Influencers tell us what it’s like to travel for content. Collage: VICE / Images: (L) Courtesy of Martina and Leslie Johnson, (R) Courtesy of Beixin Lee and Robin Lam
From waking up at odd times to hauling heavy equipment to foreign cities, Martina and Leslie Johnson described their trips abroad as a big ‘go go go’.
“You know, we travel a lot, but we don’t take a lot of vacations,” Martina told VICE. Also known as That Couple Who Travels, the content creators regularly traveled to faraway places and documented their travels with more than 30,000 Instagram followers, before the pandemic.
But the Johnsons said their trips were often filled with busy schedules and anxiety at work.
“Your goal is to travel everywhere,” Leslie said. “So when you’re out there you want to make sure you capture everything. ”
Travel influencers are often associated with ambitious lifestyles, but the perfect Instagram feeds aren’t always what they seem. It comes with some nice perks, of course, but it’s not the dream job most imagine.
Like other marketers, many are obligated to keep their customers happy. Even when trips aren’t sponsored, the endless grind of social media means that many influencers are living realities where content comes first.
For the Johnsons, extended travel photoshoots are a habit that comes from being longtime content creators. But because they have kept their day job, they are not financially dependent on their social media activity.
It’s even harder to step back when your livelihood is at stake, as one Singaporean couple learned.
“We know it sounds so much like a dream, but what you see on social media is really only a fraction of what’s really going on in our work,” photographers Beixin Lee and Robin Lam told VICE. and Singapore-based travel videographers. E-mail. The couple are known for their stunning shots of nature and tourist attractions, and used to work with tourist boards, hotels and airlines to create international travel content.
When planning trips, they need to make sure they get the best light at specific times of the day, depending on the location, just to get the best shot. They once woke up at 2 a.m. to climb Roys Peak in New Zealand, just so they could capture the scenery with good lighting and fewer people.
“Sometimes you almost feel like you’re not living in the moment because you’re so focused on capturing the best photos. [or] possible videos, that you don’t really put down your gear to figure it all out and have fun, ”they said.
Then the pandemic happened and many travel influencers found themselves unable to do what they are paid to do. Lee and Lam’s travel-related partnership deals dried up almost overnight, and concerns about their livelihoods took hold.
“We would be lying if we said we haven’t wrestled for a long time,” they said. “There was pressure to take other types of work to put food on the table since all of our travel jobs were canceled.”
The couple turned to exploring local places while remaining focused on nature. It’s not the easiest type of content to create in the concrete jungle that is Singapore, which lacks the abundance of nature and sprawling backdrops that characterize its content.
But they’re trying to make it work.
From forest baths to nature breaks and hikes, Lee and Lam show their followers the green spaces that Singapore has to offer. “It took us a while to adjust and learn to be patient and be more comfortable with the slower pace of life of the pandemic,” they said.
The public profiles of travel influencers and the nature of the work make them vulnerable to certain scams. And even without the financial challenges of the pandemic, studies have shown that a career in content creation could be bad for your mental health. Kiki Rich, also known as The Blonde Abroad, is a content creator who shares tips for women traveling alone. However, she first looked at how her job requires her to market her personality as well.
“I’m a curious person and have been traveling for a very long time, and my intention is to inspire people, to provide them with ideas and guides, and to help them travel. So it’s more of an educational resource, ”said Rich, who has been blogging about his travels for about 10 years. “But the pressures of social media and what works well have kind of forced you to be an artist. “
“But the pressures of social media and what works well have kind of forced you to be an artist. “
As Rich has discovered over a decade of traveling, the lifestyle can be incredibly exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Rich said that early in her career, she struggled to maintain relationships and follow a healthy diet and workout routine because she was constantly traveling.
“Living in a suitcase isn’t glamorous no matter what they say,” she said.
But despite spotlighting the less sexy side of travel blogging, Rich said she’ll likely stick with it. After all, that’s what she loves and what she does well. It is also a job that allows him to explore his creativity through photography in a way that it is impossible to stay in one place.
“I think people are more excited than ever to travel, so I’ll probably go back to full power travel,” she said. “I don’t think that will ever change, although there are ebbs and flows of the travel style.”
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