Press trips can be exhausting and packed full from sun up to sun down – yet, you still need to be active on social media and taking notes for blog posts, plus editing photos for social media as you go along. Back when I wrote about how I manage time as a blogger where I shared my daily and weekly blogging checklist, I said I’d follow up with how to manage time during a press trip as a travel blogger and some of you were eager to hear more. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long!
Read more: these are the WordPress plugins I cannot go without, this is how I make money, and here are 10 of my best blogging tips.
How to manage time during a press trip as a travel blogger
Okay, so first I’ll just talk about what a press trip is. A press trip or FAM trip basically means the blogger or journalist is invited to promote somewhere. Usually, they are unpaid and have no set deliverables (blog posts, photos). However, a brand campaign is usually paid and has set deliverables each day. I’m just going to use the term “press trip” to make it easy. In general, they have the same amount of work.
There are often huge group trips for bloggers and journalists or you might be a little further along in your blogging career and doing more one-on-one work with brands and tourism boards so you aren’t traveling in a big press group. That will give you a little more say in the schedule of your trip, while a group trip just comes with a set itinerary that you cannot change.
Before the press trip
The biggest thing you can do to manage your time as a blogger on a press trip is to prepare ahead of time. For me, this is key. I prepare enough that my blog runs in the background while I’m on the trip and I can focus 100% on where I am at the moment.
This means making sure:
- I have blog posts scheduled. During a trip, since I’m promoting a destination, I tend to share travel tips posts. So, if I’m working with a hotel in Singapore, the blog post on Singapore won’t come for about a month after. While I’m actually in Singapore, blog posts will still go live as they always do, so I might post for example How I take care of my hair while I travel. I post 2-3x per week, so I schedule that out. I also schedule out a few days after the trip so that if I’m really tired, I don’t have to worry about this.
- I make sure my email inbox is completely read and at zero new messages. I then go through all my “flagged emails” and follow up with anyone that I have unfinished business with.
- If I have any other brand commitments during the time of the press trip, outside of the press trip, I will schedule those. For example, if I have to post a Facebook post for Hertz or an airline contest, I’ll go ahead and schedule it out so no other commitments go missed.
- During the week of the press trip, I assume I won’t have any time for freelance writing. So that I don’t get behind on my monthly quota (which is just made up in my head of how many I like to write), I will write as many as I can ahead of time.
- I make sure all of my income and expenses are up to date and take any old receipts out of my purse and go through my banking to make sure I’ve documented it all for my taxes. I can then keep all new receipts from the press trip that I would need to keep as expenses.
- If it’s when I have a monthly email to go out, I will go ahead and write it and schedule it to go out as usual.
- Personally, I make sure I’ve replied to all my friends Facebook and Whatsapp messages, and as a blogger the messages I get in my Instagram inbox and FB comments. This just kind of clears my head and then I know I’m not leaving people hanging while I’m away on a trip and possibly not able to get to my phone.
- I will follow all the brands I’m going to be working with on the press trip ahead of time so that they show up when I start typing them in on social media – and I don’t have to look them up later. The hotels, restaurants, museums, adventure activity places, etc are usually on your itinerary so I go ahead and give them all a follow.
- If I know that I’m going to be without WiFi and know my schedule on a group trip, I might schedule tweets on HootSuite for specific things I know I’m going to be doing with a brand that is a partner of the trip. I could tweet that “I’m at @mumbaiairport about to head off with my favorite airline @jetairways to Tahiti” (haha I wish) or if I know one day I’ll be seeing Mickey Mouse at Disney I could tweet how excited I am, tagged Disney one of the imaginary sponsors in this scenario. This makes me feel like I’ve already done some things from the trip and if I forget to tweet while I’m there, it’s not going to go without at least one mention.
- I plan out my outfits for each day based on the schedule so that I don’t have to think about it at all during the trip and can just shower, put on the outfit I have laid out, and be done with it. I tend to actually wear makeup on press trips since I know I’ll be taking more photos than usual so I add on 5 minutes of getting ready time than I normally would at home. Bonus for those who blog with fashion in mind: go ahead and favorite the items on Rewardstyle so they are already “hearted” and you can use them to “swipe up” on Instagram stories quickly.
- I also make sure that I don’t do any big brand pitches or try to start a project like fixing something on my blog right before a trip starts.
As you can see, preparing for the trip is the most important part for me, and I do quite a lot to get ready for a trip and just have a clear head. The less I have to do on a trip, the better. If you are in the moment you’ll get 10x better content for your readers and actually enjoy yourself in the process.
Each morning of the press trip
I do the same thing that are on my “quick morning checklist” every day to start out. That doesn’t change. These are the things that I do every day pretty much and it takes just 5-10 minutes. The only thing I take off is my banking because I just wait, put that on pause while keeping receipts, and do that after the trip.
To repeat them, they are:
- Twitter – just check notifications, reply to them, and tweet about what I’ll be doing that day
- Banking – I check any payments and update my income and expenses excel sheets which I keep track of all year so my taxes are easier.
- Pinterest – I have Pinterest set to autopilot with Tailwind but I just quickly manually pin two pins and make sure it all looks good.
