How to Create a Travel Video that Stands Apart

Today I thought I’d share a few tips on how to create a travel video that stands apart. You know my opinion on overdone Instagram photo trends, and there is a similar phenomenon happening with travel video. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching the same video over and over. It’s not hard to create unique travel films but it does take some risk and planning. Follow these few tips and you’ll be well on your way to a travel video that is uniquely yours.

 

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Avoid cliches

 This is a pretty standard rule in writing, photography and film and but I think it’s especially relevant to the blogging world where a certain blogger style of captioning and shooting has emerged. The reality is that there are no rules to being a blogger; that’s the beauty of this industry. You have all the power and can create whatever you want. Avoid cliched shots and scenes in your travel videos and you’ll quickly elevate your content.

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Use unexpected soundtracks

Music is one of my biggest passions. The soundtrack to each of my films is as important (if not more) than the shots themselves. Many editors lay out a rough edit first and then drop in a song. I am the opposite. The song sets the tone for each of my films. Maybe you’ve noticed, there seems to be a go-to style of song that many travel bloggers use in their films. Bubbly-Euro-pop-house has become a standard blogger soundtrack. Sure that style works sometimes, but there is a world of way more interesting music out there to choose from. The right song can trigger an emotion in your viewers, give them goosebumps, make them feel something powerful, and isn’t that what this is all about? So try to play with different genres and tempos. In the “Pura Vida” film I shot for #BarceloStories I used a completely ambient track that really tugged on my emotions:

And in this one I chose a kitschy retro latin track to enhance the playfulness:

In the film I shot for Air New Zealand I used a track that started with a minimal piano followed by a massive breakbeat build. Tracks with a lot of highs and lows tend to keep your audience engaged.

I typically don’t use free music libraries because the selection is so limited. Soundcloud is a great place to connect with musicians who want to get their music heard and will sometimes give you the rights to use their music under a creative commons license. But since searching for the perfect track can be extremely time consuming I work with APM Music and pay for each of the songs that I use. It’s a very worthwhile investment. APM has one of the most robust music libraries in the industry. Every sound you can imagine you will find there, from chanting monks to cumbia to chirping birds.

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Add your voice or other sound effects

I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that the reason someone liked my video was because of my narration. Sometimes the visuals alone and a perfect track can convey a story perfectly. But often times a narration will take your video to the next level. You don’t have to say a lot. Sometimes just a few short words can make a world of difference. In my video about Galapagos, a few key lines really help to carry the story.

This rain storm in Costa Rica inspired a more poetic narration:

 

To record your narration, I recommend investing in Snowball mic by Blue. It plugs right into your laptop with a USB and delivers that super crisp audio that you hear in my films. Make sure you record in a closet or soundproof space to avoid echos or interference.

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Get creative with your shots

I elaborated on this topic in a different post about how to self-shoot a travel video, but getting creative with the type of shots you choose to include in your travel video can make all the difference. Try different angles, styles, frames. Seek inspiration from sites like Nowness.

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The video doesn’t always have to feature you

Your fans love you, that’s why they are following you. But they also want to get a glimpse at the people and culture that surrounds you. So don’t be shy about including scenes of locals and street life. After all, the reason that we travel is to connect with other cultures and immerse ourselves in a foreign experience. Here’s an example of a behind-the-scenes video that I shot where I really tried to capture what I was seeing through my lens:

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I hope you guys found these tips helpful. If you have a question about travel videos, shooting, voiceovers, editing, or blogging please leave them in the comments and I’ll answer each of them!

2 Comments

  • Is says:

    Hi Courtney!

    Love your videos, you are so talented and you have something special that others don’t. I am curious, are you self-taught or did you take classes about video?

    Thanks!

    • Thank you so much! Your note made me smile. I am completely self-taught. I have never taken a video, editing or photography class. I have worked alongside many talented filmmakers and editors over the years and have absorbed a lot from observing them on the job. I still have so much to learn!xx

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