What Is a Travel Influencer? Our Comprehensive Guide for 2021

Learn more about what a travel influencer is using this comprehensive guide, and learn how to become one or work with one.

Aana Leech
min read
What Is a Travel Influencer? Our Comprehensive Guide for 2021
Table of contents:

Travel is slowly returning to normal as the number of people getting vaccinated against COVID-19 rises. While the global travel industry took a big hit to business, traffic and travel plans are beginning to pick up again. As people revisit their travel wish lists and decide where to go next, they’re turning toward the sources they trust most, like friends, family members, and travel influencers. And that means businesses are also on the lookout for the perfect travel content creators to team up with. Whether you want to learn how to become a travel influencer or decide whether to partner with one, this comprehensive guide has you covered. You’ll walk away with a better understanding of what a travel influencer does, how they’re paid, and why they’re so valuable to brands today. We’ll also round up 11 leading travel influencers to keep an eye on and show you how to manage brand partnerships with ease.  

Defining What a Travel Influencer Is

In a nutshell, a travel influencer generates top-quality content about their favorite trips, dream destinations, and travel strategies. Like other types of influencers, travel influencers need the ability to engage and build relationships with large numbers of people. Their main goal is to share their experiences — the highs, mids, and lows — and encourage others to go out and have their own unique adventures. Most influencers focus on Instagram, but YouTube, blogs/vlogs, TikTok, Pinterest, and Twitter are some other popular influencer platforms. A huge part of the travel influencer life is partnering closely with brands. They leverage their social media presence and word-of-mouth marketing tactics to promote an organization’s products, services, or location and encourage their followers to take action. This is usually in the form of sponsored posts created by the influencer to resonate with their audience and create share-worthy, high-engagement content for the business.

75% of them intend to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing in 2021. (Influencer Marketing Hub)

For a real-world example, look no further than Delta Airlines’ #SkyMilesLife influencer marketing campaign. The brand found and managed a variety of travel influencers via From Popular Pays to ultimately create four months’ worth of custom content to promote their new website launch. Images, GIFs, videos, and text posts helped tell their story across all their domestic and international channels.

How To Become a Travel Influencer

Many travel influencers start out blogging, vlogging, and posting as a hobby and then figure out ways to monetize their work or turn it into a living later on. Although part of the job may literally be lounging on the beach and eating great food, becoming a travel influencer takes dedication. You’ll need to devote time to taking and editing photos or videos, writing blog posts and guides, finding and engaging with followers, and developing a marketing and brand outreach strategy (if your goal is earning money or perks). If you’ve got your eye on turning your posts into a career —  and racking up hundreds, thousands, or millions of followers — here are some steps and tips to get started.

  • Be yourself and create content you like: Social media users can quickly sniff out disingenuous or copycat content. Focus on the subjects that you’re most passionate about and carve out your unique visual or writing style so you stand out from the pack.
  • Discover and define your niche: There are opportunities for every type of traveler and niche. For instance, The Bucket List Family is a crossover between parenting and travel content. What path you choose to take will depend upon your interests and will also determine the brands you ultimately end up working with.
  • Market your brand: Early on, it’s a good idea to build the resources you’ll need to eventually reach out to brands and invite press coverage. That might include a press kit, work portfolio, and brand testimonials. You can also team up with current influencers to get exposure and a foot in the door with brands.
  • Compare earning opportunities: Travel influencers can earn money or free goods from sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, giveaways, and more. As for influencer rates, nano-influencers (1,000-5,000 followers) may earn $10-$100 per post, while macro-influencers (over 100,000 followers) may earn $5,000-$10,000 per post.

Recommended Reading: Using Influencers for Your Brand’s Affiliate Marketing Program

Keep in mind that much of the compensation for travel influencers is a mixture of payment (for instance, a daily rate for traveling to and posting from a hotel) and freebies. Some of the top travel influencers can and are bringing in over $1 million per year. Just like any job or industry, income is based on a variety of factors and can vary greatly between influencers.Finally, there’s no one right way to build a following — every influencer approaches their audience, content creation schedule, and brand work differently. Anyone can become a travel influencer if they put their mind to it and build trust with their users.  

