Most travel influencers make the #goodlife look effortless—like every day just so happens to begin with an oceanside feast and end with champagne glasses clinking as a pink sun melts into the horizon. There are lavender fields galore, and hey—do you have a special strategy for finding a city’s most charming doors?
But really: How do they do it?! Here, nine full-fledged travel influencers reveal the biggest secrets behind their highly filtered lives:
1. THEY HAVE NO REAL HOME BASE
It’s hard to be afraid of heights when your head is always in the clouds! For reference of how high up I am, check out the bell tower of the @biltmorehotel in the last photo. Fun facts about this iconic hotel: 1. After WWII it was temporarily used as a Veteran hospital, and my grandpa stayed there to be treated for tuberculosis! 2. Al Capone had a suite here and would tend to throw anyone who beat him at poker off the balcony of it. #funfactsbyalyssa #biltmorehotel #miami #coralgables #belltower #lillypulitzer #mylifesatravelmovie #alyssaramostravels #travelblogger #solotravel
"I don't have an apartment, and I haven't for two years,” says Alyssa Ramos, 30, of @mylifesatravelmovie and @alyssaramostravels, a side-gram where she vlogs about how she gets the shots she posts on her primary page.
While travelling, she typically packs one suitcase and leaves the rest of her belongings in a storage unit, as per an Instagram video posted earlier this year. “If I need or want a break, I'll get a hotel or Airbnb in a place I feel comfortable for two weeks or so, then I start travelling again,” she says.
Kiersten "Kiki" Rich, 30, of @theblondeabroad and her eponymous website, is also somewhat nomadic. “I consider Southern California my home base half the year, and Cape Town, South Africa my base the other half," she says, adding that she travels about nine months a year.
2. THEY EDIT THEIR PHOTOS VIOLENTLY
Day 5 of #TastyTravels with @hotelsdotcom in Paris features Strawberry Almond Paris-Brest (Paris-Brest Fraise Amande) from La Pâtisserie des Rêves. Paris-Brest was first created in 1910 to commemorate the cycling event from Paris to Brest, but it became so popular that you can find it in most Parisian patisseries these days. The round shape of it is said to represent the bicycle wheels. This dessert is a must-have when in Paris. It's normally made from choux pastry with Praline cream, but this one I got is a Mother's day special by La Pâtisserie des Rêves where the choux pastry is inverted and topped with fresh Strawberries and extra almonds in the Praline cream. Also, it' s prettier Special thanks to @food_feels for finding this place! This is why I love travelling with foodies. #shotoniphone #parisbrest #strawberry #paris #GirlEatParis #choux #almond #amande #fraise #
“The less editing the better," says Melissa Hie, 34, of @girleatworld, who relies on the right location and natural light so she doesn't have to go filter-crazy.
But most travel photos go through the ringer before they turn up in your feed: Ramos spends up to 30 minutes editing her photos using Adobe Lightroom, software that delivers more professional results, she says, adding that she'll use Snapseed, an editing app, to cut editing time down to 10 minutes.
Well played Aperol. Well played. Locking in some prime photo real estate across from the iconic Duomo in Milan that just so happens to perfectly contrast your cocktails. I actually went here 3 times while I was in Milan for the view with my aperitifs (all you can eat food if you buy one drink), but waited till @anna.everywhere got in on a layover to help me snap the pic with my new cam so I wouldn’t have to put the tripod down in a crowd! We also “had to” have a drink at 11am (specifically with no plastic straws) to get our pics since our train to the airport was at 12! #priorities. Luckily though she had a hotel right near the Duomo that we stored our bags at. That being said, if you’re only in Milan for a layover or couple days, you might want to consider this area! It can be pricey but @tripvalet has some good discounts! You can even try them for free right now for a week using TripValetWithAlyssa.info! #milan #duomo #sonya7riii #sonyalpha #terrazzaaperol #aperitifs #italyfashion #mylifesatravelmovie #alyssaramostravels #travelblogger #igersmilano #igersmilan #tripvalet #brandambassador #thelaststraw #saveouroceans #stradivarius
Rich, who shoots with a Fujifilm X Series camera and lenses, also uses Adobe Lightroom. She saves time by creating presets, or saved edit settings that can be applied as easily as an Instagram filter.
