Illustrations for The Club by Edu Fuentes

May 2024

How to become a travel influencer

As more and more travellers of every age wise up to social media to monetise their passions and hobbies, we get advice from the content creators who have already turned their wanderlust into a full-time gig…

How to become… a travel Instagrammer 
The expert: @charliepauly

My journey started back in 2017, using Instagram as a visual diary of my travels. It was something for my friends and family to follow along with as I backpacked through Asia. Back then, there was no blueprint to become an ‘influencer’ or ‘content creator’. People were documenting it all purely out of passion. However, as I travelled to less touristy countries at the time, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, the following started to grow, and I realised I held weight from a marketing perspective.


Around two months into my travels, at the end of a visit to India, I was contacted by a five-star hotel, which invited me to stay for a couple of nights in return for some exposure on Instagram. I was blown away. Especially since, at this stage, I was staying in backpacker hostels for around $1 a night. Once I got a few bites, I quickly had to do some research into better camera gear and editing software and decided to launch a travel blog to diversify the income stream.

I remember the first paid deal was with a company called Squeak Design. My girlfriend at the time modelled one of its kimonos for $250. Fast forward a few years, and I signed a £15,000 deal for a single campaign. I have since worked with companies such as Disney, Canon, Osprey, Armani and Karl Lagerfeld.


It’s not been easy, though, and there has been plenty of trial and error (a little known fact is that I started out as a clothing brand, before pivoting into travel) and late night failures along the way. Even now, I can remember the days of blasting blind emails to hotels I would find through booking.com, hoping someone might want to work with me. I strongly believe that if you find your purpose and go in 100%, there’s no reason you can't achieve your wildest dreams.

What’s your Instagram golden rule?
Authenticity is key. Lots of people will try to imitate what’s out there, but ultimately people connect with those they can relate to.

How to become… a travel YouTuber
The experts: @AbbyandGaz

Our biggest piece of advice would be to just start. We created our YouTube channel back in 2021 when travel was restricted. It was an opportunity to take a gamble, use what was accessible to us and travel the UK as if we were tourists. We took our camera along, learning how to film and edit as we went, and the foundations began to build from our very first vlog, documenting the popular Stanage Edge walk in the Peak District. It was an easy option: a video with an obvious beginning (introduce the walk), middle (show the journey) and end (epic views). We weren’t expecting much of a response, but we received positive comments that really motivated us. 

We have the best job in the world – a job that’s still amazing, even when you’re having a tough day

Our second piece of advice would be to treat it like a business from the very beginning – no half measures. We get asked constantly: “How do you have the motivation to film and edit all the time?” and our response is: “It’s our job”. A YouTube career can be achieved – put simply – by building a strong, loyal following and monetising the content. To achieve the former, we constantly responded to comments, listened to audience feedback and provided value and entertainment in our videos. Once we had high engagement rates, advertisers wanted to work with us. Now, we have the best job in the world – a job that’s still amazing, even when you’re having a tough day.


Thirdly, and finally, passion speaks louder than any fancy storytelling, editing or camera. If you are worried about technique, keep things rooted in the present. For example, “Wow, look at this fantastic view” is so much better than “We just saw the most fantastic view”. This should be complemented in your editing, overlaying B-roll (supplementary footage) of the views on top of your main speaking parts. The best YouTubers make their audience feel as if they are experiencing the day with them, not watching them online. But the main thing is to love what you are doing, and people will, in turn, love to watch you.

What’s your number one piece of kit?
A GoPro (available at Currys). When travelling, the best piece of equipment is one that is versatile and can be whipped out and turned on in seconds.

How to become… a travel TikToker 
The expert: @sarahtoyin

Travel TikTok and travel blogging is such an open field – which means it can be really useful to find a niche. I found mine in South Korea, where I’d moved to teach English. My blog became a way to communicate with friends and family back home, but also to help out anyone also looking to teach in Korea, since the process can be complicated. My content back then wasn’t sophisticated, but it was useful – a fact not to be underestimated. I then moved over to TikTok, where I really found my momentum as a content creator.

@sarahtoyin Replying to @trishatravelsx 💕 Did I Feel Safe Travelling Solo/ Alone To New York as a woman? Here are some of the tips/things I focused on to feel safe in New York #newyork. #nyc #travellingalone #solotravel #blacksolofemaletraveler #solotrip #newyorktravel #nyctrip #solotravelwoman #britishgirlinamerica #solotraveltips #blacktravelblogger ♬ Lofi/Fashionable/Rose Piano/10 minutes(1455693) - nightbird_bgm

I was initially posting about lots of different things alongside my travels, before deciding to focus only on travel (with niches in South Korea, solo travel and affordable trips). The idea was that when a brand saw my page, they knew instantly that my audience comes here for travel content. I would advise that, like me, you look into how to create searchable content on TikTok, investing time to learn about SEO, which helps my page to show up when people are searching for specific topics. From there, it’s become a fully-fledged side hustle. I’ve had brands and magazines reach out to me. I’ve gone on press trips (where groups of content creators are taken – free of charge – to explore a destination and document it), and I have made commissions from affiliate links.

TikTok is a platform that appreciates authenticity, but remember that it’s also a search engine, and should be approached as one. I’m there to help my audience through inspiring, entertaining and informative content.
And remember that if you start making a certain type of content and decide it’s not working, you can change it up. Over time, you learn what kind of content you like making that your audience also enjoys. TikTok is a continuously changing platform, and you need to constantly evolve alongside it.

If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?
To get started earlier. I think people are scared to put something unpolished out into the world – but remember, you can always hide those early videos later down the line. All my early attempts are now private!

If you’re launching a social media side hustle, we’d love to hear about it – tell The Club what you’re up to at theclub@cedarcom.co.uk

This article has been tagged Adventure, Travel Tips