Exploring options for what the upcoming show will highlight
In a previous post titled, “How I Plan to Start My Own Travel Series“, I broke the news that I will attempt to create my own series that follows me exploring the world and showcasing the sights and people in it. With no connections or backings from anyone already in the TV industry, it will be made entirely on my own. As mentioned on my Instagram, I’ll be documenting the journey along the way in a sort of Julie & Julia style way. In the movie, the character Julie gets inspired by famous cooking teacher Julia Child, and gets one her cookbooks as she blogs her journey to cook every recipe in that cookbook. Applying this to my life, that’d make me Julie and Mickela Mallozzi – host of Bare Feet – the Julia of this adventure. As mentioned in my previous post, Mickela was in similar shoes as me with no TV experience, and would go on to create a show based on her passion for dance that would become an Emmy-winning hit series.
I also dived a bit into why I want to do a travel series in that post and the origins of it. Let’s not sugarcoat things – the travel sector is loaded with other lovers of adventure. While I believe in having a broad range of skills and interests in life, I do see the importance of having a niche to stand out among the rest. That niche is has been taking shape in all facets of my online presence. On my blog, you have seen me grow from discussing my life in school to thoughtful topics and poems to soon focus on travel. I’d say travel now, but obviously it’s not ideal at the moment. My Instagram is slowly growing from when I first began posting photos. No longer is it just photos of anything, but of actual sites and adventures I’ve been on. I thought about doing food, too, but herein lies my dilemma: it’s time to finally settle on a niche. This niche will bleed into my other online forums; including this blog. Of course, the niche isn’t concrete and I can post about anything, but if I want to continue to grow and get noticed then I have to stand out in something more particular.
That’s actually one of the reasons I am doing this travel series; not many people really do this. I know what you’re thinking: “Steven, there’s LOTS of content producers out there doing travel series”. Yes, there are travel contents online and if you go on YouTube you may find plenty of travel vloggers. But truly think about it – are you watching a video that’s about them or the place they’re at? Vloggers typically focus on themselves and their experiences (that likely will be different from yours), while travel hosts focus on the location and experiences it can provide. And there are several, but not many travel shows on TV that people may know about; many might just be local TV series exploring your region. On the flip side, on social media, there are thousands upon thousands of influencers posting travel photos and short videos. Unlike with vloggers, you get good views of the locale and some neat tidbits in the post and comments, however you may not feel the full connection with the content creator or the place. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video tells a million more. In comes travel hosting.
When you’re able to perfectly blend showing the location you’re traveling to, and showcasing the flair of your personality, you’re able to get more people invested in you and what you’re showing them. However, with so many others out there doing similar things – each with their own unique personalities and offerings – it is paramount to stand out in this sea of wanderlusters. Again, going back to finding a niche. While I have several in mind, that we’ll discuss below, it’s hard for me to just pick one at this moment. This is where you friends, reading this post, come in as your voices and thoughts will be helpful in narrowing down the field of choices presented here. At the end of the day, it will come down to my decision and what I’m most passionate about sharing. But doing this market research, and gauging what you’d be interested in seeing, is useful in knowing if my passion will resonate with many viewers or only a few.
But another thing I want to emphasize that separates my desire for a travel series from the vloggers and social media influencers: people. It’s not done on many travel shows, but I want to include people and tell their stories. It’s something that Mickela does well on her show, as she not only combines dance with culture, but also the people showing her the dances. It wouldn’t be in an interview style, either, as it’ll be basic conversation as we are introduced to that niche-part of the travel adventure through their eyes. It’ll be different from a documentary, too, because it won’t be an entire episode following certain individuals; again, focusing on the niche and travel sites instead. There’s someone else, who I think does this well, but I’ll introduce you to her a little later. For now, let’s get underway and go through the different options I’m considering for my travel series. I’ll be describing them a little, and going through some pros and cons of each. We’ll start with the basic. . .