Don't miss my new bikini collection that I designed with @LSPACEswim! It features my favorite (and reversible) wrap top and a super comfy, reversible high-waisted bikini. Who doesn't love a little palm print in their life? ;) Check out my link in bio for the whole collection! #LSPACExTheBlondeAbroad
3. THEY MAKE SIX-FIGURE INCOMES
Public transportation Between lazing around on the beach and eating fresh baked pizza every day for lunch, I feel slightly less guilty having to ride a bike everywhere around the island Outfit by @lspaceswim (link in stories) | @conradboraboranui #conradboraboranui #borabora #frenchpolynesia #tahiti http://liketk.it/2wd4R #liketkit @liketoknow.it #sponsored
Although influencers hustle hard for freebies like comped hotel stays, it's not like they can't afford the lifestyles they lead: Many of them earn legit salaries from posting sponsored content on their Instagram pages, blogs, and YouTube pages; brand ambassadorships; affiliate links; and product placement. Ramos estimates she'll bring home about $110,000 this year on top of her $40,000 in savings, while Rich says her brand generates over $500,000 annually.
4. THEIR TRIPS ARE NOT VACATIONS.
I’m super excited to be flying to France tomorrow and guess what! I have a really fun project that will include everyone who follows my stories for the week. It’ll involve one of you potentially winning your own trip!!!!! Eckkk how exciting is that! Stay tuned to find out all the details & I’m so happy to include you all!
Turns out you can't get comped penthouse suites and yacht rides with a winning smile. And because the terms of every paid opportunity can be vastly different, according to Christine Tran, 32, of @tourdelust, travel influencers can spend several hours a day pitching themselves to brands and negotiating deals, which for Tran, could amount to anywhere from $2,500 (Dhs9,180 to Dhs55,000—or more. "I always end my night with an early dinner and rarely go out for drinks after," she says. "I prefer getting back to my hotel early to spend at least one to two hours catching up on email."
And then there's location scouting: “One thing that I don't share—even on Instagram stories—is the planning process and researching places,” says Tran, who never rests in her search for photographic jewells that align with her bright, airy Instagram aesthetic.
What's more, photoshoots themselves can really fill up an itinerary. "We work the entire time during our travels, and we are constantly working," says Alyssa Bossio, 25, of @effortlyss, of the trips she takes with her boyfriend, who shoots and edits every photo on her feed. "It's constant photoshoots."
We all have those moments where we just can’t stop smiling Paris has been such an amazing stop on our #Eurotrip. We explored every possible corner of this magical place while we were here — finding the cutest vegan smoothie place where the girl who worked there followed me (so nice to meet you!!), running through colorful streets taking photos of the Eiffel, discovering undercover bars with friends, seeing the city from the best rooftops, and most importantly, meeting so many of you amazing souls (in London too!) — The best part is we are just getting started! Now off to the breathtaking #ITALY for some more incredible summer adventures!!!!I am 100% Italian and I know a little bit of the language already, and it’s been such a dream of mine to visit my roots!!!Tag someone you’d come to #Paris with! Use #Effortlyss so I can see your beautiful travel content
Even off the road, there's rarely time for influencers to kick back, according to Esther JuLee, 35, of @estherjulee and LocalAdventurer, the six-year-old travel blog she runs with her husband. She clocks 80-hour work weeks when she's not travelling. "After over a decade of working for myself, I'm convinced [work-life balance] doesn't exist,” she says.
5. THEY WAKE UP AT THE CRACK OF DAWN TO TAKE PHOTOS
Kara Harms, of @thewhimsysoul and the blog Whimsy Soul, is often up and on location by 5:30 am despite admitting that this part of her job isn't exactly fun. "The morning light is always perfectly soft and has just the right amount of warmth," she says. "It's almost hard to take a bad photo at sunrise." What's more, visiting landmarks before tourists swarm help sidestep crowds and photo-bombers, she adds.