11 Top Travel Influencers Worth Following in 2021

Below, we’ve compiled some of the most popular travel influencers — on Instagram and other platforms — from up-and-coming creators to long-time travel gurus. Here’s who you should be following and partnering with this year.

1. Murad Osmann (@muradosmann)

Russian photographer Murad Osmann is one of the most well-known travel influencers around, with over 3.7 million Instagram followers. That’s thanks in part to his viral “Follow Me To” photo series, started in 2011, in which his wife leads him by the hand through beautiful locations around the world. His signature surreal images and videos easily stand out in Instagram feeds.

Companies that they’ve worked with: Google, Dior, Samsung, Clinique, Macy’s

2. Chris Burkard (@chrisburkard)

Chris Burkard is a California-based travel photographer who aims to capture “untamed, powerful landscapes.” Beyond his status as an Instagram influencer with over 3.6 million followers, Burkard is also a speaker and director. He’s won multiple film festival and photo contest awards, hosted a TED talk, and partnered with a long list of major apparel retailers, tech companies, media organizations, and more.  

Companies that they’ve worked with: Apple, Toyota, Sony, The North Face, American Airlines

3.  Jennifer Tuffen (@izkiz)

With 2.9 million followers, Jennifer Tuffen is a British travel and lifestyle creator who promises to add a splash of color and fun to anyone’s social media feed. In addition to her lively photo posts on Instagram, she uses her blog to share in-depth travel stories, hotel reviews, and product recommendations. Since becoming a certified diver, she’s also branched into the world of underwater photography.

Companies that they’ve worked with: Hyatt, Four Seasons, Samsung, Apple, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture

Recommended Reading: 25 Lifestyle influencers Your Brand Should Follow [From Instagram to Bloggers]

4. Louis Cole (@funforlouis)

Louis Cole has made a name for himself, not on Instagram, but as a YouTube travel influencer. Cole built up a following of over 2 million subscribers with his unique mixture of personal vlogs, trip reviews, custom car builds, and camera reviews. He regularly collaborates with his wife Raya, who boasts 186,000 YouTube subscribers on her lifestyle and travel channel.

Companies that they’ve worked with: GoPro, Fairmont Resorts & Hotels

5. Eric Stoen (@travelbabbo)

Award-winning photographer and writer Eric Stoen may not have as many followers as other content creators on this list (clocking in at 200,000+ on Instagram), but Forbes has named him the world’s fourth most influential traveler. He’s visited 97 countries (across all 7 continents) so far, 62 of which have been with kids.

Companies that they’ve worked with: AFAR, GoDaddy, Celebrity Cruises

6. Jack Morris (@doyoutravel)

Another world-traveling influencer to look out for is Jack Morris, a photographer who shares stunning, timeless nature shots with his 2.5 million followers on Instagram. He also helps budding photographers step up their image quality — or mirror his own style — by offering image preset packs and editing tips on his website.

Companies that they’ve worked with: Airbnb, Uber, Royal Caribbean, Air New Zealand

7. Kate McCulley (@adventurouskate)

Kate McCulley claims a spot on the Forbes Top 10 Travel influencer and is a female solo traveler who first set out to help every woman feel safe traveling alone. On the Adventurous Kate travel blog, she shares her insider tips on female travel safety, must-see destinations, and things to do in the 83 countries and countless cities she’s visited. While McCulley’s active on all social media channels, she’s found the widest reach through her blog, attracting followers with her enthusiastic, down-to-earth personality. According to her site, she rejects 90% of her sponsored content offers so that she only promotes brands she genuinely believes in.

Companies that they’ve worked with:  Korean Tourism Organisation, Airinum, WearGraphene

8. The Gee Family (@thebucketlistfamily)

Parents Garrett and Jessica Gee and their three young children are the globe-trotting family behind the Instagram account @thebucketlistfamily. Self-proclaimed travel journalists, they’ve visited over 85 countries together and documented every moment, earning millions of fans (2.6 million on Instagram alone) and steady brand partnerships. Their content sits right at the intersection between travel influencers and parenting influencers.

