My Namibian road-trip is coming up fast! I've travelled many times before but never as a travel blogger. Now, a new dimension has been added to my travels. I want to record everything and not because I want to make a business out of blogging, no, because I'm passionate about writing and photography. I want to blog about every single day using numerous photographs taken that day. I want to make a daily vlog about everything, shooting constantly throughout the day. It sounds quite daunting and ambitious. You see, I've never done this before so I have absolutely no idea what to expect. Will I be motivated to film all the time? Will my batteries last to film all day? How will I travel around with so much equipment? These are the questions rushing through my mind right now.
I thought it would be fun to document all my thoughts and concerns about travelling as a travel blogger and vlogger. It will be fun to read these in a year or so when I've given my heart and soul into my blog and travelled as a blogger numerous times. Maybe this post will be useful in showing other new bloggers that they are not alone in feeling daunted sometimes by their job/hobby. Maybe some long-time bloggers still feel daunted!
So here are my top 5
thoughts concerns before travelling for the first time as a travel blogger.
1. What if I forget to film or become too embarrassed to film?
This is my number 1 concern! I'm an absolute scatterbrain and I know it. I would not put it past me to forget to film. I can't tell you how many times I've had dreams where I've arrived in Namibia and forgotten to film all those wonderful plane-shots I have planned out in my head. I mean I've even written a script to ensure I say something! The script also writes out what shots I want to get. Yeah, I'm an amateur, I know. I probably won't even use this but I'm so determined not to miss a shot that I have these precautions in place.
More than that though, what if I bottle it and become too embarrassed to vlog in the airport? What if I decide it's way too much effort to set up a time-lapse of planes outside the airport window? Or maybe I'm drawing too much attention to myself so I need to put the tripod and massive zoom lens away? I'm an awkward and anxious person who doesn't like to draw too much attention to myself. Achieving the shots I want really requires me to step well out of my comfort-zone. Oh, hey, little dot on the horizon, are you my comfort zone that I'm so far away from? But then, I know deep down that life only truly begins at the end of your comfort zone.
I will regret it for the rest of my life (not even exaggerating here!) if I do not pull my finger out and take those embarrassing shots I want. The people I will pass in the airport may look at me funny but then I will never see them again. Gone! They're nothing to my life. However, the footage I will obtain will stay with me forever and will give me tonnes of happiness as I edit them and then watch them time and time again.
So, any readers who also feel worried about filming in public - do it! Push yourself! You're here reading this blog so you must want to be a travel blogger. Don't let anyone stand in the way of achieving your goals and passions. Their opinion is irrelevant to your life. Wow, I surprised myself with that advice. When I thought of this blog post title, I honestly didn't tend to go into this. Hey, it's fun to be spontaneous, right?
Let's stop the waffling right here and move onto our second point.
2. Will my Equipment Get Through Customs & Airport Security?
Oh boy, oh boy, doesn't this one concern me? I was so concerned about my drone when flying to Seychelles last year, that I rang Emirates to ask them if drones were allowed in hand-luggage.
"Nope. Not permitted in the cabin. It must go in the hold." Was the curt response I achieved.
Honestly, I don't think he had a clue what he was talking about as lithium batteries are most certainly not allowed in the hold (I didn't know this at the time). Did he think to inform me? Nope. It was only when I was checking in that the women at the check-in desk asked if we had any batteries in the hold. Frantically, we had to unpack them from our suitcase and move them to our hand-luggage. I kept the drone itself in the hold but once I saw the state of my drone-box when we arrived (completely bashed!), I certainly won't risk doing this again.
Airlines have mixed policies about drones (but then sometimes I don't know what's a policy and what's a customer service operative in a foul mood). Many are fine with them in hand-luggage, some aren't. Some claim they don't allow them on the plane! I honestly don't think that many airline customer service operatives know the policy with drones. For example, I flew with Thomson earlier this year and researched drones beforehand. Someone on Twitter was told "No, we do not accept drones at all on the flight". In contrast, a customer on Facebook was told, "Yes, it's absolutely fine to keep your drone in your hand-luggage." Huh? What am I supposed to take form this?
I've just researched the topic and apparently only Emirates have funny 'drones are not allowed in hand luggage' rules.
But the funny thing is, it's the airports that deal with security and customs, not the airlines. So, I risked taking my drone in my hand-luggage on my Thompson flight. I had screenshots of the Facebook response ready in case someone pulled me up on it. Nope. Went through security very smoothly. I had to get my drone out for security but security were very friendly and seemed to just be pleased I was taking all my electronics out ready.
I'm still nervous about my electronics for my upcoming flights. Every so often I do read reports of security staff or customs trying to move drones into hold luggage or just refusing to accept them on the plane or into the country. I keep telling myself it should be okay. I actually have written permission from the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority to fly the drone in Namibia so if someone questions it, I can show them it's allowed (yep, needed permission to fly my drone in Namibia. You can read all about that here). I hope this works anyway. Of course, I always read specific airline policies before flying to get more evidence that I'm not doing anything 'naughty'.
