26 responses

  1. Cherie City
    May 4, 2015

    It’s true that no trips are ever really free, there’s an exchange of services. Writing about a destination afterwards takes time and effort but you’re also getting great content, so it’s mutually beneficial.

    The tourism board fam trips I’ve been on have always had very full itineraries to make the most of the time there. It can be overwhelming at times, but a good group can make it really fun.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      May 5, 2015

      Thankfully, we had a really good group, and it was small. The people in the group definitely do make a difference.

      Reply

  2. Stacey
    April 8, 2015

    It is a poor buisiness attitude to call press trips free. They’re work and hard work at that.

    For a long time I shrugged away from the idea of doing a press trip because I was concerned about being lumped in with the unprofessional bloggers who see it as free travel and treated accordingly. I am more open to press trips now however, I will always keep in mind how much work it really is as every professional blogger should.

    Thank you for posting this, I really appreciate what you’re saying!

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 9, 2015

      I’ve definitely witnessed that behavior of which you speak. Some of them act like prima donnas and are extremely unprofessional. I’ve been stunned at some of their behavior. I definitely would like to avoid large groups in the future, and I would like to tailor the trip a bit more to ensure that I can actually produce better quality content for my readers.

      Reply

  3. Annemarie
    April 3, 2015

    Hi there! Thank you for this post. I have been wondering a lot why I hear that trips and tours are “free” for travel bloggers. Even when I pitch and list all the things they will get in return, I get responses along the lines of “we don’t give away free stuff.” And even if I explain that working for it and working hard are essentially not free and most of the time and effort invested is actually underpaid (which is alright since I am a newbie blogger), I am still made to feel as if I have to be utterly grateful. One place even felt super generous giving me one scoop of ice cream (and only that) for a full restaurant review. Say what? So thanks for writing this post. 🙂

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 6, 2015

      My goodness! That’s insane! I think most companies and agencies get that we’re actually working and providing a service, but it seems many bloggers are constantly calling these trips “free,” and I think they’re doing a disservice to the industry, themselves, and their readers by doing so.

      Reply

  4. Sean
    April 1, 2015

    I can relate to this from the perspective of someone who is invited to lecture or teach in interesting travel locations.

    What you describe is not just that other people don’t understand that it’s often hard work and not just fun travel. It takes an adjustment when you start doing this to recognize that this is NOT just taking a vacation to the place. Now, I think more carefully about what the scenario is and whether I realistically will even enjoy being in that location. Am I being paid? how much? how does it offset travel and other costs (what I’m not doing at the same time)? How hard will I be working? Do I have the opportunity to “tack on” anything fun just for myself? Do I even want to go visit here with my limited time, if someone didn’t invite me? Do I gain anything professionally besides getting to say I visited ?

    I still like getting the chance to combine work and travel but I definitely weigh the pros and cons more carefully before accepting!

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 6, 2015

      I definitely agree. I just finished my 2nd blogger trip, and after these two experiences I will be weighing things out from a much different perspective.

      Reply

  5. Helen
    April 1, 2015

    Thanks for this, Talon. I just don’t understand why some DMOs make press trips feel like the Amazing Race. It isn’t in anyone’s best interest; we become burnt out and too tired to focus on and really explore all the amazing sights, tastes and sounds before us, and they lose out because we lack the time to post meaningful content on social media when we’re on the road.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 6, 2015

      It really is quite odd. And sometimes the itineraries they have really don’t showcase their region well. I just finished a blogger trip meant to promote a specific city, and I have to ask myself why would I bother promoting it based on what they decided to spend most of their time on with the bloggers. It was a horrible waste of time and money in my opinion. And as I live in that city currently, I found their focus to be rather odd.

      Reply

  6. Sam
    March 30, 2015

    That press trip to Thailand sounds exhausting, and honestly that itinerary sounds like my worst nightmare! I’ve never done a press trip, but I do organise quite a lot of visits to (vegan) restaurants directly with the managers in order to review them on my site. So, yes, we get to eat “for free”, but it’s definitely still work, and quite a lot of it. Sometimes it’s nice just to pay for something yourself and not have any obligations or expectations riding the interaction.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 31, 2015

      I agree which is why I don’t do many of these trips.

      Reply

  7. Mike (Nomadic Texan)
    March 30, 2015

    Talon,
    This is excellence in writing. You are so correct from all angles. FAM trips are generally over scheduled and one is lucky to get 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night.

    Most people don’t understand what is in the background. Thanks for sharing this post. You are entirely correct. It definitely is “work” to take a trip of this sort.
    Mike

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 30, 2015

      Thanks, Mike. It really IS a LOT of work. My choice to go, but I get tired of the whole “I travel for free!” nonsense.

