Swap Your Videos for Travel Discounts... and Cash

I’d been working for responsibletravel.com in the UK and I’d become sick of selling dream vacations to other people. I wanted to go out there and experience the world for myself. I wanted to go on safari in Kenya and Tanzania. I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro and I wanted to see ancient Egypt, which had an almost mythical feel to me because it appears so much still in modern culture.

There had to be a way to have all of these great experiences and at the same time get paid to do it all. Then I had an idea: What if I was to create promotional videos for these companies that sell those vacations?

I had a simple video camera at the time -- it wasn’t even HD because that hadn’t become widely available yet. My skills were also rudimentary, but I’d used an editing program before and I’d always enjoyed shooting and editing video.  I suggested this idea to my boss at responsibletravel.com and he was very supportive.  I then pitched the notion to a number of bed and breakfast houses in the UK.

Within no time I was staying at a beautiful cottage in Wales and ate local delicacies, all for shooting a short video. Next step was to go a bit farther. I contacted a company that ran trips to Egypt. They loved the idea of having a video to showcase Egypt on their website, because it was one of their most popular trips --and also since their tours are quite individual and different to more mass-market tours. So we arranged a date when I could join one of their groups. And, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, I got on a flight to Cairo and started my new dream job in earnest.

First on our itinerary were the pyramids in Cairo. It was truly awe-inspiring to stand in front of these 3000-year old monuments, to be filming them, and to know I just got all of this free of charge. What a great life!

The next days continued to be magic; we visited the Valley of the Kings, which had been a childhood dream of mine. We then took an overnight train to Luxor where we rode off into the desert on camels. I felt truly free and happy, sitting high up on that camel and riding through the desert like a Bedouin.

Next on our itinerary was a trip on an ancient sailboat known as a felucca. It is a flat wooden boat with one large but collapsible mast carrying a sail.  We were gliding down the Nile silently while lying comfortably on soft mattresses and sipping sweet Egyptian tea. What a contrast to the week before when I’d been sitting in an office in Brighton.

We spent that night on the edge of the Nile cooking meat over a bonfire under the glistening stars and listened to stories about ancient Egypt from our guide. We continued our journey for another day before taking a flight to Hurgadha in the south of Egypt. Here we went snorkelling in the colorful reeves of the Red Sea and saw dolphins swimming past the boat.

You can watch my first Egypt travel video here.

My life truly had become an adventure and I knew if I wanted to continue to live in this way all I had to do was to keep pitching the idea to other companies. And, I was sure that, on top of sending me on these amazing vacations for free, they would pay me for my videos. I now had a great sample video with which to sell the idea to other companies and show off my basic but still sufficient skills.

And that is exactly what happened. I travelled to East Africa to film lions and leopards, climbed Africa’s highest peak and trekked 12 days through the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. All of it was covered by the tour company and I got paid for my “troubles,” as well. Now I could start making a great living as well as leading a great life. It’s all just a question of what we believe is possible and whether we go through with it.

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[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]