10 Fantastic Tips for Making Epic Travel Videos on Your Smartphone

Do you ever think to yourself, “I really wish I could shoot cool travel videos like these…” when you watch videos from popular travel videos of all time by popular YouTubers? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, because many travelers find creating the perfect travel video a little intimidating.

With my filmmaking background, I rely heavily on a DSLR or Mirrorless camera to capture the highest quality videos possible, but these cameras can be difficult to use and learn, as well as quite heavy to carry around all day exploring.

I’ve been making travel videos and narrative short films for nearly ten years, and while I believe that anyone can learn photography, shooting video with a DSLR or mirrorless camera takes practice.

But what if I told you that you can easily create stunning travel videos with nothing more than your smartphone?

When it comes to capturing videos while I travel, I actually prefer shooting videos with my smartphone because it’s much more compact and easier to “get the shot” at a moment’s notice. 

If you’re wondering, “But what about the quality?” There are a few tricks of the trade that will improve the quality of your footage.

Here’s how to make the best travel videos on your phone!

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Mistakes You Could Be Making as a Travel Videographer

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My Smartphone Video Gear 

GorillaPod Mobile Vlogging kit

To get great travel videos on your smartphone, your equipment does not have to be overly bulky. You may have to remind yourself of this from time to time, but there are so many cool things you can do with your smartphone, and packing the right smartphone accessory along for the ride.

Here’s a list of my smartphone travel video gear: 

Travel Videos for On-the-Go

The must-have tool for those who work on the go! You can have advanced control over lighting, audio, and mobility with this smartphone content creation kit. This kit is universally compatible with any phone. 

The keyword here is portability. You can create studio-quality content anywhere, at any time, with the Lume Cube Mobile Creator Lighting & Audio Kit or GorillaPod Mobile Vlogging kit

Fine-tune the color temperature settings to achieve the desired skin tones and to match any ambient lighting. Apply the add-on diffuser to your Panel Mini for extra soft and flattering light.

Make the Most of Your Equipment 

To get the most out of your smartphone gear, you must first understand what it is capable of! 

Whether you have an iPhone or an Android, I recommend watching a YouTube tutorial or two to learn about all of the features and how to use them. 

I currently have the iPhone 13 Pro Max, and it has so many different video settings — I can change the frames per second (which means I can create fantastic slo-mo shots), the quality I’m shooting at, take time-lapses, and so much more! 

Using a tripod, such as the Mobile Creator Stand (which also functions as a selfie stick), will provide better stabilization than holding the phone by hand.

Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Always ensure that your exposure (AE/AF) is locked. If possible, shoot in 4k. 
  • The standard for cinematic quality is 24 frames per second (FPS).
  • Slo-Mo at 60 frames per second 
  • 120 or 240 frames per second for even slower Slo-Mo

Suggestions for Planning Your Shots

While you never know what you’ll find while exploring, it’s extremely beneficial to go into video creation with specific shots in mind! 

You’ll be able to embrace your destination if you think about it before you arrive, rather than researching and planning while you’re there. No squandering valuable time!

My Top Travel Planning Video Advice 

  1. Make a Pinterest board ahead of time with ideas for the location and overall vibes. (This is something I do when it comes to my filmmaking as well.)
  2. Think about the type of travel video you’re making: are you vlogging, documenting your travel, or filming first-person? 
  3. Determine what kinds of shots you’ll need to tell your story and make sure to mix them up (subjects, landscape with mountains and ocean, slow-motion details, etc.)
  4. Begin storyboarding and planning out what shots you’d like to take in specific locations. (look to youtube for great suggestions on how to plan out your shots.)
  5. Learn about the lighting you’ll be working with. (Exterior shots will require different setups compared to interior shots.)

Related Article: What Is Fill Light, and How Can It Help Your Lighting Design?

Various Types Of Shots To Use

Great travel videos that will make your viewers want to watch, don’t always have to be comprised of breathtaking drone footage. 

What makes for a great travel video is to include the small details along your journey like including details about the journey, from the plane ticket and passports to getting there and everything in between. 

Here are some examples of different types of shots to include in your storyboard:

  • Shots for Establishment 
  • Wide-angle Landscape Photographs 
  • Views of Epic Proportions 
  • Action shots — for example, trying new food, pouring a drink, or splashing water 
  • Tight Shots of Details in the In-Between (Walking to Places, Getting There) 
  • In Slow Motion 
  • Commentary/Reaction

Various Video Formats

This is entirely up to you — there is no right or wrong when it comes to what type of video format to use, and I like to mix it up. 

Immersive: Some travelers would rather let the surroundings do the talking in their videos. This type of filming allows you to explore through your eyes and allows your viewers to share your experiences with limited dialogue. 

This is demonstrated in the immersive Ireland travel videos below:

Limited Narration/Voice Over: This style of travel video filming incorporates personal reactions or VO alongside landscape shots. This is how I usually do my travel videos. I always try to get a few selfie reactions, but it’s often difficult to narrate my entire trip (especially when traveling alone). So I shoot a lot of footage, get reactions and selfie-style clips whenever possible, and use VO in the editing process to help tell my story.

