Oh press trips – the holy grail for many a travel blogger. I’ve been on over 40 press trips in my time, so I’m going to share the knowledge of how YOU can get invited on travel blogger press trips too.
There’s no way I would’ve been able to see and explore as many countries as I have, if it wasn’t for the media trips I’ve been invited on.
I’ll tell you the secret.
My first travel blogger press trips
I remember my first one. Well it was kind of a press trip – I’d managed to persuade my employer to send me to the TBU conference in Porto. It was all very last minute and really exciting. An all expenses trip to Porto, yes please!
That weekend ended up being a brilliant insight into the world of travel bloggers – I met so many people who I’d admired online, learnt loads and totally fell in love with Porto.
I got a new job a few weeks later and ended up going to Toronto and New York in my first week so the excitement was trumped very quickly, but I’ll never forget how happy I was that I was getting paid to travel for the first time, for free.
The first press trip for my blog came in the form of Cape Town, South Africa. Pretty sweet hey?
When will you get a press trip?
That first travel blogger press trip was a good 18 months after I first registered my domain name though.
As I’ve said before, when you’re building up your blog you can’t rush things. It takes a while to gain traction and interest among PRs and recommendations from other travel blogger influencers. Remember how I said making friends with other travel bloggers is fun and productive? Well the press trips for travel bloggers I’ve been on have all come from word of mouth recommendations from other travel bloggers.
But no matter how many friends you manage to make in this world, there are a few more credentials to cover before you’re even considered for that elusive spot on a press trip for travel bloggers.
1. You need a substantial blog
By that, I mean to have some substance.
However great your five posts are, that’s not going to get you on the PRs hit list. You need to keep going.
As Woody Allen said “80% of success is showing up” and when you’re a travel blogger that means to keep writing, podcasting, blogging, whatever medium it is you use to get your message across. The PRs recruiting for the trip need some meat to sink their teeth into.
If you’re stuck on what to write about on your travel blog to build up the amount of posts you have, click through to that post.
2. You need some stats
Not all companies want mega high stats across social media and your blog but you need at least some impact. There’ll be companies out there who prefer to see engagement in the comments section, others want a good Instagram following and others will just enjoy your writing style.
You can’t second guess it which is why it goes back to the most important thing in travel blogging – to just be yourself.
3. You need to be what they’re looking for
Someone looking to promote their golf tours to oldies is not going to want me. You can’t try and be what they want – you’re either it, or you’re not.
If you’re in a meeting with a PR don’t try and bend what you do to support what you’re guessing their goals are, they’ll see right through it. A strong sense of identity will be much more interesting to a PR than a flake who tries to cover all bases.
Even if you do somehow slip through the cracks and get invited somewhere you shouldn’t be, it’s just embarrassing. I was once invited on a river cruise in Russia with OAPS, and another time to explore an art gallery after hours in South Africa – neither were particularly my vibe and it all got totally awkward.
Don’t try and fit in a hole that’s not for you!
4. You need to be available
When I had a full time job there was a limit to what I could say yes to.
Then I booked myself up with personal travel for pretty much a year so again I had to say no to the travel blogger press trips for most of 2015 too, same for 2016. It wasn’t until 2017 when I really let myself loose on the media trips.
I reckon I’ve been invited on about 200 press trips over the years, but said no to at least three quarters. Either the offers didn’t suit me, or I didn’t have time for them.
Saying no to Israel, Alaska and Oman were definitely the toughest but if you will book yourself up like I do, then that’s what happens. The travel bloggers that go on the most press trips are flexible and free.
Press trips I’ve been on
Isle of Skye | Edinburgh | Catalunya | Skiing Germany, Switzerland and Austria | Costa Rica | South Africa | Luxembourg | New Orleans | Lake Charles | Houston | Minnesota | New York | Adirondacks | Florida | Florida Keys | Ferry hopping in Greece | Thailand | India | Russia | Israel | Tromso | Denmark | Swedish Lapland | Sailing Croatia | Skiing France | Skiing Italy | Bardolino Wine Festival | Tomatina Festival | Oktoberfest | Barbados | Cuba | St Lucia | St Kitts | Bulgaria | Japan | Malawi | Papua New Guinea | Philippines | Vietnam | Yukon | Alberta | California | Chicago | Minnesota | Aruba | Turks & Caicos | Samoa
5. You need to be on the PRs radar
Do companies that offer press trips even know about you?
