Interview with Fellow Travel Video Blogger – Matt Stabile of The Expeditioner

The second Travel Video Blogger in Travel Yourself’s interview series is Matt Stabile of The Expeditioner. I first met Matt in New York at TBEX. Aside from loving his videos I think we have a lot in common for what we are wanting to do with them, entertain, make great content and have our own travel show, etc. (Hey Matt lets meet up somewhere in the world and make a travel video together?)

Many people who have an interest in making travel videos often do not because they have no “formal” training and think that editing and filming great content is too hard to figure out. However that is far from the truth, you will read below that Matt is self taught as is Jeff Jung in our first interview and  its the same with many other people. So get out there and start shooting, but first please enjoy this interview with Matt.

Who: Matt Stabile What: The Expeditioner

Twitter: @TheExpeditioner Facebook:

Youtube: TheExpeditioner Vimeo: The Expeditioner

You should watch: Travel Guide to Bogata, Columbia

Book you should buy: The Expeditioner’s Guide to the World

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your website and what got you motivated to start traveling? is an online travel magazine based in Brooklyn, New York, featuring travel articles and video for the avid traveler.

I grew up in Colorado and now call Brooklyn, New York home. I vowed to myself that once I graduated graduate school that I would travel as often as possible while I still could so as to make up for lost time and lack of travel after seven years of school. Since then (about four years ago), I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to 14 countries in that time period, and hope to not stop for a while.

2. Why did you decide to incorporate video into your website/blog?

I decided to incorporate video into my site because I want to have my own travel show on television. No, really, I am open to any and all offers from producers and production companies. I also found it to be a valuable marketing device for My YouTube videos are pushing 300,000 views overall, and each one of those views means someone is being exposed to the site.

3. Aside from yourself, do you have any favourite people that make travel videos? Anyone that has inspired you or whom you just enjoy good content from?

I’ve watched plenty of Bourdain in my days, and his writing and erudition is always an inspiration. For style and substance I don’t think anyone can beat Michael Palin.

4. What has been your favourite travel video that you have made to date? and why?

My favorite video(s) to date were my Dublin videos. Not only were they the most fun to make, but they were probably the most prepared I’ve been in making them (which included setting up interviews, nailing down plenty of b-roll and direct dialogue, and overall time spent).

5. Did you have any previous filmmaking experience?

I have no filmmaking experience, but I do watch an insane amount of Netflix and good television, so I hope to learn a bit by osmosis.

Editors Note: Osmosis = awesome!

6. Do you have any tips for other people who are wanting to start making travel videos

My tips would be to just nail down the basics and practice. I feel that every video I’ve done has progressively improved with regard to editing and production, but I know there’s loads of areas to learn and improve.

The biggest improvements I’ve made and others should start with are becoming familiar with what you’ll need in the editing process. Shoot ten times more “b-roll” footage than you’ll ever need, make sure to always get establishment shots, close-ups, and transition shots (walking, opening doors, jumping out of boats, climbing stairs). Always think about what you’ll need when putting together a segment (intro, inserts, and all the aforesaid shots).

Also, try to interview and talk to locals. It’s not something I’ve done a great job with, but whenever I do, it makes for the best videos.

7. What equipment do you use? Camera? Editing program? Type of computer?

I began with a JVC digital video camera, that’s it. I then added on a wide-angle lens and I love the look. I have a small gorillapod tripod (after using my shoe for several shoots). I edit with Sony Vegas 8 on my old HP laptop I bough in 2005. I use a $100-range USB microphone for voiceover. I’ve since upgraded to a Canon HD solid-state memory camcorder. Nothing too fancy or expensive overall, but they all do the trick. I tend to subscribe to the theory that it’s just as easy to make a bad travel video with $6,000 worth of equipment than it is with $60; it’s the content that matters.

8. Vimeo or Youtube? Other?

YouTube’s great for viewers and exposure, Vimeo’s the best for quality. Get discovered on YouTube, but share the Vimeo videos with your friends.

9. How do you go about promoting your videos?

When I wrap up the videos and upload them online, I usually spend some time alerting relevant county/city-specific blogs about them. Other than that, I just let them out into the open on the web and see where they go. I also include links on to the videos.

10. How long do you suggest a video should be 2min? 10min? A good length to keep people watching but not bore them?

I don’t think you should have any time constraints — short or long. Everyone out there will tell you online videos should be no longer than 2 minutes or people won’t watch them. However, some of my most-watched videos have been well over 7 or 8 minutes long. I think you should focus on the story and what you want to show. If it takes 2 minutes, it takes 2 minutes, if it takes 10, then so be it. Be concerned about content, not length, and people will enjoy watching them.

11.How much advanced planning do you put into your videos?