Companies that they’ve worked with: Qatar Airways, Disney, GoPro, Land Rove, People Magazine

9. Emilie Ristevski (@helloemilie)

You’ll know Australia-based influencer Emilie Ristevski from her calming, dreamy landscape images on Instagram, where she engages with her over 1.3 million followers. She uses her images to help her audience understand “the world’s immense diversity” and reconnect with nature.

Companies that they’ve worked with: Adobe, Mercedes Benz, Lonely Planet

10. Angelica Blick (@angelicablick)

Chic influencer Angelica Blick brings together fashion, travel, and fitness on her Instagram profile, followed by 1.1 million fans. Based in Sweden, she models everyday looks and swimwear in a variety of breathtaking locations and sticks to short-but-sweet captions for most of her content.

Companies that they’ve worked with: NA-KD, Gioia Fascia, Visit Dubai

Recommended Reading: 25 Fashion Influencers That Will Excite Your Brand’s Followers

11. Lauren Bullen (@gypsea_lust)

Lauren Bullen is another social media influencer with 1.9 million Instagram followers and a deep passion for travel, having visited over 20 countries. In addition to posting about her frequent trips, she blogs about lifestyle and fashion topics and sells photo presets.

Companies that they’ve worked with: Beats by Dre, Unsubscribe Magazine

5 Brands That Enjoy the Benefits of Working With Travel Influencers

If your brand is wondering whether an influencer campaign is a worthwhile addition to your marketing tactics, the short answer is likely yes. Businesses are currently making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing and 61% of consumers trust influencers. Below, we’ve rounded up five examples to uncover some of the real-world benefits.

1. Revolve

Revolve is a clothing company that’s known for investing in effective influencer marketing campaigns, sending groups of popular travel influencers on extravagant trips to destinations like Thailand, Croatia, and Bermuda. Influencers participate in a variety of activities and meals, all the while snapping Instagram-worthy shots to promote the brand’s clothing and aesthetic.

2. Boohoo

Another brand that works with travel influencers and benefits from the relationship is Boohoo, a fast-fashion clothing brand. One of the successful campaigns saw them sending a variety of influencers to a top-tier resort in Mexico. Influencers took shots to promote their new swimwear, using the hashtag #boohooinparadise for the spring break campaign. One post featuring @chanteljeffries received over 3,400 likes.

3. Benefit Cosmetics

Like Boohoo, Benefit Cosmetics is a well-known beauty brand that sent a group of British influencers on a trip to a gorgeous resort in the Maldives Islands. The U.S. influencers were sent to a luxury resort in Utah, further diversifying the content. Both trips gained the brand tons of attention on social media and effectively promoted their mascara lines.

4. Tarte Cosmetics

This particular brand has taken YouTube vloggers and Instagram beauty gurus around the world to places such as Bora Bora, Turks and Caicos, and Kauai. The content the influencers generate is mostly through their adventures such as ziplining, snorkeling, and boat rides. The trips become even more popular with the use of a popular hashtag which is #trippinwithtarte.

5. Fresh

Fresh is another cosmetics brand that benefits from using travel influencers. In 2017, the influencers flew to Cambodia to learn about the lotus flower, which is a key ingredient in Fresh products. They then posted about their unique experiences to all their followers.

How To Find and Manage the Right Travel Influencers With the From Popular Pays Influencer Marketing Platform

Brands continue to experience great success with sending popular travel influencers to unique destinations and on lavish trips. It’s a cost-effective way to get the word out and build relationships with those who love to travel.

However, 34% of brands that run campaigns in-house say that finding influencers is the most significant challenge for them. If you’re wondering how to find influencers for your brand and increase your reach, look no further than From Popular Pays. Our platform features over 60,000 influencers in all niches, making it easy for brands to discover and work with content creators and influencers at any scale. Use our robust search engine and filter by follower count, demographic, location, and more, and then manage each relationship and content creation with our suite feature set.

For help partnering with the right creator for your brand and getting the most out of your influencer marketing campaigns, reach out to our team.

Aana Leech
Aana is the former Head of Product Brands of Popular Pays

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