Make trip videos an eye-popping experience

Flying Squirrel



If you traveled this summer, you likely returned home with a smartphone and/or camera filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of photos.

But did you bring back any memories?

Oh sure, you can swipe through your pictures and recall the experiences and activities. That’s certainly a pleasurable experience.

But the kind of memory I’m referring to is one where you can truly feel yourself in that location— the kind of memory that’s best captured on video.

It used to be you’d have to carry a bulky camcorder to shoot video. No more. Now most any smartphone will shoot 1080 video. Newer models even produce eye-popping 4K imagery.

I have some suggestions on how to go about shooting experiential video while you travel:

Capture the experience of the destination. Think first person. Think feeling. When you shoot videos, immerse yourself in the moment so you remember what it feels like. Then when you watch the video later, you’ll more easily recall the sensations.

Avoid crowds and movement. People talking can detract from the feeling, so unless it’s someone you actually want to hear, avoid crowds. Also limit movement like walking, unless you use a stabilizer. Jarring camera movements aren’t relaxing to watch on a big-screen TV.

Here are examples of my favorite settings to video:

Nature: If you’re at an outdoor location such as Yosemite, capture images of nature, such as a stream, a sapling or the forest floor. While nature videos are often about the scenery, be mindful of the sounds you hear. Listen for birds, waterfalls or the wind blowing in pine trees.

Sunrise/sunset: If you’re in a location with a wide horizon, be outdoors in the early morning or evening and grab 60 seconds of the sunrise or sunset. A weather app will give you their exact times.

Snow: If you’re a skier or a snowboarder, you know one of the most relaxing experiences can be riding the chair lift. The peacefulness of passing through a snow-capped alpine forest is unmatched. Exercise caution to avoid dropping your smartphone from these heights.

Weather: For Southern Californians, any weather other than relentless sunshine and clear skies is unusual. If you encounter rain, snow or heavy winds in your travels, capture a bit of that oddity to bring home. Clouds also make for dreamy video to watch back home, especially if you photograph them while lying on your back and looking skyward.

Beach: Watching the waves breaking on the shore can be a soothing experience. If you want to include a beach view, wake up early and hit the sand before beachgoers arrive.

Rest stops: Road trips can include picturesque rest stops in unique places. Desert rest areas can give you a chance to photograph unusual scenery you otherwise might not stop for. To avoid traffic sounds, move away from the main building.

Beverages: Anything with a drink can evoke a feeling of truly being in a destination. Opportunities can include the morning coffee you enjoy on your hotel (or ship) balcony while looking at the ocean. Or raise a glass of champagne or wine in the evening, with the sunset captured in the bubbles of the glass.

First day: Soon after arrival, I like to find some aspect of the experience to capture. It might be a wondrous site I’ve never seen, the view from the room’s window as I open the curtains or a moment of relaxation if the travel’s been stressful. Anything that will remind me of what it felt like in this experience.

Last day: On the final day of my trip, I’ll find one moment from the location I want to remember most. It might be relaxing in an infinity pool or sipping a latte at the cafe or sleeping under a beach cabana. Whatever that moment is, I’ll grab some video before leaving.

If you shoot about 60 seconds of your favorite travel experiences, you can return home with five to 10 moments to edit together on your computer or tablet.

Watching this short video can re-create the experience of actually being at the destination. And who wouldn’t like a bonus vacation that costs you nothing?

Thor Challgren is a travel consultant who lives in Thousand Oaks. For more info and resources on this story, visit Email questions to