Let’s start with the obvious option: show the people everything and anything. Many travel series are based on this, as the host walks you through every facet of one’s travel. You have the food, the place to stay, the culture, the history, and other unique things that are tied to that city or region, in particular. It is fun to watch these, because you get a glimpse at almost everything you can do in that place. You typically see the most popular tourist attractions, with glimpses at secret spots there. One of my favorite local travel hosts is Chet Garnet (aka The Daytripper) who explores my neck of the woods – the big state of Texas – and showcases every town; whether it is big or small here.
I love the idea of being able to show people all that a place has to offer. Again, I’m a renaissance man with many interests so I’d have no issues doing that. The problem is what I mentioned at the start: many are doing this as well. Whether it’s on a more local scale like Chet, or on a global scale like the most well-known travel hosts (Burt Wolf, Samantha Brown, Rudy Maxa, Rick Steves, etc.), there is a huge group that has already covered this area and so many places and things might have already been covered. The thing is, though, even if they’ve been covered there is the chance it wasn’t covered in full detail.
Again, if you’re highlighting so many different things in one place, you can’t discuss them all in-depth in a short amount of time; whether if it’s a 30 minute or an hour-long show. This opens up opportunities to explore other parts of those places in a different light; touching base on things that may have been glossed over by others. However, we’re still in the general zone of traveling, which many others do. If this is the route taken, it will take a long time or lots of money to rise through the ranks. Even if I give myself some sort of identifiable outfit, which I am strongly considering anyway, it won’t help a whole lot as I still will be covering the general travel options. Appealing to the casual travelers isn’t bad but, since it’s been the oldest option done so many times, this wouldn’t be my first choice for my travel series.
In my hometown, it’s a pretty big place that has many different events. Some that are common in most other cities, while there are several events special only to this city. No matter what, I love to attend those events. And my love for special events would run throughout the globe. From small town chili cook-off festivals, to big city human tower-building competitions, every place has a tradition that deserves to be told. Plus, it’s a little more niche as we avoid discussing things that are not tied directly to those events. The people we could highlight could be event organizers, long-time attendees, first-ever attendees and more.
A big con of this is that events can be cancelled or postponed due to various reasons. They can be changed months in advance or on very short notice. So think of how I’d feel if I’m heading to a place, only to arrive and learn that there was a change in plans. But in a normal world, there would be events throughout the year; especially around the holidays of each country. Every event would be different to some degree as it could focus on food, music, dance, culture and more. From well-known to the eccentric, there is plenty of variety. The question is would it provide enough content? Small towns may have events once in a while, as big cities can host multiple events weekly. Do I combine events from different towns into one episode? It would be fun to showcase the world’s events, in all it’s uniqueness, but the this option provides the most uncertainty and risk.
The Foodies Cometh
For those who are discovering me, recently, let me tell you that I seriously love food. If you had met me only several years ago, you would’ve seen a much heftier man that what I am today. Most of my life, I was overweight before I lost much of it when I turned 24 years old. Yet my love of food never waned; just my uncontrollable urge to eat as much. There are days where I miss gobbling many tacos, several burgers, and all the dessert my heart desired. It didn’t matter where it came from, even if I never tried a certain cultural dish, I’d probably enjoy it very much.
But now that I’m older, and a bit more health-conscious, I don’t splurge on many of the world’s delicacies. Although, now that I’m diving back into the world of social media and creative content, I clearly see that the world is full of foodies showcasing their plates. The area of food and travel is perhaps the most well-covered out of all parts of travel, as many content creators make sure to capture the most beautiful photos of their meal or record the moment they take a big bite into the food. From food adventure series like the Food Flirts, to any Gordon Ramsey series, it is also covered plenty on television.
Make no mistake, the inner chubby kid in me is jealous of seeing them eat all that good food. Again, though, this is one of the most covered aspects of travel, so many restaurants have been touched upon and many foods will become repetitive; no matter if you’re showing it at a different angle. So how could I still incorporate food and travel into my series if I choose to go down this very popular niche? Enter Vivian Howard into the discussion. . .
