Making Travel Videos: 11 tips from the experts

So you want to be a travel video blogger? Or, maybe that is not what you want to do full time, but you’d like to incorporate a little videoing or vlogging into your travel recording lifestyle.

Us too.

Except we don’t really know how to do it well, yet.

Before you leave us now – as you are expecting to get video tips from someone who has just told you I’m a novice – hear me out.

I am going to give you some expert video making tips. Things we learned from a day of shooting video with a production crew from Expedia.

The video experts.

We had a fabulous morning with them at Palm Beach in Sydney sharing our expert travel tips for taking short breaks.

What I loved so much about this entry into travel videos was that we didn’t have to do the hard stuff.

We just had to share what we knew.

They worried about the frames, the lighting, the long shots, the short shots, how to piece the story together and how to coach us in order to get the right message out in a relevant way.

Oh, and they can take care of the editing too. Can I make these kind of travel videos full-time?

Here’s what we learned about how to make travel videos:

1. Think about your location

Choosing a concrete building in a ramshackle street next to a construction site is not going to inspire people. You want maximum impact.

We filmed at various locations on one of Australia’s most famous beaches – famous because it reaches the living room of thousands of homes nightly via Australia’s much-loved TV drama, Home and Away.

We chose different places to film: the quieter Pittwater area, the lighthouse on the cliff, the beach, at the ocean pool and a restaurant. Each location told the story of a short break.

Also, watch what is in the background. We had to change directions several times as Home and Away was filming in the background (and very easily distracting me!)

2. Think about background noise

We had to constantly survey the area for any lawnmowers, overhead planes or passing trucks. We also had to be prepared to retake several times when a baby hiding in a capsule starting crying right at the end of a long tip that we were nailing.

3. Take long and short shots

The story needs to be told from different angles. Close ups and far away shots of you doing the travel activities that fit the location.

We hiked through the bush, took beach walks, stared in open wonder at the lighthouse and views, and walked along the beach. Each of these activities and locations long shots were grabbed of us and then closer up when we shared our tips.

4. Tell the background story

How can you incorporate your travel story into the travel video?

Can you ask a passer-by to stand in the backdrop taking in the views, laughing or talking? Can you film one of you taking photographs and goofy tourist shots?

Try to capture the random conversations you have with your travelling partner about what you are experiencing and how you feel.

5. Capture the light

The hardest thing about photography or filming video is the light. You need to get it just right. Evenly spread and not too dark or too harsh. Early or late in the day is optimal.

Walk around, look at the sun, get in the right position, and test how it looks in the camera. At one stage the guys were using a light reflector to pop the light in the right spot on our face.

6. Know your grabs

We understood this term by the end of the day. We had to redo so much of what we were saying to make sure we were getting the grab in there. The grab is the most pertinent message – the thing you want to drive home the most and are going to get viewers to take action.

7. Short and sweet

In today’s world, our attention spans are small. You need to make your travel videos short and sweet.

Everything you want to include in the travel story needs to be done to maximum effect. Get straight to the heart of the message and cull out all the excess baggage. The best way to do it is to use your grabs.

What do you most want to say and deliver it short and sweet?

8. Don’t be a presenter

This was the hardest thing for us to learn.

By the end of the day, we had warmed up to the filming and got a better feel for what we had to do. It certainly became easier when we threw the bikini and board shorts on for a play in the surf. We felt more at ease and natural then so the chatty side of us came out.

We spoke with the guys about this a lot. When cameras are shoved in people’s faces they change quite quickly. You suddenly feel like you have to be that getaway reporter and present the information when really all you have to do is chat just like you would to a friend.

9. Have it planned out before hand

We were lucky that the production crew knew where to go and how to show the story. They knew the brief and how to fill it. We did have to write our tips out before hand to help them create the shots.

Having our tips for taking short breaks written out helped us to be better prepared for what to say. The problem for us is that writing things down is a lot easier (well for me anyway) then to communicate it verbally.

Mike and Cam were so brilliant at helping us get to the heart of our message and chat about it on the camera.

10. Get feedback

I know it’s embarrassing filming yourself and then putting it together into a video format. But, this is why you are doing it right? To be the next youtube sensation.

Find someone who can give you feedback. Maybe get someone to travel with you or a friend you’ve just met in your accommodation to join you. Get them to tell you how you look from the outside. A fresh pair of eyes might be able to see a better frame, or tell you how to say something a better way.

We learned so much from Mike and Cam, the experts from opening ourselves up to be guided by their expertise.

11. Remember to smile and let your personality come through

Play with what you are doing. Throw in a joke, be relaxed, laugh and smile often.

I know it’s far easier said than done, and I am miles from perfecting it. Just keep practicing and think less of the script and just be yourself. Why not?

Check out this post on making travel videos for Instagram.

Are you a travel videographer or vlogger? What tips can you add to the list?

28 thoughts on “Making Travel Videos: 11 tips from the experts”

  1. Very nice video from the Expedia guys, and of course, you guys did a great job in front of the camera! Great tips too! Both on the video and about videography.

    Cheers!

    1. Thanks Norbert! It took ages to get it right and there’s still a lot of room for improvement! It certainly helps to have your own camera crew!

      1. Our advertising network uses it to display our videos. I don’t know much about the specifics of it but it seems to work well.

  2. One thing I’m always conscious of grabbing is a lot of what we call “B-Roll”. These are shots you can incorporate when you’re doing voiceovers, to set the scene, or to further help tell your story. They can be shots of someone walking on the street, a close up of something unique, or a wide shot of your landscape. You can never shoot enough B-roll 🙂

    1. We have a long way to go with that one Matthew. It’s such a challenge. I think the more practice the more comfortable you get.

  3. Jeremy Branham

    Very good tips! Video is much harder than I ever thought. There’s much more work and planning than people think. Plus you need to do personality X 10. Need more energy and enthusiasm.

    I don’t do a lot of video and it’s something I really really need to work on. Not sure I have a face or personality for the camera but I try 🙂

    1. It’s so hard and takes up so much time. I would love to do it if I had my own camera crew following us around and doing all the hard stuff. I think you’d be great on camera Jeremy!

  4. Love the tips! Like some of the other commenters, I think ‘don’t be a presenter’ is a great tip. After my most recent trip I noticed I moved the camera around too much and was getting motion sickness from my footage! Keep the camera still and let the scene do the moving!

  5. Number 2 has always been one of the bigger problems for me when creating videos as I always have to much background noise in my videos.

  6. great tips – especially for beginners very helpful. I had to learn most of these things the hard way. very important for me was the fact that camera movement is most of the time not needed.

    BTW: love your new mobile version of the page!

  7. Super tips… I feel that the last one is especially important as becoming a presenter might make the video look like a documentary! But giving the video a casual look, adding humor and off-the-cuff remarks is great, but difficult to achieve in real-life situations. Thanks for the useful tips, once again.

    Destination Infinity

  8. Thank you for this article, very usefull for me. Until now i spend a lot of money on traveling around the world, now i plan to earn money and travel. I did around 60 clips, less the 1 min, post them on youtube, but not so much buzz. Now i will do the good way, 10 minutes, with me talking…

  9. Hey there

    As director of a new TV series on travel (that does not concentrate on tourists) I found your article while searching for resources for some of my crew. I HIGHLY disagree about redoing takes because of babies, or turning around to get the “pretty shot”, my guess is you were with a crew that is so conditioned to showing lies, they forgot about showing the truth. To each their own though, thanks for the information

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