Two and a half years ago, my family and I took off for a five-month trip around the world. Long story short, that five-month trip has evolved into 100 weeks of full-time travel, covering 50 countries and well over 150 flights.
We’ve turned our love for travel, family time, and journal-keeping into full-time jobs. Now, through our Instagram, @thebucketlistfamily, we work as family travel journalists.
For people wanting to do something similar, we’ve put together a few thoughts on how we became travel journalists, and how to successfully take that plunge into the world of full-time travel.
1. Acquire skills.
We’ve always had a huge passion for journal keeping. My husband, Garett, created Instagram accounts for our children when they were born and has posted almost every single day since. He’s turned his love for keeping a record into a love for photography and videography; he is always ready to capture the moment.
In order to become a full-time traveler and travel journalist through social media, you need to figure out how you can best record a moment and then share it, whether through photography, video or text. Acquire the skills to be a talented storyteller in whichever medium fits you best.
2. Be unique.
There are plenty of sources out there for pretty pictures and helpful information, so if you’re just getting started, you need to figure out what makes you unique. Everyone is special in their own way, and if you can share that through your content that will make you stand out. This will help you differentiate yourself from all the other travel bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers out there. So, whether that’s luxury travel, underwater photography, hiking, or food, find your niche.
Another way to be unique is to have a specific goal. For example, travel to 30 countries in 30 months, or something like that. Find something that draws people into your adventures. Not only do you need to have a unique angle, you need to be able to successfully share it with the world.
3. Create something meaningful to you.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to create something that you love. As I mentioned, we so highly value the memories, photos and videos we create, that even if no one else was following along, it was still worthwhile for us to do all of this documenting. When we started to travel, the purpose wasn’t to turn it into our jobs, but to document our family adventures. By doing this, even if your blog or Instagram goes nowhere, it will still mean the world to you.
4. Create valuable content.
Provide something for your audience that is valuable to them. That value can come in a variety of forms: travel guides and tips, ways to save money, awesome products, beautiful photos, unique experiences, funny experiences, inspiring stories, positive vibes, etc.
5. Reach out to relevant brands.
Reach out to brands that you feel are relevant and compliment your brand. If you want to work with Disney or GoPro, you need to be the type of brand that those companies align with. You also need to prove to them that you can create the caliber of content that they typically share.
Before we left on our initial adventure, we reached out to all sort of brands — clothing companies, swim companies, camera companies, luggage companies, etc. We didn’t have a following, however, we had created an Instagram account and a website that looked nice and had great photos (thanks to Garrett’s photography). Initially, companies wouldn’t pay us, but they would send us free gear.
When we messaged companies, we would tell them what we were doing and offer to post, even to our 100 followers, about the product and then share the images with them. For the company, it was a good deal. They got a little promotion and some great photos, and all it cost them was some free product. Collaborating with companies from the beginning showed future brands and companies that we were capable of doing campaigns. We made ourselves look and feel more legit then we actually were.
6. Be sincere and genuine.
People want to follow you and enjoy your stories because of you. Your voice is your brand, so it is very important that you are sincere and genuine. People will better connect with you and it will show in the quality of your content.
Often times, when we tell stories, we speak to the camera as if we are speaking to our close family and friends back home. That keeps our excitement and enthusiasm real and genuine.
7. Engage with your audience.
It is better to have a small audience that you can truly connect with than a large audience that isn’t engaged with you. We use our social media community as an opportunity to bring like-minded people together. We’re so incredibly grateful for the people who follow us and their kindness and support. We do our best to engage with them in every post. That can be a lot of work, but it goes a long way.
8. Network with everyone.
Online and offline, be engaged with those around you. One of the best parts of travel is networking and connecting with people from all different walks of life. And that becomes very valuable as a travel journalist: Because you are able to provide value to the lives of others, others are able to provide value to you.
9. Be ready to work, work, work.
Garrett does all of our creative — photography, filming, video editing, etc. — and I do all of the posting, brand management and trip planning. I probably work 30 hours a week, aside from my mother responsibilities, and Garrett closer to 40 hours a week. That’s on top of the traveling from location to location and capturing content along the way.
It’s not a vacation. It might be a ton of fun, but it is also a ton of work.
Bonus: Spread love.
The internet can amplify any message you want to spread. So we feel it is our responsibility to take the opportunity and use our platform to share goodness throughout the world.
We hope this information was helpful for you on your own journey and most of all, we hope you will join us in traveling the world, experiencing its love, and then sharing that love with others.