How do I travel for my blog and Instagram?

One of my favorite things about blogging is creating Instagrammable places guides for all the cities I visit. In 2018, I visited and created: 10 Most Instagrammable Places in NYC and Most Instagrammable Places in Pittsburgh. In 2019, I visited and created Instagram city guides for New Orleans, San Francisco, Boston, and Scottsdale.

One question that recently popped up on Instagram stories is:

“When you travel, is it at your own expense or do companies pay you to stay at their hotel?”

From Dawn Castillo

I usually try to take one trip each month either to create content for the blog or just for fun. So today I’m breaking down how I travel for my blog Emma’s Edition.

How do I travel for my blog - Scottsdale Arizona
How do I travel for my blog - Scottsdale Arizona

All my hotel collaborations are trades.

I exchange blog posts and social media posts for two nights at hotels.

I’ve learned over the past two years of working with hotels that most bloggers exchange nights for hotels for social media exposure. I haven’t yet been paid for a hotel a stay. I usually negotiate a two-night stay plus a meal to be comped by the hotel I’m working with.

Personally, getting my hotel stay covered is big perk for me. I don’t have to research a place to stay which means I have more time to research Instagrammable places in the city. Not having to pay for lodging also saves me money.

Here are also the hotels I’ve worked with in 2018-2019:

The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel in San Francisco

Old 77 Hotel & Chandlery: New Orleans Hotel Review

Hotel Adeline: Scottsdale Hotel Review

Gansevoort Hotel Meatpacking NYC

If you’re hoping to work with hotels as a blogger in 2020, feel free to check out: How to Land Hotel Collaborations as a Blogger.

hotel photo shoot ideas - Emma's Edition

I pay for my own flights and for photography.

Because my hotel stays are usually covered, I’m not afraid to pay for my own flights. I paid for my own flights to visit Scottsdale, Boston, San Francisco, and New Orleans.

I also always pay for photography. I hire my photographer friends for almost every single brand campaign and hotel stay. The hotels value and appreciate professional photography – especially if you give them photos to use for their social media after your hotel stay.

I use the money I make off my blog through brand campaigns to cover my business travel expenses. For example, if I make $1,000 off a brand campaign, I’ll use that to cover meals, Uber/Lyft Rides, photography, etc. for a three-day trip.

Emma's Edition - Scottsdale Arizona - Ruze Cake House

I use my Paid Time Off (PTO).

I think a lot of people forget that I have a full-time job and still work in aerospace. My first few years out of college, I felt like I barely had any vacation time. But I recently hit my 5-year anniversary at Boeing which means I can accumulate up to 3-4 weeks of vacation.

I usually take a 3-day weekend to travel and create content for Emma’s Edition. I either take a Friday or Monday off and use PTO to cover the day.

Maddy and I recently traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona to work with Hotel Adeline. We left Friday and came back Sunday and put together 8 Most Instagrammable Places in Scottsdale.

How do I travel for my blog - Scottsdale Arizona

I also explore local cities.

Sometimes my work or personal schedule doesn’t allow me to schedule a monthly trip in. During those months, I try to explore local cities in Washington. There are plenty of local hotels who want their hotel featured on Instagram and social media.

In August, I worked with the Hotel Murano and created Tacoma’s Most Instagrammable Places.

I grew up in Federal Way/ Tacoma so I had a lot of fun exploring Tacoma and seeing both historic and newer places that have opened in the city.

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There you have it friends! This is how I travel for my blog.

What tips do you have to travel for your blog?

How do I travel for my blog - Scottsdale Arizona

Thank you for reading!



Photos: @madcrayy


  1. December 31, 2019 / 12:53 pm

    Always appreciate how genuine and open you are about all of your collaboration opportunities, Emma! 🙂 Travel blogging is a bit intimidating, but it’s something that I hope to conquer in the new year! Wishing you an amazing NYE and Happy 2020!

    XO, Elizabeth T.

  2. January 2, 2020 / 6:58 am

    love the blog post, I will incorporate these tips into my schedule !

  3. January 6, 2020 / 3:32 am

    A great post as usual! I love reading your mini guides to the most instagrammable spots in different cities.

    I’d be curious to read a more detailed post about how you plan your content creation when traveling. Do you pre-plan what photos of a hotel you will take for your hotel reviews? Do you take all of them as soon as you arrive so the room is nice and tidy? But what if your flight is late in the evening and the light is bad for photos when you arrive? How do you plan your photo sessions around the city?

    So many questions I know, but this is definitely one thing I struggle with the most. I usually come back only to realise I missed a good photo opportunity or the photos I took in a hotel aren’t really up to scratch for a review. I’m trying to build up my portfolio to make sure I have something good to show brands when I finally start approaching them for collaborations 🙂

  4. January 17, 2020 / 12:33 am

    These are awesome tips! I’m just wondering how you find hotels that work with influencers? Do you email the PR rep directly?

    With gratitude,

    Liz Shamooni

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