Other than any sort-of pre-trip scheduling for setting up interviews, I do little to no preparation. I try to keep the videos spontaneous and let my trip dictate what I film.

12. Do you often just shoot everywhere you go with or with out ideas in mind and view the footage later to find out if you have a story to tell or do you always have specific plans and ideas in mind?

I don’t “create” the story after the fact in editing, so much as I try to convey what story occurred from the trip. I never go into a trip saying, this is what story this video is going to be. That’s impossible to do. You never know what’s going to happen on the trip, where you’ll end up, or what events may occur. I didn’t know I’d get malaria and learn or learn Scuba in Mozambique, but both of those things happened and that’s what story I told in that video. I think the more spontaneous the better. That being said, like I said before, I think it’s always invaluable to meet and interview locals, and that sometimes means some preparation ahead of time.

Thanks Matt for a great interview! I really enjoy your thoughts on the length of a video and also alerting blog specific to those destinations, very smart! If you have any questions for Matt please leave them below and stay tuned for our next Travel Video Blogger interview coming soon! ~Cailin

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  • Reply
    January 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Great interview! I know Matt and am a loyal reader of The Expeditioner but I hadn’t seen most of his videos. They’re great! I think he sounds a bit like Rick Steves in the narration (not his content, but his voice). So professional :)

  • Reply
    January 30, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    @DaveandDeb Glad we could help, that is exactly the type of discussion I am looking to start with these interviews :) I’m trying to figure out how I can do more with youtube now too, it’s a lot of work compared to other things!

    @Josh Thanks Josh! If you are lucky you will be featured soon too ;)

  • Reply
    January 22, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Great interview, I have always loved the Expeditioner and am stoked that you are featuring such kick ass travel video producers on your site Cailin. ninja woot!

  • Reply
    Dave and Deb
    January 18, 2011 at 2:15 am

    Thanks you two.
    I’ve been wondering about youtube lately. I think I will have to put more work into it. When I first put up videos, it seemed that they would take off on their own, now even when I tweet and share etc. They don’t get a lot of hits.
    But that is probably the fact the I am not networking on youtube directly. I used to watch a lot of videos and comment etc. I had a network on youtube kind of like we do on twitter now.
    I will have to go back to that approach. It is more fun having views in the thousands than hundreds. It keeps me motivated to making them. Lately I haven’t felt like putting in the effort because they aren’t getting a lot of hits.

  • Reply
    Matt Stabile
    January 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Hey Dave/Deb:

    I think you’re all probably right to a certain extent. Google (a.k.a. You Tube) is always tweaking (and doing so secretly) their algorithms for search, so what worked in the past doen’t necessarily mean it will work now.

    That being said, I still shy away from saying there’s a fix-all for that problem. As Cailin mentioned, everyday the number of videos online increase exponentially, so things become buried. However, what never changes is that good, quality videos tend to attract links and word-of-mouth. Of course, even if you had the best video in the world, it doesn’t do much good if no one knows about it. Just like with a blog, I think it still comes down to spreading the word about your work. Let blogs and sites know, provide links in forums (in a useful way), utilize social media, etc…


  • Reply
    Dave and Deb
    January 15, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Great tips thanks! Our most watched videos are over 5 minutes too. We have started to cut them down to two minutes (because that is what people suggested) but have noticed that we are getting far less hits on YouTube. Mind you we aren’t interacting with people on Youtube as much as we used to.

    We haven’t been focusing on video lately, but want to get back into sharing our travel videos with more people. Matt, I see that your videos with the largest views are from 2 years ago. That is just like us. We have some videos that have reached 30, 40 and 50 thousand views, but now we are lucky to get a few of hundred. Do you think YouTube has changed their algorithm to the point where the little guy doesn’t have much of a chance? Or are we now doing something wrong. I am just curious, because your videos seem to have the same pattern as ours. We didn’t even have a blog and our videos were attracting large visitors. Now we have ways of promoting them, but nobody watches.
    Just wondering your thoughts and Cailin’s thoughts.

    • Reply
      January 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

      Hey Dave and Deb! Great questions, (Matt should be replying soon) I myself haven’t had nearly as many youtube views as you guys or Matt however I would say for sure that it is harder to get video views this year than a few years ago, just because there is probably a billion more videos on youtube since then. I know of feel like youtube should almost have a screening process for videos. My videos kind of hover around 5 or 6minutes – I do believe less is more when it comes to video but at the same time you want to have a beginning, middle and an end in your videos and not just 2mins of flashy stuff. If its a small story line/idea I think two mins is great but if its a video about a whole trip 6-8mins works best as long as you have quality video. :)

  • Reply
    January 14, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Great interview. I didn’t know about Matt before but am going to be checking his stuff out now!

    • Reply
      January 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

      thanks Jeff! and stay tuned for more people being featured too! :)

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