You need to meet people and get on their radar and that’s where travel conferences and events come in. If you can’t make it to them just drop your destinations of interest PRs a note and introduce yourself to see if they work with bloggers.
When I went to Costa Rica on a press trip, some of the others who’d been invited were there because they’d introduced themselves to the PR company on Instagram. They ha strong accounts and so were first in line when it came to picking who went on the next travel blogger press trip.
6. You need to have reach
I’ve had two articles in Wanderlust magazine and mentioned it to one PR and was immediately offered a trip to the Cayman Islands. After I explained I was featured and not a regular contributor the emails went quiet.
But, my point is that the more coverage you can offer a PR or travel company the better asset you are. My friend Ari from beyondblighty.com used to write for gapyear.com regularly and could use this to help get some sponsored travel in New Zealand.
During press trip negotiations
7. Have the right attitude
Depending on where you are in your travel blogging career you might need to take a rain check on your attitude.
As a newb you can’t go demanding money for this and money for that, saying you can’t possibly take that many photos in your week long trip or that it’ll take you a month to write it up. When you’re starting out you need to suck it up and be grateful you’re being considered – but you knew that right?
Even if you have been a travel blogger for ages, having a bad attitude can totally ruin everything you’ve built up.
8. Know your worth
At the same time, you need to understand your value and worth to them.
Go on a travel blogger press trip and you’ll be working, taking time out of your schedule and making sacrifices to go on the trip. Make sure it’s worth it to you, however it is you want to calculate that worth.
Press trips aren’t just a holiday
Travel blogger press trips can be hard work.
Once, I went to Thailand for 6 days and was expected to write 12 posts on an external blog created just for the trip in return. Every second of the trip was scheduled so there was no time to do anything while I was there.
It was tough with all my other work commitments at the time and I’d definitely got caught up with the excitement of going to Thailand rather than thinking about whether I’d be the best fit and if it suited my travel blog goals. Of course it was an incredible week and I got to go in a private plane and even meet the Mayor of Phuket, but I should’ve asked more questions beforehand so I was prepared.
9. Know what you’re signing up for
Press trips aren’t just a chance for a free holiday – you need to provide some real value back to the company that sponsored you to be there. Before you agree find out what they expect from you, and if you want to get a good name in the industry, always exceed those expectations.
In these preliminary questions make sure you know the timeframes for when exactly they’re expecting the content online. Also find out if they’re expecting you to live blog, or update your social media feeds while you’re there. All these things need to be ironed out before you leave so the travel blogger press trip goes as smoothly as possible.
10. Say now if you don’t like the itinerary
If it’s a solo press trip make sure you’re really involved in preparing the itinerary. Send them suggestions of things you’d really like to do and if you can, arrange a meeting to discuss what would suit your blog best.
If the itinerary is sorted for you, whether you’re on a group trip, or a solo trip, and there’s something you’re not comfortable with, make sure you tell them. Give a reason and a suggestion for something different.
You don’t have to do what’s set out in itinerary draft one, they obviously want you to be happy too and will want to give you want you want to increase the possibility of you enjoying their destination!
Once you have the press trip sorted
11. Underpromise and over deliver
Whatever your agreed press trip coverage with your sponsor, it’s a good idea to give them that little bit extra. Even if it’s just one more Instagram photo, another Facebook update or some great photos they can use in their promotional material. You’re more likely to be asked back, and you could be recommended to other PRs too.
Just like the way travel bloggers talk about PRs and companies so they talk about you, and us. I’d love to see their Facebook groups!
12. Be up, ready, alert and all charged up
No doubt you’ll be given a schedule at the beginning on the week and you need to be polite and courteous at all times to everyone involved.
You’re not some big shot because you’re on a press trip.
I’ve seen and heard of some people press trip diva fits about air conditioning and other such ‘essentials’ at their PR – that’s not going to get you anywhere.