Finally, I have so much equipment I not only worry that I will hold everyone up whilst emptying the entire contents of my bag into trays, I worry about the equipment getting stolen or going missing (mostly due to my incompetence). Now that I have a brand new camera, I feel even more concerned. Last time I flew, the bags and trays went through very quickly but I was held up in a queue of people going through security. I could see my poor drone just waiting at the other end whilst I queued for what felt like ages. Then, I'm so clumsy that I wouldn't put it past me to forget something in one of the trays. I will have: a drone, batteries, remotes, cameras, lenses, GoPros, laptops, kindles, liquids, you name it, all out of their bag for security. Blah!
Advice for fellow bloggers travelling with snazzy gear. Always read-up on your airline's policy for batteries and drones etc before flying. It will save any potential head-aches later on. Plus, always avoid putting your equipment in the hold, if you can help it. They're too fragile to be knocked-about that much!
3. Will I be Able to Charge my Equipment Often or Do I need Spare Batteries?
This is a new thought I only had yesterday. This is why I annoy myself. I'm all chilled and happily oblivious to anything and then suddenly, just days before the holiday it's possible I'll need to buy spare batteries! Thanks self for not thinking of this earlier. I mean, I'm camping, for goodness sakes. Where am I going to charge my batteries? Fortunately, a frantic google of all my campsites tells me that most have electricity hook-ups. Phew!
If you're not camping or on the road constantly, this may not be an issue for you. Just don't forget about buying plug-adapters as that would be a killer. Yeah, I hadn't forgotten about adapters until today...
4. What if the Airline loses my Suitcase?
This is more of a generic concern, not just limited to travel blogging. I'm mostly worried because I'm travelling with not 1 but 3 airlines in order to get to Namibia. Talk about increasing my chances of an error? I didn't want to travel with so many airlines. I just didn't really have much choice. You can read all about my terribly traumatic booking experience here.
I've seen that some bloggers travel multiple flights a year and never lose their bags. Maybe I'm unlucky but it's happened twice to me in the past 10 years (flying roughly once a year with hold luggage). When it happens, it's a pain in the ass! It took up to 5 days to get my bags back from one airline. The trip had almost ended by the time the bags showed up. Hah, it was British Airways and guess who I'm flying with to Namibia... The other incident happened with Virgin Atlantic, ironically another airline I'll be flying with to get to Namibia. On the bright side, British Airways gave me a toothbrush and T-shirt to get me through my sorrow of being completely clothesless. That was a funny story actually. We had to buy some clothes from a mall because we had none at all (I had to go commando it was that bad!). We had bags and bags of clothes to get us through our week-long trip to Dubai. We got a taxi back to the hotel room and suddenly I noticed that the bag I'd been carrying which had all my new underwear in, was no where to be found. Yep, I'd really gone and left it in the frigging mall! Hello more days going commando.I guess it served me right for my stupidity.
I learnt from this terrible incident always to travel with some clothes in my hand-luggage. If you don't do this already, please do! There's only so many times you can wear one set of underwear. But having clothes in your hand-luggage will only get you so far. I'm camping and taking a sleeping bag and pillows with me. No way will these fit in my hand-luggage so into the hold they go. But man, if this luggage goes missing, I will be enduring some very chilly and uncomfortable nights.
5. How Will I know What Lens to Use?
Wow, first world problems much? But this seriously is a genuine concern of mine, especially whilst on safari. I can see it now, I sit in the back of a safari-vehicle, talking to my 12mm vlogging lens when suddenly, is that a lion in the distance stalking a zebra? I frantically fumble around with my lenses. I take the current lens off, attach the lens-cap to its butt, pull out my EF Canon to Micro four thirds lens converter, take the two lens-caps off it, attach it to my camera, pull out my 70-300mm, take the lens-cap off its butt, attach it to the camera, turn the camera on, adjust the settings and, huh, where'd the lion go? Yeah, it's already made the kill and left.
I've thought about taking my old camera along too so each camera can have a different lens in but the thought of compromising some of my footage on the old camera saddens me.
Maybe I'll just have to do a lot of planning like only use the zoom lens when on safari. I'd rather vlog on my iPhone than miss the shot.
Wow, it's a good job I kept this blog post to 5 points because this post ended up being a lot longer than I intended. I felt it was important to get this off my chest because I truly believe in the power of sharing experiences. Sure, some of these points may make me sound a little spoilt and appear a lot like a worrier, but I know a lot of you probably feel the same deep down. Often we are just too afraid to share our thoughts and concerns out of fear of being judged. I know I am, anyway.
This is what I love so much about the blogging community. I've seen a lot of really open and honest posts recently and it helps encourage me to be myself and share more. Funnily enough, I actually feel a lot less worried about some of these points after having written about them. Writing is a powerful outlet! I hope I can encourage you, fellow reader, to do the same. This kind of goes back to point number 1 but in my opinion it's the most important point. Always be yourself and do what makes you happy. Write about whatever you want because if it makes you feel good, you shouldn't let the noise of other people who know nothing about you, put you off. Their opinions are nothing in comparison to the level of achievement and happiness you will obtain by following your dreams.
That, my friends, is my message for today! *drops mic*