As one who has a general tendency to plan things, the planning stage is a lot of fun. While spontaneous travel has a lot of merits, deciding on the destination for the next travel video requires some solid planning.
A love for travel makes a person want to visit MANY places. How do I go by deciding on the destination that becomes the next travel film subject? Well, it’s a process that begins months before the trip and involves several main considerations such as:
Audience interest in the travel destination
Ease / Difficulty of video shoot
Money, that pesky thing that makes the world go around which may make or break a trip. Every destination has its own set of factors determining the required budget. A mountain getaway an hour away from home would cost peanuts compared to a travel video shoot across the Pacific or the Atlantic.
So, the first thing to do is to log in to the bank account, look under the mattress, calculate near future income and establish how much money is available for a trip.
Time is an equally important consideration when planning a trip.
The first thing to consider is the amount of time available for a trip. Travel video creation does not pay my bills (maybe it will someday). As flexible as my current line of work is, I still need to consider if I have enough time off/vacation time to be able to effectively shoot the travel video.
The second consideration, which ties into the potential travel destination, is the amount of time required to spend there to shoot a travel video that shall encapsulate all that I want it to.
The third consideration is the time of year that would be best to film at a particular destination. Freezing or blazing hot temperatures do not make for good filming days and would take a physical toll on both myself and the equipment. Therefore, I prefer to travel in the Fall or Spring where temperatures / weather conditions are more manageable. Travelling during off season / not during holidays makes the filming experience easier / cheaper.
The world is a big place with lots of amazing places worthy of an in-depth travel video. Some places are more famous and popular than others. These places will naturally gain more views should I decide on filming there.
A goal of mine is to balance between popular destinations and less known destinations which would be interesting to travel to and capture on video.
Ease / Difficulty of Video Shoot
A foreign country with a local language I’m not familiar with or local laws, rules and attitudes that view public filming as bothersome/negative would be much more challenging to capture than a highly developed, popular and welcoming tourist destination.
Convenience of local transportation plays an important role in the decision-making process. The gear and equipment I carry feel heavier and heavier after a while. A good public transportation system or a well-positioned place of lodging shall make a video shoot far easier.
Personal safety needs to be considered as well. Research on local crime and potential dangerous areas are a must.
Obtaining approval from the local tourist board and authorities as well as filming access at popular attractions will make the video shoot simpler to achieve and potentially more interesting. This is never guaranteed. One must consider if sticking to free public spots alone would be enough to create an interesting travel video.
Where do I decide to go and film?
I use several resources. I start by asking myself “where do I want to go”? That question is followed by “Where have I previously been”? I’d rather explore a different area of the globe than make two consecutive videos in the same area.
Reading about current top destinations in the world helps focus on potential candidates. If there is a popular destination that I also want to visit, chances have increased that I’ll choose to go there.
Comments, messages received by viewers recommending certain destinations also play a part in the decision making.
Hallelujah! I’ve decided on where I want to go. Now what?
How do I get to the destination? Where should I stay?
Based on the budget I have; the time has come to decide how to get to where I’m going as well as deciding on lodging. Most of the destinations require flying to get there.
The location of the lodging is a key factor as it should be situated in an area where access to it as well as the areas I intend on filming is easy. The lodging might be further away than where the action is. However, good local transportation options might mitigate a distance inconvenience.
My first go-to website to visit would be a general travel website, normally ‘Expedia’. Depending on my travel dates, the site gives an estimate of the price of a flight + hotel combined. I also look up the prices for the flight / hotel alone. Other general travel websites I often check are ‘Hotels.com’ and ‘Kayak’.
Armed with this initial information, I continue shopping around on more specific websites such as individual airline websites and hotel brand websites.
I also make sure to check the number of available miles I have with my flight rewards program. If I have enough and if the taxes / surcharges aren’t ridiculously high (Most rewards programs only cover the ticket price), I might seriously consider using them to cover my flight expense. I rarely use accumulated miles for hotel stays.
The ‘Airbnb’ website is another must stop while researching potential lodgings. A lengthy stay at a destination would make a stay at an Airbnb far more attractive than a hotel although there are destinations where it makes more sense to me to stay at a hotel. I might also decide to split my stay between an Airbnb and a hotel, depending on availability / affordability.
Reading reviews of the potential hotels must be done as well. The ‘TripAdvisor’ website is normally my first stop. I also use ‘SeatGuru’ as part of my decision on selecting a particular seat on my flight.
Eventually, I manage to find the flight/lodging combination which suits me the most for that specific trip.
What to capture on the travel video?
The old-school traveler in me loves to have a hard copy travel guide handy as a reference and as a souvenir. By the time I’m done with a hard copy travel guide, it’s full of markings and notes.
An up to date hard copy travel guide is usually my first source of information when planning a trip. The ‘DK Eyewitness Travel’ guides are my preferred hard copy travel guides due to them being an excellent resource as well as containing great photos/illustrations. If my trip destination doesn’t have an up to date ‘DK Eyewitness Travel’ guide, I’ll pick up the hard copy ‘Lonely Planet’ guide.
In this day and age, by far the best source of information / help I have while planning and filming at the destination is ‘Google Maps’. It makes creating a travel video SO MUCH easier. Using a local sim card with my mobile phone, I’m able to buy a local data plan for far cheaper than roaming costs and thus use ‘Google Maps’ without worrying of a huge bill.
With ‘Google Maps’, not only can I mark specific locations to film in, but also ‘pre-visit’ them and decide on where would it be best to position the camera while filming. It is an invaluable tool and the most important one in my planning arsenal.
Review websites such a ‘TripAdvisor’ also provide important information regarding specific attractions at the destination which may save time and money while visiting. Knowing when to visit an attraction is crucial as certain hours/days are better suited for filming.
The local official tourist board websites as well as local websites reporting on events happening are another good resource of information.
With the resource tools mentioned above, I’m able to create a solid plan as well as a framework for a filming schedule at the travel destination.
Other important things to consider?
Traveling without equipment insurance is a BAD idea. I make sure that insurance is in place well before I set foot at the airport. If venturing to another country, making sure that I can prove that my equipment was purchased prior to the trip is required.
Always have backup equipment. It would be BAD to travel halfway across to world, damage a vital piece of equipment and not be able to continue with the shoot. Therefore, backup equipment or a backup plan to replace the equipment locally is essential.
This, more or less, sums up the planning process for creating a travel video. I might have forgotten a thing or two but the main points have been addressed. As you can see, there is a lot to consider. However, at the end of the day, it’s completely worth it and a great experience!