.
Strike a balance between moviemaking and mobility
As a frequent traveler, your natural instinct is to travel light. But as a professional (or an aspiring professional) vlogger, you’re probably wondering what types of equipment you need to rent or buy in order to vlog your next excursion. There’s a fine line between having the ideal means to produce quality videos – day or night – and finding enough room in your luggage for your newly purchased portable drone.
At Curastory, we offer a range of different video creator rental kits – from Starter to Professional – that match your travel needs for both mobility and professional-grade quality. Have a look and see how Curastory can level-up your vlogging game. Note: Only active Curastory creators can rent our kits, so sign up today and save.
In this next section, we’ll cover some equipment options that ought to give you a better sense of what you should – and maybe shouldn’t – pack when you’re out there vlogging.
Master the 101 basics of video equipment
When it comes to vlogging cameras, there are plenty of options for beginners and professionals alike. But buyer beware, because some of them are far more expensive than others. The AKASO Keychain is ultra-lightweight and inexpensive, and gives you options for recording in 4K, in slow-mo, or using time-lapses.That said, it also has a short battery life, doesn’t present you with night-vision options, and doesn’t come with a Micro SD card. On the other side of the price-range spectrum, there’s the Panasonic ZGH5 Mark II, which is ideal for high-quality livestreaming…so long as you’re comfortable with paying $1,700 to own it. If it were up to us, we’d recommend something like the Sony ZV-1 Portable Vlog Camera, which is almost universally prized for its portability, real-time tracking ability, and stability for shooting on-the-go footage. That said, it’s not exactly cheap either.
Make no mistake, you ought to consider familiarizing yourself with other important pieces of video-making equipment, too: everything ranging from camera and phone gimbals (for cinema-grade video stabilization) to GoPros (professional-grade cameras that give your videos a Steadicam-level of naturalness) to aerial drones for overhead shots (we’d recommend the DJI Mavic Air 2, which offers superb 4K video quality, ample battery life, and 48MP panoramic images, while still fitting comfortably inside a backpack, but there are plenty of other options out there, too!)
Let’s not forget lenses. Ideally, you should learn the fundamentals of how different types of lenses work and which ones are appropriate for what types of shots. For example, shooting with a wide-angle lens lets you produce wildly distorted, dramatic shots. That said, if you go too far with the distortion, objects in the distance can come across as speck-like when you don’t want them to. Or if you’re shooting with a standard lens, you’ll be able to capture a field of vision similar to the human eye, but little else. And if you’re really looking to “zoom in” and isolate a particular subject in a shot, a telefoto lens is your solid bet.
With all that said, at the end of the day, you might simply opt for your tried-and-true smartphone to capture your travel visuals. In that case, we recommend you consult a guide to smartphone video-making, so that when it’s time to hit the streets (or pristine wilderness) and start shooting, you’ve got a clear idea of how you should proceed.
The point is: Understand the basics (and preferably more than just basics) before you start vlogging. Your audience will recognize, whether consciously or unconsciously, that you’re not another complete amateur.
Use different angles for different parts of your story
Think about when you’re watching a movie. Are you always seeing the same shot from the same angle? Nope, not unless you’re watching some intricately experimental film from, like, Belgium. (Don’t take it personally, Belgium, we love you.)
Why is that? The easy answer is that audiences don’t like seeing the same POV over and over again. Their eyes adjust to the repetition and predictability. And they get bored in the same way that people get bored watching PowerPoint presentations.
In order to capture the full story of what you’re audience is watching, you need to go the extra mile. You need to get different angles and perspectives. If that means getting a little bit weird, wild, and creative, well… good. Strap your GoPro to a dog and use it to capture their POV. Aim your camera drone just low enough that it deliberately brushes past – and narrowly misses – a particularly tall tree as it flies over a forest. Our Curastory Pro rental kit gives you the freedom to rent a state-of-the-art GoPro for a reasonable cost.
