The world of daily travel vlogging may appear like the dream life. I think this is why I became so absorbed in this incredibly addictive and intriguing YouTube world at the beginning of 2016. You can read more about my personal experiences in this field here. Through my research, I have uncovered two particular areas which add some more depth and critical thinking to this supposedly perfect world, and has allowed me to furthermore unravel the secret life of travel vlogging.
‘We have been encouraged to believe that we are no longer the sum of our products, but the sum of our experiences’ (Lewis-Kraus, 2016)
Travel Experiences & Capturing Them
People have travelled throughout the course of history, and they would generally paint or write to share their stories. It is believed that the birth of travel photography, started with two French photographers, Gustave Flaubert and Maxime Du Camp who explored ‘the Orient’ (Meltzer, 2012). As two young, rich men with access to a small and portable Calytope camera, they saw this as an opportunity to show off their epic travel experience. ‘Photography and tourism share a very intimate relationship, where a tourist captures a picture to provide tangible evidence for their travel experience (Bourdeau & Gravari-Barbas, 2016). Their image has now been recreated by other travellers millions of times.
Photographers and travellers, over time, have assigned an aesthetically pleasing image to represent an entire landmark (Bourdeau & Gravari-Barbas, 2016), and this allows us to question, can an entire travel experience be narrowed down to a single photograph?
In a case study of the world heritage site of Machu Pichu, they found that travellers were capturing 1 of 4 things; ‘ruins, social settings, landscapes & individual experiences’ (Bourdeau & Gravari-Barbas, 2016). They highlighted that there was a need to demonstrate ‘I Was Here,’ a sentiment presented in many vloggers experiences. This study also uncovered that people preferred to take photos in social situations, which explains that when travel vloggers travel in a group, they receive more engagement.
Gender & YouTube
An issue in my research that I’ve come across is regarding the gender imbalance of daily travel vloggers. To my knowledge, there are no female daily travel vloggers, at least on the scale and reach that their male counterparts have. You can read my article on Gender, Travel & YouTuber here (yet to be published but watch this space).
To examine the gender imbalance in travel vlogging, we must look back at the travel writing industry. It is said that ‘travel writing is a genre based on a masculine ideology and causes professional anxiety and constrains female travel writers’ (Alacovska, 2015). It also embodies the ‘Western ideology’ of travel (Alacovska, 2015) so we can make the assumption that the industry of travel writing and sharing travel experiences online, is skewed. This is supported by the abundance of male travel vloggers making a living on YouTube, who tnd to travel with other male YouTubers. (click here for an example)
Women often take the role of ‘companions’ (Alacovska, 2015) and this is strongly illustrated through travel and lifestyle vlogger Raya Was Here. Raya uploads infrequently, however is dating daily travel vlogger, Fun For Louis. With around 140 000 subscribers, she’s made a name for herself by posting, travel, lifestyle and motivational videos. However most of her travels are done in conjunction with her boyfriend Louis (Fun For Louis). And if she travels without him, it’s generally with a group of other travellers. The name of her channel is a play on the saying ‘I Was Here’ which reinforces travel vloggers need to show and share their travel experience.
It’s difficult to compare their travels to the travels of their male counterparts. For example, male travel vloggers are more likely to travel solo to countries that may be viewed as ‘unsafe’ for women to travel to solo (Zoellna, 2017). Female travel vloggers tend to ‘participate in more vulnerable and personal types of engagements, promoting higher levels of intimacy’ (Smith, 2012). For example, hair care/make up routines whilst travelling, how to pack, survival guide for solo travellers.
Whilst travelling may appear dangerous to some, this is all the more reason why there has been a rise of female solo travellers preaching their way of life and inspiring women to smash that glass ceiling. World of Wanderlust & Blonde Abroad are two female travel bloggers who dominate the blogosphere with their girlpower.
Vloggers, are bloggers who have adapted to increasing demands for video content. It is expected that ‘within the next few years the overwhelming majority of internet traffic will be video. According to Cisco, ‘global consumer internet video traffic will make up 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2019, up from 64% in 2014’ (Imagen, 2016). Therefore it’s easy to make the connection between travel bloggers and vloggers and to foresee travel documentation and stories taking a video format.
So I’m sure you’re all busting to know how my digital artifact is coming along after I proposed the idea here. I’ve decided that it will take the form of two parts: this website & a mini documentary.
This website is coming along quite nicely (I hope). I’ve divided the website into two sections: Diary Entries and Research & Findings.
Diary Entries is for my personal thoughts, feelings and experiences on the topic – all of which I seem are very important seeming I’m analysing individuals thoughts, feelings and experiences on YouTube.
My Research & Findings section is my concrete research and evidence I have found relating certain topics like hyper reality, equipment, celebrity status and gender. Whilst obviously focusing on travel vloggers, I have stepped more away from their travels and have been analysing and deconstructing the YouTubers themselves- their ‘brands.’
Mini Documentary: I decided to make a little trailer introducing my idea and creating some intrigue. The process proved to be difficult as I used a lot of different content that’s high quality and therefore large files. Saying that, I’m really happy with how it’s turned out.
All in all, I’ve got a few more pieces of research to wrap up and then I want to make a start of this documentary and getting it together! Let’s do it!
The following blog post is by one of my favourite female travel bloggers ‘World of Wanderlust’ titled ‘THE SOLO WOMAN TRAVELER MANIFESTO: WHY ARE WOMEN TRAVELING SOLO?’ Check it out for some of the reasons women should travel solo and why an influential blogger like Brooke are encouraging others to do the same.
The travel blogger, Blonde Abroad also encourages women to travel solo by providing this useful guide ‘The ultimate guide to solo female travel’
Alacovska, A 2015, ‘Genre anxiety: women travel writers’ experience of work’, Sociological Review Monograph, Vol. 63, No. 1, pp. 128
Bourdeau, L & Gravari-Barbas, M 2016, ‘World Heritage, Tourism & Identity: Inscription & CoProduction’, Heritage Culture & Identity, Routledge
Imagen, 2016, ‘The future of video, Chapter 1: The Digital Transformation of video’, Imagen Marketing, 14 April, viewed 27 April 2017, https://imagenevp.com/digital-transformation-video/
Lewis-Kraus, G 2016, ‘What We See When We Look at Travel Photography’, The New York Times, September 22, viewed 28 April 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/magazine/what-we-see-when-we-look-at-travel-photography.html
Meltzer, S 2012, ‘The birth of travel photography: Du Camp and Flaubert’s 1849 trip to Egypt, North Africa and the Middle East’, Imagine Resource, 30 October, viewed 25 April 2017, http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/10/30/the-birth-of-travel-photography-du-camp-and-flauberts-1849-trip-to-egypt
Smith, J 2012, ‘Sharing Intimate Moments on YouTube: Women Who Vlog and Their Sense of Community, Friendship and Privacy’, Gonzaga University
Zoellna, A 2017, ‘How Feminism Shapes The Way I Travel’, The Capsule Suitcase, 8 March, viewed 28 April 2017, https://capsulesuitcase.com/2017/03/08/how-feminism-shapes-the-way-i-travel/