- My own blog – Next I check my blog and see what post went live (which I would have scheduled before the trip) then I share that post to Twitter right away. I schedule it on Facebook and add the pin to a Tailwind interval to all the relevant boards. I then add the post to my Instagram stories. This would just be 2-3 days of the trip and does just take a minute.
- WP comments – Lastly, I check my comments on the blog and reply to ALL of them unless they are spam.
- Facebook – I reply to comments on posts on my page. I started a Facebook group as well, so I go in and moderate that and reply to traveler’s questions.
- Instagram – I check my Instagram comments and DM’s. This is something I DO get behind on, that’s why it’s last on the list because I can do this on my phone throughout the day when I get any downtime. On the first day of the trip, there’s nothing to post, but I will on the rest of the days post an Instagram image from the press trip in the morning and share it to Facebook and Twitter. I can then reply to comments throughout the day.
That is all done in just 5-10 minutes and actually doing that while I make a cup of coffee makes me feel so much more ready to start the day. The next big thing I do EVERY morning on a press trip is to check my emails. If I do not have time to reply to them, I at least go through them and flag ones I need to reply to later then I will delete the ones that are spam.
During the press trip
I do all this crazy planning because once I leave the hotel in the morning and start the press trip itinerary, I want to be 100% head in the game. That means taking photos, listening to stories, keeping a note on my phone of specifics I want to mention in a future blog post.
I make sure to do my daily deliverables which usually include 1 Instagram post and 1 Facebook post. I Tweet and do Instagram stories and always make sure to tag the brands I am working with on the trip which I’ve followed ahead of time and am familiar with their handles, saving me time during the trip.
When it comes to photos, I take a mix of fashion ones, creative ones, food, the streets and architecture and even boring stuff like train signs or the entrance costs of a place that I might later need in a blog post to help me remember where I was at a certain time for a future blog post.
Before bed on a press trip
I will make sure:
- All my emails are answered and up to date that I had flagged in the morning
- Edit ONE image that I’ll post to Instagram the next morning. I won’t go through them all.
- I will charge up all my devices that might be dead, camera, camera batteries, portable charger, kindle, headphones, or whatever I need and have it ready for the next morning.
- No more work! For one, I did all the work I needed to before the trip and already have finished the daily deliverables in real-time. I don’t get on social media at night because I’m obsessed with getting enough sleep on press trips since they usually have an early morning wake up calls, plus in the morning I check it each day.
At the end of the night, before bed, I will reply to those emails. I actually do this EVERY day no matter what because emails with other brands shouldn’t go neglected. For me, it’s the most important thing I can do to stay on top of opportunities with my blog.
After the trip
I prepare a lot ahead of time before the trip. I do my basic work in the morning before I head out each day, I do all my trip deliverables on social media in real-time and I go to bed early. This means that I’m usually not that worn on while on a press trip and it means that when the trip is over, I can chill out a bit.
Like I said, I will schedule my blog posts for a few days after the trip as well so that I can take time to not worry about posting new content. I am kind of OCD (shocker after reading this blog posts I’m sure) so I tend to get my post-trip work done ASAP. Here’s what I do:
- First, I actually organize my finances. I take photos of my receipts which will go to tax expenses and I write down any income that I earned during that week so my accounting is up to date.
- Now, I edit images. I use Lightroom and organize things into blog posts. This is when I start to think about what posts I want to write.
- Next, I write down my blog post ideas. I try to think about the basics people need to know like a 10-day itinerary for Jordan or is it safe to visit the Golan Heights? then I write fun stuff like the top 10 adventures to have in Maui or 9 epic experiences you don’t want to miss in Tel Aviv. I write about the things I loved from the trip and I’m sure to link to my sponsors and show people how they can book the same trip.
- Eventually, these posts go live and I share them to social media and with the tourism board or agency I worked with.
- About a month after the trip, I’ll send a follow-up email with stats from the press trip. That would include blog posts that went live and the engagement they got, as well as the social media posts and engagement for each of those.
So, that’s pretty much it – a look into my very organized mind, lol. I haven’t been on a press trip in a year now actually because I’ve had this big move being planned all year and really wanted to enjoy Goa this season. But, this is the breakdown of what I do for every trip! I hope it helps you. Is there anything that YOU do that I don’t have on my list?
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I Honestly never knew how you did it ! I have been traveling for almost 6 months and writing is a struggle! Some weeks I do great and post 2-3 posts. And other times I go two weeks without a single post. It is so hard to manage it all while still going on trips. Props to you I like a lot of your tips though so finger crossed I am going to try some of your planning techniques :)
It really takes a lot to balance it all out but you’ll get the hang of it! I have slowed down a lot these days to 1-2 pots per week rather than 5 like I did for years!
I’m starting to travel more for my work, and these tips are invaluable… I have always wondered how people manage to maintain the momentum when travelling on press trips etc., and honestly, it has stressed me out a lot lately… I’ll be re-reading this soon as I’ve got a couple of trips coming up…
This is so helpful! I’d only ever been on small trips so didn’t really need to organise myself too much. My first big press trip, however, was a two week baptism of fire and I was not prepared in the slightest!