Make sure you take some sort of back up kit for your camera and phone. There’s nothing worse that being sent in to interview someone and seeing that little red light flash up warning you to get a move on (gulp).
13. Don’t take the piss
Whether it’s the mini bar, the staff, your driver or the dinner bill, just approach them all within reason. On the press trips I’ve been on I get totally paranoid they’ll think I’ve gone too far but so long as you don’t go all Henry VIIIth at dinner time on them you’ll be fine.
Angie from angieaway.com has some really good tips for staying off the PR Social Media BlackList here 10 Tips to End Up on the Infamous Press Trip Blacklist
14. Just be awesome
If blog trips had an end of project report you’re aiming for an A+.
If an agency is sending you to review a country they’ll want to send someone they can trust. Everyone has someone to answer to and as long as you’re cool and can manage to turn up on time, reply to emails when they come through and conduct yourself in a polite but familial way, or however you do on your blog, you’ll be invited back and recommended within the industry. And if a country invites you of course they’ll want you to be respectful of their traditions and life.
How to get a press trip
If you’ve got all the bases covered at the start of this post then it’s time to track down some interesting PR people who are about to become your new BFFs.
Keep writing, grow your social media feeds, encourage interaction on your blog and get yourself known among tourist boards and PR companies.
15. Go to events
Go to conferences and events and chat to other bloggers and the companies who’ve paid to be there. They’re the ones who are really interested in working with bloggers and so the people who you’ll have the best chances with.
Events and conferences are the best way to meet the people who arrange and organise the travel blogger press trips in a company.
What can you do for them?
This isn’t all about you you know.
A PR will want to know exactly what you can do for them when it comes to press trips, so know your reach, your readership and your skills. Don’t be afraid to show them off either.
You need to demonstrate why they should choose you over every other blogger in the world. If you’re meeting a potential press trip organiser at an event you need to be sure of what you can provide them.
What can you offer and why should they work with you?
Have that right in your head and rolling off the tongue and you’re sure to be in with a better chance.
16. Helps to be multitalented
If you can take great photos, film and edit, and write, you’re quite the asset to a press trip. If you’re this multitalented make sure the PRs know it. If you’re not, no worries, having an expertise can make you stand out too. You just need to play to and market your strengths.
17. Produce a media kit
PR companies love media kits. These are basically just a way for you to show off what you can do, in a quick and easy to read way. Media kits are visual ways to see the top level stats – how many readers you have, blog posts, your social media stats, and maybe a testimonial or two, too. I’d definitely recommend putting one of these together.
You can have a nose at mine on my work with me page on the blog.
Some travel bloggers don’t like press trips; they say they’re an unnatural way to see a destination, that you’re rushed around and that they can actually be quite stressful. I can see what these bloggers mean, but going on the press trips I have has allowed me to see destinations I didn’t even know existed in ways I couldn’t imagine.
I love them!
Just to warn you, the press trip experiences I’m about to list will probably read like an epic directory of gloat and glory, but I just want to tip that balance back from the negativity about being a travel blogger from the other day.
Because, really, it’s the best job in the world.
My Top 12 Unbelievable Press Trip Experiences
(in no particular order)
1. Driving a Mustang up the Pacific Coast Highway
When I accepted this trip I hadn’t actually driven for 10 years. And then only in England. And in a Nissan Micra which was the car I had when I passed my test.
So, me driving solo down the Pacific Coast Highway in a Ford Mustang one day and a Chevrolet Camaro the next was quite the challenge to my skills and confidence. There I was traversing a £30k+ car round the bends and twists of the Californian mountains.
I can’t say I loved every second of the drive, but when I look back on it I definitely had a good time and learnt a lot about my capabilities and self belief.
The whole trip with Visit California was incredible.
We stayed in Fairmont Hotels, ate at the best restaurants, had jacuzzis on our balconies and drank fancy cocktails every night. The fact that the other people on the trip were newspaper journalists at huge publications made me feel proud that my blog was considered as important as them by the tourist board (that was two years ago – of course blogs are now!)
2. Flying first class with Virgin Atlantic
Oh my god after the Pacific Coast Highway trip I was SO tired. The driving, the eating, the late nights and early mornings – I was exhausted. And as soon as I landed I had to get back to the Midlands from Heathrow to go to my friend’s 30th.
