I’m blessed to have built a career in travel journalism over the last 12 years. Putting myself in the position to field hundreds of questions weekly across my platforms ranging from the best destinations around the world to the safety concerns of marginalized peoples. While Im honored to have this responsibility and trust thrust upon me, it can be time-consuming and at times, frustrating. A sentiment many other travel creators share.
While it can appear to be a 1 on 1 exchange between you and the creator, it’s more likely a 100 to 1 or even more. With some creators spending hours trying to field all the requests. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough time, and many travelers get left on “read”. But a sure proof way to stand out in the sea of questions is quite simple. Ask better questions that show creators you’ve spent a bit of time and effort researching on your own, have the intention to truly embrace a destination, and aren’t going to waste their time. Here are a few tips to do just that.
Dive into the Destination
Before asking any questions, take a deep dive into the destination you’re curious about. Familiarize yourself with its culture, history, and local customs. The more you know, the more meaningful and tailored your questions can be. Plus, this will show your favorite travel content creator that you’re genuinely interested in understanding their experiences.
Example: Instead of asking “What should I know before going to Thailand?” Ask something like, “Are there parts of Thailand where you’ve found people more willing to help you learn Thai?”
Personalize Your Inquiries
Travel isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing (which is why “best of” listicles are TRASH), and neither should your questions be. Personalize your inquiries to match your travel preferences. If you’re a foodie, ask about the best local dishes or hidden culinary spots. If you’re a nature enthusiast, inquire about lesser-known hiking trails or sustainable ecotourism initiatives. By tailoring your questions, you’ll receive answers that resonate with your travel style and inspire you to explore more authentically.
And be sure to look at the creator’s content. If someone only posts about foodie spots, they might not be a good source of information for the best nightclubs.
Example: Ask “I enjoy hiking. Are there any trails you would recommend or can you point me to someone that might know?”
Seek Local Insights
One of the best ways to travel responsibly and experience a destination authentically is by seeking local insights. Seek out travel content creators that interact with the local community and share their stories. Ask about their encounters with locals, their favorite off-the-beaten-path experiences, and any sustainable initiatives they support. Support content creators that are born and raised in these destinations. By doing so, you’ll uncover the heart and soul of a place while contributing positively to the local economy.
Example: Pretty much every destination you’ll want to explore has local content creators. The beauty of the internet and social media age. While many foreigners have made these places their homes, there’s always a bit of a disconnect between us and someone that grew up in the culture. Creators like Roxy from Mumbai (https://www.thetinytaster.com/), DejaShu from the UK (https://www.youtube.com/@dejashu/), Nat & Rob from Brazil (https://loveandroad.com/), or Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap from The Phillippines (https://eazytraveler.net/) are the kind of local creators you want to engage with to get the most authentic and niche information you can find for the most part.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and embrace your curiosity! Challenge yourself to ask questions that push boundaries and encourage mindful travel practices. Inquire about responsible tourism initiatives, ethical animal encounters, or tips for minimizing your ecological footprint while traveling. Let your curiosity shine, and you’ll not only learn more but also inspire others to travel more responsibly.
Example: Try something you’ve never done before. This is especially important when that activity is rooted in cultural significance for locals. Learning Flamenco dance in Spain, Sushi making in Japan, or Taking a Civil Rights Tour in Memphis. You just might find a secret talent or have a bonding experience that will change your life.
Engage in Conversations
Asking questions is just the beginning; engaging in conversations is where the magic happens. When content creators respond to your inquiries, keep the conversation alive by sharing your thoughts, experiences, and even additional questions. This back-and-forth dialogue helps build a community of passionate travelers, fostering an environment where everyone can learn from one another and share their unique perspectives.
Example: Follow-up questions are perfect and build conversation/relationships. Feel free to ask for clarification on complicated suggestions. Or expanding upon your questions.
Remember to express your gratitude when your favorite travel content creators take the time to answer your questions. A simple “thank you” goes a long way in acknowledging their efforts and building a positive relationship. Sharing their responses with your fellow travel enthusiasts and tagging them on social media is another way to show appreciation and support their work.
Example: Content creation for many isn’t only a passion, it’s a job. And any time spent answering DMs is time spent away from developing new content. Some creators have “tip” or donation links like Patreon.com and Memberful.com. While others simply ask you to book using affiliate links for tours or accommodations. Bare minimum, leave a comment or share their work. Anything helps and ensures we can keep doing what we do for someone else.
By personalizing your inquiries, seeking local insights, embracing curiosity, and engaging in conversations, you’ll unlock a treasure trove of authentic and responsible travel advice. So go forth, explore the world, and remember to inspire others with your own travel stories along the way. Leave the world better than you found it.