      Reply

  8. Eileen Cotter
    March 30, 2015

    Love this! So nice to just read fairly straight forward insight about these kinds of trips. No whining, no soapbox, just the real deal. I have a hard time explaining concisely to new writers exactly what happens on these kinds of experiences, so now I’ll just link them over to this post. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 30, 2015

      I’m so glad you found it helpful! I’m not fond of the whining or soapbox either. Some people seem to want people to feel sorry for them because they chose to go on a trip. Ridiculous! It’s a choice you made.

      Reply

  9. Christa
    March 30, 2015

    I just returned from a travel conference for women and there was a press trip panel workshop. They touched on some of these subjects but i really enjoyed reading your extensive post on the finer details. I’ll be sure to share this with some of the other ladies. I do have a question though, from one “family” blogger to another: are family press trips rare or do you choose to leave the kids at home? Since I write about family travel it would seem odd to write about a 5-star hotel where I didn’t go with my kids. How do you work that out?

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 30, 2015

      So glad you liked it. Family press trips are quite rare. This trip was a solo one, so my son stayed home. For the trip we have in Luxembourg, he is included, and I generally try to have him included on any of these types of trips since that is a big part of my angle so to speak. I think they’re starting to realize the benefit, though.

      Reply

  10. Bret
    March 30, 2015

    Great post, Talon, and right on point. People think we’re so lucky that we get to “travel for free,” but they have no freakin’ clue how hard we work. Not all of our itineraries are quite as packed as yours was (particularly if we’re on a group eco-tour, wherein we basically travel just like everyone else), but we rarely have much free time for our paying gigs when we travel. Being a professional travel writer/blogger (i.e. making most or all of your income from writing) is hard work. I suspect most of the people who say how lucky we are would change their tune if they took a trip like yours to Thailand. It can be utterly exhausting!

    Reply

    • PhilJ
      March 30, 2015

      Lol. You’ve basically become a parody of yourself now, do you realise that?

      Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 30, 2015

      It definitely needs to be viewed as work. It isn’t a free holiday by any means.

      Reply

  11. Jeremy
    March 30, 2015

    I can only think of a few times where I’ve traveled “for free” with no expectations for publications or any other work in return from me. Suffice it to say, it was for little sponsorships like a city card, a free dinner, or a bus pass for 2-4 days where I was just told “have fun” with no expectations in return. I wouldn’t really consider that free because I had probably paid a few thousands of dollars just to get into the city, independent of the the free activity.

    I’ve also worked with companies on some very nice trips, and also been on press trips that have been so chaotic I never had a moment to myself. In either case, the amount of work I put into it was substantial, and the lost time where I could have been actually earning money through other projects is something a lot of people don’t consider.

    Is going on press trips a great perk of the job? Yes, yes it is. But it still isn’t going to pay the bills to keep the website running, let alone provide shelter and food for the other 360 days of the year.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 30, 2015

      Very true about those smaller perks that carry no expectations. Some of these trips are quite packed. It isn’t hard like say doing construction in tropica heat, but it’s still a lot of work, very mental, and can be quite time intensive. I definitely would prefer for someone to pay for the airfare and just give me a stipend to cover hotels, food, my time, etc., and let me discover the place as a typical visitor would. That would be an awesome trip AFAIC.

      Reply

  12. RaW | Ramble and Wander
    March 30, 2015

    I agree. All of the press trips I’ve been on usually would have more than 12 hours of activities on daily basis, it’s kind of crazy. I can understand that organisers might want to cover as many places/things as possible but still…

    What makes me wonder is that usually the organiser would be with us all the time and would have organised plenty of other trips too. Don’t they feel tired too like the rest of us? My guess is that they do but they see this as their job and that’s probably how we need to look at it too, i.e. we’re working and doing some overtime work, not on holiday. 😀

    But of course, like you said, there are plenty of pros & perks as well, and I wouldn’t mind them at all 😉

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 30, 2015

      I’m sure they are tired, but they’re also getting paid for their time which usually bloggers aren’t. I think they have more stress, though, considering they have to keep everything going, have to deal with all the hiccups, and have a lot of pressure to make sure the bloggers/writers are having a good time. If the trip gets lambasted, it’s probably their neck on the line. No thanks!

      We definitely do need to think of it as work because that’s what it is. I think that might also change some of the behavior and attitudes from some bloggers who take these and act like primadonnas. When you accept a trip like this, you accept the itinerary, the responsibility, and that things may not go the way you expected. Your job is to join the trip, participate, and share and promote. They didn’t bring you there so you can complain about small details.

      Reply

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