Nightfall is another prime time for perfect photography: "The light is soft and golden and much easier to play around with during post-processing," says Alexandra Taylor, 23, of @alliemtaylor, alluding to her photo editing routine.
6. THEY RARELY FOOT THE BILL FOR CLOTHING THAT APPEARS IN THEIR FEEDS.
There is really nothing like Venice I always get asked in my messages about how I’m able to afford all of this traveling. I didn’t grow up wealthy. There is no short answer to this question so I’ll try to simplify it here. I initially used all of my savings from my childhood to invest in my first social media brand, which was a fitness brand. All of my birthday and holiday, as well as working at an ice cream shop and as a hostess, allowed me to save. When college came around, I worked extra hard in school that I was able to receive scholarship to pay for my tuition. Then, I started selling my own fitness guides which helped pay for my additional school costs & I used the rest to invest back into social media. Eventually, I made enough from my guides to be able to start traveling and I slowly turned into a travel brand. As I kept posting more high quality content, I started to ask brands for partnerships and brands started reaching out to me as well. After 6 years of persistence and hard work, I am fortunate enough to be able to work with some of the top brands in the world and create content for them. These brands pay me to advertise in my own creative unique way, and I only work with ones that I truly love. — The truth about living this life is that it’s not luck or inheritance 99% of the time, it’s hard work! And time. And patience. And most importantly passion. If you’re not passionate about it, the persistence won’t last. I hope this clarifies the whole “how can you afford” question
"I shop and sometimes return the clothes [I wear in shoots] if I know I'm not going to wear them again, or I'll reach out to brands if I really need an outfit and they'll send clothes to me," says Bossio, who plans her outfits to vibe with the places she visits. For Greece, she might opt for a blue and white dress, while she'll slip into a rainbow swimsuit to post amidst Portugal's colourful beach chairs. Oh, and she changes outfit several times a day to make each shoot look different, she says.
7. THEY PACK—AND HOARD—PHOTO PROPS
“I always pack a small cute bag and hat to use as props," says Tran, who also travels with extra pairs of sunglasses and watches to feature in her photos. But when she needs something extra to make her pictures pop, she improvises by borrowing cute towels, flower pots, lights, candles, food, cocktails, and even newspapers from her hotel.
8. SH*T HAPPENS—THEY JUST DON'T POST ABOUT IT.
“There are lots of sleepless nights, jet lag, running through airports, losing stuff, hauling 60-pound suitcases up steep stairs, and lonely nights in hotel rooms,” says Nicole Isaacs of @nicoleisaacs, who insists her travels aren't always quite as glamorous as they look. “I’ve gotten puked on by a kid on an airplane, lost my luggage more times than I can count, been robbed on a beach, missed trains and flights, and have been stuck in small towns in the middle of nowhere. The list goes on and on.” You'd never guess it!
9. WHEN THEY GET BURNED OUT, THEY PAY FOR THEIR OWN VACATIONS
Having a morning moment over some Turkish Coffee I’m so excited to announce that I just launched my blog and wrote an entire guide about my trip to Marrakech. Check out the link in my bio to read more tips on where to stay, what to see and where to eat while you’re there. Also let me know what else you’d like me to write about next!
“This hotel actually didn’t pay me to go," says Taylor of her decision to visit Goreme, Turkey's super instagrammable Cappadocia Cave Suites (above)—and post about it. "I paid for my stay since sometimes I like to enjoy my time and not have to stress about doing sponsored posts while I’m there."
10. THEY MAJORLY MISS THEIR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS.
The on-the-road grind can seriously wear on travel influencers: “When I call my family and friends back home, sometimes it makes me sad that I miss out on some of their important life events," says JuLee, who spends a year in each location she visits. "We've considered moving back."
Bossio agrees that constant movement can make her long for her own bed. "I travel so much that it gets very overwhelming at times, and I get a little homesick," she says, but not before adding, "my job is amazing."
H/T Cosmo UK