So when my ticket bleeped at LA Airport as it went through the machine and I was upgraded to *FIRST CLASS*. I nearly cried.
Gawd it was amazing.
The bed went flat out. They fed me a feast. They even gave me pyjamas. It is quite sad that I was so tired I couldn’t make the most of the alcohol possibilities, but I did eat a tonne of breakfast to make up for it when I woke up. With Champagne of course.
Thanks to the silence and proper duvet I slept for 10 of the 12-hour journey.
Best flight, everrrr!
3. Walking in the parade at Hogmanay in Edinburgh
Hogmanay is a huge New Year’s Eve Festival up in Edinburgh, Scotland. It sells out to thousands of ticket holders every year. People come in the afternoon and queue up to watch the parade going past, in the Scottish December. As in, it’s freezing. The Hogamanay Parade a big thing and people are excited to be near the front of the crowds.
Well, in 2015/16 I was invited to go, along with around eight of what coincidentally turned out to be my favourite bloggers, and we joined the parade. Not just at the back with everyone else. No, we were invited to join the start – up with the Vikings that had come over from the Shetland Islands. I walked with them, carrying my torch, while the crowds looked on probably wondering who on earth I was and we were photographed from every angle.
Our all access passes, and best view of the main stage made me feel like some sort of celeb. It was brilliant.
4. Using helicopters to get from A to B
Gawd, I’ve now been in a helicopter so many times now, but every time its a different view and the butterflies of excitement are still there. I’m going to pick two to tell you about.
Number one most unbelievable helicopter press trip experience was on a press trip with Lufthansa – the airline.
I arrived at Munich Airport with a few other bloggers for a skiing trip. We were picked up, and taken to the airport’s helicopter pad. From there we were flown to the slopes of Kitzbuhel – one of the fanciest ski slopes in Europe, never mind Austria.
We stayed in a stunning chalet for the night, skied all day and then parachuted down the mountain, landing within a few minutes of freshly poured mulled wine.
Another time, on a press trip in Swedish Lapland, we hiked up a mountain for a few hours to get the best view of the land below. When we got to the top a helicopter came to pick us up to take us to our next hotel. We flew high over the mountains and got to see wild reindeers on the snowy caps. Unreal.
All the helicopter experiences have been incredible, but using a helicopter for transport, rather than sightseeing just seems that little bit more indulgent, don’t you think?
5. Driving the Emerald Coast in Florida
I loved my week cruising along the Emerald Coast – one of the dreamiest press trips I’ve ever been on. Sometimes press trips can be a bit intense and you need to stick to a programme 24/7, all the while trying to get the photos and videos you need for the coverage you want to show.
This trip was different though. Visit Florida sorted my meals, accommodation and car and then I was free to do what I wanted all day. Loved it. It meant I got to experience the Emerald Coast like a normal person would, and gave me the chance to take the time over photos and video which I think shows in the coverage. I stayed at one of my most favourite places I’ve ever stayed – the Henderson Park Inn – and found somewhere I’ll definitely be coming back to too. And the drive was stunning.
6. Relaxing at the Kurhotel Spa in Denmark
I went on a solo press trip with Visit Denmark. They arranged for me to go to the Kurhotel Spa and Hotel. Jeez, this place was beautiful. A huge white building that took up a good stretch of the coast just above Copenhagen. I was there for two beautiful nights and would love to return.
I did my first Crossfit class here, enjoyed the incredible (healthy) food in the restaurant overlooking the water and went to a Danish sauna session too. This basically involved me alternating between increasingly hot saunas and cold showers before finally jumping in the (FREEZING) lake.
I felt so good afterwards I promised myself I’d start to do this in London. Obviously that’s fallen way, way by the wayside and I’ve never done it again.
One day though.
7. Cruising on a Catamaran in Barbados
Have you ever had a moment in life where you’ve just felt totally free? The catamaran trip in Barbados was like that. I was there for Skyscanner and I’d spent the first few days worrying about what I was going to write about and photograph. Then I went on the catamaran and had so much fun with some new friends I’d met who’d just got engaged. I was there dancing at the front of the ship with everyone else, just loving life.