Remember earlier when I said there was another woman, besides Mickela, who I think does well highlighting people? This is who I am referring to, as Vivian amazingly blends travel, food and the people behind the recipes. She talks with them about the importance of that food to them, their family history, how it pertains to their culture, and more. All set with a chill vibe like you’re close to home, and it makes for a well-made travel series. This is a style I can definitely see myself taking after, but on a more global scale. Meeting those from different countries, tasting foods that are found only in their region, and learning their backstories.
The only main cons would apply directly to me, as I’m not a exceptional chef; unless y’all want to see me fail a lot. I don’t have to necessarily cook food, but it’d be a fun add-on to the series as I try to re-create that cultural dish. It’d be hard to say no to food, for research purposes of course, so it may eventually lead to me gaining some weight. I cannot say no to cakes and cookies forever. Could I take just a small bite? Sure, but where’s the fun in that for a travel food series?! Despite being one of the most popular travel aspects, there’s much competition in this arena that doesn’t focus on the location, itself. Restaurants, food trucks, and food festivals could be included here, but if I focus only on food I may end up feeling full faster than anticipated.
Art & Culture Addiction
Similar to the events happening around town, there are many places filled with special arts and cultural history that don’t get as much love as food, for example. I love going to museums and historical places, art exhibitions, and musical performances. Copyright purposes may mean not showing concerts, of course, but the rest of the arts are open to be discussed. If you’ve seen travel shows that covered art and history, you may notice some struggle to keep it interesting. I hate to admit, sometimes I get bored because it’s presented in an unappealing way. To me, it can feel like back when I was a kid in class and the teacher would make us watch a video from the 1980s presenting history from even earlier. That slow, mundane presentation style of all-facts, no excitement is rarely a combination for success.
Of course, it can’t all be glitz and glamour, either, as it’s important to be respectful to history while showing appreciation. However, this is more on the art/museum side of things as there’s other items that can be more fun and wacky to share. One example was when I went to an art exhibition outdoors that also gave away pancakes. It was a pancakes and art show! Other things like historical sites/recreations, cultural festivals, dance competitions, etc. can also be covered in this niche. The great thing, also, is there’s art and culture everywhere you go.
The people that can be mentioned here can vary from curators to dancers, cultural leaders to poets, artists to musicians and more. It’d be a great opportunity to provide a bigger spotlight to the arts and history that may not normally get the attention it deserves. The negative here is that this particular topic is probably my least knowledgeable one. I know my history and arts, to an extent, but I’d honestly probably look like a fish out of water in most of this realm. Mickela does so well in her show, because dance is her passion and grew up with it, so she understands that community. I am not Fred Astaire, nor Bob Ross, so connecting to another artist’s passion might be a challenge. For example, imagine not being a sports fan and being dropped into a sports bar during the Super Bowl. It could be like that, and such a challenge might be visible on camera, as people might think I’m not as invested in it as the people being highlighted. Again, it depends on the context but overall it shouldn’t be too bad. Showcasing the culture will be great, the arts might provide challenges, while the history will be finding a way to present it in a refreshing manner. This won’t be as uncertain or risky as the ‘Events’ option, but this may be the most challenging for me.
Another thing about me: I have a huge passion for sports, even though I never played in school or professionally (yet). I do well to not come off as over-the-top about it, but I can talk about it all day if I could. And sports is another thing, besides food/art/etc., that can bring people together. It is played in different ways all over the globe, and in different places that people call home. So why not have a travel series that is based on sports? Because it was done once before.
Former NFL linebacker, Dhani Jones, once explored the globe and discovered how sports can open a window into any culture as he traveled and participated in things such as rugby in England, dragon boat racing in Singapore, Schwingen in Switzerland and pelota in Spain. Unfortunately, this series only lasted 2 seasons and aired for only a year.
