Are travel vloggers free?

I like traveling. Not by plane, I should say, because the last time I took a plane was in 2013.

I like to travel with my van, which I bought in 2014 (I just realized it might have something to do with zero plane trips).

When I’m not traveling, I watch travel videos on YouTube. A lot of them.

I follow on YouTube and Instagram some so-called travel vloggers/bloggers, or influencers in the travel niche. Their job is traveling, and talking about their travel.

Sometimes I envy them. They are always around, visiting new places, the make a living from their YouTube channel, they get free stuff all the time from sponsors, they earn with their coupon codes and affiliates.

But then sometimes I think of the behind-the-scenes. I like to think and analyze at all kinds of Internet-powered businesses

For many of the videos they produce, the production quality is super high. It’s not exactly like picking up the phone and doing a quick video.

They use drones, which add their own set of problems and weight, then you need to download the videos to the computer and do post-production, do the slow motion, find and add the right music..

Sometimes when you see their vehicle, they had to stop on the road, walk to a nice place, position the camera, go back to the vehicle, go past the video camera, stop, go back to pick the camera again.

I always like to see those scenes and then I like to think about the effort.

Sometimes they document the entire day, filming, filming what happens as it happens, they make stories on Instagram all day long, then they have to produce the video in the evening.

They need to make engaging videos for YouTube, they need to make stunning photos for Instagram.

They need to find a place to work on it, of course. They need to store all that huge amount of footage, which grows the longer the trip is. Some of the “travel bloggers” I follow travel since 5 years.

They also need to upload the video which if you don’t stay in accomodations like hotels (which is key for long-term travel), and it can be tricky when you go abroad as the data plans are still not so generous.

They have to grow their following on social media. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. How do you grow? Endlessly posting. Teasing. Repurposing old content, too.

This adds up to the normal day stuff. Oh speaking of normal days, they might not have a normal day. That would be boring for the channel. How dare you do something boring? The content marketing wheel can’t be stopped.

What if you just want to stay home? You’re going to disappear from the Internet. Or, you have to come up with something interesting from home. I know a person that travelled Italy by foot for a long time, when he got home he started doing some hobby construction work. I stopped following because I was interested in ..travel.

People that watch your videos dream about living like you.

You are not, however, living that life.

No one is living that life.

Everything is just imagination.

Can you keep up that life in the long term?

Will you burn out?

On the earning side, not everyone makes a living from the travels.

The more organized ones have sponsorship agreements with the destination, the hotels, and so on, so the travel is fully paid and they are paid too.

Some others earn from YouTube ads.

Some earn from Amazon affiliates and sponsored posts.

Some write books about their trips. Some sell merchandise.

All of those things require one thing: eyeballs. You have to be BIG.

It’s hard to bootstrap your way to “doing it”, unless you have a big runway, or you do something else.

You might work remotely for a company (but I have no idea how people can work and travel). You might be a freelancer. You might have your own company.

I traveled a lot in the past and the worst memories are from trips where I had to work while traveling. It’s such a stress-inducing scenario. You don’t fully enjoy the fun because you think you should be working. You can’t fully concentrate on work as you think you should be enjoying the trip. It’s hard to balance.

That’s what travel v(b)loggers do anyway: they work while traveling. Are you really enjoying your travels? Do you travel because you have to? Do you travel where you want to go, or where you think your audience will like more?

I always smile when some of them say they are “free”.

Are you really free? Or you are working for YouTube and Instagram?

What if tomorrow the YouTube AI cancels your channel?

Your audience goes away. Your ads revenue goes away. No followers, no sponsors, no invites to the fancy hotels.

Sure, a few fans will find you anywhere, but the mass will not.

Despite having been tempted to try that kind of lifestyle for the positive aspects of it, I prefer a lot more working on a totally different thing (helping people become computer programmers), and they paying my travels with my own money, going where I want, for how long I want. But when I’m there, focusing 100% on the travel rather than going into that famous place to that that famous photo that will get me a lot of likes.

Even if during longer travels sometimes I have to work, because I’m a solopreneur and no one is working if I don’t. This most of the times means replying to a student question via email or Discord. While I can work anywhere, this does not mean I have to, I like to, or I want to, so I try to organize my working schedule so I am free to do what I want.

I’ve been tempted to do some blogging those days when I’m traveling, for the fun of it. Not sure if I’ll ever will, but it might be a good pause for the tech posts. Describing what happens, what I learn, maybe inspiring someone else to travel.

But not doing it to earn money.

Just for the fun of it.

Speaking of blog posts, I publish a post every day, so do you know what I do when I go on holiday? I queue the posts. I don’t write every day, I publish every day. I write a lot of posts up front (I think at some point I had 2.5 months of posts queued up), so I’m 100% free. No stress.

If I get inspiration to write during the trip, I just add the post to the queue.

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