It was this moment, on my third day that really made love Barbados and I could see why people return again and again to Barbados for a holiday. All you need to do when you’re there is relax, enjoy yourself and eat at the many great Barbados restaurants.
The world can wait till you’re back in it.
Except when you’re on a press trip and meant to be getting photos and videos, of course, but I had that feeling for a few minutes!
8. Seeing the sloths in Costa Rica
I’d always wanted to go to Costa Rica, but for whatever reason, never quite made it. So when I was invited to go on a trip with Visit Costa Rica and British Airways (business class, YES!) obviously I said a ‘hell yeahhhh’.
I wanted to see a sloth, a toucan, colourful birds, iguanas and monkeys, but I never really thought we would, especially in just a few minutes. But then landing in to Tortugeuro via a tiny plane (another dream!) we boarded a boat and our journey down the canal was flanked by all the animals.
We saw three sloths in just a few minutes, it was AWESOME!
9. Driving an ATV in Israel
My VIBE Israel press trip was definitely one of my favourites from start to finish. It was also one of the most hectic, as in no sleep and totally action packed, but it was just a fascinating place to see.
Apart from all the incredible food, seeing all the key religious spots in Jerusalem I studied for my A Level in Religious Studies (serious), staying at a luxury spa, a super cool place in Tel Aviv and going to a wine festival, it was the ATV driving in Galilee I loved most.
I’ve been lucky enough to try a few ATV activities around the world but in Galilee they really let you push the vehicles to the extreme.
We were encouraged to go as fast as possible, to go through water and to just have fun in the wide open space. I had a great time – not sure about my passenger Jodie though…
10. The incredible places I’ve stayed
I’ve stayed at hotels that have made me stop in my tracks on the way through the door. Incredible accommodations that I would never be able to afford with the amount I travel.
I’m just going to list a few of the most memorable ones here, but honestly, there’ve been so, so many more.
Jungle Lodge in Gambia
– All that was for me!
Henderson Park Inn, Emerald Coast
– I had the best room overlooking the beach
Hahnenkamm Lodge, Kitzbuhel
– View from my room, this place costs tens of thousands a night
Yab Yum Huts, Goa
– All that hut belonged to me at the Yab Yums!
Ventana Inn & Spa, Big Sur, CA
– This was my balcony, we had a party that night
11. Going on a private jet in Thailand
One of the most memorable experiences I had while traveling in Thailand was chartering a private jet to take us from Bangkok to Pattaya and back. We were visiting some of the finest hotels in Phuket and on the final day, the group of us were treated to a luxurious ride on a private jet.
The cost of chartering this particular jet would have been a few thousand dollars, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that was too good to pass up. We enjoyed Champagne, comfortable leather and wooden seats, and even had a guide pointing out landmarks and sights below us as we flew.
This experience marked the beginning of my invitation to press trips, and it was truly unbelievable to think that this was now a part of my life. The charter flight was just one of the many amazing memories I made on that trip.
12. Experiencing Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest with Busabout was so much fun. I’d always kind of wanted to go to Oktoberfest, but felt put off by what I imagined it to be – loads of drunk Antipodeans getting drunker. Which is kind of what it was.
But y’know – if you can’t beat them, join them.
A strong factor in why this trip was so good was because of the girls in my hostel dorm. They were so friendly and fun from the get go and we had a good team to enjoy Oktoberfest to its full potential. You definitely need to book your Oktoberfest accommodation in advance if you want to go.
I loved those few days!
Oh gawd there was also that time we went jet skiing for two hours in Australia, and that time I got to fly from the private terminal in St Kitts, I need to stop though… I lurrrve me a press trip!
Final note on getting invited on press trips
If you’re planning on starting a travel blog to get free press trips, trust me, you’d be better off getting yourself a minimum wage paid job and paying for the whole thing yourself. It can take a long time to build your blog up to the level to be invited on press trips.
Not saying you can’t, in fact, I’ve written a whole free course in how to be a travel blogger, but it just takes a lot of work.
But if you just want a happy sideline in a few press trips a year to supplement your travels, then good luck to you!
As always, let me know how you get on. Hope you get invited on a travel blogger press trip very soon!