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Travel is a way for us to reset, recenter, and explore the world we call home. In a perfect life, we'd be sunning ourselves on the beaches of Greece, shredding down back bowls in Switzerland, or strolling through iconic museums in New York. While many of us yearn for this luxurious lifestyle as we grind through our day, travel influencers allow us to live vicariously through their jetstreams.
The world of influencing is a growing industry. Still, in only 10 years since Instagram went live, the industry has grown to a valuation of $13.8 billion, and it is projected to increase 13% in 2022. Influencers earn their money by deciding how much they're willing to charge per post based on their reach, engagement, and numbers. The rule of thumb for travel influencers is 0.10 to 0.50 cents per follower for each post. Sounds like a low number, but an account with one million followers can rake in as much as $50,000 for just one ad, making their annual income around $1.5 million. Alongside sponsored posts and brand deals, popular travel influencers enjoy perks such as free flights, hotels, and a glamorous new wardrobe. Jealous yet?
Travel influencers hold the key to culture, and while some don't understand the difference between appreciation and appropriation, their influence shines a light on the parts of the world we overlook. Tastemaker, entrepreneur, and travel enthusiast Lee Litumb has been documenting her adventures, most notably in Africa, and using her platform to shape our views on culture since 2014. On an app centered around photography like Instagram, Litumb used her unique sense of style to speak louder than words. Her boho couture closet features bold colors on maxi dresses, woven hats, and linen pants. By meticulously incorporating her cultural experiences into fashion, social media's eyes were opened to the beauty of African influence on modern style. This allowed her to be featured in Forbes, Harper's Bazaar, and Condé Nast Traveler among many other publications. While continuing her influencer career, she began the blog Spirited Pursuit which gives first-hand guidance on what to pack, wear, and explore while expanding her followers' global palate.
Song of Style's Aimee Song found a similar path in the world of social media, beginning as a fashion connoisseur in San Francisco and finding a love for exotic getaways. Her detailed cardigans, patterned button-downs, and ridiculous shoe collection gained her over 5 million followers, and she was able to combine her passion for fashion and flight to show style around the world. On her blog, she features packing lists and city guides featuring every new hot spot and tastefully curated look books. From Song's many successes, including a clothing line and magazine features, she was made a member of Forbes 30 under 30 and The Business of Fashion named her as one of 500 people shaping the industry. By harnessing the power of social media and her influencer status, Song let the algorithm take over and her business took flight.
Among the luxuries that come with such a dream job, the annual Revolve destination vacation is one of the most exclusive. In the past, they have traveled to Thailand, Bermuda, Ibiza, and Croatia to photograph beautiful clothing and breathtaking scenery. In order to get the glamorous invite, you must have a celebrity-level following and sport a one of a kind wardrobe. Still, their high standards are justified with a 70% increase in sales from influencers alone.
Travel influencers have become the modern explorers of our digital world and definitely rank among people we envy the most. From our screens, we watch as they uncover the hidden gems of the world; encountering new cultures to embrace, and tempting us to buy that ticket, turning our wanderlust into reality. While a quick journey to the other side of the world isn't always easy, it can be just one click away.

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