We launched our incredible “Spontaneity Champion” competition on November 5; which sees the winner get the chance to enjoy up to £50,000 worth of travel and experiences. The closing date for entries, which include a short video and a 300 word blog at our www.lovelivinglastminute.com, is midnight December 1st.
With only a few days to go before the cut off date, in the second of our series of guest posts – we asked successful travel blogger and journalist, Virginia Stuart-Taylor – aka The Well-Travelled Postcard to give us her top tips on producing engaging travel videos and content.
Part of the application process is a one minute video – what three tips have you got for prospective entrants, in terms of structuring a narrative using images in such a short space of time?
(V S-T) Earlier this year I entered two competitions with short YouTube videos explaining why I should win (firstly to attend One Young World in South Africa and secondly to travel around North America on a DTour with DoubleTree by Hilton), and I was lucky enough to win both competitions! So I seem to be doing something right! Firstly, my advice would be to carefully plan the various stages of the ‘story’ you’re going to tell, with a beginning, middle and end. You need to maximise the time – 60 seconds is actually not a lot. Secondly, shoot short clips in interesting places that illustrate what you’re saying. I’m in the habit of taking lots of video clips whenever I see something intriguing, I never know when they’ll come in handy for a video montage. And thirdly, really highlight what’s unique about you. You need to make yourself stand out to the judges so how will you make 100% sure they remember your video entry the most? (check out some of Virginia’s videos here)
You are a very visual person who collects postcards on your travels (now quite a quaint thing to do!) What images inspire you the most and why – is it people, spectacular views – or just something that catches your eye?
(V S-T) It’s very true that picking up old-fashioned postcards and digitally recording my travels on my blog seem like two opposites! My travel memories are always accompanied by mental snapshots of experiences and moments, not necessarily the big tourist attractions everyone expects. So my postcards and the photos I post on my blog tend to be slightly unusual… I’m actually incredibly fussy nowadays when it comes to choosing postcards for my blog – if it’s something that my readers will have seen a hundred times before then it doesn’t make the cut. The images in my postcards are always linked to a particular memory, and I tell the story of that memory alongside the postcard to give it context.
When reading or watching travel content – what really inspires you? Is it the images, the story or just the personality behind the tale? Do you have any blogging heroes?
(V S-T) The visual aspect to any travel story is essential. If I’m reading about India, and I haven’t been there yet, then I need impactful photos/videos to be able to imagine myself there, in the market, walking down the streets and absorbing the atmosphere. And personality is the other key ingredient and the reason why I’ve switched from reading traditional travel magazines, which by nature are quite anonymous, to online travel blogs, as I’m more interested in understanding the person and their individual impressions, and the ability to ask the blogger questions and have a conversation via social media, is invaluable. And one of my travel blogging heroes would be Monica Stott, who created The Travel Hack, as I am just so envious of her travels!
As a linguist, communicating, especially in other languages, must be very important to you – what three phrases in the different languages you know have been the most useful when abroad?
(V S-T) I’m a big advocate of making an effort to speak in the local language as much as possible and I know how much it can open doors and teach you about the culture of the local people. Here are my three essential phrases:
1. Prendiamo un aperitivo? (Italian for ‘ Shall we go for aperitivo?’) – The Italians love nothing better than their exquisite food, and going for aperitivo has been the foundation of many of my close friendships in Italy. Aperitivo is a fantastic invention, it’s a free buffet of light pre-dinner snacks that you can tuck into when you buy a drink. The drink of choice should of course be an aperol spritz, the most Italian of drinks…
2. ¡Perdona, habla un poquito más despacio por favor!(Spanish for ‘Sorry, please speak a little slower!’) – Luckily I haven’t had to use this phrase much recently. But when I first went to Spain aged 12 on a school exchange with a Spanish family, and again when I moved to the Chilean Andes to work in a ski resort, and once again when I moved to Andalucía in Spain to study at university, in my first few days I could barely understand a word of their high-speed jabbering. If it’s not the slang or the accent, then it’s the clipping of certain letters. Ask politely and they’ll happily slow down until your ears become accustomed to their speedy talking.
3. Onde fica o Bairro Alto? (Portuguese for ‘Where is Bairro Alto?) – Bairro Alto is the place to begin your nights in Lisbon. Open from midnight to 2am, it’s a series of narrow cobbled streets high on a hill, filled with tiny bars and students enjoying the balmy evenings and wandering from bar to bar, bumping into friends and meeting new ones. Bairro Alto has one hell of an atmosphere and not easily imitated in other cities – you have to experience it to understand.
You are a One Young World Ambassador, effecting global change on a large scale. We want our winner to highlight spontaneity around the world – what are your top tips for making a difference with how you capture and document the world?
(V S-T)I have a real internal conflict about visiting some parts of the world where inequality, crime and poverty are all a daily reality. On the one hand, tourism can be an important source of income and a catalyst for growth in some less developed parts of the world, and it should be encouraged. However on the other hand, the idea that travellers can treat townships and shanty towns as tourist attractions to be photographed for friends and family back home makes me feel very uncomfortable. What I’d like to see more often, and which the spontaneity champion will hopefully do as well, is travellers who contribute positively to the community they are visiting, through imparting useful knowledge or skills in schools, through engaging with local projects and local people, and through volunteering their time, not just their money. And the spontaneity champion will have the incredible opportunity to document and share their stories with thousands of other travellers, hopefully inspiring people to travel more responsibly.
If you had £50k of travel and experiences – what would be the top three things on your “bucket list”?
1. Travel the length and breadth of South America, from the Caribbean down to Patagonia, practising my languages at the same time.
2. Properly learn to scuba dive and explore underwater shipwrecks and coral reefs.
3. Go island hopping in the South Pacific and see where I end up!
And finally……what is the most spontaneous trip you have taken and why?
(V S-T) I spent a year of my degree living abroad in Spain and Italy, and when I returned the UK afterwards I missed Italy a tremendous amount (it is, very unoriginally, my favourite country in the entire world). Thank goodness for budget airlines, which meant that, on a particularly spontaneous mood, I could book flights at the drop of a hat to return to Italy, and I did so several times that year to satisfy those inescapable cravings! I have perfected the art of carry-on luggage for a last minute weekend away, so I am always at the ready!
Thank you so much Virginia (who due to time constraints couldn’t send her answers in on a postcard- and we had to resort to email!) for your top tips. To learn more about Virginia, either check out her blog or follow her on Twitter @VStuartTaylor. And for those who have been inspired to enter their own video for the Spontaneity Champion, head over to the competition microsite and get involved! I did mention the £50k right?……