I recently discovered this series, however there’s no full episode available on YouTube to truly get a feel for the show. But reading some information about it, it also included exploring other areas of the locations; like food, shops, and other sites. All I know after was that it was cancelled. If you Google “sports travel shows”, you won’t find a whole lot of results after this series that ended ten years ago. Is that an indication of lack in viewer interest or untapped potential that wasn’t seen back then? At least here in the U.S., sports is a huge draw (money-wise) whether you’re a fan or not. People can talk about it all day, and partake in it themselves. Every league, every school, and every team has their own culture among players, coaches and fans.
Let’s assume it’s untapped potential, then there are practically no other competitors in this area of travel shows. It’s a topic I have a lot of passion for, comparing it to Mickela’s love for dance, and it’d be easy to create content for it. Imagine a show that highlights the sport/team, showing the place they play at and the history, what an experience is like at the game, and the foods and culture that come with it as well. The people that can be shown, of course, can be players, coaches, and fans. It can combine the history and present, and span across countries covering different sports. I’d love to try cricket, sailing sports, and all other lesser known activities. You’d think the content would not be as vast as other areas of travel, but every league and team can fill a season. Every country has different people partaking in different parts of the region. I wouldn’t be concerned about how much content there would be. The real concern is if that content available isn’t untapped potential, rather due to lack of interest. If that is that case, then it’s game over for this series.
We come to the last option on the list of interesting options I’d base my travel series on. This one was more recent to the list, however it’s one that I’ve followed most of my life. There is no one origin story that led to this, as I’ve always preferred to take the path unfollowed. When I take roadtrips, or travel far, I tend to not prioritize the tourist-y spots that most people go to. I’ll visit them, just to see them as well, but I get more excited to find what the locals know. Because at the end of the day, that’s my main goal: be a local, not a tourist. And I’m sure many of you also feel the same, as you want to do things that the locals do. Fully entrenching yourself in that culture, and experience things to the fullest is the best; rather than from afar as a visitor.
Those hidden gems, that I love to uncover, would be the premise of the series and it can entail all the facets of traveling that is akin to the general option that was first discussed. From food, arts, culture, nature and more there are ample opportunities abound that are not heavily covered by travel content creators. The catch: they haven’t been covered yet. The rising issue is that I’m not the only one that likes and noticed these hidden gems. Other travelers are beginning to highlight less of the tourist-y, more common places to visit and focus more on the ones that not many folks know about.
So eventually, more and more will fill up this area of travel as it becomes more trendy. What once was hidden will become discovered and popular; even the isolated natural wonders. The social media influencers certainly have that part covered, as I’ve seen amazing photos of undiscovered nature. Regarding people, that won’t be an issue because, again, there are many amazing people that can be met. Whether owners of hidden gem restaurants, up-and-coming artists, original members of a cultural tribe, or whomever else there are people with stories to share that haven’t been heard yet.
The issue with hidden gems would apply more to the popular places, as many people want to highlight the secrets within densely-populated cities. However, smaller and quieter towns would not be affected as much. But, again, that is for now. Eventually, many hidden gems will be uncovered, but it’s how they are presented. It’s one thing to capture it in photo or 10 second video clip, and it’s another to cement it as part of a travel series. This one would take time to find those hidden gems. Doing research and networking with many people in towns, big and small, that know interesting spots. But there are many places and people that can be covered. As more and more people, though, try to make a name for themselves then those spots won’t be so hidden anymore.
Overall, there are many interesting options for me to base a travel series on. But only one main subject can be chosen for this journey. While in my mind, I have an idea of what I might like to cover, I have to take into account many factors. The pros, the cons, the people’s interest are some things I need to be aware of. Especially the interest, because if no one’s interested in the topic I cover then it’d be a waste of time and money. Fortunately, I have great fellow travelers who have/had TV series that I can draw inspiration from on what it takes to create a successful, engaging show. And, of course, there’s someone who also didn’t have TV experience yet became very successful in this field. This is the first of many posts in this travel blog series, and with every step taken, y’all will be there along the way. Every advice and comment given will be very much appreciated; starting with this post. And therein lies my question to you: based on the options discussed above, what kind of travel series would you be interested in seeing?