How to get the best lightweight setup for travel vlogging

Seeing the world no longer has to be just a cherished memory, destined to fade in time - now intrepid souls from around the globe are capturing their adventures on video and sharing them online for friends, family and fans to enjoy.

The travel vlogging scene has exploded on popular video sharing sites over the past few years - in 2014, Google reported that viewing of travel-related content on YouTube had increased by 118 per cent year over year. 

Here we look at how these creative explorers get their clips, and how to create your own, ideal lightweight vlogging set up with RØDE Microphones

The rise of the self-made vlogging star

Whether the videos are a spontaneous project or part of a sponsored trip, it is no longer quite enough to capture home-movie-quality footage on the road. While such a vlogger could set out to create professional-quality content by using studio-quality recording equipment, the fact of the matter is, no one wants to be weighed down with heavy, cumbersome gear while they are trying to enjoy their trip.

In order to record their experience, vloggers will film the scenery, their fellow travellers and indeed make addresses to camera on their own steam, making it important to have a setup that will still allow them to absorb their surroundings and take their viewers on a more personal journey. 

Saving on size without compromising on quality

There are several options for recording great shots of your trips. On the one hand, vloggers who come from a film or photography background may not be willing to compromise on the rich, detailed quality of a DSLR camera. Filming with a DSLR's large sensor gives you great image quality and the ability to create shots with shallow depth of field, but the built-in mic can leave much to be desired.

DSLR vlogging setup - If you are going to be carrying a full-sized DSLR around with you, it makes sense to balance it with a high-quality shotgun-style microphone such as the RØDE VideoMic Pro. This portable mic comes in at just 85 grams and is highly directional, helping to minimise background noise when addressing the camera.

It is favoured by long-time vloggers such as Casey Neistat, who uses it in conjunction with a Canon 70D both on home turf in New York City and abroad. The VideoMic Pro is also used by veteran travel vlogger, Nadine Sykora on her channel, Hey Nadine. 

For an even lighter alternative, there is also the RØDE VideoMic GO, one of our lightest microphones at just 73 grams.

GoPro vlogging setup - For some travellers, using a weighty DSLR is just is not an option. They want to be able to film for extended periods, unhindered by the size of their equipment and without worrying that their arms will tire. 

GoPro cameras have advanced in leaps and bounds in terms of quality, with the HERO 4 Black edition capable of shooting in 4K at 30 fps. Its wide-angle lens makes it ideal for vlogging, but as we learned in our previous blog, the sound quality can not compare with that of a dedicated microphone.

To get quality audio without compromising the GoPro's tiny package, we recommend the RØDE VideoMicro - our bite-sized offering powered by the camera itself. Weighing a feather-light 42 grams, the directional VideoMicro requires a simple 3.5 millimetre adapter (available from GoPro) to record crisp, improved audio in an ultra compact setup. It can also be used with other small point and shoots such as the Canon G7x, popular amongst vloggers.

Smartphone vlogging setup - Last but not least, smartphones, with their increasingly impressive resolution and several different frame rate options, are becoming a viable option for the lightweight travel vlogger. The VideoMicro plugs into the 3.5 mm headphone port via the RØDE SC7 cable, allowing you to film spontaneously without having to lug around a bag of dedicated gear.