If you have time to plan ahead, you might even want to develop a basic storyboard, something you can follow as a “video road-map” while shooting your experience. (Then again, you may not want to do this at all, since storyboards can take a lot of the fun and spontaneity out of vlogging; it completely depends on your own particular style or artistic vibe.)
Learn the art of shooting handheld
For those of you who are traveling light without a suitcases of fancy equipment, no worries, this one’s for you. Want to learn how to shoot cinema-grade shots using a simple camera or smartphone? You can use a camera-strap to mimic many of the same types of shots you’d normally need a GoPro, gimbal, or slider to produce.
Place the camera-strap around your neck. Use one hand to steady your camera, the other hand to steady the lens, all while having the camera-strap pressed firmly against the back of your neck. Doing this gives you three “points of contact” that help stabilize your camera to a level that’s nearly equivalent to a GoPro Steadicam. You can use this stabilizing technique to mimic pan shots, sliders, crane-shots, or “Steadicam” shots, without lugging them along.
Know when to time-lapse… and when not to time-lapse
We get it; it’s really, really, really fun to edit your footage so that it runs either tortoise-slow or fighter-jet-quick. But before you start using a time-lapse effect, ask yourself: Is slowing down or speeding up your video footage adding anything of real value to the story you’re telling? Because if it isn’t, then why are you even?
Slow-mo shots are great for achieving dramatic emphasis on a crucial moment in your story. If done well, they can add tension, joy, or humor to your shot. And the same goes for time-lapse shots: When you’re looking to capture a beautiful effect like a sunrise or sunset over a dramatic cityscape or mountain-range, then by all means… go for it. Just don’t overdo it.
Because the truth is that literally everyone these days seems to be wilding out on time-lapse and slow-motion effects. If you’re using them just because others are doing them, that’s hardly a selling point.
What’s more, fast-forwarding certain types of shots can pretty much ruin them, For example, a camera shot taken from a drone will almost always be a little shaky due to wind velocity and cross-currents. When you speed up drone footage, it becomes obvious your camera is shaking in the wind, which distracts your audience from the beautiful overhead shot you were going for.
Don’t skimp on audio
A lot of first-timer vloggers go all-out when it comes to buying video gear. But what good are drones and cranes and fancy GoPros when all you’ve got to match them for sound is the mic on your camera?
Do NOT be that person!
Here’s a suggestion: Instead of your camera mic, use a road mic that records the ambient soundscape all around you. You’ll add a layer of naturalness to your shot that your audience will instantly recognize as less “plastic” and more authentic. Depending on what you’re aiming for in terms of audio quality and budget, you can find a good list of different vlogging microphones here.
You also might want a mic that removes background noise, so you can capture dialogue or highlight particular sounds in the foreground. We can hook you up with that! We offer a full range of mics in our rental kits that allow you to block out background annoyances.
Pick a soundtrack to match your vibe
In case you hadn’t noticed already, music can make or break a travel video. We’re not going to embarrass anybody, but let’s just say that if you’re trying to go for a poignant shot of a sunset over a medieval hilltop village, and for whatever reason you decide to add circus music to your soundtrack? You may want to re-evaluate your career choices.
Also, when applying your soundtrack, make sure the beat matches your cuts between shots. If your visual transitions are off-tempo, your audience will pick up on it, the same way they pick up on a badly dubbed movie where the actors’ mouths don’t match their dialogue.
Looking for an easy one-stop-shop for all your soundtracks? By January 1st, 2022, Curastory’s soundtrack catalogue will contain over one million songs to match whatever speed you’re traveling at.
Travel vlogging will continue to be a fast-growing industry and opportunity for those who know how to find their niche. If you want to get a glimpse into the possibilities for making a name in this vertical, consider the case of Briggs Darrington of Idaho Falls, ID. Briggs might only be a little more than one year old, but he already pulls in $1k per month from engagement on social media, where he’s known as the baby who’s been on 45+ plane flights.