You can see an example of this limited narration/voice over France travel videos below:

Vlog: When it comes to capturing a vlogging video, there are two ways of filming “Vlogs”, one with full narration and one with narrative explanations but mostly filled in with travel footage. A vlog is when you narrate your experience while being the main subject of the video.

You can see vlogging examples of some Italy travel videos below:

180525 filmingfamilies celiaherrera d 04

Video Preferences

Best Smartphone For Filmmaking In 2021 - Video Recording

Slo-Mo (Slow Motion) 

You can choose between 60 FPS, 120 FPS, and 240 FPS depending on what you’re filming. 

This is related to storyboarding and knowing what shots you want to get. The higher the FPS (120, 240), the slower the video. 

Grid of Composition 

Enable this in your camera’s settings. This will assist you in applying the Rule of Thirds and creating balance in your shots.

Most Compatible Formats 

When shooting footage on trips, I intentionally choose larger file sizes and select “Formats Most Compatible.” Turn this off after your trip to avoid taking up storage space (mainly with videos of your dog…). 

Time-Lapse 

You can shoot time-lapse videos with your phone if you have the time or interest! Place your phone on the Mobile Creator Stand and start it up.

Make Your Instagram Posts More Attractive

Video Footage Storage 

Storage is essential! Cross your fingers that you don’t lose your phone while traveling…but it happens, and you don’t want to lose all of the footage you’ve just recorded. 

Option A: Google One Smart Storage 

Google One offers an online storage platform with 2 Terabytes for $10 per month. I like that it’s “smart,” which means it will upload automatically and you can easily filter through it. 

If you do not wish to pay for the subscription after your trip, save the footage to an external hard drive. However, in my opinion, Google 1 is an excellent on-the-go storage solution.

Option B: Airdrop, Computer, and Hard Disk 

This takes a little more time, especially if you’re traveling. However, at the end of the day, you can Airdrop the footage to your computer and save it to a hard drive as a backup.

Another great option to add to your travel video gear is the Lacie rugged external hard drive for backing up your footage just in case you don’t have access to wifi for cloud-based storage or you have troubles airdropping to your computer.

10 Fantastic Tips for Making Epic Travel Videos on Your Smartphone

Where Can I Find Royalty-Free Music? 

If you have a song in mind for the video, it can help you come up with ideas or transition ideas. But don’t worry if you don’t know what music you’ll be using — you’ll be able to figure that out in post-production. 

Just keep in mind when adding music to your travel video is that its royalty-free music. I have seen some travel videos flagged for music on Instagram which can result in your video being removed. 

Because many people spend hours editing their video to match a beat, I would recommend only using royalty-free music to avoid having it removed or wasting your time.

Here are a few websites where you can find royalty-free music: 

  • Premium Beat – 5 tracks for $12.99 per month 
  • Epidemic Sound – It’s a $15/month subscription, but it has a tonne of options! 
  • Videvo.com – This site offers great free royalty-free music as well as a $25/month subscription option for more music/video (for great b-roll footage) options.

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Making Video Edits

Video editing tips

The magic happens when you edit your footage and splice it all together! It’s also the most difficult part, depending on the software you’re using. 

For Beginners 

Openshot (PC) – Openshot is a simple video editor that lacks a fancy interface but should suffice for most basic operations. It allows you to quickly cut and merge video files with multiple tracks, add music, create template-based titles, and even experiment with animation (though 3D animation requires the installation of additional software). Drag’n’drop makes it simple to apply filters, effects, and transitions.

iMovie (Mac) – It’s never been easier to make memorable, cinema-quality videos and let your imagination run wild with iMovie. On the fly video editing or iMovie exploration on your Mac. With the new Magic Movie and Storyboards on iPhone or iPad, you can create your masterpiece from scratch or get help shaping your story.

For Intermediate to Advanced 

Adobe Premiere Rush: Adobe Premiere Rush is available if you have a Creative Cloud Membership (for editing photos in Adobe Lightroom). Premiere Rush provides basic video editing features and functionalities — ideal for those who know what they’re doing but don’t need as many bells and whistles as the Pro version. 

Luma Fusion: This is only for iOS, and unlike Adobe, it is not a subscription, but rather a one-time fee of $30. I haven’t used Luma Fusion myself, but the reviews are positive!

For the Advanced 

Adobe Premiere (Desktop): This is the industry standard and what I use. There are a lot of bells and whistles, and there is a learning curve, but there are so many cool things you can do with it. 

To learn more about all of Adobe Premiere’s features, I recommend watching as many YouTube tutorials as you can. 

Skillshare also has some excellent courses! Check out Skillshare if you’re interested in Color Grading and delving into the nitty-gritty of video editing.

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Summary

Here are some takeaways from this article on capturing the best travel videos possible:

  • Make a plan and a storyboard. 
  • Prepare your equipment ahead of time. Master your lighting by understanding which settings are best for what. 
  • Use a tripod or selfie stick to keep the image stable. 
  • Get a mix of details and scenery. 
  • Choose royalty-free music. 
  • Edit

That’s all there is to it, folks! That’s it for my top tips for making epic travel videos — all while using your smartphone! 

Do you have any advice or tricks you’ve picked up along the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

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About the author: Trent (IMDB Youtubehas spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

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