What would you pay to join your favorite YouTuber on a trip?
Credit: Mashable / Ian Moore

A recent YouTube vlog takes viewers on a trip to Mykonos, Greece, but this isn’t just any travel video. The focus is on the shared experience of a creator-led trip where fans pay to travel alongside their beloved YouTuber. In this case, it’s Maddie Dragsbaek, whose video titled “I traveled to Italy and Greece with 40 of my subscribers” reflects a growing trend where creators monetize their travel experiences by inviting their audiences to join them.

In the past, fans admired vloggers’ sponsored trips from afar, but now they have the chance to join them on these journeys by paying for the experience, making the encounter a shared memory between the creator and their audience.

Why It Makes Sense for Creators

Dragsbaek’s trip is just one of 500 creator-led ventures organized by Trova Trip this year, marking a significant increase from the previous year. Trova Trip, founded in 2017, serves as a platform connecting creators and travel operators in over 40 countries. Creators, termed as hosts, sell trips to their audiences through the platform, setting prices ranging from an average of $2,000 to $4,000 for the experience, with some exclusive trips reaching up to $12,000, not including airfare. The process begins with the creator surveying their audience, and eligibility to host a trip depends on the community’s interest and willingness to spend over $2,000. Currently, Trova Trip is the primary company offering creator-led travel, although similar traditional ventures have been around for some time.

The company’s approach involves curating itineraries matching audience interests based on survey feedback, with experiences ranging from backpacking in Patagonia, practicing yoga in Bali, to indulging in Japanese cuisine. The creator’s proposal is then subject to approval by the local trip operator. Once approved, Trova Trip handles the operational costs, leaving the creator in charge of setting the price and marketing the trip to their audience.

According to Trova Trip, approximately 700 creators have already hosted trips, catering to diverse backgrounds and interests. These hosts have access to over 150 itineraries, with trip operators managing logistics and providing tour guides during the journeys.

With 233,000 subscribers, when Trova Trip approached Dragsbaek about hosting a trip, she eagerly agreed. “It’s such a rare and unique opportunity that I had to do it,” Dragsbaek expressed. Her 7-day trip to Greece cost $3,350, covering accommodation, meals, transportation, and planned activities, but excluding airfare.

A Fan’s Perspective

For fans like Amanda Layne Miller, the opportunity to join Dragsbaek’s trip became an emotional decision. Upon discovering Dragsbaek’s content during the pandemic, she quickly became a devoted fan. The chance to join a trip to Greece with her favorite YouTuber seemed like a dream come true. Similar sentiments were shared by others, such as Katie Giordano, who joined a trip to Tokyo with her admired creator.

The Dynamics of Creator-Fan Meetings

While these trips are a dream for most fans, they can bring about challenges. The potential for overly enthusiastic behaviors or unrealistic expectations puts the onus on participants to maintain normalcy despite their admiration for the creators. Fans may struggle with balancing their personal connections with the creator against the reality of being a part of a larger group.

For creators, these experiences aren’t devoid of pressure. They often worry about living up to the persona they portray in their content, trying to be as genuine as possible while still retaining a level of privacy.

Creating Shared Experiences

Despite the challenges, these trips offer the potential for profound connections. They allow fans to engage with creators on a personal level and give creators an opportunity to foster a community reflective of the content they’ve created. For some creators, these trips hold immense potential for fostering meaningful connections and, for a select few, even serve as a full-time endeavor, increasing their income more than brand sponsorships.

Ultimately, these creator-led trips offer a unique blend of personal connection, shared experiences, and memorable moments, combining the worlds of travel and fan engagement in a way that hasn’t been possible before.


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