How to make a travel video

/ Max Thorpe

A travel video is a great way to capture the essence of that pristine beach you found on your family road trip, that zip-lining excursion you took two years ago or maybe just a nice summer day in your backyard. 

Vacation videos can be created in a variety of formats and have different goals. For instance, if you’re making a travel video with the intention of getting thousands of views on YouTube, your process of filming and editing will be different than if you’re just making a video to remember a staycation in your backyard. So before you start, ask yourself, “What’s the purpose of my travel video?”. 

This article is intended for those who are looking to create a fun and memorable travel video, without spending the entire trip filming and editing. That said, there are takeaways that can be applied to any type of vacation video. Let’s get started!

Find your style

There are many styles of travel videos. Before you begin filming, it’s worth checking out a few examples to get an idea of how you’d like yours to be. There are videos that focus on the scenic landscape of the area you’re in with the goal of urging people to visit there, or videos that are more vlog-oriented with narration as you go along, or videos that all use the same transition to tie everything together. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

In this video, the creator, California Through My Lens, takes viewers along on a road trip through Death Valley National Park with his dad. He mixes narration with on-camera portions describing each part of the trip and where they are on their journey. Using simple transitions, the video moves smoothly along to highlight some of the unknown parts of Death Valley. 

 

 

This next video takes on much more of a vlog format. The Weiss Family, aka The Weiss Life on YouTube, show off their staycation as they camp with their kids in the backyard. They show off their tents, sleeping beds and share some activities for the whole family. From making s’mores to a little badminton, the family of six shows there’s plenty to do to make a backyard staycation special. 

 

 

This final video comes from AlexTheVagabond, he takes his viewers on a trip through Costa Rica while outlining the 12 essential things to do while there. He pulls together video shots throughout his trip while providing narration filled with details of each location and activity. This is a great approach for avid travelers who know some more of the unknown tips and locations that novice tourists won’t know.

 

 

There you have it, three different summer travel videos each with a different style, different place, different length, and different cameras, yet all equally engaging. A few things each of these had in common were they all told a story, albeit in different ways, with a defined beginning and end. This is something to think about when you make your vacation video. It can be something as simple as packing your suitcase, a plane taking off, the sun rising, etc.

Be picky with what you film

One of the biggest hindrances preventing people from turning their video footage into a vacation video is simply going through it all. Watching hours of video just to compile it into a 3-minute compilation can seem like a daunting task. On the other hand, running out of video to fill into a 2-minute and 36-second song can be as equally frustrating. So there’s a fine line between capturing enough quality footage to work with while also not getting an overwhelming amount that you simply never create one. You also don’t want to spend the entire vacation filming and it prevents you from having fun. Here are a few tips to help you find that balance.

  • Shoot in short spurts: When capturing B-roll, keep in mind that you’ll only use 2-5 second clips before moving to something else or a different angle. 
  • Keep your video steady: Don’t spend 5 minutes capturing shaky footage. Instead, pick your shots, steady your camera and get a quality 5-second clip. 
  • Add movement: You’re making a video, not taking a picture. If you’re taking a video of something still, like a building or a statue, consider capturing movement in front of the structure or move the camera around to add motion, which will be much more stimulating for your viewers. 
  • Add some variety: Don’t always pan at every vista. You can pan up/down/left/right, zoom in/out, move while you shoot, hold still, spin, etc. Check out our article on camera transitions and our Tuesday Tips & Tricks episode How to create easy in-camera transitions for more tips. 
  • Grab multiple angles: Humans are used to always seeing things from eye level. Make something mundane seem much more breathtaking by capturing it from different heights and angles. Bring your camera down close to the ground, climb a tree to get a visual shot, etc. 
  • Shoot at the best times of the day: Dawn and dusk are the golden hours of filming. So keep that in mind when planning a photoshoot on the beach or scenic overlooks on a hike. This is also a great time to grab a timelapse of the sun rising or setting. Who doesn’t love a good sunset?

Bonus tip: Another great way to ensure that you get enough footage, as well as some variety, is to upload your content to WeVideo while you’re traveling. This may be too much of a time commitment that it detracts from your vacation, and that’s totally okay. But it is worth pointing out that many of the top travel video channels you see on YouTube (i.e. Lost LeBlanc, The Bucket List Family, and The Planet D) edit their video content while they travel. 

Tell a story

Every travel video should tell a story. You’re going on a trip somewhere and that’s a story right there. Conveying that in a video can be challenging, especially if there are parts of the trip that don’t get filmed. There may be parts of your trip that you don’t get much footage of or areas where you wish you had B-roll to explain how you got from one place to another. WeVideo’s library of stock footage can help fill these gaps and smooth out your transitions. For instance, there are plenty of high-quality stock video options of planes taking off and landing, sunset time-lapses, aerial drone footage, and crashing waves to tie your story together. These clips can be used as valuable fillers that enhance your travel story. 

Lastly, another thing to keep in mind, is that your vacation’s story doesn’t need to be told chronologically. You can group all of the videos that were shot during the day in the beginning and all of the night stuff at the end, that way your video follows the natural progression of the sun setting. 

Creating a travel video doesn’t need to be difficult. It can be a fun memento of a great road trip, an enjoyable spa day in your backyard or an afternoon zip-lining. While many of the travel videos you see on YouTube may lead you to believe that you need to live abroad or expensive equipment to get started, that’s simply not the case–everyone starts somewhere, the hardest part is simply starting. Amidst the current pandemic, your previous summer travel plans may have been put on hold, but that doesn’t have to stop you. There are plenty of opportunities to tell amazing stories from home. Comment below with some of your creations!